When the grandparents visit, treat them to a day out on the town and share some of the fun things that make Seattle extra-special! Added bonus? You get to play tourist in your own city. Check out these 13 local outings that offer the perfect blend of all-ages adventure and opportunities to connect as a family.

"Donut" Miss a Day on the Water

Treat the grands to a sweet ride on the water! Take a spin on Lake Union in a donut boat. Donut boats are an easy, affordable way to enjoy the beautiful, bustling Seattle water scene. Boats seat six people (weight capacity is 1,200 pounds) and have electric motors steered by tiller, so they are easy to operate (no prior boating experience required). You’ll get a quick tutorial and the friendly, helpful staff will have you on the water in under ten minutes. Take in the Seattle skyline, boats and watch float planes take off and land in the lake. There is a small umbrella aboard for shade, but dress in layers and don’t forget your sunscreen. Make a reservation, pack some snacks and drink, and get ready for a fun adventure on the open seas!

Grand Alternative: If non-motorized boating is more your speed, head a couple miles north to Greenlake Boathouse where you can rent a variety of water craft from kayaks to pedal boats and more to enjoy on Seattle’s favorite lake.

Hours: Daily, 9 a.m–7 p.m. (weather permitting)
Cost: $25/hr.; $18/hr., before noon "Happy Hour" rate

Seattle Donut Boat Co.
1001 Fairview Ave. N.
Seattle, WA 98109
206-719-1773
Online: seattledonutboat.com

Greenlake Boathouse
7351 E. Green Lake Dr. N.
Seattle, WA 98115
206-527-0171
Online: greenlakeboatrentals.net

photo: Photo Library

Explore the Amazon Spheres

Do Grandma and Grandpa have a green thumb? Treat them to one of the most interesting experiences in the city. The Amazon Spheres are architecturally stunning and offer a glimpse at more than 400 different species of cloud forest plants from around the globe. The Spheres’ extensive collection of biodiverse flora explore the value of conservation in a unique, urban environment. The plants are organized into a number of collections, including breathtaking vertical gardens and carefully cultivated green spaces with plants of all shapes and sizes. You’ll see flora that you’ve never seen before. Ambassadors roam the area to answer questions and provide more information on the diverse plants. A fan favorite is the rare corpse flower, a plant that takes about seven years to produce its first bloom, which only remains open for about 48 hours. 

Good to know: Parties are currently limited to groups of four with a one-hour time limit to enjoy the Spheres. Reservations are required and are released 15 days prior to the date. They fill up quickly.

Hours: 1st & 3rd Saturdays, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Cost: Free

2111 7th Ave.
Seattle, WA 98121
Online: seattlespheres.com

Hit the Links! Fore!

A friendly game of miniature golf is the perfect activity for family members of all ages. These three outdoor courses provide a little challenge, a little competition and a lot of fun! Redmond’s Rainbow Run putting course journeys through four PNW climate zones and features many defining qualities of our region, including waterfalls and lots of greenery. Fun addition: each hole is named after a Seattle-area destination. Interbay Miniature Golf offers an outdoor adventure in the heart of Seattle. Fun and convenient if you want to add a round of golf to a day of showing Grandma and Grandpa the city. If you’re up for a day trip, drive to scenic Snohomish and visit the quaint historic district for delicious eats (don’t miss Snohomish Pie Company) and eclectic shopping and stop by Snohomish Valley Golf Center for a round of mini golf. Enjoy lunch, dinner or apps at the on-site Valley Grill.

Rainbow Run at Willows Run
10402 Willows Rd.
Redmond, WA 98052
425-883-1200
Online: willowsrun.com

Cost: $11/Adults; $7.50/Kids (12 & under); $10/Adults (before 11 a.m.); $6.50/Kids, (before 11 a.m.)

Interbay Miniature Golf
2501 15th Ave. W.
Seattle, WA 98119
206-285-2200
Online: premiergc.com/-interbay-golf-center

Cost: $9/adults, $6.50/juniors (17 & under)

Snohomish Valley Golf Center
8511 Marsh Rd
Snohomish, Wa. 98296
360-568-2493
Online: snohomishvalleygolfcenter.com

Hours: Daily, 8 a.m.–10 p.m.
Cost: $10/adults; $8/juniors (12 & under) and seniors (55+)

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

Nestled just east of downtown, Bellevue Botanical Garden offers year-round color, beauty and tranquility. Made up of over a dozen cultivated gardens and wetlands covering 53 acres, there is something for everyone to enjoy and appreciate. The gardens and trails are accessible for all, but visitors should dress for the weather and wear non-skid shoes to safely traverse the park. Stop by the The Trillium Store for garden-inspired gifts or take a break at the Copper Kettle Coffee Bar and enjoy a great cup of organic, free-trade coffee or delicious sweet treats from Macrina Bakery. Lunch items are also available. Psst! Dogs, bikes and skateboards are not allowed in the gardens. Families and children are welcome, but it’s not a traditional park with a playground. This experience is best-suited for kids who can stay on paths and avoid disturbing the plants, flowers and fruits.

