The International Fountain It looks so simple. But the fountain has a way of pulling you in and lulling you into an afternoon of watching water jets shoot into the air in tune with the blasting music — leaving visitors wondering where their day went. Anchored by a massive foot climbing tower and foot tube slide, the park has cool musical play sculptures, ADA accessible swing and merry go round, and separate toddler play structure.
Restaurants at the Armory Better than your average food court, The Armory has lots of great, locally-owned options for a quick snack or a sit-down lunch. Check the tide schedules online or use a free phone app Tides Near Me is a good one ; any time you see the tides dip into the negative range is a good time to go. And keep an eye out for folks in red hats — at very low tides, the Seattle Aquarium sends out a fleet of friendly beach naturalists to educate and answer questions.
The theme of exhibits often returns to two questions: What does it take to change the world? How can each of us make a difference? Highly recommended! Seeing the city by boat is a not-to-be-missed experience, and Argosy corners the market on Seattle maritime tours. All ships have bathrooms, and drinks and snacks are available for purchase. Argosy sails out of Pier 55, right on the downtown waterfront. Great paired with a visit to the Museum of History and Industry next door.
CWB is easily accessible by bus and streetcar, and has a limited number of parking spots available. Boathouse and rental hours are abbreviated in the off season — be sure to check the website before you go. Best part? Hours: 10am-5pm daily, Labor day through May. Seattle is blessed with dozens maybe hundreds of great camping spots within 2 or 3 hours of the city. Read a quick overview of camping options in Washington State. Not up for pitching a tent — or packing all the equpipment?
But book early as these places fill many months in advance. All the instruments of the orchestra are available to try, there are musical-themed crafts, and a charming musical storytime. No need to worry about the germ factor — the friendly staff sanitizes mouthpieces after every guest. Hours: Fridays 10am-2pm, with musical storytime at Afterward, stick around to poke around the museum and gift shop, or explore the trails of beautiful Blake Island State Park.
The combination of boat cruise, meal, and entertainment make this a great deal for the price. Excursions run from April through September, though July onward is your best chance for pleasant weather. Book early — these tours sell out, and an early-booking discount is offered more than 28 days in advance. There are lots of great hikes in and near Seattle. Here are 10 of the best hikes in the Seattle area for families. It operates on a first come, first served basis, and the car line can be quite long in the summer, so plan to arrive well ahead of time or, better yet, leave the car behind.
All Bainbridge Island ferries have restrooms and food service on board. Their hands-on exhibits and play spaces are well-designed and fun, with a miniature town, pirate tree house, STEM and art centers, and year-round outdoor climbing wall. Outside food and beverage is allowed, or pop out for nearby pizza or diner food — admission is good for the entire day. KiDiMu is easily walkable from the ferry terminal and has plenty of free parking.
Back of Beyond Outfitters See Bainbridge from the water — Back of Beyond offers kayak, canoe, and paddle board rental at reasonable rates and within walking distance from the ferry. Tours and classes, too. Their rental location is on the public dock at Waterfront Park. Bainbridge Island Historical Museum Older kids will be fascinated by this excellent little museum, housed in a schoolhouse in downtown Winslow. Staff is super friendly and knowledgeable, and the museum is a mere minute walk from the ferry terminal.
Bainbridge Aquatics Center Clean and well-maintained, this community indoor swimming pool has just about everything a family could want — rope swings, diving boards, foot slide, lazy river, toddler pool with water toys, lap lanes, sauna, hot tubs, and snacks for purchase at the front desk. Island Rock Gym Indoor climbing and bouldering, a ten-minute drive from the ferry. Drop in, or reserve a class and have a professional show you the ropes. Island Rock Gym is clean, competitively priced, and offers snacks, drinks, and free coffee.
Kids under 5 climb free, and admission is good all day. The 1. Follow the Fairy Dell trail down to the beach. Battle Point Park is a 15 to minute drive from the ferry terminal and has plenty of free parking. The Bloedel Reserve Once a private estate, this immaculately-maintained acre public garden is a wooded wonderland of lush, landscaped trails. The loop trail takes about 1.
