Seattle with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day

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Seattle with Tweens: A Family Vacation

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If you're considering visiting Seattle with tweens, take note -- it could end up being your best family vacation. Seattle, when the sun shines, is one of the most beautiful cities in America and offers literally hundreds of non-touristy options and variations for all the family. Vacations with kids use up a lot of energy, but Seattle also has a host of family-friendly restaurants where you can fuel up during the day.

Morning


If it's Sunday and you're planning to spend the day in Seattle with tweens, the all-you-can-eat brunch at Salty's Seafood Grill (1936 Harbor Avenue, Seattle, WA 98126, 206-937-1600) on Alki Beach is a great way to enjoy a waterfront view while preparing for a long day of family fun. Behind floor-to-ceiling windows, dozens of trays offer meat, seafood, eggs, omelets, and (early) dessert. If you can stomach it, you can tuck into a decadent spread of fresh crab, oysters, clams and shrimp.

Sit near the piano and get a lesson in local history from the gregarious musician, Victor Janusz. Victor takes requests, so cheer him up by asking for a Billie Holiday song. If your family vacation in Seattle doesn't cover Sundays, don't worry. Monday through Saturday, Salty's offers hearty lunch fare as well.

When you're done eating, it's a pleasant walk around the corner to Alki Beach, a long stretch of sand and water backed by numerous cafés, restaurants and bike rental outlets. Bring a volleyball and a net, or rent some three-speed bicycles and helmets and cruise up and down the safe boardwalk.

Your kids are hipper than you think they are. No matter what their age, the Experience Music Project, or EMP (Seattle Center, 325 5th Avenue N, Seattle, WA 98109, 206-770-2700) is great for your family vacation in Seattle with tweens. Even if they have no interest in vintage photo exhibitions of Bob Dylan and Keith Richards, they'll surely jump right into the interactive drum exhibits. You can also jam on the guitar, piano, and bass, or let loose your inner karaoke fiend and grab a microphone.

Clever and intuitive displays let you mix your chosen sounds in with those of other friends or strangers, or you can just wail alone. The whole family can lip-synch in front of a blue screen and make a video or just stand to one side and get an encore.

EMP also has a science fiction wing and hall of fame, both fun things to do in Seattle for tweens who are into sci-fi. Exhibitions include a trove of props and costumes from both the original and re-imagined Battlestar Galactica TV series.


Afternoon


After you've played on the drums for a couple hours, it will be time to eat again. La Carta de Oaxaca (5431 Ballard Avenue NW, Seattle, WA 98107-4052, 206-782-8722) is a godsend to those on vacation in Seattle with tweens, as most kids of this age love Mexican food. Molé Negro Oaxaqueno (black chile molé), hearty Posole (pork and hominy stew) and chunky Caldo de Pescado (fish stew) stand out as the most authentic options. Real tacos (with handmade corn tortillas) are always a favorite with tweens, and when they're not looking you can sneak off to the small bar, which has a good selection of tequilas and Mexican beers.

With any luck, the sun will be out at least a few afternoons during your family vacation in Seattle. You should definitely take time for a tour on the infamous Ducks -- World War II-era amphibious landing crafts that offer both a land and water mini-tour of the city. It's a great form of family travel in Seattle, since your tweens can enjoy the funky music and polished historical and comedic routine performed by the staff.

The Duck gives a drive-by tour of all the expected spots, include Pike's Place Market, the shopping district and Pioneer Square. The last stop is a dip into Lake Union, which affords a fine view of downtown Seattle and is a great chance to get some family vacation pictures.


Evening


As the sun begins to set, you'll find yourself looking for appropriate evening entertainment for someone in Seattle with tweens. Stroll up and down Ballard Avenue, a wide brick-lined street full of cafés, shops, pubs and restaurants, all offering a wide choice of food and drink. Best of all, however, is D'Ambrosio Gelato (5339 Ballard Avenue NW, Seattle, WA 98107, 206-327-9175), a gelato shop with an amazing array of flavors hand-made by university-certified master gelataio Enzo D'Ambrosio. Try the Fichi, Mascarpone & Caramello (caramel and figs), the Bacio di Dama (woman's kiss), or the Ricotta Stregata (bewitched ricotta), or pick one of his specials. The shop is open late, and there's a reason there's usually a line. Being allowed to binge on ice cream is one of the best family vacation experiences for many tweens, and this Seattle institution is well worth the wait. Thankfully for health-conscious parents, D'Ambrosio uses only natural and organic ingredients and his gelato has a much lower fat content than conventional ice cream.

As night falls, finish off your best family vacation day in Seattle with a trip to Fremont Outdoor Movies (3501 Phinney Avenue N, Seattle, WA 98103). Bring a blanket or a lawn chair to the Fremont Studios parking lot and watch anything from Twilight to Pretty in Pink to Ghostbusters in the company of a lively crowd. For the adults there is wine and local beer available; for the tweens, a photo booth and fun contests.

A perfect end to a perfect family vacation in Seattle with tweens.

Sean Beaudoin lives in Seattle with his wife and daughter. A young adult fiction and short story writer, he is the author of Going Nowhere Faster, Fade to Blue, and You Killed Wesley Payne. Read his blog on Red Room.
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