Seattle with Teens: A Perfect Family Day

Seattle with Teens: A Family Vacation


When my California relatives pop up for their annual summer holiday, Seattle is always on the list of places to go. Why? It's been noted that the city has all the great benefits of a day in San Francisco, only it is perhaps cleaner and cooler and less congested. The arts scene abounds, and Seattle, Wash. has every variety of restaurants, pubs and meals-on-wheels eateries imaginable, the locals are eclectic and friendly, and there are endless ways to keep you and your teens occupied, rain or shine.


You and the teens can start your day in Seattle at the waterfront on Pier 54, either incoming from ferries (for those visiting the Capital, for instance) or by car, there is always ample parking. Walking a bit along the pier gives you any number of quick drop-by window-shopping options, as well as staple favorites like Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. Always a hit, no matter the age, their wild assortment of everything from shrunken heads to mummies and other novelties, along with offering up Seattle Ghost tours (as seen on the SciFi Channel's "Ghost Hunters"), the shop is a great way to begin the day with a little Northwest American history and mystery.

Next up along the pier is the Seattle Aquarium, with an ongoing schedule of events and exhibits. It is an excellent place to cool off or keep dry before launching toward Pike Place Market. An easy walk up from the piers, just follow the city guide markers posted along the sidewalk intersections or grab a walking tour guide map from one of the shops, and you'll find yourself only a couple of blocks out from one of Seattle's premiere tourist attractions.

The Pike Place Market staircase (only just recently renovated and reopened in June of 2010) boasts a sizable workout for those up to the task. An elevator (of course) is also readily available; either way pops you out at the hub of the market, just under the neon sign. From this corner you hit the main arcade and its retail shops and crafts. The excellent Market Spice teas originate from the local tea shop here, just next to where the famous fishmongers call and throw salmon across the picture-taking crowds. To the left toward the north arcade flower vendors and craft stalls mingle with fresh produce and pubs. Don't be fooled that the top stalls hold it all, for booksellers and film shops, museums and print goods are available one level down as well.


Crossing the cobbled street toward Post Alley, you'll enjoy an earful from local street musicians, before taking a breather for lunch in the Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub (my particular favorite), who whip up excellent meat pasties and an impressive selection of beers on tap for Mom and Dad. Outside seating also available, for parents who want to keep their teens out of a bar atmosphere.

Next, why not pop back down to the Corner Market? That's where Starbucks first began, a tiny slip of a storefront that never fails to surprise visitors with its quaint intimacy. And last, but not least, a visit to the market is never complete (at least with my clan), until you've traveled down 1st Avenue to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. With everything from sugar-free options to amazing granny smith apples coated with nearly every chocolate and candy combo imaginable, it is a chocoholic's must.

Get that sugar fix before grabbing the monorail, and heading on up to Seattle Center. Seattle Center is the arguably the most recognized art and events hub of the city. Several of our major theater houses, including the Intiman Theatre and the Seattle Repertory Theatre are here, as well as the Ballet, Arco Arena and McCaw Hall. It is also home to the Seattle Children's Museum, and the award-winning Seattle Children's Theatre, which reaches approximately 250,000 parents, teachers and students annually in workshops and full productions.

Need a snack? Make a stop into the Center House food court for your choice of everything from sandwiches to sit-down meals, or take a picnic into the center of the park at the International Fountain, a huge water/music feature suitable for cooling off in the summer sun. It was originally built for the Seattle World's Fair in 1962. And speaking of the World's Fair, what visit to Seattle would be complete without a trip to the Space Needle?


At 605 feet in height, the Space Needle was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi at the time it was built, and is now the universally recognized symbol of Seattle, Washington. From the observation deck at 520 feet you and the teeens can see not only of the entire Seattle skyline, but also the Olympic and Cascade mountains, Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker, as well as Elliot Bay and several of the surrounding Islands. Should the rain get you down, the Pacific Science Center will provide a full afternoon of wanderings about, or you can visit the IMAX theatre, just beside, with occasional science-based films as well as regular cinema releases projecting on the largest screen in Seattle, 6 stories high.

Have dinner in the Needle at SkyCity Restaurant, a revolving eatery that offers casual fare and a 360-degree view of the city. The Space Needle opens at 9AM PT and closes at midnight; you can have dinner overlooking the city until 10PM PT.

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