Family-friendly finds in Emerald City.
Seattle With Kids on the Cheap: 10 Fun Places
Think big cities are suited to families traveling with big budgets? Seattle will prove you wrong – but you have to know where to go. Here are 10 hot spots families on shoestring budgets should include in their itineraries.
1. Central Library
The crown jewel of the city's library system was designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and former Seattleite Joshua Ramus. The glittering steel and glass structure is a must-see, and visiting is free. Don’t miss the children's section where kids can flop down on the comfy leather chairs and read books; the fourth floor where everything from the walls to the floors is a shiny cherry red color; and the third floor, aka the living room, where you can sit, relax, read a book, grab a coffee.
2. Pike Place Market
Get your hands ready to catch a slippery fish at this bustling marketplace. The fishmongers at the world’s famous Pike Place Fish are known to throw their fillets at customers. The guys behind the counter also sing sea chanteys and little ones love to watch the show. Among the chaos at this busy marketplace, you’ll also find dozens of stalls selling everything from French crepes to bountiful flower bouquets to farm-fresh produce. Look for Rainier cherries – they’re yummy!
3. Smith Tower
You'll pay $19 to ride in the elevator to the top of the Space Needle and take in spectacular views. You'll pay less than half that – only $7.50 – to visit the 35th floor of Smith Tower. When this 502-foot building was erected in 1909 it was hailed as the tallest skyscraper outside New York City. Structures such as the Space Needle and the Columbia Center have since surpassed it, but Smith still offers one of the best views with an observation deck that puts you in the middle of the skyline.
4. Gum Wall
On Post Alley under Pike Place Market, a massive old wall is covered in ABC (already been chewed) gum. Gross? Parents think so but kids love to chew a pack of gum and add their glob to the stickiest wall in the world. The city sends a clean up crew to remove the gum with pressurized washers every couple years, but it always returns to no avail. Free.
5. Top Pot Hand-Forged Donuts
The doughnuts here are made from scratch in small batches, and there are over 40 different kinds. They're warm, light, and absolutely delicious. Try a maple bar slathered in a crackling fudgy frosting. They’re an inexpensive treat at less than $2 each.
6. Hiram M. Chittenden Locks
This complex of locks sits in the middle of Salmon Bay, part of Seattle's Lake Washington Ship Canal, near the Ballard neighborhood. It's a popular attraction with botanical gardens, locks that move boats from the water level of the lakes to the water level of Puget Sound, and a fisher ladder that offers a great opportunity to see salmon. Pack a picnic, sit on a grassy hill and watch the boats pass through the locks.
7. Red Mill Burgers
Seattle Weekly voted this place best burger 10 years in a row, and the Oprah says this is one of the 20 hamburgers you should eat before you die. In other words, go! Try the bacon cheeseburger.
8. Olympic Sculpture Park
You have to pay admission to step inside the Seattle Art Museum but it doesn't cost a dime to stroll through the museum's spectacular sculpture garden where you'll find works by famed artists such as Calder, Oldenburg and Serra placed in dramatic locations throughout a nine-acre grassy park right on Puget Sound. Kids can't touch the sculptures but they can run around the path that zigzags through the park.
9. Seattle Center Fountain
What child doesn't enjoy getting soaked in a fountain on a sunny day? How about a fountain with 283 shooters that spew 9,000 gallons of water up to 120 feet in the air? Bring the kids spare clothing and let them run wild.
10. Junior League Playground at Magnuson Park
Seattle’s largest playground is a kid heaven with 20,000 square feet filled with brightly colored swings, slides, climbing walls and sand boxes.