Golden Gardens Park Alamy Danita Delmont

Family Day

With vibrant parks, interactive museums, casual restaurants, and playful shops, the Emerald City is a veritable playground when it comes to kid-friendly adventures. Of course, what’s fun for your kids can vary depending on their ages. We asked local families with children in different age groups to share their recommendations for spending a memorable afternoon and early evening in Seattle.

Interactive learning in the U District

Brunch Hour

Two kids looking at an exhibit in the Burke Museum.

Burke Museum Kristin Gillespie

Inside the Burke Museum, we like eating Native American food at Off the Rez Café (4300 15th Ave NE). My kids love the crispy fry bread with savory (pulled pork barbecue with slaw is Simon’s recommendation) or sweet (strawberry with extra powdered sugar, says Nikhil) toppings.

See and Do

We’re big fans of the Burke Museum (4303 15th Ave NE). There’s an amazing amount to learn about in one space, from biology to paleontology to Native American culture and art. Be sure to peek into the windows to see scientists at work—you might witness an archeologist uncovering a tooth from a T-Rex, or a biologist examining hummingbird wings under a microscope. Simon likes the totem poles and the Chinook Guests from the Great River art installation. On the University of Washington campus, visit the impressive collection of contemporary works at the Henry Art Gallery (15th Ave NE and NE 41st St) and the gothic and grandiose Suzzallo Library (NE Grant Ln), with its stained-glass windows, carved-wood trim, and ornate chandeliers. My children are in awe of this place—“this is the real Hogwarts,” whispered Simon, on a recent visit.

a person wearing a black shirt holding a tray of cookies.

Courtesy Hello Robin

University Village (2623 NE University Village St) is a great stop for shopping and snacking. Nikhil and Simon like Din Tai Fung (2621 NE 46th St) for their soup dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) and garlic string beans, and Hello Robin (2570 NE University Village St) for gigantic cookies. And Fireworks Gallery (2617 NE University Village St) has an eclectic mix of local artisan goods and tchotchkes. End the afternoon at nearby Gas Works Park (2101 N Northlake Way) to explore the cool remains of the Seattle Gas Light Company and head up Kite Hill for an incredible view of Lake Union and downtown.

Dinner Time

We recently tried Pablo y Pablo (1605 N 34th St) and loved it. Their nachos were amazing with spiced chicken, seasoned beans, pickled veggies, and spicy peppers. Pam’s Kitchen (1715 N 45th St), a Caribbean joint, is also great. We love their curries and extra-fluffy parathas. Cool off on warm days with a local dessert: popsicles! Seattle Pops (1401 N 45th St) serves ice pops in fun flavors—mango, passion fruit, coconut cream. The best part? You can dip it in chocolate and sprinkles. According to Nikhil, his cookies-and-cream pop “was the best thing ever!”

A photo of four family members sitting in a red camper van.

Thankachen Family Joshua Huston

Our Experts: Woodinville-based family Jasmin Thankachen—who also serves as the associate publisher of Seattle’s Child (—and Anu Mathew, and their sons Nikhil (11) and Simon (9).

Active Adventures in the Chinatown-International District

Brunch Hour

For a quick breakfast or lunch, head to Hood Famous (504 Fifth Ave S), which serves amazing Filipino food in its cafe. The quiche of the day (especially when it’s with longaniza sausage) and comforting chicken arroz caldo are delicious. The cheesecakes are a hit with Polaris (who likes the calamansi flavor) and Cyrus (who favors the halo halo), and we like the ube lattes. Or have lunch at goPoké (625 S King St)—after eating their ahi poke bowls, the boys love their shave ice topped with pineapple Dole Whip.

