Celebrate all things in the sky with a family-friendly weekend in Seattle.
My two sons love to fly. But short on frequent flyer miles, we recently opted for a road trip to Seattle to celebrate all things in the sky! Located along the Puget Sound with views of the Cascade Mountains, Seattle offers plenty of outdoor experiences. But on this trip, we focused on indoor adventures, proving you can visit Seattle during the rainier months of the year!
What to do & where to eat?
Seattle has several top-notch aviation museums. Begin your day at the Future of Flight Aviation Center in Mukilteo, 25 miles north of Seattle. This center is the starting point for the 90-minute Boeing Factory Tour. (Children need to be at least 4 feet tall; parents can’t carry kids.) The plant in the largest building (by volume) in the world and the only place in North America where you can see jets being assembled. According to our guide, the factory is so big that it could hold all of Disneyland plus 12-1/2 additional acres for parking! After you take this tour, you’ll never look at air travel in the same way! Tour and Aerospace Gallery Cost: Youth (15 & under) $15; Adult $25; book in advance online.
KidTripster Tip: To see the most action on the factory floor, I’d recommend reserving the first tour at 9 a.m.
Head downtown for the obligatory 41-second ride to the top of the Space Needle. Fresh off a $100-million “spacelift,” the Space Needle is now far more visitor-friendly. Before heading up, take a few moments to read the infographic boards at the base. We were amazed to discover that this architectural marvel was built in just six months back in 1961! Floor-to-ceiling windows on the observation deck give you unobstructed views of the city skyline, Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and the Cascade Mountains. But your kids will gravitate to the section of the observation deck with a rotating, glass floor. Feel free to sit down and “ride” the floor; everyone does!
KidTripster Tip: As of this writing, the restaurant at the top of the Needle is being renovated. When completed, consider it for an extra special lunch date.
Next walk to kid-pleasing Chihuly Garden and Glass at the base of the Space Needle. Home to the largest collection of glass art by Washington native Dale Chihuly, the eye-popping galleries are absolutely stunning, especially the 40-foot-tall Glasshouse with its suspended blossoms of red, orange, and yellow. Honestly, this may be my favorite art museum in the world. Even my not-easily-impressed teenager was in awe. Cost: Youth (4 & under) Free; Youth (5-12) $17; Adult $26.
KidTripster Tip: You can play a free audio tour from your cell phone while you walk through the exhibits. Remember to bring your own earbuds or headphones.
KidTripster Tip: You can purchase a combo ticket for the Space Needle and Chihuly. Cost: Youth (4 & under) Free; Youth (5-12) $36; Adult $49. Or consider a Seattle Center 4-Pack or Seattle CityPASS for further discounts.
End your high-flying adventure at iFLY Seattle in Tukwila, just south of Seattle near SeaTac International Airport. iFLY is a vertical wind tunnel for indoor skydiving. It isn’t cheap, but we rationalized that it was less expensive and safer than actually jumping out of a plane. Reserve in advance; flyers need to be at least 3 years old. Cost: $70/person; group packages are available.
My husband and I hadn’t told the boys about this surprise. Their reactions were predictable. My young daredevil, cried, “Awesome!” My older, more cautious son insisted, “I’m not going.” After a little coaxing, the boys pulled on jumpsuits, googles, and helmets. With an instructor, each boy had two, 1-minute flights. Believe me, one minute is a long time when your feet aren’t touching the ground! The youngest emerged from the tunnel yelling, “This is like the best thing ever!” We even got two enthusiastic thumbs up from his brother.
Photo courtesy: Future of Flight Aviation Center
Where to stay?
Consider Hotel Monaco. It’s a 15-minute walk from the flying fish at Pike Place Market and the original site of Starbucks Coffee. It offers loaner bikes, child-sized robes, milk and cookies, a toy chest, and even a loaner goldfish for your room. Starts at $160/night.
For more options, check on KidTripster’s Top 10 Stays in Seattle.
When to go?
Yes, it’s rainy in Seattle from about mid-October until mid-May. But it’s not an all-day, everyday kind of rain. The suggestions here are actually well-suited to a late fall/winter/early spring visit. Otherwise, the rest of the year is ideal weather in Seattle.
For more things to do in Seattle, read our Top 10 list here.
For the best places to eat with a family in Seattle, click here.
Editor Shellie Bailey-Shah admits to never actually skydiving herself, but she and her sons have gone paragliding in Nepal.