The good news: your folks are finally coming to visit you in Seattle. The bad news: where are you going to take them? Sure, they want to see the sights in Seattle, but they aren’t as young as they used to be. And planning all-day world-wind day trips are out of the question. Plus, you have kids to consider. So where can you take the Grands that will give them a unique view of the city and keep the kids entertained at the same time? Read on for seven great itineraries.
Take a ‘Flight’ Over Seattle
One of Seattle’s newest attractions is the Wings Over Washington “flying theater” found on Pier 57. Built with the same technology as Disney theme park’s “Soarin’” attractions, Wings Over Washington takes guests on a virtual tour of the Pacific Northwest aboard the wings of a giant eagle. During the full sensory experience, you will fly over a packed Husky football game, glide over Snoqualmie Falls (and feel a gentle spray of mist), zoom over area forests and take in the scent of pine trees as you travel through the Cascade Mountains.
Additional Activities: Wings Over Washington is located right next to Seattle’s Great Wheel which offers another unique view of the Emerald City. Ticket prices include three trips around the wheel and spectacular views of the downtown waterfront, West Seattle, Magnolia, Pike Place Market, the Port of Seattle and much more. Wings Over Washington is also nestled among many local shops and eateries including the iconic Ivar’s Acres of Clams which offers great food and a view to match, the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, Pirate’s Plunder and Seattle Aquarium.
Good to Know: The Seattle waterfront can get very crowded on sunny days and you don’t need the sun to appreciate the Wings Over Washington attraction, so you might want to save this one for a cool overcast day.
Wings Over Washington
1301 Alaskan Way
Seattle, Wa 98101
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m.-midnight; Sat., 10 a.m.-midnight; Sun., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Cost: $17/Adults (12-64); $13/Youth (11 & under); $15/Seniors (65 & up). With the exception of seniors, tickets can be purchased online prior to your ride.
Take an Obligatory Trip to the Seattle Center
How can anyone come to Seattle and not visit the Space Needle? Of course the view from the top is spectacular and dining in the revolving restaurant is fun, but the cost can be prohibitive and for those afraid of heights, this isn’t the place for them. However, there is much to see on the grounds of the Seattle Center that everyone can enjoy without breaking a sweat or creating sore feet. But however you choose to visit the Space Needle, from the top or from the ground only, be sure to walk through the gift shop for one-of-a-kind Seattle souvenirs.
Additional Activities: After you visit the Needle, let the kids burn off some energy at the nearby Artists at Play Playground outside of the MoPOP museum (which is also another one-of-a-kind site your folks or in-laws will never see anywhere else!). If the weather is warm, cool off by the International Fountain which presents water shows choreographed to special music selections throughout the day. And when it’s time for a rest, enjoy a variety of food and beverage selections found in the Armory. If the grandparents are feeling flush, consider adding on a visit to the Pacific Science Center, Seattle Children’s Museum, Chihuly Garden and Glass or even a short ride on the Seattle Center Monorail.
Good to Know: Street parking (if you can find any) is usually cheaper than the local parking garages. Better yet, go on a Sunday when two- and four-hour street parking is free.
400 Broad St.
Seattle, Wa 98109
Hours: Mon.-Sun., 8 a.m.-midnight (ticket booth closes 30 minutes prior to closing)
Cost: $19-$29/Adults; $16-$22/Seniors; $13-$18/Youth (5-12); under 5 Free
The Seattle Center
305 Harrison St.
Seattle, Wa 98109
photo: Kristina Moy
Cruise to Blake Island
Though a little more on the pricier side, you get a bigger bang for your buck by visiting Blake Island. Your four-hour trip includes a boat cruise from Argosy’s Pier 55 location to the 475-acre Blake Island (with peek-a-boo views of Seattle and Mount Rainier along the way). Once on the island, everyone will enjoy a Northwest-inspired buffet with roasted fish prepared in the traditional style of Northwest Native Americans, stage performances with live dances and 3-D projection, viewing of native American artwork and walking trails for those wanting to work off their large meal.
Good to Know: Sales tax and a booking fees are additional on all ticket prices at the time of booking. All tickets also have a service charge added during booking. Discounts can sometimes be found on Groupon, Living Social and other coupon related websites. Complimentary language translation headsets are available to reserve in either Japanese or Chinese if needed.
