Kid Picks for Seattle Restaurant Week

On Sunday, October 17, Seattle Restaurant Week kicks off. For almost two weeks (October 17-28), Sunday through Thursday, diners will enjoy three-course dinners for just $25 at over 100 area restaurants.

Evado PR helped me collect information on kid-friendly restaurants that offer children’s menus. I’ve highlighted menu items that might be more adventurous, along with the standards. Of course, these menu items are offered the other 51 weeks, so you’re not limited to dining during SRW.

Don’t see your favorite restaurant listed here? Don’t stress. Call ahead and ask whether they make special accommodations for kids, whether smaller portions or appetizer options.

Go to the Seattle Restaurant Week site to look up restaurants, make reservations and view adult menus.

Restaurant Name Kid-friendly items Sample kid menu items
13 Coins Coloring, kids menu French toast; spaghetti with meat sauce or marinara; fried ravioli.
Barking Frog Kids menu (12 and under), includes soft drink or milk and a cookie Cheeseburger; gourmet mac attack and cheese; chicken tenders.
Barrio Bellevue High chairs, kids menu Cheese quesadillas; taco duo; chicken torta.
Bastille Café & Bar Kids menu Croque fromage; lamb burger; grilled chicken breast w/fries.
Betty Restaurant Kids menu Menu changes, always fresh.
Carmelita Kids menu (12 and under only). Buttered noodles, available w/cheese; delicious veggies; cheese pizza.
The Georgian Kids age 6 and younger eat free, kids under age 12 each for half off (during tea service, main dishes and holiday brunches), 100% organic and trans-fat free kids menu, includes choice of beverage. Hot dog w/french fries; peanut butter and jelly sandwich; tuna fish triangles on whole wheat bread w/fruit salad and chips.
The Historic Woodman Lodge Steakhouse & Saloon Kids menu Extra creamy cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese house sautéed and served w/a slice of cheese toast; burger served w/lots of Lodge fresh-made fries; kosher beef dog dipped in Lodge-made batter and cooked golden brown served w/fries.
Il Fornaio Kids menu Cheese ravioli in marinara or cheese sauce; bowl of seasonal vegetables; pasta with parmesan, tomato or meat sauce
Ivar’s Salmon House Kids menu served w/cookies and choice of French fries, potato chips or fruit cup, plus milk, fruit juice or soft drink. Fresh steamed vegetables can be substituted Pasta tossed with butter and parmesan cheese; alder-barbecued wild salmon; fish ‘n chips; melted cheese between warm toasted bread.
La Medusa Provides kids with pizza dough to play (and bake upon request), kids menu for 12 and under. Spaghetti butter & cheese; spaghetti marinara;  cheese or pepperoni pizza.
The Pink Door Verbal kids menu Pasta w/marinara sauce; pizza bianca; meatball panini.
Ponti Seafood Grill Kids menu Bronzed salmon quesadillas; breaded chicken tenders w/bistro fries; pasta with cheese and butter; Ponti bacon cheeseburger w/bistro fries.
Purple Café & Wine Bar “Milk Flight” featuring chocolate, strawberry, caramel and regular milk, plus kids menu Grilled chicken sandwich w/choice of shoestring fries or side salad; cheese pizza; mac-n-cheese; cranberry chicken salad; grilled salmon w/seasonal vegetables.
Ray’s Café Kids menu Cheese quesadilla; kids fish and chips; kids grilled salmon w/mashed potatoes and veggies; steamed clams in dill butter broth; crispy chicken dinosaurs w/fries, carrot sticks and ranch dip.
Salty’s on Alki Beach Kids menu Wood-oven pizzas, choose pepperoni or cheese; fish and chips with Alaskan ling cod and tempura batter served w/Salty’s seasoned fries; Salty’s kid’s burger w/cheddar cheese.
Salty’s at Redondo Beach Kids menu Peanut butter and jelly Sandwich w/potato chips and fresh fruit; cheesy macaroni served w/slice of focaccia; Salty’s chowder and salad.
Sazerac Kids Menu Organic baby mixed lettuces with whole lemon vinaigrette; chicken fingers w/ honey mustard and hand-cut french fries; cornmeal fried Idaho catfish w/fries and tartar sauce.
Seastar Restaurant Kids menu Chicken penne pasta; grilled chicken salad; sushi or sashimi plate; sirloin steak.
Six Seven Restaurant & Lounge Kids menu Spaghetti w/tomato sauce, grilled cheese sandwich, kids cheddar sliders w/fries; chicken fingers.
tidbit bistro Crayons on every table, kids menu Golden fried risotto cake with tomato, saffron and mozzarella, served with salsa; mac’n cheese with rigatoni, mozzarella, goat cheese, gorgonzola, parmesan; Zoe’s Molten Cheese (A bed of melting mozzarella filante with shaved parmesan).
Urbane Kids menu (all items served w/your choice of celery, carrot sticks or Kraft Macaroni and Cheese) Chicken Nuggets w/choice of ranch or barbeque dipping sauce; Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup w/celery and carrot sticks; turkey hot dog on plain bun w/ketchup and mustard.
Waterfront Seafood Grill Kids menu Fish and chips, grilled tenderloin and mashers; Pasta w/butter, cheese, red or white Sauce
Wild Ginger Kids menu Fried rice, noodles, skewers

