When most people think of Seattle, the image that comes to mind is probably of rain, Starbucks and grunge. Yes it rains there (and quite often in our short experience) and reminders of the grunge era are everywhere, but there is so much more to the city than that.
From beautiful vistas of Mt Rainier poking through the clouds to rainbows over the Space Needle, gorgeous views are just one thing you will get on your visit. Another is a chance to breathe in the creative air that permeates the city. From the glass works of Dale Chihuly, to the abstract art in the Olympic Sculpture Park to the famous music, and burgeoning and eclectic food scene, a visit to Seattle will get your creative juices flowing.
We went to Seattle for a long weekend to explore the Pacific Northwest as a family winter getaway. Given that we only had a few days, we wanted to fit in as much of the city scene as we could, saving the outdoors for another visit during warmer weather. Trust me, there is still a ton to do outdoors in the city center even in the cold and rain! Seattle is a perfect destination for families who love urban explorations.
Flying into Seattle, we were greeted with a gorgeous view of Mt Rainier peeking above the cloud line. It was a spectacular way to enter the pacific northwest for the first time. We decided to try our hand at the public transport system during our visit, so we headed straight downtown via the efficient (and cheap) Link light rail.
Once downtown, we found our way to the adorable Maxwell Hotel tucked away on a quiet street minutes away from the Seattle Center, which houses a multitude of family friendly activities. The Maxwell Hotel is a stylish boutique hotel that is fabulously family (and pet) friendly. It is loaded with free amenities such as Wi-Fi, bottled water, bicycles, a city shuttle service, parking and so much more.
Number one on our list (and on our CityPASS) was a visit to the Space Needle. This was a great first stop in that it provided us an orientation of the city with surprising views. I knew Seattle was on the water, but I was shocked to see the hills, reminding me of my years in San Francisco. This alone, already had me falling in love with city.
At the base of the Space Needle was our second stop of the day, the Chihuly Garden & Glass Museum. We were given a private tour of the 8 room museum before getting to experience an on-site glass blowing demonstration. Our visit here continues to be the highlight of our trip – both for the adults and the 5 year old! This museum is spectacular and a must see.
Stopping only for a quick lunch at the Armory, we headed back out to the playground and to the EMP museum, all at the Seattle Center. My husband is a big sci-fi fan and I am a lover of indie-rock, making this a must do on our family itinerary. My 5 year old wasn’t as enthused except in the 3rd floor sound lab where he could play and record his own music. A 5 year old’s rendition of free falling is something to be savored.
The Seattle Center really is the perfect place for families to center a good chunk of their time in Seattle. The center includes a beautiful fountain that dances along to music piped through speakers in the park, an amazingly awesome and challenging playground as well as being home to many of Seattle’s most famous attractions. Without ever leaving the center, the entire family can be entertained and fed for several days.
Coffee lovers must make a stop at the Original Starbucks Seattle store.
Day two of our visit started with a trip to the local grocery store where we were able to get a quick hot breakfast buffet for dirt cheap. The southern style biscuits and gravy have me hankering to go back again. After our breakfast we decided to walk it off at the Olympic Sculpture Park on the waters edge. Walking through the drizzling rain, as trains roared below was the perfect way to begin our day. The art structures were intriguing and thought provoking as well as great muses for our photos. With the art, trains and Elliot bay in your sights, the park is a hit with kids.
After a morning of walking, we packed up and headed to our second hotel, the Hotel Monaco, in the middle of the downtown action. We were welcomed by a trunk full of toys and a beautiful suite with our very own goldfish as company. Even though our day was jam packed, we had to take some time to just enjoy our suite and rest our already tired feet! After a much needed break, we headed out for more urban explorations, looking for geocaches (which there were surprisingly very few of in downtown!), and finding our way to the Seattle Aquarium. We rounded out our day back at the hotel’s own restaurant Sazerac for a decadent meal.
On our final day, we had a lot to fit in. We started our morning off with a delicious walking tour of Pike Place Market with Savor Seattle. We sampled everything from chocolate covered cherries to fresh made cheese to Russian piroshky. Absolutely stuffed, we needed to walk off our excesses, so we headed down to the waterfront to hitch a ride with Argosy Cruises. We were lucky with a few rays of sun and a beautiful rainbow over the Space Needle. Our last adventure of the day was chosen by the wee one – an underground tour of the historic business district of Seattle. It was fascinating learning more about the history of Seattle (and it’s mistakes) and how it came to be the way it is now.
And of course a visit to Seattle would not be complete without a visit to one of Tom Douglas’s many restaurants. Hungry and wet, we decided on the closest to our hotel – Serious Pie, a gorgeous gourmet pizza house with the most amazing pizza crust I have ever eaten.
A long weekend in Seattle proved to be the perfect winter weekend getaway full of urban exploration. We left inspired by the art we saw, the food we ate and the beautiful scenery. We can’t wait to return to explore the great outdoors of Seattle. Keep an eye out for cheap flights, winter is considered low season, so you can find some real bargains.
Where to Stay in Seattle
During our visit to Seattle we stayed at the Maxwell Hotel, which is a stylish boutique hotel that was super family friendly. However, there are a ton of other places to stay that we would recommend. This guide to Seattle gives great recommendations for places to stay throughout the city not just downtown.
What are your favorite family friendly things to do in Seattle?
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I would like to thank CityPASS, Chihuly Garden & Glass, The Maxwell, Hotel Monaco and Savor Seattle for providing us with a wonderful stay and visit. As always, all opinions, thoughts and reviews are my own.