School’s out for the summer which means it’s prime time to explore all that Seattle and its surrounding communities have to offer. From parks, beaches and wading pools, to exhibits and museums, here are our top 75 kid-friendly activities to do in and around the Emerald City. Scroll down and get ready to take summer by the horns!
photo: Kalyn Gustafson
2. Satisfy your mini marine biologist with a trip to the Seattle Aquarium.
3. Lace up your hiking boots, grab your backpacks and hit one of Seattle’s best trails for kids. Psst…don’t miss this summer’s free park days (June 1 & 8-9, Aug. 25 & Sept. 28). No Discovery Pass needed!
4. Do-Re-Me your way over to a free summer concert.
5. Grab your blankets and movie snacks—summer in the city means an array of family screenings under the stars.
6. Take your crew to Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). It’s awesome!
7. Head south to the Children’s Museum of Tacoma and take advantage of this lesser known, but drive-worthy kid mecca. Psst…admission is pay as you will.
8. The Fun Forest at the Seattle Center may be long gone (RIP), but Wild Waves Theme & Water Park is the place to go for water slides and carnival rides galore!
photo: Wild Waves Theme & Water Park
9. Grab your little paddlers and get ready to abandon land for a water (kayaking) adventure.
10. Rainy summer day? Grab some friends and head to Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. It’s a surprisingly fun adventure rain or shine.
11. Hit the trails—the mountain biking trails—at Duthie Hill Bike Park.
12. Walk, ride, scoot or paddle around Green Lake. Then, visit one of the many eateries around the lake and splash around in the awesome wading pool. Psst! The wading pool is located across the street from Ben & Jerry’s…just in case you need a little enticement to get the Littles out of the water.
13. Cougars? In Issaquah? (No, not that kind of cougar!) We love the Cougar Mountain Zoo!
14. Giddy-up to one of our favorite petting farms and let your mini-me pet, prance and preen with the animals.
photo: Kristina Moy
16. Hit a hole in one or at least putt a few balls around the course at one of Seattle’s mini golf courses.
17. Get a jump start on your back-to-school shopping at one of these malls with fantastic plays spaces for kids.
18. Ride the free ferry to Jetty Island. Daily runs start on July 5 and run through September 3, 2018.
19. You don’t want to miss Thomas the Tank Engine, Sir Topham Hatt and their Sodor friends at this annual meet and greet at Northwest Railway Museum.
20. Ride the Mt. Rainier gondola and then hit the hiking trails with your pint-sized crew.
photo: Allison Sutcliffe
21. Lions and Tigers and Bears. Oh my! A trip to Woodland Park Zoo is a summertime must!
22. Sample some of Seattle’s best places to eat…all at once! The Bite of Seattle is a summer fave and admission is always free.
24. Prime tide pool season is here. Take your budding marine biologists on a family tide pooling adventure to look for sea stars, moon snails and other creatures.
photo: Seattle Aquarium
25. Pack a picnic lunch or, load your kid crew in the car and take an easy summer day trip.
26. Got a fourth grader? Score a free park pass to Mount Rainier for the whole family to use this summer!
28. Family-friendly concerts, face painting and activities at University Village? Yes, please!
29. Lace up your hiking boots and hit one of our favorite waterfall hikes. Psst! They’re totally tot-friendly.
photo: Phil Hangelberg via Flickr
30. Beat the heat at America’s Car Museum—your one stop shop for fuel-injected fun!
31. Float over Seattle on the newest glass thrill experience at the Space Needle. It’s a floor-to-ceiling viewing experience like no other!
32. Sure you’ve been camping, but how about camping in a yurt?
33. Visit Pike Place Market or one of our city’s other farmers markets and score some (relatively cheap) fresh fruits, veggies and flowers or pick up unique items like hemp necklaces or dream catchers.
34. Take your future farmers to Kelsey Creek Farm to meet the park’s resident animals or take a farm tour with Farmer Jayne. Psst…pack a lunch and plan to make a day of it!
35. Book a trip to Tillicum Village on Blake Island. The kids will love riding the Argosy cruise ship and exploring the island. And everyone will love the salmon bake and lively entertainment.
photo: Kristina Moy
36. Soar over to The Museum of Flight and spend the day immersed in hands-on aviation activities.
37. Cast your lines at one of our favorite fishing holes. Psst! Kids 14 & under do not need a fishing license in the state of Washington.
38. The Emerald City is bursting with wild and wacky sights. See how many you can spot in a day.
39. Cool off with a scoop (or two!) of our fave ice cream, custard, gelato or froyo.
40. Visit the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. In addition boat watching and the always-awesome fish ladder, explore the botanical garden and the Visitor’s Center which doubles as a hands-on nautical museum (on the second floor) or catch a free concert on Saturdays and Sundays from 2 p.m.-3 p.m. through Labor Day.
