Destination Guide: Seattle, Washington
Know before you go
- Bring an umbrella- it does rain. We do use umbrellas, no matter what a guidebook tells you. Also rain boots are a pretty big staple.
- ATM and Credit Cards are accepted most places. Chase is one of the major banks in Seattle.
- Check out Redtricycle.com for weekly events and reviews on fun kid stuff to do
- If you want to travel on the cheap, there are a multitude of parks to visit. Check out Things to Do In Seattle for all of the sights the kids and I are checking out in the area.
- Buses- a bus trip will now cost you US$2.25 (check rates as they do change almost every year). You can get a transfer if you need to change buses to get to your location. You must use exact change when riding the bus. You can also buy a bus ticket book at drugs stores and other locations.
- Taxis- don’t bother unless you are staying downtown. You won’t find them in too many neighborhoods.
- Car- A car is almost a must if you want to explore outside of the city. Definitely budget in a rental car if possible.
I am no foodie, but I sure do like to eat great food. Dek gets to come along most of the time too. I’m not afraid to walk into a seemingly swanky place, ignore the fact that they don’t have a kids menu and order away. We love to get and try new things, but sometimes we get in a rut and just stick to our old favorites. I’ve compiled a list of the places we love and asked friends to add in their favorites so we can have new spots to choose from when the mood strikes. If you have a favorite Seattle eatery, send it my way.
- KaffeKlatsch (Lake City)- This is a growing locals hang out for a neighborhood that has desperately needed a daytime watering hole. Grab a pretzel for the kids and any number of handmade German pastries made by master baker Brian. There is a little play area for the kids by the kitchen and bathrooms. Let the kids go to town on the ever-growing piles of toys they have. Big messes aren’t necessarily encouraged, but they aren’t frowned upon either. Just be sure to pick up the scattered toys before you leave.
- Zoka Coffee Roasters (Green Lake and Kirkland)- my master roaster friends tell me this is the place to go. I’m not even a coffee drinker and I love it. They have wonderful teas and your choice of a spice or sweet chai. Their coffee is always a welcomed gift for my family back east.
- Green Bean Coffee House (Greenwood)- decent coffee and a play area for kids. I’ll be checking this out soon.
- Queen Mary Tea Room (UVillage/Ravenna)- Grab afternoon tea with your girlfriends or include the kids with a Children’s Tea.
- Panama Hotel’s Tea House (International District)- Enjoy a hot cup of tea while you explore the history if this International District Icon.
- Hi Life (Ballard) and 5 Spot (Queen Anne)- the best blueberry pancakes I have ever had. It’s all I order.
- Volunteer Park Cafe (Capital Hill)- love the honey lavender on a baguette with brie and apple.
- Wandering Goose (Capital Hill). Good coffee, fabulous biscuits, and the best fried chicken you will ever have.
- Maltby’s Cafe (Maltby, WA)- about 20 minutes northeast of the city but well worth the drive. Give the California scramble a try along with a slice of cinnamon toast and you will be won over. If you need extra convincing start off with the cinnamon bun the size of your head and dripping with icing. My dad, a cinnamon bun connoisseur was even impressed. Be prepared for a wait on the weekends.
- Bakery Nouveau (West Seattle)- do not miss out on the twice-baked almond croissants. They also have some of the best French macarons in the city.
- The Crumpet Shop (Pike Place/ Downtown)- delicious crumpets with a variety of toppings.
- Hi Spot Cafe (Madrona)
- Arosa Cafe– try out the hot chocolate and Belgium waffles
- Preservation Kitchen (Bothell)- set in an old home you may drive by this restaurant as you zoom by on 522. You should stop. They are doing some beautiful things with duck. Dinner is divine, but they had my heart when they made a smoked duck sandwich. The challah french toast is worth a stop as well.
- Salumi (Pioneer Square)- mentioned on just about every travel show and food show that comes to town, but it really is that good. Get there early. Once they run out of rolls and/or meat they are done for the day
- Three Girls Bakery (Pike Place Market)- Best chicken salad sandwich I have ever had and they put triple the pickles on mine anytime I ask. Pull up a stool at the counter, but avoid around 12:30pm when it is usually at its busiest.
- Redmill Burgers (Phinney Ridge, Ballard and Interbay)- best burgers in town. This was actually the first place I started eating ground meat again after 14 years. If that doesn’t tell you how great the smell was I don’t know what will. The huge pile of bacon on the grill might have had something to do with it too.