Good to know: If your family needs to burn some energy after enjoying the beautiful landscape, head up the street to Wilburton Hill Park where there is a fun playground and space to run, jump and play!

Hours: Dawn to dusk
Cost: Free

Bellevue Botanical Garden
12001 Main St.
Bellevue, WA 98005
425-452-2750
Online: bellevuebotanical.org

Be Pinball Wizards for a Day

So, Grandpa may not be too good at Super Smash Bros., 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 over 50 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, craft beer and cider available for purchase. Parking can be tricky. Try the lot at the end of the block on Maynard to avoid parking headaches.

Hours: Sun., Mon. & Thurs., noon-6 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., noon-8 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays & Wednesdays.
Cost: $20/Adults; $17/Kids (7-12) and Seniors (65+)

Seattle Pinball Museum
508 Maynard Ave. S.
Seattle, WA 98104
206-623-0759
Online: seattlepinballmuseum.com

photo: Emerald City Pirates

Ahoy Matey!

If the grands 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 even fire a (water) cannon. Every child will receive a treasure from the ship’s treasure chest, too. Before setting sail, you’ll receive your pre-ordered swag and pirate name tag. Swag selections include a pirate pak (including a sword, bandana, and eye patch), pirate hat, or hook. Psst! Arrive 30 minutes early so you have time to stop by the ship’s store and purchase additional pirate paraphernalia, snacks, and drinks (including adult libations).

Good to know: Boarding activities last approximately 15 minutes; the cruise lasts approximately 60 minutes, with ten minutes of disembarkation time. A total experience of one hour and 30 minutes. Outside food and drink is not allowed.

Hours: Varies. Check the website
Cost: $32/Salty Dogs (14-64); $27/Scallywags (1.5-14) and Senior Salts (54 & up); $12/Wee Pirates (0-1.5)

Emerald City Pirates
860 Terry Ave. N.
Seattle WA 98109
206-639-8689
Online: emeraldcitypirates.com

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. Book a Wild Drive or Keeper Adventure for an up close and personal interaction with Northwest wildlife including moose, bison, elk and many others in their natural habitat. 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! Before heading home, allow the kids to run off steam at Kid's Trek, the park's huge, nature-inspired playground.

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.

Hours: Sun.-Sat., 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. or 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. (depending on the season)
Online Cost: $22/Adults (13-64); $20/Seniors (65 & up); $14/Youth (5-12); $10/Kids (3-4); Free for kids 2 & under

Northwest Trek
11610 Trek Dr. E.
Eatonville, WA 98328
360-832-6117
Online: nwtrek.org

photo: Ross Sutcliffe

Cruise to Blake Island

Want to immerse your visitors in the history, culture and traditions of Northwest Native American tribes? Book a trip to Blake Island. Just 27 minutes from downtown Seattle via the Fast Ferry, Blake Island is a serene and secluded getaway that offers day hikes, guided and self-guided activities, and the Longhouse Café. The Tillicum Excursion, a beloved Northwest tradition, is closed through 2021, but there are plenty of other island activities to choose from. Schedule a guided nature walk to learn about island plants, trees and creatures, or the Coast Salish Cultural presentation to view tribal regalia, masks and more. Wrap up your time on the island by reserving a fire table to dine al fresco and roast s’mores. Psst! New this summer: Blake Island is hosting on-site wineries and breweries on select weekends for tastings. Check the schedule to see who is coming and then book your Wine Flights!

Argosy Cruises
1101 Alaskan Way, Pier 55
Seattle, WA  98101
206-623-1445
Online: argosycruises.com

Soar Over Seattle

One of Seattle’s coolest 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.

Good to know: 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 Fisherman's Restaurant & Bar which offers fantastic food and a view to match, plus the Ye Olde Curiosity ShopPirate's Plunder and Seattle Aquarium.

Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; 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.

Wings Over Washington
1301 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98101
206-602-1808
Online: wingsoverwa.com

Enjoy Seafood With a View

Want to share Seattle’s magnificent water views over a scrumptios seafood meal? Here are a few excellent choices:

Duke's is a Seattle gem offering water-side locations around the Sound. Duke's is family owned and their love for multi-generational gatherings shows through their service and commitment to sustainability. Duke Moscrip himself takes pride in his menu, with zero chemicals in the ingredients or dishes of any kind. The kid's menu has the same health qualities that the regular menu offers, and both are 100% sustainable. Don't miss the chowder sampler or the clam strips!