Beat the Heat in Seattle: Wading pools, beaches and more

I received this press release from Seattle Parks and Recreation in my in-box and couldn’t help but share! Whether you’re visiting Seattle or live here, you’ll need a way to chill, and this list offers the perfect way to do so.

———Following is from Seattle Parks and Recreation Press Release ——-

Seattle Beaches

Parks offers safe, lifeguarded beaches at nine sites around the city (Seattle), and we strongly recommend swimming only where lifeguards are present. Beaches are open daily, weather permitting, from noon to 7 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Amenities range from swim rafts and low and high diving boards to nearby wading pools, play areas, ballfields, and more.

These Seattle beaches are open through September 6:

  • Matthews, 9300 51st Ave. NE
  • Madison, 1900 43rd Ave. E
  • Mt. Baker, 2301 Lake Washington Blvd. S
  • Seward, 5902 Lake Washington Blvd. S
  • West Green Lake, 7312 W Green Lake Dr.

These beaches are open through August 29:

  • East Green Lake, 7201 E Green Lake Dr. N
  • Magnuson, park entrance at NE 65th and Sand Point Way NE
  • Madrona, 853 Lake Washington Blvd.
  • Pritchard Beach, 8400 55th Ave. S

Seattle Outdoor Pools

Parks operates two unique outdoor pools for summer fun. Each offers swimming lessons, family swimming, water exercise programs, and special events. And you can rent the whole pool for your own special event!

Lowery C. “Pop” Mounger Pool, at 2535 32nd Ave. W, 206-684-4708, is open daily through September 12. Mounger Pool is really two pools in one place. The “big pool” has a 50-foot corkscrew slide and the warmer, shallower “little pool” is great for relaxing and for teaching little ones. Call the pool to reserve it for your own birthday party or other special event!

Colman Pool, at 8603 Fauntleroy Way SW, 206-684-7494, opens at noon each day through

September 6, and is also open the weekend of September 11 and 12. The pool enjoys a spectacular view of Puget Sound from its prime location on the beach in West Seattle’s Lincoln Park. It features heated salt water and the Giant Tube Slide! Please note Colman Pool will be closed for the Seattle Open Swim Meets July 8-10 and July 16-18.

Seattle Wading Pools and Water Spray Features

Your little ones will love the cool, shallow water and you can cool your own grown-up toes too! We will operate 25 wading pool sites this summer, and there are five parks with spray features to enjoy. Please note that the pools take about an hour to fill and drain each day, as required by law.

Three-Day Wading Pools:

Bitter Lake, 13035 Linden Ave. N, noon to 7 p.m. Wed, Thu, Fri through Aug. 20.

Cal Anderson Park, 1635 11th Ave., noon to 6:45 p.m., Fri, Sat, Sun through Aug. 22.

East Queen Anne, 160 Howe St., noon to 7 p.m. Sun, Mon, Tue through Aug. 22.

E.C. Hughes, 2805 SW Holden St., noon to 7 p.m. Wed, Thu, Fri through Aug. 20.

Hiawatha, 2700 California Ave. SW, noon to 6:45 p.m. Mon, Tue, Wed through Aug. 18.

Soundview, 1590 NW 90th St., noon to 7 p.m. Sat, Sun, Mon through Aug. 22.