- Lunchbox Laboratory (South Lake Union)
Dinner with the Family
- La Isla (Ballard)- amazing Puerto Rican food with a great Happy Hour. Half off appetizers mean I can eat twice as much right? Kids will love the sweet potato fries, tostones, maduros and mini-pork wings. Empanadillas should not be missed. Our favorite is the pernil and the papa.
- Bizzaro Italian Cafe (Wallingford)- a zany Italian place with gorgonzola and fig bruschetta that will have you begging for more. The lasagna must be amazing because it always sells out before I can order a slice. Anything with meat at this place is a winner for sure. House wine is decent too. Just turn your cell phone off. There is a surcharge if they see you using it. This is my kind of place!
- Swingside Cafe (Fremont)- Amazing hazelnut pesto pasta at this little Sicilian restaurant. The Aglio Olio with fresh Dungeness crab is amazing too. If the lamb is on the menu. Order it. You won’t be sorry. The mood is great for couple and families a like. If I had a Sicilian uncle this would be his place. I often see family members of the owners come in to break bread together, kids and all.
- I Love Sushi (Lake Union and Bellevue)- The location and atmosphere aren’t our typical pick, but the sushi really is good. The Marin roll and Tropical Roll are tops on my list whenever we order. There are lots of options for raw fish fans and those who like a little cooking done to their meal.
- La Carta de Oaxaca (Ballard)- amazing tacos and so much more. Get there early. Lines can get long.
- Anita’s Crepes (Ballard/Fremont)- Chef Anita whips up sweet and savory crepes the whole family will love. Don’t miss out on the French onion soup and definitely save room for dessert.
- Delancy (Ballard)
- Veraci Pizza (Ballard and Farmer’s Markets)- this is the pizza that convinced us to move to Seattle. Ubber thin crust, italian style pizza with some amazing topping combinations. Don’t miss out on any special they offer. Always a good choice.
- Issian Japanese Stone Grill (Wallingford)- head over for happy hour to enjoy Yakiton at discount prices and Salmon Steak Robata Yaki.
- Phinney Market Pub & Eatery (Phinney Ridge)- Great beer and cider selection, high-end pub food and a double-decker train table your kids will love. Perfect after a trip to the zoo.
- Nishino (Madison) – one of the finest sushi restaurants in the city. Reservations are necessary.
- Skillet Diner (Capital Hill)
- Boom Noodle (Capital Hill, University Village and Bellevue)- Japanese
- Po Dog (Capital Hill and U District)
- Pike Street Fish Fry (Capital Hill)
- Vios Cafe (Capital Hill and Ravenna)- Delicious Greek food with a play area for kids. What’s not to like? Don’t miss out on the Orzo salad, Trio sampler of traditional dips (the tzatziki gets my vote) and anything with lamb involved in it. The baklava washes it all down quite nicely.
Dinner (leave the kids at home)
- The Walrus and the Carpenter– even if you don’t like oysters you will still find something to love at this tiny spot in Ballard. They don’t take reservations so be prepared to wait. Head next door for a glass of wine. They will find you when your table is ready.
- Crush– grab your girlfriends or significant other for a night of fine dining and delectable flavors. Do not miss the short ribs, and is it wrong that I love the bread plate so much?
- Lecosho (Downtown) – Lovely things being done with meat by Jill Buchanan and Matt from Matt’s in the Market (also worth a taste). Bring the kids during lunch, but reserve nighttime for your hot date out.
- Cupcake Royale (Ballard, Capital Hill, Madrona,West Seattle and Bellevue)- let the cupcake wars begin, but I just can’t get enough of the Salted Caramel Chocolate or the Lavender Vanilla cupcakes.
- Hot Cakes (Ballard)- Two words people- smoked chocolate. Former Theo’s chocolatier Autumn Martin offers up molten chocolate cakes, an inventive s’mores platter and even happy hour. What more could you need?
- Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream (Wallingford, Capital Hill, Madrona, Queen Anne)- Find your favorite flavor and bask in the dairy bliss. Few of our favs? Honey Lavender Scout Mint, Salted Caramel and Stumptown Coffee.
Trucks, Buses and Carts
- El Camion (North Seattle, Ballard and SoDo)- burritos con carnitas is a family fav.
- Tacos el Asadero– 3513 Rainier Ave S, no phone, open 10am-10pm
- Skillet Street Food (truck location varies by day)
- Marination Mobile (truck location varies by day/ brick n’ mortar Capital Hill)- Hawaiian- Korean food at its best.
Pike Place Market
Toys and Gear
- Kid’s Club (UVillage)- Toys, clothes, a small selection of baby gear and even a hair cut shop fill this store to capacity. They have good sales that make things, like the Harry Potter Lego set I just picked up, even more affordable than Toys R Us.
