Seattle's South Lake Union with Kids

Seattle's South Lake Union area has been undergoing a huge revitalization. One that, caught up in my busy everyday routine, I have largely ignored. When our last week of summer rolled around, I set aside a week for "mom camp" where we'd explore a different attraction or area each day. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to check the changes.

Kayaking summer camp at South Lake Union
Kayaking summer camp at South Lake Union

Lake Union isn't the the peaceful, unspoiled, waterfront that grownups might dream of as a retreat, but it's perfect for curious kids. From footbridges and kayakers to seaplanes and every conceivable boat there's a ton to see.

The Arthur Foss and the Swift Sure at the Center for Wooden Boats
The Arthur Foss and the Swift Sure at the Center for Wooden Boats

We started our morning with Tugboat Storytime at the Center For Wooden Boats. Kayakers, birds and seaplanes vied for our attention through the storytime, and the folding chairs, set up on the dock of the Artur Foss tugboat weren't nearly as cozy as the lapsit storytimes they're used to. Still, the atmosphere was unbeatable, and there's something special about listening to boating stories while you're out on a real boat.

Tugboat Storytime at the Center for Wooden Boats
Tugboat Storytime at the Center for Wooden Boats

The kids really perked up after storytime with the opportunity to explore the old wooden tugboat's galley, decks, engine room and crew quarters. Our imagination ran wild as we envisioned life aboard the Arthur Foss. Built in 1889, it was used during the Klondike Gold Rush to transport barges full of gold seeking miners and supplies up the Inside Passage.

Our next stop was in the next boat slip over. The Floating Farmers Market on the Historic Steamer Virginia V runs every Thursday, and I thought it would be fun to wander through and pick out some produce for dinner. In honesty, the kids weren't thrilled with the fresh produce (or the prospect that some of it might come home) and I was worried that they'd write "mom camp" off as a dud, until we spotted....

Six Strawberries Ice Pops at the South Lake Union Floating Farmers Market
Six Strawberries Ice Pops at the South Lake Union Floating Farmers Market

A fresh-made popsicle stand! I must have been feeling sensitive, because popsicles before lunch seemed like just the sort of thing I ought to encourage at mom camp. Turns out, it's a learning experience too... at least for me.

flavors included peanut butter and jelly, chai tea, fudge with junior mints and more!
flavors included peanut butter and jelly, chai tea, fudge with junior mints and more!

Everest has been a solid reader for a while now, but as Darya and Eilan picked out their flavors from a list that included peanut butter and jelly, fudge, lemon coconut, blueberry lemonade and more I learned a lot about what words they are recognizing. Poor kids, I'm sure I'll turn that knowledge to my advantage with some sort of checklist for getting ready in the mornings.

Normally, I'd spend the next 20 minutes worried about what would happen when all that sugar hit their pre-lunchtime tummies, but instead we found a quiet spot at the boat's stern and settled down to watch the action on the lake.

is there anything more adorable than a preschooler with a PB&J popsicle?
is there anything more adorable than a preschooler with a PB&J popsicle?

For me, it's quiet, happy moments like this that make all the schlepping worthwhile. The kids were full of questions and funny observations, and there was a moment for me to sit down too and listen to their happy chatter in between napkin runs and salvaging treacherously drippy popsicles.

Everest and Eilan cuddle up with popsicles
Everest and Eilan cuddle up with popsicles

Moments like this end up defining our travels whether we've flown for hours to discover a new culture, or we're just checking out a new neighborhood. Years later, I remember a moment in time like this far more than visiting a specific landmark, but somehow it's that sense of discovery and newness that makes these moments possible for all of us.

And don't worry, my practical, unsentimental side took over again eventually. We burned off all that sugar at South Lake Union's new splash fountain before lunchtime!

The huge splash fountain at South Lake Union provides plenty of space to run
The huge splash fountain at South Lake Union provides plenty of space to run

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Comments

  1. Carla

    http://coolmonsblog.com/
    October 5, 2012 at 7:54 p.m.

    South Lake Union seems like a nice place to visit; I enjoyed reading your article.

  2. maq203

    http://www.travelphilosophy.com/
    October 9, 2012 at 2:54 p.m.

    Mom camp sounds like a blast! Where do I sign up??

  3. Sophia

    http://www.orangesmile.com/
    October 10, 2012 at 3:01 a.m.

    Wow, $3 for an ice cream is quite a lot from the europe perspective. We have such prices only at very poshy places. I would go on povetry with our ice-loving kids ;-)

    Never mind, nice out-of-the-box trip!

  4. Adam Sommer

    http://www.visitflyovercountry.com/
    October 10, 2012 at 11:50 a.m.

    I have always enjoyed visiting Seattle, but this is the first I have heard of South Lake Union...looks awesome!

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