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Family Travel Guide: Must-Visit Attractions in Seattle

We asked a former local for her favorite spots around town

There’s more to see in Seattle than Pike Place Market and the futuristic Space Needle—and who better to give a tour than a former Dallasite Mom of two Beth Dotolo, whose home we featured nearly 10 years ago, has lived in Seattle for seven years now. We consulted the interior designer about her favorite Seattle spots to visit with her 5- and 9-year-old boys in tow—here’s their kid-friendly travel guide to the Emerald City.

The SEATTLE CENTER is a must-visit. The Center, spread throughout 74 acres, is home to a multitude of attractions––all within walking distance of one another. Set aside a full day to bask in the sites. Travel up 605 feet to reach the breathtaking sky views in the Space Needle. And once you’re back on land, explore the Chihuly Garden and Glass, featuring eight galleries, a glasshouse and garden filled with artist Dale Chihuly’s work. The garden is filled with colorful glass structures in dreamy, curvaceous shapes––think an Alice in Wonderland aesthetic. The Museum of Pop Culture will also leave you and the kids breathless, with exhibits highlighting the essence of American culture. Introduce your littles to legendary artist Prince, the history and future of video games and, of course, local rock band Nirvana. Plus, check out the Artist at Play playground, equipped with a 52-foot-long slide, along with wide nets and loopy structures for kids to climb.

According to Dotolo, MAGNUSON PARK is the summer spot (and Seattle’s second largest park). “This park is on Lake Washington and it’s a family favorite for fresh water swimming, barbecue and lawn games,” she says. “You can spend the day lounging and enjoying the views of the water and the cascades. Just bring towels, swimsuits and an umbrella for shade.” Bring a ball for a game of soccer at the sports field and wear your walking shoes to stroll along the park’s trails. In addition to the summer-esque activities, you’ll see over 20 brick art installations dating back to the ’30s and ’40s throughout the park’s 350 acres. But before making your way to the park, Dotolo recommends stopping by a famed restaurant for grub time. “Grab Ezell’s Famous Chicken (Oprah’s fried favorite) on the way for a delicious picnic,” she says.

Home to the Seattle Aquarium, a grand Ferris wheel that lights up in 500,000 LED lights at night, plus restaurants and shopping galore, the SEATTLE WATERFRONT is a city treasure. Its Great Wheel is 175 feet tall––one of the country’s largest Ferris wheels. A light show usually takes place on the weekends. Dotolo’s favorite attraction at the waterfront is the Argosy Locks boat tour, given twice a day through Sept. 2, with a cruise through Ballard Locks at Salmon Bay. Pricing begins at $43 for adults, $20 for ages 4–12 and free for age 3 and under.

Large purple, red and yellow flags mark the spot at the BALLARD FARMERS MARKET––a Seattle gem for 15 years. “This is a great little farmers market we love to go to each Sunday and grab lunch from one of the street vendors,” Dotolo shares. “You’ll see the best of local produce, but there are also street performers and balloon artists for the kids.” The market is home to 120 vendors, featuring farmers from all over the state, local artisans, businesses and boutiques. We hear that kids flock to the Seattle Pops ice cream bars and market mini doughnuts. If your littles are still restless after their market stroll, take them to Marvin’s Garden or Bergen Place––two nearby parks. Pro tip: restrooms are on site at the market.