- Once Upon A Time (Queen Anne and Bellevue Square)- European toys take over this little shop. Tea party sets, sewing kits, puzzles, books, eco-friendly toys and a selection of French infant toys are the highlights. A train set is in the shop for kids to play at while mom shops. The staff is amazing and will even entertain your kid as you browse. Unique hand-made gift cards are a great find as well.
- Wee Tots (Bellevue)- Grab yourself a cup of coffee at Belle Pastry from across the street and head into this wonderful children’s shop. Set yourself a spending limit before you go in though. With so many great toys to choose from, your kids may just break the bank. A wonderful selection of new baby gifts and gear is towards the back, while the toys are front and center up front. A large train table is available for kids to play at and a little toy testing is encouraged.
- Unique Plus (Kirkland)- Organic and eco-friendly clothes are a highlight. The owner also offers Chinese language classes for 5 months up to 7 years old. Chinese story time is also available on (call store to confirm dates). Toys, gear and skin care are also covered in this tiny shop. Check the store calendar for upcoming events for moms and kids. Open play is also available while you shop.
- Boston Street: The Children’s Everything Store (Pike Place Market)- Looking for an outfit for the punk rock or alternative baby in your life? How about for your little ballerina? Than you have come to the right place. This shop is stocked with the latest in kids fashion. The prices are high, but if you have your heart set on the Tin-Tin t-shirt or toddler blazer but just can’t find it at the mall, you will find it here. Lots of unique finds you won’t see in many other shops around the city.
- The Bump (Bellevue Square)- great selection of jeans (she carriers Maternal America!) that actually fit a pregnant body. Tanks and maternity/nursing bras under $25 too.
- Village Maternity (University District)- everything you could need to stay gorgeous as your pregnant body changes, and many things you need to prepare for your little one’s arrival.
- Me ‘N Moms (Ballard-2821-B NW Market Street)- a fav for maternity clothes, kids clothes and gear
- Kids on 45th (Wallingford-1720 North 45th Street)- my fav for clothing and books
- Kym’s Kiddy Corner (Northgate- 11721 15TH AVE NE)- one of my favs for toys. Bit of a mess but it’s worth digging to find some great stuff.
- Le Petit Shoppe (Laurelhurst- 3432 NE 45th St)- my fav for shoes
- Small Threads (Issaquah- 1480 NW Gilman Blvd, Issaquah, WA)- East side friend’s go-to for toys
- Sugarlump (Maple Valley- 2709 East Madison Street)- small but well stocked with great clothes
- Paron’s Closet (Wallingford Center- 1815 N. 45th Street, Suite 204 ) One of my friend’s favorite stops. Well organized, quality stuff, plus new stuff that you can buy with consignment credit. Clothes, shoes, toys, carriers, etc and maternity clothes!
- Again and A Gain (West Seattle- 4832 California Ave SW)- small shop with a great selection of new and gently used children’s clothing. There is a huge assortment of shoes to check out, some gear and toys and a nice variety of clothing.
- Sela’s Small Coutoure (Queen Anne- 610 West McGraw Street)- Lightly used clothing with high-end labels make this small shop a must stop on your way to dressing your budding fashionista.
- Mercer Island Thrift
- Goodwill on 145th (North Seattle)
- Value Village (Capital Hill)
- Damsalfly (Ballard- 5338 Ballard Ave NW)- CLOSED!
- Paper Hammer (Downtown- 1400 Second Avenue)- letterpress posters, cards and coasters, hand bound albums and journals, hand-crafted jewelry, high-quality art books and more adorn the shelves and walls of this tiny shop front in downtown Seattle.
- Curtsy Bella (UVillage- 2920 NE Blakely)- an interesting conglomeration of gifts, cards, baby stuff, lingerie and jewelry. You can even pick up a unique gift, like a pillow tie, for the man in your life.
- Pan Pacific Seattle
- Sheraton Seattle
- Four Seasons Seattle
- Hotel Monaco
- Residence Inn
- The Maxwell
- Hotel Ballard
What to See and Do
- Five Favorite Outdoor Activities with Kids
- 21 Things to Do in Seattle this Fall
- 6 Activities to do on a Rainy Day in Seattle
Things to do in Seattle
Plenty of people have done books on the Pacific Northwest. I’m definitely not trying to redo that. As a Seattle resident I have started a list of things I have always wanted to see and do, but never got the chance to because of a full-time work schedule. I am lucky to have a few mom friends who are up to joining me on my quest to see all the city and surrounding area has to offer. Don’t be surprised if you see them pop in now and then. Who knows what fun we will come up with in the coming weeks, months and year.
