Seattle will always have our heart when it comes to traveling with kids. It is where I had my babies, first set out to explore a new place and got out the door with kids. However, it can be expensive when it comes to the museums and attractions. Even when we called Seattle our hometown the Seattle CityPASS was essential to exploring Seattle museums like the Chihuly Garden and Glass, MOPOP, Pacific Science Center and the Seattle Space Needle.
True, locals tend to have yearly memberships, but we don’t have memberships to everything. Natives also don’t visit the top tourist attractions unless family and friends come to town.
It took me five years to go to the top of the Seattle Space Needle. I only went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass once, and that was when family came to town.
It was expensive. The Seattle CityPASS paid for itself with that museum alone.
WHO NEEDS THE SEATTLE CITYPASS?
But how do you know if you should buy a Seattle CityPASS? My rule of thumb is that if I will be in town for at least two days and know I will be visiting two to three attractions, a CityPASS is worth the price.
We found that the Boston CityPASS paid for itself in two attractions. The New York CityPASS paid for itself in three. A Seattle CityPASS was no different.
Let’s do the math:
- Space Needle: starts at $33 adult/ $25 child
- Seattle Aquarium: $30 adult/ $20 child
- Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour: $29 adults/ $15 child
- Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP): $36 adult/ $27 child
- Woodland Park Zoo: $15 adult/ $10 child
- Chihuly Garden and Glass: $26 adult/ $17 child
- Pacific Science Center: $24 adult/ starts at $14 child
Price of Seattle CityPASS (2018/2019): $89 adult/$69 child
SEATTLE CITYPASS ITINERARY
Many times, you just aren’t sure how to use your Seattle CityPASS. Some booklets give you coupons with a choice between two attractions.
If you are like me, you want to see it all. It’s just not fair!
But, this is when math can come in handy. Always look to see which attraction is the better value and will save you more money.
Also, depending on the age of your children, you may want to opt for one attraction over the other.
Other questions to ask yourself—
- Will you have a car?
- Do you want to see everything on the Seattle CityPASS in one or two days? Do you have more time?
- How old are your kids?
If you won’t have a car and don’t want to deal with Uber or public transit, the Woodland Park Zoo is out. It’s about a 20-minute drive from downtown.
Toddlers probably won’t be as into MoPOP, but fans of Nirvana won’t want to skip it. We took our boys as toddlers and they survived.
CLICK to grab your Seattle CityPASS before your trip
THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD PRIORITIZE:
- Chihuly Garden and Glass
- Seattle Space Needle
- Seattle Aquarium
- Pacific Science Center (use your half off coupon to at the back of the booklet)
What is in the Seattle CityPASS?
- Space Needle
- Seattle Aquarium
- Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour
- Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) OR Woodland Park Zoo
- Chihuly Garden and Glass OR Pacific Science Center
SEATTLE SPACE NEEDLE
After the Seattle Space Needle got its recent face lift, everyone is clamoring to get back into this treasured Seattle monument.
Originally built for the World’s Fair, along with that monorail that ferries passengers from downtown to Seattle Center, the Space Needle gives 360-degree views of the city. If you are lucky and go up on a clear day, you will see Mount Rainer and the Cascade mountains to the south and east, as well as the Olympic mountains in the west on the peninsula.
While many locals take years to go up the Seattle Space Needle, once they do, they will wonder why it took so long.
TIP: if you want a photo WITH the Space Needle in it, head to Kerry Park in the Queen Anne neighborhood just up the hill from Seattle Center. It has great views of the city (for free) and some insane houses to wander if you are looking for a nice walk away from downtown.
Seattle is surrounded by water. Naturally, their aquarium would celebrate all of the creatures swimming in those waters.
The touch and feel tidepools are a huge hit with kids, who could stay in this one room for hours learning about sea anemones, starfish, horseshoe crabs, mussels and other local crustaceans.
There is an exotic fish exhibit, but most of the tanks hold local wildlife and mammals to teach residents and visitors about the importance of Puget Sound and how the ecosystem all plays an important part in our environment and co-existing together.
After all, without the lakes, rivers, streams, the Sound and the ocean beyond it, Seattle might not be as green and could lose that “Emerald City” status.
