Seattle is known for the rain and for the coffee houses, but not as much for being a destination for families who want to have a family friendly vacation. When my husband had a business trip to Seattle, we decided to go along and find out what kind of family fun we really could have there. Fortunately the residents of Seattle are an extremely friendly group of people who were more than willing to offer some excellent activity suggestions to a harried mom with three small children alongside her. Our family really enjoyed the following "kid approved" activities the most.
The Space Needle is the most famous Seattle landmark, and we found it to be much more impressive than all of the photos we had seen. All three of the kids were fascinated by both the lengthy elevator ride to the top and the observation area at the very top. My six year old twin boys were quite exuberant with the joy of being "up in the sky" as they said. The observation deck may be slightly scary for younger children, and my four year old daughter was a little worried about the height, but soon became interested in the zoom in viewers that let you see the Seattle neighborhoods up close. As much as the children enjoyed the views, the lunch was even more successful. The restaurant at the top actually revolves, but so slowly that it does not feel dizzying. The children thought a revolving restaurant was one of the best things they had ever seen, and since the food was excellent this is certainly a good place to have lunch or dinner. According to some other travelers, they also serve a very nice breakfast spread if you arrive early enough.
The Pacific Science Center is a large science museum that has a number of hands on child friendly exhibits. We first got to see an excellent 3D film called Under the Sea, on the biggest Imax screen we have ever seen. The screen itself is very large: 60 feet high and about 80 feet wide. The film is only about 45 minutes long and it held the attention of all the children present for the entire time. The 3D effect is so realistic that the audience was often reaching out to touch the fish, which appear to be right in front of your nose. As a parent, this is exactly the kind of film you love for your children to view because it is not just amusing, but it is also very educational without being pedantic about it. The best exhibit, according to the kids, was the Animal Grossology one. It involves explanations of the bodily functions of all sorts of animals, but in the most tasteful way possible. The butterfly exhibit was just beautiful. You can see butterflies at every stage of their evolution, and it really is a thing of wonder to watch them. We all stood transfixed upon our first view of these delicately beautiful things. The Pacific Science Center is fairly limited in regards to food, with only a snack bar that does not have a wide selection. However, the Space Needle, with its very large food court, is so close by that you can just walk next door to have lunch there.
We were able to do one activity that will likely stay in all of our memories for a long time. The ride on the Washington State Ferry was a great deal of fun for all of us. There are about 25 boats that travel a dozen or so different routes all around the area. We took a ride because I wanted the kids to enjoy some of the lovely scenery of Seattle, and we were able to spot orca whales and sea lions during the trip! The fares are quite low for such a special experience. Adults are about $7 for a one way fare, and the kids under 5 are free. The boys, who just turned 6, were about $5 each. Even though it may rain a little bit during the ride, as it did for us, the wet weather did not dampen the enthusiasm for the thrill of seeing the whales.
Seattle turned out to be a very good choice for the family. The city is very easy to navigate, and with the friendly residents and the fun activities geared for kids, it all united to make this one of the most fun trips our family has had in recent memory.
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