South Park, 8319 8th Ave. S, noon to 7 p.m. Sun, Mon, Tue through Aug. 18.

Wallingford, 4219Wallingford Ave. N, noon to 7 p.m. Wed, Thu, Fri through Aug. 20.

Daily Wading Pools:

Green Lake, N 73rd and E Green Lake Dr. N, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Sept. 6.

Lincoln Park, 8600 Fauntleroy Ave. SW, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Sept. 6.

Magnuson, eastern end of NE 65th St., noon to 6:30 p.m. daily through Aug. 29.

Van Asselt, 2820 S Myrtle St., 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Sept. 6.

Volunteer Park, 1400 E Galer St., 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Sept. 6.

Water Spray Features:

Ballard Commons, 5701 22nd Ave. NW, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Oct. 15.

John C. Little, 6961 37th Ave. S, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Sept. 6.

Lower Judkins, 2150 S Norman St., 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Sept. 6.

Miller, 330 19th Ave. E, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Oct. 15.

Pratt, 1800 S Main St., 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Sept. 6.

For a more complete listing of fun summer activities in Seattle parks, please visit www.seattle.gov/parks and click on “2010 Summer Guide” on the home page.

Photo Friday: Pike Place Market

One of the best things about living in Seattle is watching travelers enthuse over the Pike Place Market. Visitor linger over fresh blackberries, laugh at the salmon-slinger’s antics, clap along with the buskers and marvel at the hand-made goods. Kids try fruit samples, while parents give in and buy a wind-up toy. Or three.

I took this photo about a year ago. The market, for some reason, was awash in the prairie-print dresses, somber black stockings and head-coverings of a religious community, probably Amish. In predominantly liberal, agnostic Seattle, the conservative clothing choice was more unusual than piercings and tattoos (which function as everyday work accessories here).

Vendors looked mildly surprised, then welcomed the newcomers with smiles and samples.  Although the visitors’ dress was of an era long ago — and you’d expect some gravitas to go with that style — the younger women could hardly contain their excitement over the market’s goods, as they buzzed from one stall to the next.

The market has historically been a village’s collective space, a place where populations can share ideas, food and merchandise on common ground. Shots like this remind me how lucky I am to live in a city with a thriving market culture.

This photo and post is a proud participant in DeliciousBaby’s Photo Friday.

Seattle Things To Do

Vacationing on a Seattle Houseboat Rental with Kids

Seattle mom Leah Adams recently took an exciting and unusual staycation. She slept for two nights on a Seattle houseboat with her husband, daughter (10) and son (8). Leah took advantage of a weekend-only special (the houseboat usually rents by the month) and found that a houseboat serves up a rockin’ (and rollin’) family vacation.

Q: What did you enjoy about the Seattle houseboat?

I loved the cedar paneling (smelled just like I imagined a houseboat would). The efficiency of being in a small space appealed to me. There’s something so lovely about being totally satisfied in a small space, leaving all the extraneous stuff in our house behind. The Lake Union location, near Fremont, was fantastic. Fremont deserves the designation as “Center of the Universe.”

seattle with kids

Leah's son enjoying typical Seattle shorts-and-t-shirt weather

I loved being able to walk everywhere. The small conversations that happen when you’re walking past someone’s garden (and peeking in their windows! ha!) really bond a family.

The resident momma mallard and her three ducklings enchanted my son; it seemed every time we looked out the window, there they were, swimming in circles right in front of our houseboat.

Everything you would expect in an efficiency kitchen was there – coffee maker, toaster oven, stove, full size fridge and freezer, dishes, cups, utensils. Plenty of towels and linens. We brought our own pillows, only because three of us are very picky. Checking it out first before packing gave me a good idea of what to bring.

Q: What did you do with kids while staying on the “Molly Brown” Seattle houseboat?

On Saturday night, we walked to dinner at Blue Moon Burgers, had Royal Grinders gelato with Lenin, walked to the troll where we posed with lots of other tourists (seems our kids had never officially visited before), then walked home.

Sunday morning, we walked up to the Varsity Inn for a mediocre diner breakfast. We should have walked further into Fremont, even to the Essential Baking Company, but I wasn’t sure it was open.