Need a Seattle CityPASS?
ARGOSY CRUISES HARBOR TOUR
Take in Seattle from the water when you hop aboard an Argosy Cruise. Wander by the active shipyard, Seattle’s historic waterfront, the Big Wheel, Pike Place Market, Olympic Sculpture Park, and snap pictures of the Cascade Mountains and Olympic Mountains across the Sound.
Tour guides walk you through the history of the Seattle and can answer a multitude of questions you may have about this thriving, tech-filled city.
MUSEUM OF POP CULTURE (MOPOP)
Love Kurt Cobain and Jimmy Hendrix? MoPOP (formerly the EMP: Experience Music Project) is the museum just for you. Your kids will groove out in the SoundLab, while you relive those teenage years with Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
This museum isn’t just all music though. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame call MoPOP home. Gaze upon the Staff of Ra from Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, Luke Skywalker’s severed hand from Lucas’ The Empire Strikes Back, and the “Right Hand of Doom” from Guillermo del Toro’s film Hellboy.
Pull it together people. We are swooning right there with you. Just don’t drool on the artifacts.
Naturally, it’s only fitting that Seattle would host Nintendo’s Indie Game Revolution Exhibit. This town is home to a number of independent video game developers that have produced some of the most acclaimed games in the industry.
Don’t believe us? Ever heard of a little title called Halo and Destiny? How about Portal? Those all came out of independent studios in Seattle. (Ok, so one was bought by Microsoft, but they bought themselves back eventually and now publish independently again.)
If that’s not enough, there is also a Holodome, the Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction, Scared to Death: the Thrill of Horror Film, and a few other pop culture favorites you won’t want to miss.
But don’t worry, exhibits aren’t massive, so you can fit a lot into a morning.
WOODLAND PARK ZOO
While everything else on the Seattle CityPASS is in Seattle Center or on the waterfront, the Woodland Park Zoo is north of downtown in one of the neighborhoods. Why? Because the animals need land to roam.
Unlike other zoos, the Woodland Park Zoo prioritizes a cage-free existence for as many creatures as possible. Yes, there are exhibits, but the animals are given room to roam, space to explore, and enrichment activities that don’t involve chain link fences.
Zoomazium offers education resources for younger kids, as well as a treehouse and play spaces for toddlers to crawl around, especially on a rainy day. Staff are always wandering about to teach families about the zoo inhabitants. Don’t miss out on special feeding times and events throughout the year either.
TIP: If you have a car, head to the zoo on any day but a Monday, and you can stop at Red Mill Burger for lunch. These are the best burgers in town, according to my oldest son. He’s still doing his research across the country as we travel, but so far, these are the winner.
Keep in mind that I had one to two burgers a week from Red Mill while pregnant with him, which may factor in. Peanut oil is used on the fries, so those with allergies be aware!
Need CityPASS booklets for the whole family?
Grab them HERE
CHIHULY GARDEN AND GLASS
Hands in your pockets! This is the first thing you should tell any children and clumsy adults walking into the Chihuly Garden and Glass.
It is one of our favorite museums in the city, and we visited even with an infant and toddler.
Take your time, add an extra pinch of patience when visiting with kids, and savor every color you take in. This museum was thought out with care. Even if you don’t have time to watch all of the videos, you can still appreciate the exhibits within the museum, and the play of glass art against nature in the garden.
If you can stay until dusk, try to so you can see the garden lit up.
Pacific Science Center
By far my favorite museum in the city to visit with kids, and so much less chaotic than the Seattle Children’s Museum. The Butterfly Pavilion was my happy place on grey winter days when the boys were young.
The Pacific Science Center toddler area was design with tired parents in mind, as it gives younger kids a safe space to play and explore without getting run over by big kids. Museum staff monitors the entry to the toddler space so big kids can’t even enter. There is a height maximum (except for parents).
Dinosaurs, outer space, bugs and other scientific discoveries are waiting for budding cosmonauts, paleontologists and entomologist.
Spend the morning at the museum and then hit the Seattle Armory for lunch. There are plenty of choices for everyone in this high-end food court.
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