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A large, flat, wooden pier on an overcast day. To the right, a young child dressed in pink runs ahead. Pigeons are all around, including three in the center of the foreground. Shutterstock

The 25 best things to do in Seattle with kids

A family’s guide to the Emerald City

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At first glance, Seattle’s reputation for rain and gray skies may dissuade families from checking out all that the city has to offer. But don’t let a little drizzle get you down. Seattle has more to entertain kids of all ages than you could possibly pack into a weekend or two.

From amazing sculpture parks and playgrounds to top-notch theater productions specifically geared toward the younger set, Seattle is full of things to do as a family. Perhaps the best part is that parents will have a great time too, reliving childhood dreams at the Pinball Museum or sampling delicacies at the iconic Pike Place Market.

So pack the rain jacket—just in case—and give Seattle a try. We’ve rounded up the 25 best things to do with kids right here, in a handy map. Have another favorite spot that didn't make it onto our list? Let us know in the comments! Please note that the following map points are ordered from north to south.

Traveling to other cities with your kiddos? Don’t miss Curbed’s maps of the best family activities in Washington, D.C., Boston, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Orleans, Austin, and New York City.

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Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

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Also called the Ballard Locks, the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks were built to move boats from sea level up to the level of Lake Union. Check out the surrounding botanical garden and the semi-enclosed viewing area of the fish ladder, where salmon and steelhead move upstream.

Concrete walls surround a body of water. Water pours out of the concrete wall to the right. Shutterstock

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

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With its new building, this natural history museum got a lot more fun—and includes hands-on exhibits with dress-up. Windows between the public and private areas of the museum give a hands-on look at what scientists are up to behind the scenes. Plus, it’s the only place to see real dinosaur fossils in the state, including one of the best-preserved T.rex skulls in the world.

A man in a gray button-down shirt holds a young child in denim overalls in front of a blue-green wall. The child is reaching up toward a suspended whale skeleton above. Mark Stone, courtesy Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture

Volunteer Park

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Conveniently located in the heart of Seattle, Volunteer Park is home to a conservatory, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, a well-maintained playground, and one of the city’s largest wading pools.

You should also check out the Water Tower—the highest point on Capitol Hill—where older kids can climb 107 stairs and take in 360-degree views of Seattle.

Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI)

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MOHAI is where Seattle history comes alive. Kids and adults alike will appreciate the entertaining exhibits that show how the Northwest’s environment and diverse population have influenced its development. Be sure to check out the temporary exhibits as well.

The Center for Wooden Boats

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The Center for Wooden Boats calls itself a living museum, and it’s easy to see why. Kids and adults can touch, build, sail, and learn about classic wooden sail- and rowboats.

Rent a rowboat or pedal boat—no boating experience required—or, if you have experience, explore South Lake Union in a canoe, kayak, or sailboat.

A boat marina with a pier and many boats sitting on the water. Shutterstock

Pacific Northwest Ballet

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It’s not just The Nutcracker, although that’s a popular wintertime attraction for kiddos. Pacific Northwest Ballet has magical programming all year long, with performances like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.

Artists at Play Playground

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Also located at the Seattle Center, just outside of the MoPOP, this music-themed playground has tons of innovative equipment and lets kids run free.

There’s a separate toddler area, an ADA-accessible swing, a 35-foot climbing tower, and an extra-long tube slide.

A playground with children playing. On the ground in the foreground is an orange circular design. In the distance is various assorted playground equipment. Shutterstock

The Museum of Pop Culture’s Frank Gehry-designed building is stunning, and older kids will love this museum’s focus on contemporary culture.

Don’t miss the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame and the temporary exhibits.

The interior of the Museum of Pop Culture.  There is a display area with statues of the characters from the original Star Trek television series. On the walls are various glass windows with other items from the series. Suzi Pratt/Courtesy of MoPOP

Seattle Center Monorail

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If your kid loves trains and transportation, hop on the Seattle Monorail at the Westlake Center. You’ll get to ride above the city streets, trains run every 10 minutes, and it can be an easy way to get over to the Seattle Center. (Plus, there’s plenty of seating in the front so your kiddos can pretend they’re driving the train.)