41. Stay cool this summer at one of our favorite bowling alleys. Psst! Summertime also means free games of bowling with Kids Bowl Free. Or grab your skates and hit one of these roller skating rinks that have stood the test of time.
42. There’s a reason the Seattle Center is one of the top visitor destinations – it’s a blast! And you don’t have to spend a dime to keep the kiddies engaged. Let them wander around the sculpture garden, create cool sounds at the Sonic Bloom solar-powered art installation, run around the International Fountain, play at the Artists at Play playground and emote on the stage. Psst! Walk across the street to The Gates Foundation Visitor Center. Admission is always free during regular hours.
photo: Kristina Moy
43. Check out South Lake Union’s uber-cool glass domes and virtual rain forest at the Amazon Spheres.
44. While hiking Mt. Si should be reserved for an adult-only day date, Little Si is the perfect challenge for kids who are up to more than a leisurely nature stroll.
45. High Trek Adventures is filled with rope ladders, swinging bridges and zip lines—perfect for little adrenaline junkies to go wild.
46. Do your kiddos love creepy crawlers or slithering snakes? Indulge them with a trip to The Reptile Zoo.
47. Take a spin on the Seattle Great Wheel to get a bird’s-eye view of the city like no other.
photo: Charles K. via Yelp
48. Sign your kids up to participate in the Kids Adventure Games at Steven’s Pass. It’s a kid-sized adventure race where teams of two navigate a one-of-a-kind “natural terrain” inspired obstacle course.
51. Planning a birthday party this summer? Blow out the candles at one of these Seattle-area active party spots.
52. Hit Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium this summer and ride a camel, watch the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater show, meet the zoo’s newest animals and visit the newly remodeled Pacific Seas Aquarium and awesome South Pacific Aquarium.
photo: Oona Copperhill
53. From indoor to outdoor to group to private, Seattle has plenty of swimming schools to suit your water bug’s age, skill level and personality.
54. Gas up the family roadster and take a summer road trip within a few hours drive or less of the city.
55. A gurgling urban fountain can provide hours of free entertainment.
56. Many museums in our area offer free admission on the first Thursday of the month or discounted evenings, so check out a different one each month.
58. Visit the Gum Wall in Post Alley, run the bases at Safeco Field and check off these eight other bucket list items for kids under 10.
photo: Josh Grenier via Flickr
59. Head to Pioneer Square and spend the day learning about Seattle history, panning for gold and viewing one-of-a-kind antique fire trucks.
60. Ride scooters or bikes through the mile-long tunnel that goes from Sam Smith Park in Mt. Baker to the I-90 lid. Then, turn around and come back and play at the playground.
61. Summertime and festivals go hand-in-hand. Check out our family events calendar and hit a different festival each weekend. Admission is usually free!
62. Take a tour of the Boeing factory where they make real-life airplanes and watch your plane-crazy kid’s eyes go wide with excitement.
63. Grab a curbside seat along 4th Ave. to see this magnificent summer parade make its way through downtown Seattle.
64. You know we love Portland Red Tricycle – check the events calendar and plan a weekend getaway to Seattle’s sister city to the south!
65. Need a mid-week or weekend getaway, but don’t want to travel too far? Take a family staycation. Psst! Don’t forget to bring your swim goggles!
photo: Kristina Moy
66. See how many of our favorite parks and playgrounds you can cross of this list by the time school starts again. On your mark, get set, go!
67. Stumped on where to wow visiting friends and family with the city’s food scene? Try one of our top recommendations. Or give one of our favorite spots for Sunday brunch a try or these eateries designed for families.
68. Catch a kid-friendly flick at Bellevue’s Lincoln Square ($5 for 10 movies or $1 per show) or the Regal Summer Movie Express ($1 Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m.). If nighttime is more your style, hit up West Seattle’s free outdoor movies on Saturday nights or venture to Shilshole Bay Marina and catch an outdoor flick for free. And be sure to check out our list of kid-friendly theaters here.
69. Check out a “discovery backpack” at this Bellevue nature center and explore the outdoors with your kid crew.
70. If you’re itching to get out of the city, head to this seaside town that boasts an amazing food scene (including the world’s best waterside pizzeria), weird and wonderful art and the best hide-and-go-seek spot this side of Hogwarts.
photo: Kristina Moy
72. Part farm, part carnival, this popular family attraction in Carnation has been entertaining families for decades and is the perfect place to spend a summer day.
73. Go on a mini family vacay where you don’t need to bring sunscreen, but you will need your swimsuits and goggles.
74. When the need to become one with nature strikes, head out to one of these tranquil gardens chock-full of blooming blossoms, rushing waterfalls and plenty of places to relax and rejuvenate.