Family Vacations in Washington

Family Vacations in Washington: Seattle Center

The focal point of the Seattle skyline, the Space Needle overlooks Seattle Center, a mecca of amusement park activity, museums, and restaurants in the heart of the city.

Seattle Center, home of the futuristic Space Needle, is the cultural heart of the city. Its 74 acres are filled with enough high-quality entertainment to keep a family happy for days.

For a view of Seattle Center and beyond, board the Space Needle's glass-enclosed elevator for the 41-second journey to its top. It will bring you 520 feet aboveground, where you can dine in a rotating restaurant or walk around the viewing station for a fabulous panorama of downtown Seattle, Puget Sound, Lake Union, and Mount Rainier.

The Pacific Science Center has attractions for every member of the family. You can learn how an animatronic dinosaur works and walk through a warm, humid tropical butterfly house. The antics of East African naked mole rats, some of the most unusual animals you'll ever see, are endlessly entertaining. Feel the vibrations as you step inside a giant guitar to investigate the art and science of music, or settle into your seat and enjoy some stargazing by way of a live presentation

at the planetarium.

The Seattle Children's Museum is filled with hands-on adventure. Visitors of all ages enjoy sending balls through a busy cityscape of pulleys, pipes, mazes, and levers to learn about cause and effect in Cog City. In the Mindscape technology studio, your kids can record a song or become part of a virtual reality video game. An artist-in-residence is always on hand to guide kids through art projects that relate to various exhibits in the drop-in art studio. Younger children will enjoy the activities in Discovery Bay.

Seattle Center is home to one of the best children's theaters in the country. The Seattle Children's Theatre stages top-notch performances of classic children's literature and new works as well. At the end of every performance, members of the cast return to the stage to conduct a question-and-answer period with members of the young audience.

The Experience Music Project, housed in an exotic, gleaming, freeform building designed by Frank Gehry, celebrates musical innovation. The museum is a delight for the senses and uses interactive technology and hands-on exhibits to delve into the influences of various types of music. The city's vibrant musical history is featured in an exhibit about famous rock bands that originated in Seattle, including The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam. Exhibits also portray the punk movement and the hip-hop explosion. The museum houses an extensive display of artifacts, including musical instruments, handwritten lyrics, clothing, and other memorabilia.

Children of all ages will enjoy a visit to the Sound Lab, where they can strap on a guitar, climb behind a drum set, or sit at the keyboards in a soundproof studio and play along with their selection of recorded music.

Ready for some outdoor fun? Visit the Center's International Fountain, which attracts children like a magnet during warm, sunny days. A number of grassy knolls and gardens offer ideal locations for a family picnic, and the Fun Forest Amusement Center features a variety of children's rides and games.

Every Memorial Day weekend, Seattle Center hosts a celebration of ethnic music, dance, crafts, and food. Keep reading to learn about the Northwest Folklife Festival.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Seattle City Guide: Discover Seattle, a city that's synonymous with Starbucks, the Space Needle, and rainy weather.
  • Washington State Guide: Learn about the natural beauty you'll find in the state of Washington, including the Columbia River and Mount Rainier.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.