The Bloedel Reserve is a 15 minute drive from the ferry. No food or pets allowed. Fay Bainbridge State Park With sandy, driftwood-strewn beaches, this is a great park for exploring when the tide is out. This fun and inexpensive Lake Union boat tour operates on Sundays year-round, and is a perfect activity for kids. There are ice cream treats available for purchase on board hot chocolate in colder months , and well-behaved dogs are welcome. Cash and check only. Departs Sundays from Lake Union Park , between 11am and 3pm, on the hour.
Seattle street parking is free on Sundays, and the park is easily accessible by Metro bus and streetcar. On weekends, Theo offers Chocolate Story Time for the smaller kids, complete with kid-friendly factory tour and samples. Theo Chocolate has on-street parking, and is accessible by Metro Bus. Hours: 10am-6pm Daily. Their experienced climbers will show you and handle the ropes during a one-hour Rock Climbing Experience Class by reservation , or drop in to boulder at any time. Child care is offered, with advance registration.
Hours: Weekdays 6ampm, Weekends 8am-8pm. Call in advance to book a Pro Belay intro to rock climbing class, or just stop by to scrabble around. Maximize the fun by combining this with a trip to the Locks and a to-die-for burger at nearby Red Mill Totem House. Stone Gardens has free on-site parking and is Metro bus accessible. Hours: Weekdays 6ampm, Weekends 9ampm.
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Day pass prices are reasonable, and shoe rental is free on your first visit. Seattle Bouldering Project has ample on-site parking, and is accessible by Metro bus. Single climbs are available in 15 and 30 minute intervals, by advance reservation on weekends or on a drop-in basis from to pm Fridays. Group climbs are available by reservation most weekdays. Store Hours: Weekdays and Saturdays 9am-9pm, Sundays 10am-7pm.
A huge 2-level arcade filled with old and new video games. A multiplex movie theater is on the floors above. Seattle has several great beaches. My favorites are below. All have public restrooms.
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A nice swimming spot with life guards on duty during opening hours. Like all beaches you can swim anytime at your own discretion. Madison Park Beach on Lake Washington Located in the Madison Park neighborhood with a half-dozen restaurants, a Starbucks, and beautiful playground within 3 blocks of the beach.
Life guards on duty and a raft with a diving board is moored feet out into the lake. Green Lake Beach The warmest place to swim and a popular favorite. There are 2 different beaches on opposite sides of this small lake. Lots of restaurants, a wading pool, and a playground are found at the north end of the lake. Barbecues are scattered along the beach and free for using first come, first served.
Located on the western end of the Burke Gilman bike and pedestrian path about 1. Geocaching is a free, GPS-based treasure hunt taking place all over the world. Check out Geocaching to get started. Seattle is home to two amazing circus schools, and both offer one-time introductory classes open to everyone 6 years and older. Emerald City Trapeze Arts Located in a beautiful wood-beamed warehouse space just south of downtown.
They offer tons of beginning trapeze and arial arts classes and are super easy to get to — only a block away from the Link Light Rail SODO station. Most of their classes are series-based, but they do offer 2-hour single serve flying trapeze classes most days of the week. Preregistration and payment are required at least 48 hours in advance. There are 2 very fun outdoor swimming pools with water slides in the city.
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They get manageably busy on the hottest days of the summer. Seattle also opens a number of wading pools that are a fun and relaxing way for the littlest ones to cool off and play when the city gets hot. And yes, that does happen. Pairing this with a stop at the nearby Klondike Gold Rush museum makes for a fun and free educational afternoon.
