Reader Questions: A Week in Seattle with Kids (Part 1)

Lumi, a reader from Germany wrote to ask about how to spend two weeks in the Pacific Northwest with her 4 year old and 7 year old. This post covers what to do for the week she'll spend in Seattle while her husband attends a conference.

Dear Debbie,

I am Lumi, I'm coming from Romania and I leave for 10 years now in Erlangen, Germany. As my husband is going to travel for a conference to Seattle (5/15 to 5/18), and I never was in the USA, we are considering to join him and extend the stay to a little holiday. While searching for information about Seattle on the net, I found your excellent website.

We could spend 2-3 Weeks in the area. Our two Kids are 7 and 4 years old (they don't speak, nor do they understand English). Your website gave me courage, but I don't know where to start. How long shall we stay in Seattle? Shall we plan an "itinerary" to explore the region? I will be very glad for every suggestion from you!


I'm glad you're taking the plunge! Here's some help with planning your trip. Since there is a lot to cover, I'm breaking it into multiple posts.

Where to Stay
First of all, in separate email, you asked for my opinion about, This Wallingford Apartment. Wallingford is north of downtown, and is a fun family friendly neighborhood with lots of restaurants. Note that you will be staying in a separate apartment, not the whole house. The style of this home is a very typical historical style for Seattle. I have no direct experience with SeaToSky, but their rental terms look reasonable and they have some good reviews on TripAdvisor. If I were looking for a vacation rental, I would feel comfortable renting with them. Their Harbor Steps and Belltown locations are closer to downtown, but they are big modern apartment buildings, which might not be what you are looking for.

Getting Around
Seattle's public transit system probably isn't as good as what you're used to in Germany. You should be able to get everywhere you need to on the bus, but you'll probably need to transfer downtown. Taxis are not readily available and need to be called in advance. Renting a car would give you the freedom to explore neighborhoods like Ballard and Freemont without spending a lot of time on the bus, and to go further afield to Mount Rainier or Snoqualmie Falls. If you do rent a car, be aware that Washington's Car Seat Law requires both of your children to use a booster seat or other child restraint and sit in the back seat.


With two weeks in the northwest, you could spend a week in Seattle (while your husband attends his conference) and a week split between Portland and a beach destination. I would recommend staying in no more than three different places as moving frequently can be stressful for little kids (and parents).

Here are some ideas for your time in Seattle

  • Visit Downtown Seattle including the Central Library, Seattle Art Museum, and Pikes Market.
  • Take the Monorail from Downtown to Seattle Center. You'll find enough to do there to cover one or two afternoons.
  • Ballard, one of Seattle's up-and coming neighborhoods, and home to the Ballard Locks has lots for kids to do.
  • Take a day trip to Mount Rainier (Bring food with you as the offerings on the mountain aren't great)
  • Take a day trip out to the countryside with visits to Snoqualmie Falls, North Bend and Carnation. While these aren't "world class" sights, it's neat to get out into the countryside and see what historic small-town America is like and a visit to the waterfall is wonderful on a warm day. This is also a great area for hiking.
  • Visit the Woodland Park Zoo and have lunch at the best burger joint in town, Red Mill Burger.
  • Explore Wallingford (the area around your rental). We love the Essential Baking Company for breakfast or lunch and the Gasworks Park Kite Shop (note that Gasworks park itself is closed). Don't miss Trophy Cupcakes in Wallingford Center.
  • Fremont, also near your vacation rental, is a fun and very funky neighborhood. While you're there, tour the Theo Chocolate Factory

What's On In May?
You're fortunate to be visiting during the week of the Seattle International Children's Festival (May 12-17). Once that's over, you can find out about other kid friendly events and activities at Parent Map

Check back for Part II of this post where we'll cover visiting Portland with Kids. If you are interested in having me answer your family travel question, send me email at: debbie at deliciousbaby dot com.

Related Links:
Choosing A Child Friendly Hotel or Vacation Rental
Seattle With Kids Guide
Itineraries: Downtown Seattle, Seattle Center and Ballard
Planning a Day on Your Family Vacation

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  1. megan on February 20, 2008 at 9:40 p.m.

    my extended family has used SeaToSky when visiting us in Seattle and we've all been very pleased - in my experience, they do a good job and are trustworthy.

  2. Jennifer Blaney on February 26, 2008 at 8:58 p.m.

    Hi Deb, stumbled upon your blog and loved it! I linked this post to my own site:, since you mentioned the Snoqualmie area. (Should be live in the next hour.) Keep up the good blogging!

  3. jen on March 21, 2009 at 1:10 p.m.

    With children, I highly recommend taking them to the Children's Museum or the Pacific Science Museum. Your 4 year old would love the Children's Museum (but 6-7 seems to be the upper limit for relevant age.) Both would be fine for the Pacific Science Museum.

    The other place I'd highly recommend is the Museum of Flight. It is a great place for both kids and adults. It is huge and the kids can run around. They have a great little kids area, and I love the space exhibits.

    Yes, the Woodland Park Zoo is great. They have wonderful indoor play area and exhibits if the weather isn't good. Also, the zoo is very well know for conservation and education.

    I would probably skip the Seattle Aquarium and go to the aquarium in Vancouver, BC. Their aquarium is much better. I would also skip the EMP/SFM. I just think there isn't enough relevant for the 4 year old and possibly the 7 year old.

    Yes, the public transportation is not great. Count on driving most days.

    Look at GoCityKids Seattle calender for ideas:

    ParentMap also has a calendar for ideas:

    Also Red Tricycle is a great source:

    I live in Seattle and use these resources all the time for finding things to do with my 2 kids. BTW, we are members of the Zoo, Aquarium, Children's Museum, and Museum of Flight, so we are connected to all things kid! Have a great trip.

  4. Kristin on March 11, 2012 at 1:05 p.m.

    Hi Debbie-
    My mom is taking my family and my brother's family to the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, WA April 7-11. I'm wondering if that's too long at an indoor waterpark? Should we stay just 3 nights and then 1 night in Seattle or Portland? Kids are ages 7,8 10, 10, 13.

  5. Debbie on March 13, 2012 at 11:39 a.m.


    Yes, I think 2-3 nights would be plenty of time to spend at Great Wolf Lodge - the kids will have lots fun in the waterpark, but there's not much else to do in that area. Good luck!

  6. Shelley on June 25, 2013 at 7:40 p.m.

    Wow, what a great itinerary for anyone thinking of taking the kids to Seattle! I think many people will find this to be very helpful! It's hard to plan a trip with the kids, but this has a lot of great information.