Argosy Seattle Waterfront
1101 Alaskan Way, Pier 55
Seattle, Wa 98101
Cost: $84/Adults (13 & up); $65/Seniors (65 & up); $32/Youth (4-12); 3 & under Free
Take a Ride on the Wild Side
Unlike any other zoos in the state, Northwest Trek is a like a safari for viewing Northwestern animals. Your entry includes a 50-minute long Discovery Tram Tour that will take you up close and personal to moose, bison, elk and many others in their natural habitat. After the tour, wander the grounds on the paved path (that is both wheelchair and stroller-friendly) through the forest to find other animal exhibits like bears, wolves and cougars all in naturalistic exhibits. Psst… don’t miss the beavers and wolverines swimming in the pools. And before heading home, allow the kids to run off steam at Kids Trek—the huge, nature-inspired playground that opened last year.
Good to Know: If the grandparents are animal lovers, other great zoos and petting farms can be found around Seattle. Click here for a list of our favorites.
11610 Trek Dr. E.
Eatonville, Wa 98328
Hours: Sun.-Sat., 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. or 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. (depending on the season)
Cost: $22/Adults (13-64); $20.25/Seniors (65 & up); $14.25/Youth (5-12); $10.25/Kids (3-4); 2 & under Free
photo: Katy H. via Yelp
Visit Bill and Melinda Gates (Sort Of)
You might not have considered this spot for a grandparents outing, but think again. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center’s goal is to both motivate and inspire visitors (young and old) through displays, interactive exhibits and programs of the foundation’s most recent works. It is “a place where people can share ideas, explore their interests, and experience the power of optimism about the world’s future.” And it’s a perfect place to explore with kids and grandparents in tow. At the Center, you’ll see innovations and inventions used right now to help others around the world, galleries explaining why the Gates created the foundation, who the foundation’s partners are and short videos giving in-depth views of the some of their more important projects. Kids will get a kick out of the man who is reinventing the toilet and everyone will enjoy the guided tours (about 60-90 minutes in length) and the hands-on, interactive exhibits.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center
440 Fifth Ave. N.
Seattle, Wa 98109
Hours: Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed Sundays & Mondays
Be Pirates for a Day
If Grandma and Grandpa have always wanted to get in touch with their inner pirate, Emerald City Pirates offers swashbuckler adventures on Lake Union aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Together, on a fully interactive pirate experience, you’ll search for treasure, play games, learn to talk like a pirate and maybe even fire a (water) cannon. Each guest will also get to wear a pirate vest for the cruise and receive pirate tattoos and face painting, if desired. Every kid will receive a treasure from the ship’s treasure chest, too. Psst… the ship does not offer alcoholic beverages during their cruises, but they do sell soda and concessions during both their family cruises and adult cruises.
Good to Know: Boarding activities last approximately 20 minutes; the cruise lasts approximately 60 minutes, with ten minutes of disembarkation time. A total experience of one hour 30 minutes. Outside food and drink is not allowed.
Cost: $29 Salty Dogs (14-64); $25 Scallywags (1.5-14) and Senior Salts (54 & up); $10 Wee Pirates (0-1.5)
Emerald City Pirates
860 Terry Ave. N.
Seattle WA 98109
photo: Seattle Pinball Museum Facebook page
Be Pinball Wizards for a Night
So, Grandpa may not be too good at video games, but pinball is another story altogether. And, the Seattle Pinball Museum may not be first on your list of Seattle sights to see, but it is truly unique with 50 plus pinball machines from 1960 all the way up this year. A few other classic arcade video games are on hand as well (just in case the tot lot can’t figure out how to make those pinball flippers work). And unlike other museums, this one is completely hands on. And you can play for as long as you like – no quarters needed. Psst… this is a great place for families with older kids since you need to be at least 7 years old to play.
Good to Know: Admission price is good for as long as you stay in the facility. If you plan to come and go, add $5 more. No outside food or drink is allowed, but there are snacks, sodas and beer available for purchase. Parking could be tricky—try the lot at the end of the block on Maynard to avoid parking headaches.
Hours: Sun.-Thurs., noon-6 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., noon-10 p.m.; Closed on Tuesdays
Cost: $15/Adults; $12/Kids (7-12)
Seattle Pinball Museum
508 Maynard Ave. S.
Seattle, Wa 98104
Where do you like to take visiting grandparents? Tell us in the comments below.
— Jeffrey Totey