The inside of a train at the front, which is completely covered in windows. A man sits on the left looking at a screen, and a young child stands to the right looking out front. There are many tall buildings through the windows. Shutterstock

Seattle Children's Museum

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We have a soft spot for children’s museums—we also included them in our San Francisco, Miami, and New Orleans maps—and the Seattle Children’s Museum is a great option when rain forces you inside.

From barely crawling to school-aged children, kids can explore physics in COG City, sculpt a masterpiece in the art studio, or pretend to be an optometrist in the eye clinic.

Seattle Children's Theatre

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Another awesome attraction in the Seattle Center, the Children’s Theatre offers budding drama lovers the chance to see performances tailored just to them.

Check the calendar for specific events, and don’t miss the organization’s drama school and summer camps.

Three people on a blue stage. Two of the people are standing on colorful platforms. One person is standing between them. There is a red curtain with a decorative frame in the background.
Scene from a production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Seattle Children’s Theater.
Courtesy of Seattle Children’s Theater

Pacific Science Center

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Even toddlers can enjoy science at this museum in the Seattle Center, thanks to a plethora of hands-on exhibits. You’ll love the IMAX theater, the butterfly exhibit, and the largest and longest-operating domed laser theater in the world.

Olympic Sculpture Park

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The Seattle Art Museum offers family workshops and festivals as well as summer art camps, but for everyday fun, we love the Olympic Sculpture Park. Kids will have a great time checking out this free 9-acre park, which is located on a reinvigorated part of the Seattle waterfront.

Pro tip: Give the kids a camera and them take photos of their favorite sculptures. Want even more outdoor art fun? Check out 13 other gorgeous sculpture parks around the United States.

An abstract red sculpture with four curved legs and a point on top on a lawn in front of low shrubbery. An office building and a tall, pointy building (the Space Needle) are in the background. The weather is sunny with a few clouds. Shutterstock

The Elliott Bay Book Company

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The kids’ section of this Seattle institution includes a castle-shaped reading fort, encouraging some fun, silent reading time while you browse the stacks.

Pike Place Market

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Sure, Pike Place Market might be a bit touristy, but there’s a reason everyone who visits Seattle hits this spot. Kids will love the samples of sweets—try Sweetie’s Candy and Daily Dozen Donut Co.—the Gum Wall in Post Alley, and Golden Age Collectibles for comic books and action figures.

A wall with black and white mosaic tiles. The design depicts a woman, man, and children. There are also the words: Public Restrooms. Shutterstock

Seattle Aquarium

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Ideally located on the waterfront, the Seattle Aquarium—which is set for a massive new expansion--houses six major exhibits in a hands-on environment that’s geared toward conservation and education.

Don’t miss Life on the Edge, an exhibit that lets kids touch sea cucumbers and hermit crabs and learn about the tide pools of the Puget Sound.

A group of four people stand in front of a blue-green wall with salmon-shaped art attached to it, including, to the right, a man in a blue shirt holding a child with long hair pointing up. A window at the top shows the room is underwater. Shutterstock

Seattle Central Library

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We love libraries both for their architecture and the books inside, and the main branch of the Seattle Library system is a gem.

Located downtown in an award-winning modern building, Seattle’s central library offers top-notch views on the 10th floor—plus you get to take a chartreuse escalator!—loads of public art; and fun, technology-filled rooms geared toward children and teens.

A vaulted ceiling of diamond-shaped, latticed windows towers above shorter bookshelves and workstations. Shutterstock

The Seattle Great Wheel

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Whether or not it’s sunny outside—the gondolas are fully enclosed—kids love the Seattle ferris wheel, conveniently located at Pier 57. It’s also a good choice at night for city views and lots of colorful lights.

In the foreground is a body of water. Adjacent to the body of water is a ferris wheel and a row of colorful buildings. In the distance are tall city buildings.
The Seattle skyline with the ferris wheel in view.
Shutterstock

Seattle Pinball Museum

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Open since 2010, the Seattle Pinball Museum has over 50 games included in the price of admission.

Kids need to be seven years old or older to play, and you’ll find vintage sodas, snacks, and craft beers available.

Seattle Bouldering Project

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The lower level of this popular indoor climbing gym features a whole area for kids to work off some of that boundless energy safely. You can even rent it out for birthday parties.

Living Computers: Museum + Labs

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In this museum that explores the past and future of tech, the whole family can learn to make video games, experience augmented reality, hang out in a 1980s arcade, and play with robots.

