Discover the Wonders of The Emerald City at the Seattle Center
Natural mountainous beauty; exciting cosmopolitan downtown; creativity in music, art, architecture; top-notch culture and, of course, coffee: Seattle has it all! To get a taste of the best of Seattle, spend a fun-packed day at the Seattle Center.
The iconic Space Needle is just the beginning! There truly is something for every age and interest. I want to share with you my family’s personal favorites for getting a real taste of the Seattle Center, including some really great tastes!
Favorite Family-Friendly Seattle Center Attractions
The Space Needle
You can’t miss it…and you shouldn’t! Standing 605 feet high, the Space Needle towers over the entire Seattle Center as the premiere symbol of the city. Built in 1962 as part of the World’s Fair, a trip to the Observation Deck is a MUST for every Seattle visitor. The breathtaking view offers a panorama of the downtown Seattle skyline, the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Elliott Bay and surrounding islands.
As an added bonus for kids, an amazing interactive app can be downloaded to fully engage them in the experience. Plus, there’s a one-of-a kind dining experience awaiting you. See below for details.
To call the EMP a “museum” doesn’t get you ready for the fun that awaits your family! It is a celebration of leading-edge pop culture including sci-fi, horror, fairy-tales, Hello Kitty, Jimmi Hendrix and a rockin’ guitar collection.
While the museum is largely geared for older kids and adults, two exhibits will occupy younger children for hours: the state-of-the-art video game room and the professional sound studio. My girls loved their time jammin’ like superstars in the mini studio. They were hip-hopping from room to room playing the keyboards, belting out vocals, composing music on guitars and drums, and mixing like master DJs. Sports-loving kids (and parents) will enjoy seeing the Vince Lombardi trophy and the Super Bowl rings in the We are 12 exhibit about the Seattle Seahawks.
Pacific Science Center
Science has never been cooler! The tremendous Pacific Science Museum has something for the whole gang. My girls were particularly fascinated by the exhibits about genetic advancements and sports science…learning or fun? Both! Make sure to check out the awesome IMAX movies and demonstrations throughout the day.
At the end of our day, we headed back to the Pacific Science Center, comfortably resting our tired feet and laughing as we watched the antics of the adorable animated animals in the feature film Zootopia presented in 3D. As an added perk, we were able to bask in the glow of the Space Needle at night!
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum
Absolutely stunning! The experience was truly “other worldly.” Chihuly was a glass-blowing genius, and his works blew our minds! Our highlight was strolling through the beyond-the-imagination, fantastical outdoor garden full of colorful glass art creations. While this museum has an interactive free booklet for younger children, we felt that this compact museum was best for tweens and teens who appreciate art.
Tip: My children enjoyed this museum even more because they had the chance to take a fabulous glass-blowing class at the Seattle Glassblowing Studio just a short walk from the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center
While not technically part of the Seattle Center, this inspirational museum is located just a block from the EMP Museum. Its tag line is “Arrive curious. Leave inspired.” We did!
This beautifully designed facility is full of motivational stories about ways in which people can make a difference in the world. It’s a worthwhile visit for kids to learn about exciting innovations in promoting world education and health and combating poverty. Admission is free!
The Children’s Museum
This museum boasts 22,000 square feet of play space with 11 exhibits designed for kids 10 months to 10 years. It’s where “imagination comes alive.” Our kids are now a bit too old for this museum, but younger kids should love it!
Tip: Also for those with younger children, check out the Seattle Center’s modern and beautiful park.
Check out the Seattle Center website. It’s bursting with information about all of the above listed attractions and plenty more like special events, directions, and parking details. We found that the Seattle CityPASS can be a huge financial savings if your family plans to visit multiple Seattle Center attractions, as well as such other included sights as the Aquarium and Zoo. With the CityPASS, you can also choose to take a beautiful Argosy Harbor Cruise.
Best Restaurants in Seattle for Families
Talk about dining with a view! Executive Chef Jeff Maxfield’s SkyCity, located at the top of the Space Needle, offers the very best view in Seattle: sunset over the mountains, twinkling lights of the city, a panorama of sparkling water and dramatic mountains.
Make a reservation for lunch or dinner so you don’t have to wait in any lines. Plus your meal at Sky City includes admission to the Observation Deck of the Space Needle.
Tip: Request a window table and pack some post-it notes and pens to keep your kids entertained. As the restaurant revolved, my kids loved joining in with other children writing messages and posting them on the windows for all to see as they floated past the tables. The yummy kids’ meals come in a souvenir Space Needle lunchbox — adorable!
We found the perfect way to top off our hectic day of sightseeing! We strolled 10 minutes from the Seattle Center to the beautiful restaurant, Toulouse Petit, in the heart of the Queen Anne district. Brimming with atmosphere and charm, with the tagline “Bringing the Big Easy to Seattle,” the restaurant’s tremendous NOLA influenced menu offers something to please everyone.
While my girls ordered from the menu, the restaurant staff is very happy to accommodate requests from picky kids. Our highlights included: Penn Cove Mussels, Fried Green Tomatoes with Crab Meat, Savory Crawfish Beignet, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Big Easy Jambalaya and Pan Seared Diver Scallops. Our grand finale dessert was the incredible key lime and white chocolate cheesecake.
For mom and dad, there’s an amazing wine and cocktail list from which to choose. Toulouse Petit is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Armory’s Food Court
For those who want a quick inexpensive casual meal while museum hopping, there are all kinds of tempting offerings at the The Armory’s expansive food court.
Downtown Seattle Hotel Close to Monorail
With panorama views and convenient to all downtown attractions, Hilton Seattle is a perfect home base. We loved everything about our stay! And, just two blocks away is the Seattle Center Monorail which will whisk your family from downtown to the Seattle Center in only a few minutes. Zipping over the bustling city is really cool.
Make sure to dedicate a day to visiting the Seattle Center attractions. With so much to see and do, and so many wonderful dining options, every family member will find his or her own personal highlights.
You may also enjoy:
- Downtown Seattle Walking Tour
- Seattle’s Prime: Best Things to do in Seattle with Kids in 2 Days
- 3 Great Reasons to Visit Portland, Oregon with Kids
- National Parks to Visit near 6 U.S. Western Cities
Hilton Mom Voyage writers receive free night certificates to use at Hilton Hotels & Resorts worldwide. To learn more, visit our About Us page.
Lisa’s family was provided with discounted and/or complimentary meals and admission to some of the attractions/restaurants so that she could try them and review them for your information. Lisa chose the above restaurants and attractions based on their social media reviews and recommendations from friends.