As we walked back from breakfast discovered an amazing mosaic on the Wallingford steps. Then we visited Gas Works Park, running to the top of the hill, down to the terrace, through the painted refinery room (kinda gross), bushwacked a bit through the park, discovered a shortcut back to the marina. I was worried about surprising people in the bushes, but we didn’t see (or even smell) anything foul.

gas works park, seattle with kids

View from Gas Works Park.

Sunday afternoon, we took the bus from 35th to Northwest Folklife Festival, and back home around 5 p.m.

Monday morning, Lance and my son walked to the Essential Baking Company for breakfast coffee, while my daughter and I lounged around, reading and rocking. Lance chatted for ages with the neighbors, who were transplants from Bothell, about life in the marina. They glowed about the amount of community there is at the marina compared to their neighborhood in Bothell.

Q: Could you cook in your houseboat?

There was a full kitchen, though not a ton of counter space. I would call it a very efficient kitchen. You could definitely have frozen pizza, burritos or any prepared food from the Fremont PCC frozen foods/deli case heated up to eat on houseboat.

The kitchen table is small, and that’s where the television sits, so I wouldn’t want to eat too many meals there. The marina is so close to the park, I would probably choose to picnic most of the meals besides breakfast.

Q: Would a houseboat be difficult with a toddler or preschooler?

I guess it would depend on your particular toddler or preschooler, but it really wasn’t a challenge at all. There are no railings on the dock, so I suppose if your child was impetuous and couldn’t tell the difference between the dock and water, you might have a problem.

Q: Any challenges involved with a houseboat vacation for four family members?

This houseboat had a tiny little pump-action toilet, but there was a ‘cabana’ with a full bathroom and shower for the use of the residents. It was just a short walk down to the dock.

The shower was lovely, but once we found out that the entire marina pumps all of their grey water into Lake Union, I started thinking differently about how much conditioner I used in my hair. The neighbors said their 40-gallon septic tank gets pumped once every two weeks, and that is even with using the toilets in the cabana most of the time. I guess you would just make a point of stopping in the cabana every time you left the property. Time to take a potty break everyone!

My husband’s perception of the experience was very different than mine. He can’t put his finger on exactly what bothered him, but he said he wouldn’t do it again. I loved everything about it, and he wouldn’t go again. Go figure. He couldn’t wait to pack up Monday morning, and I really wanted to stay there all day, lounging around, reading and listening to the rain.

Q: So, would you suggest a Seattle houseboat stay as a family-friendly vacation?

I do think staying on a houseboat is a family-friendly vacation, especially if the kids are 5 and up. We could have rented kayaks from Agua Verde Cafe or the Northwest Outdoor Center for additional fun around Lake Union. How cool would it be to kayak up to your front door?

We didn’t bring our bikes with us, but the Burke Gilman Trail goes right past the marina. If we had planned a little further in advance, we would have biked from the houseboat to the Seattle Center for Folklife.

Thanks, Leah. Find out more about the boat Leah stayed on (Molly Brown) at VRBO.com. And you can find more VRBO.com houseboat rentals on Lake Union.

Would you stay on a houseboat?

35 Free and Cheap Things to Do With Kids in Seattle

Visiting Seattle on a budget? No problem.

Check out these 35 free and cheap family-friendly activities in Seattle:

1. Ride a bike on the Burke-Gilman Trail.

2. Run through the 9,000-gallon International Fountain.

3. Watch fish and boats navigate through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks.

4. Cower under giant traffic cones and play hide-and-seek among the art at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

5. Ride the West Seattle Water Taxi to West Seattle.

6. Sample fruit and meet the Doughnut Robot at the Pike Place Market.

7. Pick the Fremont Troll’s nose and take a picture with Lenin in the Fremont neighborhood.

8. Check out the cheese-making process at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.

9. Visit a kid-friendly museum art on a free day.

10. Ride the Seattle Monorail between Seattle Center and downtown Seattle.

11. Buy a cheap cup of Ivar’s Clam Chowder and stroll along the waterfront piers.

12. Listen to buskers at a neighborhood farmer’s market.

13. Eat fish and chips, then people-watch along the seawall at West Seattle’s Alki Beach Park.

14. Ride the Seattle-Bainbridge route of Washington State Ferries for awesome views.

15. Sit in the $7 Center Field Bleachers at a Mariners game.

16. Go beachcombing for crabs and shells at the 534-acre Discovery Park.

17. Enjoy a storytime, pick out a comic book and consider the intestinally (!) colored Red Room at Seattle Public Library’s Central Library.