My List: this list is ongoing and ever changing. Check back to see when a link is added to a sight. It means I have a story to share.
- Magnuson Park
- Carkeek Park
- Seward Park
- Tales and Trails
- Golden Gardens
- Matthews Beach
- Kelsey Creek Park
- Fox Hollow Family Farm
- Volunteer Park Conservatory and Volunteer Park Cafe
- Green Lake
- Bitter Lake
- Discovery Park
- St. Edwards State Park
- Luther Burbank Park (Mercer Island)
- West Seattle: California Ave andAlki Beach
- Snoqualmie Falls and trains
- International District
- Pioneer Square
- University District
- Japanese Garden (Arboretum)
- Washington Arboretum
- Chinese Garden (West Seattle)
- South Seattle Community College Arboretum
- Kubota Garden
- Kruckeberg Botanical Gardens (Shoreline)
- Lakewold Garden
- Bellevue Botanical Garden
- Butchart Gardens (Victoria, BC)
Zoos and Aquariums
- Woodland Park Zoo
- Cougar Mountain Zoo
- Seattle Aquarium
- Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
- Vancouver Aquarium (Vancouver, BC)
- Oregon Zoo (Portland, OR)
- Seattle Children’s Museum
- Seattle Art Museum
- Olympic Sculpture Park (free!)
- Burke Museum
- Everett Children’s Museum
- Frye Art Museum
- The Museum of Flight
- EMP (Experimental Music Project) and Sci-fi Museum
- Seattle Center
- KidsQuest Children’s Museum
- Pacific Science Center
- Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum Part I and Part II
- Seattle Space Needle
Odd or Unusual Sights with Kids
- Bruce Lee’s Grave
- Jimi Hendrick statue in Capital Hill
- Jimi Hendrix’s grave
- Fremont Troll
- Flower World
- Swanson’s Nursery Cafe
- Kent Cafe
- Seattle Central Library
- Ride Seattle’s Link Light Rail
- NW Flower and Garden Show– February
- Tulip Festival (Skagit Valley)- Spring
- Solstice Parade (Fremont)-June
- Seafair Indian Days at Discovery Park- July
- Ballard Seafoodfest– July
- DragonFest (International District)- July
- Strawberry Festival (Vashon Island)- July
- Washington MidSummer Renaissance Faire at Bonney Lake– August
- Whidbey Island County Fair– August
- Salmon Days- October
- Mount Rainier
- Mount Baker
- Mt. Baker Highway/Scenic Byway Route 542
- Hikes: Boulder River and Lake 22
- Mount St. Helens
- Tacoma, WA
- Bellingham, WA
- Lake Ozette Boardwalk trail/hike
- Port Townsend, WA
- Port Angeles, WA
- Kalaloch and WA Coast
- Lake Ozette Boardwalk trail/hike
- Cape Alava
- La Push
- Lake Chelan, WA
- Wenatchee, WA
- Oregon Coast (need to catch someGoonies!)
- Portland, OR
- Crater Lake, OR
- Panther Creek Falls
- Big Four Ice Caves
Canadian Weekend Trips
- Seattle Holiday Carousel (Seattle, WA)
- Holiday Events In and Around Seattle
- Garden D’Light at the Bellevue Botanical Garden (Bellevue, Wa)
- 12 Days of Christmas at Butchart Gardens (Victoria, BC)
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Best Free Outdoor Attraction
Our top pick for an outside adventure has got to be Kubota Garden. It’s a hidden gem in a neighborhood no visitor would think of going to. It is free and your kids are able to wander about, exploring the small paths, bridges and humongous trees. The staff is there to maintain the property but rarely seen allowing parents the chance to kick back a little and not freak out every time their child wanders off the path.
- Food pick: I don’t know of much close by, but that shouldn’t stop you. I usually pack a light picnic to bring along and eat at the top of one of the waterfalls on a bench. Or we plop ourselves down on the grass or a few stones to chow down on.
Best Paid For Activity
I’m not sure you can ever go wrong with a visit to the Woodland Park Zoo. It’s not too big that you can’t cover most of it, but it’s also not so small that you don’t want to go back for a second look. There are plenty of interactive learning activities throughout the zoo especially in the summer. The petting zoo is getting more exciting the older Dek gets (and the less afraid he becomes.) Zoomazium is a big hit for the under 5 crowd. Parents love it because there is a separate section for crawlers and a big climbing structure for the kids that can run and jump. Even better, it is all inside, which makes it a great stop on a rainy day.
