Families heading to Alaska, visiting friends or simply touring around the Pacific Northwest often find themselves short on time, but not short on excitement to check out all Seattle has to offer. How can you possibly fit it all in though? It's easy if you narrow down your must-see list and hit the ground running.
Start your morning off at the Crumpet Shop in Pike Place Market. Take a stroll around the market as vendors unpack their daily produce and backed goods. Dream about that $5 flower bouquet you wish you could take home with you, but just can't figure out how to get it on the plane.
After your coffee and crumpets are gobbled up, hop on the Number 2 bus (or drive) to Seattle Center. Kids of all ages will love the Pacific Science Center. There is a wonderful toddler area to explore, while older children can hang out with astronauts, dinosaurs, bugs and even live snakes. Check program times for special presentations and make sure to ask about the special exhibit being housed that month. Do not miss a stop in the Butterfly House, a favorite for Seattle parents during the winter months when the winter blues have got you down.
End your morning with a trip to the top of the Space Needle. If you have time, grab the day and night pass so you can come back to see the city lit up. Warning: if it is a cloudy, dreary day, you might want to skip the Space Needle. Clear days are the best for viewing Mt. Rainier, the Olympic peninsula and the cascade mountain range. If you just want a view of the city, head up to Kerry Park in the Queen Anne neighborhood. Views are spectacular, and free, plus you can get the Space Needle in your photos. This is where all of the famous postcards are photographed.
Jump in your car and head north to the neighborhood of Green Lake. Stop first at Redmill Burger on Phinney Ridge, before hoping down to the Woodland Park Zoo. Street parking is free, or you can pay a nominal fee to park in the lot. Ask the zoo staff if there are any new baby animals appearing that day. In the past few years the zoo has seen a baby giraffe, several otter pups, lion cubs, sloth bears and even jaguars join the zoo family. All are part of the impressive breeding program the zoo participates in to make sure endangered and at-risk species are not lost forever. Take the kids for a whirl on the historic carousel before you head back downtown for dinner and a walk along the Seattle waterfront.
No visit to Seattle is complete without a taste of crab or salmon. Sit down for dinner at the Crab Pot (reservations recommended if available). Give your kids a crab hammer and let them go to town. Walk down the pier to the Big Wheel and watch the sun set and the city light up as the sun goes down over the Olympic Peninsula. Continue to wander the pier, checking out the local shops or listening to street musicians perform before you head back to your hotel. If you are still looking for some night activity, check out the 5th Avenue Theater and Paramount Theater schedules. Both put on Broadway shows and concerts regularly. Tickets usually need to be purchased in advance. Make sure to check times and dates ahead of time.
There are over 101 things to do in Seattle whether you have kids or not. Head to any number of green spaces and parks across the city for a taste of why Seattle is called the Emerald City, but don't forget the world-class museums and incredible dining too. No matter how you try, you can't cram it all into 24 hours, but you sure can give it your best shot.
Have you been to Seattle? What are your top recommendations?