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Seattle with Kids
Seattle is great for kids. After all, a place where floatplanes take off a few feet from houseboats, and where harbor seals might be spotted on a routine ferry ride, doesn't have to try too hard to feel like a wonderland. And if the rain falls, there are plenty of great museums to keep the kids occupied. A lot of child-centric sights are easily reached via public transportation, and the piers and the Aquarium can be explored on foot from most Downtown hotels. A few spots (Woodland Park Zoo, the Ballard Locks, and the Discovery and Gas Works parks) are easier to visit by car.
Several museums cater specifically to kids, and many are conveniently clustered at the Seattle Center. The Center's winning trio is the Pacific Science Center, which has interactive exhibits and IMAX theaters; the Children's Museum, which has exhibits on Washington State and foreign cultures plus plenty of interactive art spaces; and, of course, the Space Needle. For older, hipper siblings there's a skatepark; the Vera Project, a teen music and art space; and the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum.
Downtown there are miles of waterfront to explore along the piers. The Seattle Aquarium is here and has touch pools and otters—what more could a kid want?
Parks and Outdoor Attractions
Discovery Park has an interpretive center, a Native American cultural center, easy forest trails, and accessible beaches. Alki Beach in West Seattle is lively and fun; a wide paved path is the perfect surface for wheels of all kinds—you can rent bikes and scooters, or take to the water on rented paddleboats and kayaks. Gas Works Park has great views of the skyline, floatplanes over Lake Union, and the evocative rusty remnants of the old machinery. Volunteer Park and Green Lake have wide lawns and shallow pools made for splashing toddlers.
The Woodland Park Zoo has 300 different species of animals, from jaguars to mountain goats, cheap paid parking, and an adjacent playground; stroller rentals are available. Watching an astonishing variety of boats navigate the ship canal at the Ballard Locks will entertain visitors of any age. The Northwest Puppet Center has a museum and weekend marionette plays.
Downtown, the Hotel Monaco offers a happy medium between sophisticated and family-friendly. The colorful, eccentric decor will appeal to kids but remind adults that they're in a boutique property. Fun amenities abound, like optional goldfish in the rooms, and toys in the lobby. Surprisingly, one of the city's most high-end historic properties, the Fairmont Olympic, is also quite kid-friendly. The hotel's decor is a little fussy, but the grand staircases in the lobby will awe most little ones, and there's a great indoor pool area. In addition, the hotels offers babysitting, a kids' room-service menu, as well as toys and board games.
Several properties offer kitchenette suites that help families save some money on food costs. The Silver Cloud Inn, in Lake Union, has suites with kitchens. It's north of Downtown on Lake Union, but the South Lake Union streetcar is across the street and gets you into Downtown and to bus connections quickly.Updated: 02-2013
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