- Food picks: Redmill Burger (312 North 67th St, Seattle) is our favorite burger place in town. The lines are long on the weekend for a reason. Maybe it’s that huge stack of crispy bacon on the grill or just their secret sauce. You may never know unless you check it out for yourself.
If you get tired of the zoo there is also a playground just outside of the gates on the north side or you can head to the south side into the Rose Garden, which is free to the public and just outside of the zoo gates.
When your kids still aren’t getting enough animal adventures head downtown to the Seattle Aquarium. It is small but great for tiny hands to do some exploring. The only downside is that parking can be expensive and the crowds can be overwhelming during the height of tourist season. If you can come off-peak or are staying downtown it is definitely worth a trip.
- Food pick: You can’t go wrong with a wander through Pike Place to grab some food after a visit to the aquarium. My favorite is the sandwich counter at Three Girls Bakery (1514 Pike Place, Ste., at Post Alley). It is across the street from the fish throwing guys. Ask around and a vendor can point you in the right direction. Directly across the street from the aquarium is some amazing Mexican food at El Puerco Lleron (1501 Western Ave, Seattle.) Homemade tortillas really do make all the difference.
My favorite beach in the city has got to be Golden Gardens. The water is freezing but when did that ever stop a toddler from jumping in? There is sand, the sound and plenty of room for kids to play. Golden Gardens is also home to one heck of a playground, a grassy field for kids to run around in and some wetlands to explore. Parking is free but watch out. If it is sunny and even slightly warm you will be fighting with locals over a parking spot.
- Food pick: With Ballard so close by you can easily pack up a picnic lunch. Even better, bring some firewood and hot dogs to grill in the open fire pits scattered around the beach. Grab a group of friends to watch the sunset or just make lunch for you and the kids. Just be sure to put your fire out before you leave.
Best Food Event for the Whole Family
Neighborhood Farmers Markets run year round in Seattle. Sure you could join the crowds at Pike Place Market for some fresh eats; I often do if I need to pick something up and I happen to be downtown. I love the neighborhood charm of the farmers markets scattered through the city though. You get a little more room to breathe. You can take in the entire neighborhood, meet the locals, chat with the vendors and have some great food at the same time. One of our favorite markets is the in the Ballard Neighborhood on Sundays. We pick up our produce for the week, grab a flat of berries for cereal, and chow down on some wood-fired pizza, crepes and tamales. Some of my favorite boutiques are also in the area for a little extra mommy shopping.
- Food pick: Go to town on whatever is available at the markets. Pull up a piece of curb, sit yourself down and enjoy some of the street musicians playing away. If you must sit in a restaurant you have your pick. Some of the best, in my opinion, restaurants can be found in Ballard including La Isla (Puerto Rican) and La Carta de Oaxaca (Mexican).
Best Parks and Playground
Seattle is known for its green spaces and with good reason. Discovery Park is a must visit if you enjoy hiking through meadows, forests and along a sandy coastline. There is a little light house for families to check out, although on my last visit you still couldn’t go inside. The driftwood piles can keep everyone entertained for hours though as you build forts and castles to hide in.
If you need to get in your exercise, head over to Green Lake, right by the Woodland Park Zoo. The inner loop is about 3 miles around and always busy with people, strollers and dogs, but that should not turn you off. The views are amazing and it’s great to have so much motivation to keep you moving. There is a wonderful playground here as well for the kids to play at with one parent while the other sneaks in a run. In the summer there are 3 beaches set up with lifeguards, diving boards and slides. Boats are also available to rent. If the weather is nice, you will probably see me there.
- Food picks: Grab yourself a coffee and a croissant at Urban Bakery (7850 E Green Lake Dr N) before walking down to the playground or taking on the 3 mile loop. Zoka Coffee Roaster (2200 North 56th Street) is also just a few short blocks off the park if you are a coffee connoisseur. A plethora of food choices line the north side of the park if you find yourself needing a little more than coffee.
One of our favorite playgrounds these days is in Volunteer Park. There is gear for kids of all ages, a sandbox, several slides and loads of swings. If you are into walking through cemeteries, you can go say hi to Bruce Lee just behind the playground in Lakeview Cemetery. Don’t worry there is a big fence to separate the play area from the not so recently departed. The park also has several walking paths and a conservatory you can pop into. Volunteer Park is also home to the Asian Art Museum if you want to sneak in a little culture as well. Check the museum sight for free visiting days.
- Food pick: The Volunteer Park Café (1501 17th Avenue East Seattle) has a little something for everyone along with seating to plop yourself down on when it’s just too darn cold outside. You can also get orders to go if you want to picnic in the park.