Family weekend explorations in Seattle this spring
Spring has arrived and long-closed family attractions are reopening in and around Seattle. The mild spring temperatures are also sprouting new programs and facilities at Seattle’s favorite attractions, as well as favorites worth seeing before summer tourists arrive.
Limited areas of Pacific Science Center will reopen this spring – though you’ll have to wait a bit longer (until July) to visit favorite sites like the Tropical Butterfly House, Dinosaurs and Tinker Tankmaker space. Until then, Gen X parents might enjoy some nostalgia with the tweens and teens at the soon-to-reopen IMAX Theater and Laser Dome. Also, at Seattle Center, the Seattle Children’s Museum will reopen on April 2, 2022 with new exhibits, after being closed for more than two years.
Seattle Center is hosting various family offerings this spring. Teens can enjoy creative writing workshops in tandem with a On the planks performance, and Seattle Children’s Theater and Seattle Youth Opera offer affordable April shows.
As an artistic alternative to the northern tulip fields, Chihuly Garden and Glass runs a Spring flowering installation until May 31. Thousands of light bulbs and daffodils accent the outdoor spaces. Special programming includes spring-themed activities (making a paper flower, collecting a packet of pollinators) and after-hours Chihuly Night with live music and glassblowing demonstrations.
For free fun, bring a skateboard, pads and helmet to the new (late 2021) skate plaza, with a focus on street skating and space for new skaters to practice their skills. The innovative In-Game Artists The playground is also always open, with a 30-foot climbing tower, sound swings, maze, and other unusual play features you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in Seattle.
Now celebrating its 25th year, the Seattle Center’s Festive is another source of free, family-friendly experiences. Festive is organized around diverse cultures, often in tandem with live music and dance, handmade food and crafts, and opportunities to experience cultural traditions.
This spring, take the kids to Festive‘s Seattle Cherry Blossom and Japanese Cultural Festival (April 8-10), Asian-Pacific Islander Month Celebration (May 1), Spirit of Africa (May 14), Glimpse of China (May 21). Other events this year celebrate Iranian, Filipino, Polish, Arab, Indigenous, Tibetan, Hawaiian, Italian, Turkish, Hmong, Irish and Vietnamese cultures, and more.
Memorial Day weekend Northwest folk life is a donation-driven, classic Seattle experience for all ages, featuring live performances, food and locally-made goods from vendors. Historically, the festival has offered children’s concerts, dance lessons, dance groups, storytelling, community jams, and other methods for the participation of the whole family.
Not far from downtown Seattle, Pike Place Market takes place with the family over a weekend in May. On Mum’s Market Day on May 7, children’s activities and scavenger hunts will continue, accompanied by live music. During the same weekend (May 7 and 8), the annual Flower Festival features flowers grown in the Pacific Northwest (tulips, peonies, daffodils, etc.) sold in over 40 tents. At the market, browse the nooks and crannies of over 500 small businesses, including surprising hits like little fairy houses and discoveries for teens like the goth-kitsch of Orange Dracula.
Other bigger family spring options include watching figure skaters fresh from the Beijing Olympics in Stars on Ice on May 28 and the roar of vehicles at Monster truck jam April 2nd. the Seattle Kraken Children’s Day on April 3 features pre-game family activities, kids featured as game show hosts and the singer of the national anthem, and free giveaways for kids.
Day trips beyond Seattle
For families ready to venture further afield, Discover Free Days Pass offer free admission to Washington State Parks on certain dates, such as April 22, Earth Day. Close Seattle-Tacoma Washington State Parks to discover, the whimsical castle-like play structures of St. Edward State Park and horse viewing at Bridle Trails, one of the best equestrian parks west of the Mississippi. Pack sunglasses and sunscreen to explore the tidal pools and beaches of nearby Saltwater State Park and Dash Point.
In Puyallup, the spring fair will take place over two weekends in April. Watch an ax throw or a comedy or magic show, meet jungle animals and take selfies. Go for a full day or combine the Spring Fair with Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium’s newest offering. On April 1, the Zoo opens on Nature play garden – children can create using wooden blocks and bark chips on the Builder’s Deck, immerse themselves in a sensory garden rich in colors, scents and textures, follow a course of balance and be interested in resident pollinators. From May 7, PDZA will reopen its Budgie Buddies aviary, where you can feed Australian parakeets with a seed stick.
The high debit Clipper Victoria will once again begin sailing in the waters between Seattle and regional destinations such as Victoria, British Columbia. Beginning April 29, families can board the Clipper’s Seattle Whale Watching Tours to the San Juan Islands at Pier 69.
Spot orcas, gray whales and humpback whales with the help of an onboard naturalist from April through October, with a 2-hour stopover in the walkable town of Friday Harbor. The whale watching trip is recommended for children aged six and over – many young children often do not yet have the attention span. Tickets for children 11 and under are significantly discounted, making this a great option for a family day trip.
Whatever you do, go now. Tourists arrive.
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