Alki Beach Park

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Hop on a King County water taxi from downtown to Alki Beach and get ready for 2.5 miles of kid heaven.

Some areas are sandy, others a bit pebbly, but children will love the water, tide pools, and the other places to play. Plus, there are plenty of kid-friendly restaurants around, along with one of the city’s best playgrounds at nearby Whale Tail Park.

Even in less beach-friendly weather, littles will enjoy plenty of local wildlife and exploration.

A beach on a sunny day. At the front, a short concrete seawall with concrete stairs separates sandy beach from a waterfront area full of seaweed and driftwood. Shutterstock

Easy Street Records & Cafe

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Share your love of music with your little one at this record store, coffee bar, and diner. Grab something to eat—there’s a plethora of music-themed brunch options—and browse the racks with the kiddos in tow.

The Museum of Flight

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If you’ve got a kid who loves airplanes, this is your spot. The Museum of Flight boasts everything from a Concorde to the original Air Force One, and there’s a Kids Flight Zone where they can pretend to be a pilot.

Various assorted planes on exhibit at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
Planes on exhibit at the Museum of Flight.
Shutterstock

Full Tilt Ice Cream

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Is there a better combination than ice cream and arcade games? Full Tilt’s several locations—including the flagship White Center shop—offer both, plus well-deserved beers for any of-age people in the crew.

Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

Concrete walls surround a body of water. Water pours out of the concrete wall to the right. Shutterstock

Also called the Ballard Locks, the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks were built to move boats from sea level up to the level of Lake Union. Check out the surrounding botanical garden and the semi-enclosed viewing area of the fish ladder, where salmon and steelhead move upstream.

Concrete walls surround a body of water. Water pours out of the concrete wall to the right. Shutterstock

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

A man in a gray button-down shirt holds a young child in denim overalls in front of a blue-green wall. The child is reaching up toward a suspended whale skeleton above. Mark Stone, courtesy Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture

With its new building, this natural history museum got a lot more fun—and includes hands-on exhibits with dress-up. Windows between the public and private areas of the museum give a hands-on look at what scientists are up to behind the scenes. Plus, it’s the only place to see real dinosaur fossils in the state, including one of the best-preserved T.rex skulls in the world.

A man in a gray button-down shirt holds a young child in denim overalls in front of a blue-green wall. The child is reaching up toward a suspended whale skeleton above. Mark Stone, courtesy Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture

Volunteer Park

Conveniently located in the heart of Seattle, Volunteer Park is home to a conservatory, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, a well-maintained playground, and one of the city’s largest wading pools.

You should also check out the Water Tower—the highest point on Capitol Hill—where older kids can climb 107 stairs and take in 360-degree views of Seattle.

Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI)

MOHAI is where Seattle history comes alive. Kids and adults alike will appreciate the entertaining exhibits that show how the Northwest’s environment and diverse population have influenced its development. Be sure to check out the temporary exhibits as well.

The Center for Wooden Boats

A boat marina with a pier and many boats sitting on the water. Shutterstock

The Center for Wooden Boats calls itself a living museum, and it’s easy to see why. Kids and adults can touch, build, sail, and learn about classic wooden sail- and rowboats.

Rent a rowboat or pedal boat—no boating experience required—or, if you have experience, explore South Lake Union in a canoe, kayak, or sailboat.

A boat marina with a pier and many boats sitting on the water. Shutterstock

Pacific Northwest Ballet

It’s not just The Nutcracker, although that’s a popular wintertime attraction for kiddos. Pacific Northwest Ballet has magical programming all year long, with performances like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.

Artists at Play Playground

A playground with children playing. On the ground in the foreground is an orange circular design. In the distance is various assorted playground equipment. Shutterstock

Also located at the Seattle Center, just outside of the MoPOP, this music-themed playground has tons of innovative equipment and lets kids run free.

There’s a separate toddler area, an ADA-accessible swing, a 35-foot climbing tower, and an extra-long tube slide.

A playground with children playing. On the ground in the foreground is an orange circular design. In the distance is various assorted playground equipment. Shutterstock

MoPOP

The interior of the Museum of Pop Culture.  There is a display area with statues of the characters from the original Star Trek television series. On the walls are various glass windows with other items from the series. Suzi Pratt/Courtesy of MoPOP

The Museum of Pop Culture’s Frank Gehry-designed building is stunning, and older kids will love this museum’s focus on contemporary culture.