18. Fly that cool kite at Gas Works Park.

19. Chew a pack of gum and add your Hubba Bubba to the nasty-but-cool gum wall.

20. Wave at passing Amtrak trains and ride down a salmon slide at Carkeek Park.

21. Play on the giant tree and go camping at REI Flagship Store.

22. Check out vintage boats at the Center for Wooden Boats.

23. Pick up one piece of free fruit for kids (ages 12 and under) at a neighborhood PCC.

24. Take your toddlers to one of the Environmental Learning Centers.

25. Take your teen to a retro flick in at Fremont Outdoor Movies.

26. Go for a kid-friendly urban hike.

27. Skip along to ska and boogie to Brazilian jazz at the free Out to Lunch Concerts.

28. Travel ’round the world via a Festal! Event in the Center House.

29. Splash in a community wading pool and meet the locals.

30. Get a scoop of premium ice cream at Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.

31. Rent a rowboat from the University of Washington’s Waterfront Actvities Center.

32. Check out a $2 movie at Seattle’s Crest Cinema Centre.

33. Grey day got you down? Visit the cacti in the Volunteer Park Conservatory.

34. Watch (and perhaps catch) a salmon at Pike Place Fish.

35. Buy Japanese strawberry-cream milk candy at Uwajimaya.

Find more great things to do with kids in Seattle in my book, Northwest Kid Trips: Portland, Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver (and if you decide to order it, please use my link! Thanks!).

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Seattle Family Vacation


Hikes for Kids Near Downtown Seattle

When visiting Seattle, don’t miss the chance to scramble up a fewhiking  trails with the kids. The city limits yield plenty of hiking treasures, and if you’re in town for a few days and you’ve rented a car, spectacular scenery is within a 45-minute drive of the Seattle.

This week, hiking expert Joan Burton tells visitors and locals where to hike in and around Seattle with kids.  Burton is the author of Urban Walks, 23 Walks through Seattle’s Parks and Neighborhoods, published by Thistle Press and Best Hikes With Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades, published by Mountaineers Books.

Burton offers great information on kid-friendly hikes in our area. For even more tree-lined trails, plus driving directions and complete hike descriptions, order Burton’s book, Best Hikes with Kids in Washington.

Q: Can you recommend a hike within the Seattle city limits, good for toddlers and preschoolers?

A: Located within Seattle city limits are two large waterfront parks, which families with toddlers and preschoolers can enjoy at any season.

Just 20 minutes from downtown Seattle, Seward Park has a paved trail around a level, 2 1/2 mile peninsula on south Lake Washington. Walkers can push a stroller or carry a toddler in a backpack while walking a dog. The lakeshore beside the trail all the way around the point offers on clear days views of Mount Rainier and the Cascades floating above it. Protection from wind and weather is available in picnic shelters.

In West Seattle (also about 20 minutes from downtown), Lincoln Park lies on Puget Sound, so its western views are of the Olympics. It offers steep wooded paths and level paved trails, but to get to the shoreline promenade with the most gentle descent, drive to the south part of the park and find the path near the ferry landing to reach the paved waterfront path.

The saltwater beach is accessible to families with toddlers, and there are shelters for picnics. Families will find the 1 3/4-mile trail north to Colman Pool — filled in summer with warm salt water — a good option.

Q. Is there a spectacular hike for older kids, within 45 minutes of downtown Seattle?

Snoqualmie Falls is so beautiful the local Indian tribe considers it a sacred place. You can admire the 268-foot falls from a parking lot viewpoint and walk down a steep path to the plunge pool, or you can hike with your children one mile to the base of the falls and gaze upward in awe.

Puget Sound Energy has harnessed the falls for their power, but you can walk around the power station gate to the station powerhouse. See kayaks and rafts being launched there in the eddying current.

On the other side of the powerhouse, follow the rocky trail to a dead-end viewpoint up the face of the waterfall. The sight is so compelling it is hard to turn away and the sound of the falls drowns out all conversation.

Q. Can you recommend a hike for parents of babies or non-walkers, 35 to 45 minutes from downtown Seattle?

In North Bend, Washington, Scenic Rattlesnake Lake has a wide trail around it, past a picnic area on the west side to the south end. In addition, you can see the Cedar River Watershed Visitor’s Center with good natural history exhibits, a three dimensional map of the watershed, and in its courtyard a magical group of large drums being played by amplified raindrops.