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Hours: Wednesdays and Thursdays 11am-3pm in summer, Wednesdays 11am-3pm in winter. Seattle might not be Portland when it comes to bike-friendly infrastructure but it has enough bike paths and bike lanes to give the casual bike visitor plenty of routes to enjoy the city. There are a couple of places to rent bikes. Most bikes have an electric battery assist making the hills very easy. This is a 30 minute drive north of Seattle, but a hands-down favorite with many kids. The big track and karts which go pretty fast are for kids 11 and older. There is a smaller track and cars for 3 to 10 year olds, and they can use the smaller karts on the big track at a couple of select times check the website as it changes often.
Video games, pool, pizza, and beer in the waiting area. Seattle Gymnastics Academy in Ballard, Lake City, and Columbia City offers an open gym time to jump in the foam pit, bounce on the trampoline, run and swing and flop. PlayDate SEA is a perfect pit stop when adults need a break, but the kids have energy to spare. No outside food or beverage is allowed, and socks are required for kids and adults. Bellevue Zip Tour offers guided zip line and aerial challenge courses for kids and adults 9 years and older.
Ages 5 and up. Operates in summer only. Canopy Tours Northwest 6 thrilling zip lines in a beautiful farm and forest setting. Operates year round. Seattle is know for its awesome cafes and coffee. Most are kid friendly. Cafe Diablo on Queen Anne pictured above is one of our favorites. However Seattle has a ton of unique and locally-owned restaurants that serve great food, and are worth trying out.
With a few accommodations and some adventurous parents the whole family will have a great time. For more details, please read our post about how to use the San Francisco Cable Car. There are a lot of fun things to see and experience here, but one of the most popular attractions is the Sea Lions that tend to show up at the pier. These funny and interesting animals have chosen this particular spot to spend their time lounging in San Francisco.
Aquarium of the Bay is also located at Pier 39, so you can take your kids to see even more aquatic animals if they are interested. Admission to this attraction is included with every San Francisco tourist pass. There are several different ways to see the Golden Gate Bridge — boat tours , bike tours , bus tours and more — but you can also see it for free by simply walking across. Read our guide to walking across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Or, you might join us on one of our pay-what-you-wish walking tours. Just a few blocks south of the bridge is Golden Gate Park and there are some pretty great things to see here. Golden Gate Park is also the home of the de Young Museum , noted for their fine arts and sculpture garden, as well as the California Academy of Sciences , a wonderful natural history museum with a planetarium, an aquarium, and an indoor rainforest. For some of the best views in San Francisco, you might want to think about making the hike to Coit Tower.
There are some pretty amazing and historic murals on the ground floor. For more information about what you can see and do in the area, please read our full post about visiting Coit Tower. Tourist passes might not be free, but they can help you save so much money that you could enjoy some activities without paying a dime.
In addition to the attractions we already mentioned, the San Francisco Sightseeing Pass can also be used for a variety of guided walking tours, bike tours, cruises, and more. For information on this and other all-inclusive passes, make sure to read our full post comparing each San Francisco tourist pass. Honorable Mentions. Enjoy Great Photo Ops. There are a lot of great places to take fantastic pictures in the city by the bay. If you want to know where the best spots are, check our post about the top 10 photography locations in San Francisco.
See the Mission Murals. The Mission District in San Francisco has several beautiful murals painted on the walls of various buildings and structures in the area. You can take a self-guided tour of the Mission Murals and enjoy all of this fantastic street art for free. Go to the Japanese Tea Garden.
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Experience the Wave Organ. This art installation was developed to create sounds with the waves of the ocean.
Back to top. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book, and you can see the sights that inspired her, as well as Edinburgh Castle. River Cruising continues to grow in popularity, letting more guests experience more European destinations aboard the comfort of a floating hotel. Cabins for singles, doubles, triples, and quadruples mean every size family can be accommodated. Whether you have a child that enjoys decorating sugar cookies or you are an adult trying to perfect your coq au vin, odds are there is also a local cooking class at your travel destination. Sites like Cozymeal.
