7 awesome things to do in Seattle with your kids

Whether you are traveling through the area or you live here, Seattle offers some great family activities, especially in the city center area. Seven of these activities are highlighted here.

1. The Space Needle
Literally soar to the top of the Space Needle in the high-speed elevator in less than 60 seconds. Ready for take-off? Children of all ages, including adults who are young at heart, get a thrill seeing the world from atop the Space Needle. At 520 feet, with a 365-degree view, it is impressive what you can see—the cityscape, the mountains, the lakes and the ocean. Telescopes are strategically placed around the observation deck for a closer view of area sites. If you are lucky you may see whales in the harbor or a barbecue being prepared on a nearby houseboat, but I don't advise crashing the party.

2. Seattle Children's Museum
Located adjacent to the Space Needle is the Seattle Children's Museum. The Imagination Studio encourages your aspiring little artist to paint, sculpt, and design structures. Let their imagination create an amazing work of art to share with the world - who knows they could become a famous artist one day. The Global Village area transports you to other lands and cultures. Take an imaginary vacation to Ghana, Japan, and the Philippines without the cost of international travels. Maybe the village will inspire you to take a grand family vacation to one of these areas.

3. Point Defiance Zoo/Aquarium
One of the best zoos and aquariums in the USA is located just south of Seattle, in the City of Tacoma. The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium features regional and international species. It is a very popular local attraction, especially in the summer months, as families look to get outside for entertainment. Go early to beat the crowds. Get up close and personal with wildlife including sharks and stingrays, elephants, tigers, wolves, and sea otters as you wander through over 700 acres. Grab a snack from the onsite restaurant or one of the many kiosks. Join a zoo-sponsored presentation to learn about animals and their habitats; you can even be a participant in some of the shows.

4. Take a ferry
Several companies offer planned excursions around the harbor and to the San Juan Islands. But, the Washington State Ferries offer rides to nearby islands for a lesser price. In great weather, guests can enjoy the crossings on the outside upper decks. This is especially exciting for the younger crowd as dolphins and other marine animals can be seen "accompanying" the ferries. If the weather is less than ideal, or you just want to relax inside while enjoying a snack from the onboard café, plenty of inside seating is available. Explore the end destination and return to Seattle later in the day. The ferries operate all day. Or simply re-board for the return excursion.

5. Pikes Place Fish Market
My absolute favorite place in Seattle is Pike Place Fish Market (located on the top level of the Pike Place Market). While you can wander the many levels and visit vendors selling everything from candles to product, the absolutely most entertaining and engaging area is right up top. This fish market doesn't just sell fish, which is fresh and delicious, they sell entertainment. The staff are eccentric and comical. They love their job and it shows. A word of caution if you don't like to be the center of attention - you may become a part of the action unexpectedly because they love surprises and audience participation. Children especially love the flying fish exhibits. Look out - don't let those flying fish hit you.

6. Ride the trolley
Seattle has upgraded the Metro rail system significantly in recent years. The waterfront trolley connects with the Metro system allowing visitors to easily explore much more of the city. Visit one of the many parks in the area for a picnic, go paddleboarding on the quiet waters of Lake Union, watch seaplanes take off and land, or explore the Historic Ships Wharf. The wharf displays several classic sea vessels, including the Arthur Foss tugboat from the 1933 film Tugboat Annie.

Options also exist for various city tours include the popular Ride the Duck tours,which include both land and water touring options in one.

7. Walk along the pier
Located on the Seattle waterfront, the pier provides so many diverse activities you could spend the whole day here. Especially crowded on weekend, along the pier you will find clowns, entertainers including skateboarders, musicians, artists, and street theater, balloon sculptors, sea lions lazing on the docks, ships of all sizes coming and going, and plenty of people watching. You won't find any fast food restaurants along the pier but there are plenty of eating options for snacks and meals. Step into one of the many shops to find unique treasures, take a photo with a pirate, or pass some time in the arcade.

Bring the family, enjoy a day of adventure, and create memories of a lifetime. Discounts to many of these attractions can be found online or through the Seattle CityPASS.

Stella has lived in the Pacific Northwest for over 25 years. She is a published writer and photographer and has her own travel blog.