Above the lake lies Rattlesnake Ledge, the eastern-most peak in the Issaquah Alps with a sweeping view. It’s a hike popular with parents, who are able to carry a snoozing baby up to its summit. Switchback upward to a rocky ledge with views for 270 degrees of the horizon, toward the city, along the valley and lake below and back to the Cascades.

Rattlesnake Lake is only 36 miles east of downtown Seattle.

Q. Is there another hike you’d recommend for families?

Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest park, with 534 acres of beaches, meadows, ravines and woodlands, It lies between Elliott and Shilshole Bays and offers a maze of walking paths and roads, some left from the 19th century when the park was a federal Army fort, Fort Lawton.

discovery park seattle hike

Discovery Park, Seattle

The park was named for George Vancouver’s ship, the HMS “Discovery,” which sailed past this point in 1792.  The story goes that when Vancouver first saw the madronas along the bluff, he thought they were magnolias and so named it Magnolia Bluff.

Paved roads and trails are open to bicycles and paths are open to hikers only. The park holds a mix of natural and cultural resources, including old military installations.

You can look for woodland second growth, grassy meadows, an historic district of old officer’s homes and barracks; Daybreak Star, an Indian cultural center; viewpoints along the bluff high above the Sound; and miles of undeveloped salt-water shoreline beach lit by a historic former U.S. Coast Guard Lighthouse, open for tours during visiting hours.

This park offers kids long beaches and woodland trails and a meadow where they can fly a kite in the breeze.

The Environmental Center offers children’s activities, nature walks, and displays. The Daybreak Star Center has a collection of Native American clothing, tools, carvings, and baskets, an alternative on a rainy day.

Another beach access trail on the south of the park avoids the steep stairs, and also offers long beaches to play on. Beachcombing on a low tide day is a treasure hunt.

Thanks, Joan! Check out her site (www.joanburton.org), which also describes easy city hikes, trail closures and her work with the Washington Trail Association.

Do you have a favorite Seattle hike to recommend to families?

Also, visit My Little Nomads for even more Joan Burton hiking goodness!

Free Museums in Seattle and Tacoma with Kids

Seattle Art Museum: A museum that participates in free museums

Seattle Art Museum

Updated for Summer 2013

Here’s a rundown of Seattle’s free museums. I’ve included my opinion on the ages that will get the most out of the experience.

Every Friday Free Seattle Museum:

Soundbridge at Benaroya Hall. 200 University St.,  Seattle; 206-336-6600. Pay-what-you-can every Friday from 10-4. Suggested donation $5-15/family. Best for children under age 6.

First Thursday Free Seattle Museums:

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. Free. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., University of Washington, NE 45th Street and 17th Avenue NE; 206-543-5590. Best for kids age 3 and up.

Henry Art Gallery. “Pay as you wish” (or free) 11 a.m.-9 p.m. First Thursday, University of Washington, NE 45th Street and 17th Avenue NE. Best for kids age 6 and up.

KiDiMu. Free 10-4,301 Ravine Lane NE,  Bainbridge Island. 206-855-4650. Best for the 6 and under set.

Museum of Flight. Free 5-9 p.m., 9404 E. Marginal Way S.; 206-764-5720. Best for kids age 3 and up.

Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). Free 10 a.m.-8 p.m., 860 Terry Avenue N ; 206-324-1126. Best for kids age 3 and up.

Nordic Heritage Museum. Free 10 a.m. -4 p.m., 3014 NW 67th Street,
Seattle; 206-789-5707. Best for kids age 6 and up, but the museum often offers preschool-targeted storytimes on first Tuesdays.

Northwest African American Museum. Free 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., 2300 S. Massachusetts St.; 206-518-6000. Best for kids age 6 and up. Also free on the second Thursday of the month.

Seattle Art Museum (SAM). Free 10 a.m.-9 p.m. First Thursday, 100 University St.; 206-654-3100. Best for kids age 5 and up.

Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM). Free 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Volunteer Park, 1400 E. Prospect St., Seattle; 206-654-3100. Best for kids age 6 and up. Also free on the second Thursday from 5-9 p.m.