For sunsets it's hard to beat Ray's Boathouse, with epic views of the Olympic Mountains and non-stop opportunities for bird and wildlife spotting, making it a great spot for both the kids and the grands. Ivar's Salmon House has a very entertaining patio, with boats, kayaks and paddle boards sailing by. And a fantastic Native American art collection inside. Psst! If you ask, a host will be happy to go over the impressive carvings with you.

Duke's Seafood & Chowder
Multiple locations
Online: dukesseafood.com

Ray's Boathouse
6049 Seaview Ave. N.W.
Seattle, WA 98107
206-789-3770
Online: rays.com

Ivar's Salmon House
401 N.E. Northlake Way
Seattle, WA 98105
206-632-0767
Online: ivars.com/locations/salmon-house

photo: Seattle Center

Say Yes to Seattle Center!

Most visitors will want to check the Space Needle off their to-do lists, and we can't blame them. Just remember that the Seattle Center has so many other exciting things to do once your feet are back on solid ground. And each of these entertaining options can be easily accessed by foot or wheelchair; it's your one stop shop for Seattle fun!

Chihuly Garden and Glass is arguably the most unique and spectacular exhibit of any kind in the city. If you haven't been, it's time to use those visitors to your advantage and make it happen! MoPOP is similarly special to Seattle. Take in the Museum's latest exhibits and listen to the grandparents go on about owning Jimi Hendrix records on vinyl back in the day. After a trip through the two museums, let the kids burn off some energy at the nearby Artists at Play Playground while the grandparents rest at the nearby tables and benches. If the weather is warm, everyone will enjoy cooling off by the International Fountain which presents water shows choreographed to special music selections throughout the day. And don't forget about the variety of food and beverage selections found in the Armory. It's the perfect place to enjoy a great meal and take a load off. If you’re feeling extra motivated, consider adding on a visit to the Pacific Science CenterSeattle Children’s Museum or even a ride on the Seattle Center Monorail.

Good to know: Street parking (if you can find any) is usually cheaper than the parking garages around the Seattle Center. Better yet, go on a Sunday when street parking is free.

Seattle Center
305 Harrison St.
Seattle, WA 98109
206-684-7200
Online: seattlecenter.com

photo: Alaina Weimer

Eat Your Way Through Pike Place Market

Chef Traci Calderon runs Atrium Kitchen, an absolute delight tucked inside Pike Place Market. After spending just a few minutes with her, she will feel like part of the family. Atrium Kitchen offers many options to entertain budding chefs and gourmets alike. Schedule a Market to Table Tour for a one-of-a-kind, hands-on culinary adventure. Chef Traci will tailor the tour to your family's dietary and mobility needs and her Pike Place Market stories, which draw on decades of local lore, are fun for even seasoned visitors of the Market.

Market Extra: After picking up all those great cooking tips, let the grands stock up on local delicacies at DeLaurenti Food & Wine. And if your family is looking for an authentic Seattle brewery experience (with a spectacular view of Elliott Bay), beeline it to Old Stove Brewing Co. and let them enjoy 24 taps (brewed on-site) in the MarketFront on Western Ave.

Atrium Kitchen
93 Pike St.
Seattle, WA 98101
206-829-9525
Online: atriumkitchenpikeplace.com

Get Out on the Water & Look for Whales

Getting out on the water and fully experiencing our amazingly aquatic city is an absolute must for visiting grandparents. A quick ferry ride to Bremerton, Vashon Island, or Kingston couldn't be easier, especially if you choose to walk on the ferry. The views of downtown Seattle, Mount Rainier and Puget Sound can't be beat!

If you're looking for something even more thrilling, consider a whale watching excursion. The only half-day, guaranteed whale watching trip near Seattle, the Puget Sound Express in Edmonds, is a fantastic way to bond with family and experience the joy of being on the water. Voyage through the Salish Sea and the San Juan Islands and spot dolphins, seals, sea lions, sea birds, and of course, whales! The excitement of spotting the first majestic whale is always a major thrill, but seeing the smiles on your family's faces will be priceless. The state-of-the-art boat is extremely comfortable, specifically designed for whale watching and provides indoor seats for all, outdoor decks, and large picture windows for viewing marine life. Psst! We recommend pre-ordering sandwich box lunches with your ticket purchase, so that no one gets hangryAnd be sure to save room for Sherri’s famous Blueberry Buckle, made fresh daily.

Good to know: Puget Sound Express is a family run business with three generations of experience. The Puget Sound is their environment and they know and love these waters like their backyard. As members of the Pacific Whale Watch Association, their sound-proofed, hydrofoil jet boats have no propellers, making them the quietest vessels in the fleet. While they also offer bird-watching and photography cruises, the Seattle Whale Watching Tour is a truly iconic Pacific Northwest experience.

Puget Sound Express
459 Admiral Way
Edmonds, WA 98020
360-385-5288
Online: pugetsoundexpress.com

—Abbey McGee, Natalie Compagno & Jeffrey Totey

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