With more and more families making Columbia City their home, it’s hard not to keep an eye on this up and coming South Seattle neighborhood. And while some residents of Columbia City are less than pleased with their neighborhood becoming more commercialized (They even have a Starbucks! Gasp!). But people flocking to their little nook, there’s no denying that the diversity, walkability and community events of Columbia City can’t be kept a secret forever. Here are the top 10 things you need to know and places you need to visit when you and your kids visit Columbia City.

1. Find It: Okay, so you’ve heard of Columbia City and when your friends talk about meeting there for a park play date, you nod your head like you know how to get there… but in reality, you have no clue where Columbia City actually is. Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Columbia City is actually tucked in the Rainier Valley of Southeast Seattle. If you take South Alaska Street off of Martin Luther King Jr Way South, you’ll run right into Columbia City and its business district. Find a spot to park, pull out the stroller and you’re off!

2. Ditch Your Car: You can also get to Columbia City via Light Rail – a fun way to add some adventure to your visit. Try jumping on the Light Rail train downtown – it takes just under 20-minutes to reach the Columbia City Station, which puts you just a couple of blocks away from where you’ll want to be.

3. Now that Seafair is Over… Hit up Genesee Park (4316 Genesee Street, Seattle). A popular spot during Seattle’s coolest summer festival for watching the Blue Angels roar over Lake Washington and the hydroplanes battle it out on the water, Genesee is also a great place to play. Don’t forget to walk all the way across the park for some splashing at the beach.

4. Direct from the Source: One of your first stops in Columbia City should be Columbia City Bakery (4865 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle). You’ll likely recognize their tasty breads and pastries from some of your own favorite restaurants across Seattle and we highly encourage you to give them a try fresh from the bakery itself. Yum. And don’t forget some bread to take home with you to enjoy with dinner… or a cake. Whatever, we won’t judge you.

5. Seriously? Pinball? Oh yes, it’s true, but not just pinball… ice cream too! Full Tilt Ice Cream (5041 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle) is pretty much every kid’s dream come true and will likely fulfill the dreams of a parent or two also (just don’t hog the machines, okay, mom and dad?). Plan on spending some serious time here when you come to Columbia City. They also host kid’s concerts and other fun events for families – keep an eye on their Facebook page for up to date information.

6. To Market, to Market: The Columbia City Farmer’s Market is known to be one of the best in Seattle and it’s a great way to spend a Wednesday evening (from 3:00 – 7:00 pm) during the months of May through October. This market really focuses on the farm-to-table approach, which is a great lesson for your urban-dwelling kiddos, who likely think that carrots are actually grown at Whole Foods. Keep an eye on the Market’s Facebook page to see what’s fresh each week!

7. Get a Trim: So, it might be kind of mean to trick your kiddo into getting a haircut while you’re exploring Columbia City, but we’re parents – tricking our kids is what our job is all about! Columbia City Cuts (4859 Rainier Avenue South) is one of the best places in Seattle to get her bangs freshened up or to turn his mop into a super cool mohawk. At $24, a cut and often with room for walk-in clients, you might as well.

8. Then, Go Retro: Not that you’ll need to bribe your child to get their haircut (Us? Bribe our kids? Never!), but you’re definitely going to want to make a stop in Retroactive Kids (4859 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle), whether you need haircut bribing contraband or not. Full of vintage and new classic toys that you’ll probably remember from your own childhood, Retroactive Kids is a highlight for any trip to Columbia City.

9. Pizza, Columbia City-Style: Exploring a new neighborhood is tough work. Thankfully, a Seattle family-favorite also has a location in Columbia City for when your little explorers are about to stage a mutiny if they don’t get fed… and fast. Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria (4918 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle) will always hit the spot. Bonus points from parents for keeping the kids entertained while they wait for their pie with some fresh pizza dough to play with and for always having great wine and cocktail specials. And, we hear through the mommy-grapevine that Tutta Bella in Columbia City is debuting a new menu.

10. Get Your Beat On: One thing that you won’t be able to miss about Columbia City is that there is an unmistakable feel of community. It’s more than just another neighborhood in Seattle – Columbia City is its own little city within the city and it shows. Check out BeatWalk with your kids – a community music festival held on the first Friday of every month from May through September. It’s an all-ages monthly event that will get your kids (and you!) dancing on the sidewalks of Columbia City. Live music is preformed along the streets of the business district, as well as in many of the local stores and restaurants. There’s a $7 cover that gets your admission to all venues, but kids are free!

Plan your own visit to Columbia City, then come back to tell us what you loved! Or share in the comments below your must-visit spots in this fun Seattle neighborhood.

— Katie Kavulla

Photos via the Full Tilt Ice Cream Facebook page, the Columbia City Farmer’s Market Facebook page, the Columbia City Beat Walk Facebook page