This town is also home to Winter the Dolphin, who has inspired millions. Because she was rescued after an accident and has thrived with a prosthetic flipper, Winter draws visitors facing their own challenges to the Clearwater Aquarium. This is the year to visit Greece, where idyllic ports of call, farm- or sea-to-table cuisine and a world of mythology guarantee an unforgettable family adventure. From July August 3, , your family will join this small group yacht cruise — 14 guests maximum ages 6 and up — led by two expert guides and your own captain, cook and two seamen.
Cruise among the Dodecanese islands aboard Sunworld 9 , a traditionally-styled Turkish gulet with eight elegant double and triple cabins. Maria Girtzi, who has taught in Greece, Cyprus, the U. Going house boating is a super laid-back vacation option for families. An average houseboat is similar to a Winnebago mounted on twin pontoons. Rentals range in length from 44 to 75 feet and the largest can sleep 12 people comfortably. You will feel like you are at home afloat. The Roy Barth Tennis Center, now run by his son, offers a weekly menu of programs for adults and juniors.
In addition to golf and tennis at the resort, there are bike trails, kayaks, fishing and camp Kiawah that offers activities for kids. Whatever you want to do outdoors — hike, kayak, paddleboard, fish, bike — you can do it in Maine, as big as all the other New England states combined with over 5, miles of coastline, 6, lakes and ponds and of course, L.
Take your foodies to Portland where you can cruise on Casco Bay. Among the many ships at sea,Disney Cruise Line stands out for its new itineraries to seven new ports in Europe, including a first-ever round-trip cruise from Rome and first-time visits to destinations in France, Spain, Northern Ireland, Denmark and Sweden. Disney Cruise Line takes guests on a grand tour of Europe with visits to the Mediterranean in early summer and northern Europe in late summer.
Plus, adventures continue into fall with sailings to Alaska, the Caribbean and the Bahamas, including new cruise lengths aboard the Disney Fantasy. One child 12 and under can stay and play and dine free with two paying adults, on minimum three-night stays. Have two kids under 13? Head to the 5-star, all-inclusive Iberostar Cozumel. Two kids stay free and play at the Cozumel resort, ideally located near a coral reef for snorkelers and divers.
Expect a laid-back style with bungalow rooms that feature hammocks, natural landscaping and amenities that make it green-certified. Plus, did we mention most concerts are free of charge? Try the three new rides: the Toubillon carousel, Petite Roue Ferris wheel, and Tour du Fou, a high-flying merry-go-round. Not-for-profit Road Scholar offers a collection of learning adventures exclusively for grandparents and grandkids. All of the details are taken care of — including activities, lectures, excursion, gratuities and more.
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Grandparent travel — without parents along — is a growing trend. Thousands of people will travel internationally with grandchildren this year also, to experience must-see destinations and new cultures together. Discover the magic of France , exotic Portugal , or experience summer in Greece. For example, North Cascades National Park in Washington, which has more than glaciers, gets just over 30, visitors a year. This year, Festival Napa Valley takes place July , celebrating food, wine, the arts, the Moon Landing and underserved youth and community members. Anyone need ideas for a college graduation present?
Find a land of enchantment, mix of history and culture, along with some Route 66 nostalgia in the town of Gallup, near the Arizona border. It will take place on August , And, you and the kids can see historic adobe structures during a road trip tour with 11 scenic stops. Southern Oregon is a family vacation heaven only 7 hours north of San Francisco and 4 hours south of Portland by car. The presentation includes a Prologue by the education staff and youth ages get a 30 percent discount on tickets. Start your days early to avoid traffic and be sure to plan fun stops along the way.
Learn about a different culture when you visit the Amish Village interpretive attraction where kids can ask all the questions they want. Stay at a Martinhal family hotel in Lisbon or elsewhere in Portugal that has been designed from the ground up for families — even with supervised kids programming in Lisbon so parents can enjoy a night out guilt free.
Taking a road trip is a classic American family vacation. They are all free, family-friendly and have nothing to do with gambling at a casino. Engage your family this summer on the best outdoor vacation that you can imagine — a dude ranch vacation in the American west. Do you have a traditional family reunion, or maybe you are grandparents traveling with grandchildren?