See and Do

The C-ID offers lots of ways to engage kids. Cyrus attends “mini break” (breakdance) classes with the Massive Monkees at The Beacon (812 Rainier Ave S) dance school; these drop-in sessions are for ages 2–6, but they have classes for older kids. Polaris plays basketball at the International District/Chinatown Community Center (719 Eighth Ave S), which features all kinds of fun activities open to the public, including family gym on Saturdays. He also goes to Seattle Bouldering Project (900 Poplar Pl S), a climbing gym that sells day passes and rents climbing shoes—all experience levels are welcome!

Courtesy Musang

At our game store, Tabletop Village (616 Eighth Ave S), which mostly carries Pokémon products, kids can play Pokémon TCG (Trading Card Game) and Pokémon GO. When the boys need a break, we’ll often stop by Oasis Tea Zone (519 Sixth Ave S) for Taiwanese-style bubble tea, waffle fries, and octopus takoyaki balls—they also have pinball machines! Around the corner, kids can play for hours on the machines at the Seattle Pinball Museum (508 Maynard Ave S).

Dinner Time

The C-ID has so many great restaurants, and it’s also convenient to a lot of other great dining neighborhoods. It’s about a 20-minute walk to Ivar’s Fish Bar (1001 Alaskan Way) on Pier 54, which has great views of Elliott Bay. Or for a sit-down dinner in a lovely old house not too far away in Beacon Hill, we all enjoy the delicious Filipino fare at Musang (2524 Beacon Ave S). The short rib kare kare is a favorite with us grown-ups, while Polaris is crazy about the sinigang na lechon belly, and Cyrus usually goes for the crispy buttermilk-batter fried chicken with gravy.

Tabletop Village Rolo Tanedo Jr

Our Experts: The south Seattle family of Brian Myers and Adelaide Altares, who own Tabletop Village game shop in the Chinatown–International District (C-ID), and their kids Polaris Altares (12) and Cyrus Myers (4).

Outdoor Fun in Ballard

Brunch Hour

On Sunday, the Ballard Farmers Market (5345 Ballard Ave NW) is a must. Our kids love the crepe stand, but you can get ramen, tacos, pizza, anything—it’s all delish. Other faves are the classic diner Hattie’s Hat (5231 Ballard Ave NW) and the funky Lockspot (3005 NW Locks Pl) near the Ballard Locks, a favorite cafe of fishermen for 100 years—try the fish and chips, and homemade cinnamon rolls.

See and Do

A photo of Golden Gardens Park beach at sunset. The sky is glowing orange and there is the silhouette of 8 people on the shore. The Puget Sound and Olympics Mountains are in the background.

Golden Gardens Park Alamy Danita Delmont

Market Street and Ballard Avenue are lined with indie shops, including teen favorite DIY Tea Lab (2215 NW Market St), where you can customize your bubble tea, and adjacent Just Poke. Walk, bike, or pick up an e-scooter to explore the flat, paved Burke-Gilman Trail. Stop at the Ballard Locks (3015 NW 54th St) and admire the botanical gardens, and watch for seals and jumping salmon. Continue around Shilshole Bay Marina to lovely Golden Gardens Park (8498 Seaview Pl NW) for a breezy beach walk. Watch for sea birds, turtles, and the occasional beaver. Teens love to roast marshmallows over bonfires—it’s one of only two local beaches that allow fires. Our kids like to stop by Un Bien (7302 ½ 15th Ave NW) for awesome Caribbean sandwiches or old-school Little Coney (8003 Seaview Ave NW) for a root beer float or a soft serve with sprinkles.

Dinner Time

Patxi’s Pizza (5323 Ballard Ave NW) is always great, but Sam’s Sushi Bar & Grill (5506 22nd Ave NW) is my kids’ absolute favorite! We’ve been going since my 17-year-old was in a high chair, eating salmon nigiri with both hands. Try the dragon and crunchy rolls, or the salmon teriyaki.

Courtesy Kerry Colburn

Our Experts: Long-time Ballard residents Kerry Colburn and Rob Sorensen and their kids, Piper (17) and Rudy (15), who are students at Ballard High School.


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