Don’t miss the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame and the temporary exhibits.

The interior of the Museum of Pop Culture.  There is a display area with statues of the characters from the original Star Trek television series. On the walls are various glass windows with other items from the series. Suzi Pratt/Courtesy of MoPOP

Seattle Center Monorail

The inside of a train at the front, which is completely covered in windows. A man sits on the left looking at a screen, and a young child stands to the right looking out front. There are many tall buildings through the windows. Shutterstock

If your kid loves trains and transportation, hop on the Seattle Monorail at the Westlake Center. You’ll get to ride above the city streets, trains run every 10 minutes, and it can be an easy way to get over to the Seattle Center. (Plus, there’s plenty of seating in the front so your kiddos can pretend they’re driving the train.)

The inside of a train at the front, which is completely covered in windows. A man sits on the left looking at a screen, and a young child stands to the right looking out front. There are many tall buildings through the windows. Shutterstock

Seattle Children's Museum

We have a soft spot for children’s museums—we also included them in our San Francisco, Miami, and New Orleans maps—and the Seattle Children’s Museum is a great option when rain forces you inside.

From barely crawling to school-aged children, kids can explore physics in COG City, sculpt a masterpiece in the art studio, or pretend to be an optometrist in the eye clinic.

Seattle Children's Theatre

Three people on a blue stage. Two of the people are standing on colorful platforms. One person is standing between them. There is a red curtain with a decorative frame in the background.
Scene from a production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Seattle Children’s Theater.
Courtesy of Seattle Children’s Theater

Another awesome attraction in the Seattle Center, the Children’s Theatre offers budding drama lovers the chance to see performances tailored just to them.

Check the calendar for specific events, and don’t miss the organization’s drama school and summer camps.

Three people on a blue stage. Two of the people are standing on colorful platforms. One person is standing between them. There is a red curtain with a decorative frame in the background.
Scene from a production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Seattle Children’s Theater.
Courtesy of Seattle Children’s Theater

Pacific Science Center

Even toddlers can enjoy science at this museum in the Seattle Center, thanks to a plethora of hands-on exhibits. You’ll love the IMAX theater, the butterfly exhibit, and the largest and longest-operating domed laser theater in the world.

Olympic Sculpture Park

An abstract red sculpture with four curved legs and a point on top on a lawn in front of low shrubbery. An office building and a tall, pointy building (the Space Needle) are in the background. The weather is sunny with a few clouds. Shutterstock

The Seattle Art Museum offers family workshops and festivals as well as summer art camps, but for everyday fun, we love the Olympic Sculpture Park. Kids will have a great time checking out this free 9-acre park, which is located on a reinvigorated part of the Seattle waterfront.

Pro tip: Give the kids a camera and them take photos of their favorite sculptures. Want even more outdoor art fun? Check out 13 other gorgeous sculpture parks around the United States.

An abstract red sculpture with four curved legs and a point on top on a lawn in front of low shrubbery. An office building and a tall, pointy building (the Space Needle) are in the background. The weather is sunny with a few clouds. Shutterstock

The Elliott Bay Book Company

The kids’ section of this Seattle institution includes a castle-shaped reading fort, encouraging some fun, silent reading time while you browse the stacks.

Pike Place Market

A wall with black and white mosaic tiles. The design depicts a woman, man, and children. There are also the words: Public Restrooms. Shutterstock

Sure, Pike Place Market might be a bit touristy, but there’s a reason everyone who visits Seattle hits this spot. Kids will love the samples of sweets—try Sweetie’s Candy and Daily Dozen Donut Co.—the Gum Wall in Post Alley, and Golden Age Collectibles for comic books and action figures.

A wall with black and white mosaic tiles. The design depicts a woman, man, and children. There are also the words: Public Restrooms. Shutterstock

Seattle Aquarium

A group of four people stand in front of a blue-green wall with salmon-shaped art attached to it, including, to the right, a man in a blue shirt holding a child with long hair pointing up. A window at the top shows the room is underwater. Shutterstock

Ideally located on the waterfront, the Seattle Aquarium—which is set for a massive new expansion--houses six major exhibits in a hands-on environment that’s geared toward conservation and education.

Don’t miss Life on the Edge, an exhibit that lets kids touch sea cucumbers and hermit crabs and learn about the tide pools of the Puget Sound.