Being Savvy in Seattle
My husband is in the telecommunications industry and travels often for work. We had the opportunity to live in Seattle for 6 months in 2014 and we just fell in love with it. That’s why you’ll see lots of our photos, and many stories, from there.
If you’re planning a trip to Seattle, and I suggest you do, here are some things to do that you & your kids will love and that are inexpensive or free!
1. Go downtown on a Sunday and street parking is FREE! If you can’t find parking, park at City Target near Pike Place Market. It’s free to park there if you spend $20 on any purchase at Target. Piece of cake!
2. Pike Place Market. Good thing you just parked for free because it’s impossible to walk through here and not end up buying something, like donuts cooked while you wait or red pepper jelly or the most gorgeous bouquet of flowers you’ve ever seen for $10! For lunch, eat at Cantina de San Patricio on Post Alley and sit outside. Or, sit where Tom Hanks sat in Sleepless in Seattle at Athenian inside Pike Place.
3. Snoqualmie Falls. A beautiful hike just outside Seattle and it’s free to park and free to hike! We’ve seen bald eagles flying above so be on the lookout. You park at the top of the falls and walk down to the base of the falls. It’s probably about a mile each way hiking so make sure you bring everything with you for the kids that you need. (We had our first BIG rookie mistake here and forgot a bottle for Olivia. By the time we made it to the bottom, she started getting fussy and that’s when we realized we had totally lost track of time and it was time for her bottle that was IN THE CAR. My poor husband had to run all the way back up to get it for her😱 It’s not an easy hike to run back up so that part was not so much fun.) The town of Snoqualmie is nearby and has a great BBQ restaurant with some Georgia sweet tea! YUM. We’ve even seen Thomas the Train here offering rides!
4. Hiram M. Chittenden Locks AKA Ballard Locks. So many cool & educational things for kids here. There are salmon ladders where you can watch the salmon swim upstream into freshwater Lake Washington & Lake Union from salty Puget Sound. And just up a flight of stairs, you can watch the boats enter Lakes Washington & Union from Puget Sound and vice versa via a water lock system. There is also a botanical garden to visit – a perfect shaded spot for a snack & bottle feeding!
5. City Center. This area hosts the must-do Seattle Space Needle, EMP Museum, Pacific Science Center, Seattle Children’s Museum, Chihuly Garden & Glass, International Fountain, Gates Foundation, and plenty more to keep you busy! There are plenty of restaurants and some pretty good street musicians to listen to too! There’s something here for everyone to say the least.
6. Most of the attractions in #5 are included on the Seattle CityPass, plus a few more like the Seattle Aquarium and Woodland Park Zoo, and kids 3 & under are free for admission. Definitely worth it to purchase this ticket for mom & dad and older kids. Make sure you read the small print because there are some timeline restrictions to note.
7. Whidbey Island. This is one of the most relaxing day trip itineraries in Seattle! Drive north on I-5 and head for Deception Pass. This state park has some amazing photo spots and plenty of trails for hiking. Some are stroller friendly so don’t be discouraged. Cross from Fidalgo Island over to Whidbey Island and continue on toward Coupeville. Stop by Christopher’s for lunch and then enjoy the walk around this super cute little town. There are tons of places for photos here, and you will probably see some bald eagles soaring above the town, or having a snack of their own on the mussels that cover the shoreline. Continue on for the ferry heading to Mukilteo. For less than $10, you drive onto the ferry boat and arrive in Mukilteo in a few minutes. Mukilteo is one of my favorite places to walk around. You might see some whales migrating in the water if it’s the right season! There’s a great playground here and a cute lighthouse for another photo spot. Make a dinner reservation at Ivar’s and request a window seat – the kids will love watching the ferry boat go back & forth.
8. Mt. Rainier National Park. This is hands down our favorite place to be in Metro Seattle. Don’t skip it! When you’re used to the North GA mountains like me, this year round snow capped giant is unforgettable. Seeing it from downtown Seattle is breathtaking, but just wait until you arrive in Paradise (no really, it’s called Paradise) and realize you’re only halfway up the mountain and it’s still seems to go forever. There are plenty of hikes to take here and several waterfalls from the melting glaciers. Check their website before you go since the roads are closed most of the year due to icy conditions. The “Mt. Rainier Scenic Railway” offered only one brief mediocre view of the mountain and took 2 hours. I would highly recommend skipping this attraction to spend more time inside the park.
9. Duck Tour. We moved to Seattle on a Wednesday and did this on the following Friday. It was so fun and a great way to get to know the city. It’s about an hour long and drives you by many of the sites on land & water. The drivers are very entertaining and make jokes the whole time, all while giving you lots of information that’s fun to know. Kids under 2 are $1.
10. Gas Works Park. Channeling all my fellow 10 Things I Hate About You movie lovers! Remember the paintball scene? That was here! It’s now filled with kite flyers and people reading or laying out. You’ll get a great view of The Emerald City and can take a break from your busy sight seeing adventures. The kids will love watching the seaplanes land, duck tours floating by, and paddle boarders paddling away all on Lake Union. This is the perfect place to watch a sunset over the skyline. There’s plenty to learn here too about the old Seattle Gas Company and how it evolved into a family friendly park.
11. Bellevue Botanical Gardens. We stumbled upon this little gem one day when I picked up my husband from work at T-Mobile’s headquarters in Bellevue. It’s free to park and free to walk around. There is a great view of the Bellevue skyline and it was fun to walk through the gardens before heading to dinner. If you’re eating in Bellevue, I recommend Bellevue Brewery because they have great food, a good beer selection (I don’t drink the stuff but there’s plenty to choose from), and it’s nice & loud so the kids surely won’t bother any neighboring tables.
12. Seaplane Ride. If you are looking for a 20 minute birds eye view of Seattle, Kenmore Air is the company to visit. We parked near South Lake Union to attend the Maritime Festival over Mother’s Day weekend. Chris noticed the Kenmore Air seaplanes and wanted to go get some information about them. Well, since it was Mother’s Day, I got to ride for half the price and Olivia rode for free since she sat in my lap! The next flight was in 10 minutes so we changed a diaper and hopped on quick! It was such a cool experience to takeoff & land on the water! Plus, seeing all of Seattle from above is something we will never forget.
13. Festivals! I’ve never been to so many festivals in my life, or even knew that there were so many out there. Chances are that when you visit, some sort of festival will be going on and the kids will surely find something that interests them. We went to Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Maritime Festival, University District Street Festival, Seafair, and the Washington State Fair.
Have any other recommendations that we missed? Please share them!