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! The highlight for my boys was seeing Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners being built. 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 lunch at the Space Needle. Make a reservation at SkyCity at the Needle, the revolving restaurant just below the observation deck. Granted, this place is pricey, but when you eat here, your elevator ride to the top is free. Otherwise, a simple trip to the observation deck (accessible from the restaurant) can cost $70-plus for a family of four.
KidTripster Tip: Lunch is far less expensive than dinner with adult entrees ranging from $27 to $35 and kid entrees ranging from $15 to $18. All kids’ meals are served in a souvenir Space Needle lunchbox. For dessert, my boys split a Lunar Orbiter, an ice cream sundae surrounded by smoking dry ice. Huge hit!
Of course, along with the food, you’re paying for the spectacular views: the city skyline, Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and the Cascade Mountains. The restaurant is casual with many families dining. The kids wrote the question, “Where are you from?” on a slip of paper and left it on the non-rotating side rail. When we returned to our starting point 20 minutes later, the answers from other restaurant patrons read, “Alaska, Walla Walla, and Spain.”
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. Even my not-easily-impressed teenager was in awe. Cost: Youth (4 & under) Free; Youth (5-12) $14; Adult $22.
KidTripster Tip: If you decide not to dine at SkyCity, you can take advantage of the Space Needle + Chihuly Garden and Glass discounted admission package.
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: $69.95/person; group packages are available.
My husband and I hadn’t told the boys about this surprise. Their reactions were expected. My young daredevil, cried, “Awesome!” My older, more cautious son, insisted, “I’m not going.” After a little coaxing, both 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.
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.
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 fall/winter/spring visit. Otherwise, the rest of the year is ideal weather in Seattle.
Editor Shellie Bailey-Shah admits to never actually skydiving herself, but she and her sons have gone paragliding in Nepal.