Challenger School

Things to do with Kids in Seattle

Nine-year-old Claire at the top of the Space Needle.

Nine-year-old Claire at the top of the Space Needle.

Seattle is a great family trip, especially during the summer. It’s only a two-hour flight from Salt Lake City. I recently took a three-day weekend trip with my family, including daughters Shelby & Claire, ages 10 & 9. Here are a few of the attractions and restaurants we enjoyed.


If you’re looking for a cluster of activities, start at Seattle Center. While there, we visited the iconic Space Needle (, a 605-foot observatory which gives you sweeping views of Seattle and the surrounding area. They have a variety of interactive exhibits to help you identify the Seattle skyline, and you can buy snacks and drinks at the top (there is a restaurant below the observatory, too). Check out their digital guest book with interactive globe and colorful display. Buy your tickets online beforehand and you can save money and pick your time to go up; you can also go up during off-peak times and save money as well.

At the base of the Space Needle is Chihuly Garden and Glass (, featuring the colorful glass creations of artist Dale Chihuly. The works are set both indoors and outdoors, and their most striking features are their vibrant colors and unusual shapes. Chihuly’s works can be found all over the world; the Seattle Center exhibit opened in 2012.  There are some short films you can view to better understand the history of Chihuly’s creations.

During the warmer summer months, wear your bathing suit and try out the International Fountain, a short walk from the Space Needle. It features a 220-foot bowl, the centerpiece of which is a large dome that shoots jets of water as high as 120 feet.  The fountain shoots its water at irregular intervals and is set to classical and rock ‘n roll music.  Lots of fun, and it’s free.


Our first stop for dining was Pike Place Chowder (, a restaurant established by award-winning chef Larry Mellum. It has two downtown Seattle locations — we ate at the Pacific Place Shopping Center location at Pine & 6th Street.

The restaurant is located on the 4th floor of the center in a bright atrium. (The other original location is in Pike Place Market.) It offers five outstanding chowder selections — the two we tried were the New England Clam Chowder and the Seafood Bisque.

Other options include tasty seafood rolls and sandwiches; we tried the Captain’s Roll, which included bay shrimp and Dungeness crab salad. Enjoy both chowder and a sandwich with a combo plate.

Our kids had the fish ‘n chips and Mac ‘N Cheese. They also offer some great seafood appetizers, fish tacos and salads. Take advantage of the daily happy hour menu 4-7 p.m., featuring $2 “eats and drinks.”

One of Seattle’s best hamburger choices is the Lunchbox Laboratory (, a fun, unique burger and shakes place.  You can have traditional beef, or try a different meat such as dork (duck and pork), chicken or vegan.  Build your own, or try one of their “Burger Experiments.”  If you’re not in the mood for a burger, try a Salad Experiment.

There are a variety of shakes available, including some with alcohol. The Laboratory has a full bar that includes excellent local beers from the Pacific Northwest, as well as premium wines.

Its theme is a mix of mad scientist (doing wacky but delicious food experiments) and retro-Americana, with metal lunchboxes from television shows of the 60s – 80s. Some other tasty options are its dogsticks appetizers (mini-corndogs dipped in sauce), Buffalo Chicken Roll ups and a variety of delicious mac & cheese.

There are five locations in the Seattle area; we ate at the South Lake Union location, which is a mile east of Seattle Center. Go on Wednesday nights after 5 pm, and kids up to age 12 eat free (with an adult purchase).

Cactus ( is another great choice, an upscale American Southwest/Mexican restaurant with five locations in the Seattle area.  We went to the Bellevue Square location, which is across Lake Washington from the downtown Seattle area. Bellevue Square is a large mall, and the Cactus there enjoys an excellent third floor location with views of downtown Bellevue.

It has good food and service with reasonable prices. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Some excellent dishes we enjoyed included the butternut squash enchiladas, the chicken fajitas, the chicken chimichanga and the crab & corn tamales.  They also offer plenty of good soups and salads, and tacos. A guacamole side is a must, and the wines, beers and mixed drinks were all premium. They have a variety of margarita options as well. For dessert, try the flan or tres leches coconut cake.

It can get crowded so you may want to go early for dinner. After dinner, take a walk in Bellevue’s very nice downtown park, located across the street from the mall. (Currently under renovation until June 2017).
Seattle is a great place for families to visit. We hope to return soon.

About author

Jim Graves

Jim Graves

Jim Graves is a family travel writer. He is married to wife Carol, and has two daughters, Shelby & Claire. He specializes in finding family-friendly travel opportunities and sharing them with other parents.

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