Wing Luke Asian Museum. Free 10 a.m.-8 p.m., 719 S. King Street; 206-623-5124. Best for kids age 8 and up, except during”Family Day” on third Saturday.

First Friday Free Tacoma & Bellevue Museums:

Children’s Museum of Tacoma. Free admission from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., 936 Broadway Ave., Tacoma, 253-627-6031. Best for kids age 6 and under. Museum is typically “pay as you will.”

Bellevue Arts Museum. Free admission from 11 a.m.-8 p.m., 510 Bellevue Way NE; 425-519-0770. Here is BAM’s cool guide to visiting the art museum with your family.

First Saturday Free Seattle Museum:

Seattle Asian Art Museum. Free admission from 10 a.m. -5 p.m. on “Family Day,” with arts activities and movies.

Third Thursday Free Tacoma and Bellevue Museums:

KidsQuest Children’s Museum. Free admission from 5-8 p.m., 4091 Factoria Square Mall SE, Bellevue, 425-637-8100. Best for kids 6 and under.

Tacoma Art Museum. Free 10 a.m. — 8 p.m., 1701 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253- 272-4258. Best for kids age 6 and up.

Museum of Glass. Free 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 1801 Dock St., Tacoma. 1-866-4-MUSEUM. Best for kids age 7 and up.

Washington State History Museum. Free 2 p.m.-8 p.m. 1911 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, Toll-free 1-888-BE THERE (1-888-238-4373). Best for  kids age 3 and up.

Third Friday Free Everett Museum:

Imagine Children’s Museum. Free admission from 5-9 p.m., 1502 Wall St., Everett. 425-258-1006. Best for babies and up.

Third Saturday Free Museum in Seattle

Wing Luke Asian Museum. “Family Day,” with arts activities included, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Free Seattle Museums — Free all the time:

Center for Wooden Boats. 10 a.m. – 8 p.m during summer, 1010 Valley Street, Seattle, 206-382-2628. Best for kids age 5 and up.

Frye Art Museum. Tuesday through Saturday  10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday,  Noon to 5 p.m., 704 Terry Avenue Seattle, 206-622-9250. Best for kids age 5 and up.

Olympic Sculpture Park. 30 minutes prior to sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset; 2901 Western Avenue, Seattle, 206-654-3100. Best for kids age 2 and up.

Seattle Children’s Museum. “Pay as you wish” last hour of the day (4-5 p.m.). 305 Harrison Street, Seattle, 206-441-1768. Best for ages 6 and under.  

Seattle Spotlight: Pacific Science Center

“The dinosaurs! The dinosaurs!”

That’s what my 4-year-old son demands, when I ask where he wants to go at the Pacific Science Center.

And it’s true – dinos are the big draw at this six-acre science playground, only a Monorail-ride away from downtown Seattle.

Pacific Science Center dinosaurs

In the “Dinosaurs: A Journey Through Time” exhibit, robotic meat-eaters claw at a carcass, while a T. Rex towers over visitors. Screeches and cries fill the room, which can (at first) alarm very young kids. So encourage them to listen carefully – you’ll hear the soft whirring and clicks of these mechanical dinos. In one corner, you can even drive a dino skeleton: rotating the eyes, moving the body. By the time the kids leave, they’ll be fascinated, not frightened.

Pacific Science Center fly

In the Insect Village, a wisecracking, robotic fly in a lab coat welcomes visitors, turning his human-size body as he speaks. Kids are repelled and fascinated by this guy – reflecting our uneasy relationship with bugs – and I’m always thankful that he’s inside a cage. Man, I hate flies.

Keep going, and you’ll pass a giant robotic scorpion and a praying mantis that looms over grandparents, parents and kids.

In glass terrariums, spiders, cockroaches and caterpillars creepy-crawl around their homes. At times, science center staff will take out cockroaches for a get-to-know-you session (better here than at home, right?).

pacific science center butterfly

The Tropical Butterfly house offers a steamy way to beat damp Seattle days. Stuff your coat in a cubby, then go inside and enjoy the warmth. Dozens of butterflies float through the air and sip on fruit. Stand still for a moment — the flutter of tiny wings creates breezes against your cheeks and hair. The fragrant flowers’ smell hangs heavy in the sticky air. It’s like Hawaii without the flight and checked-baggage fees.

The Pacific Science Center’s touch tanks encourage toddlers to stroke a sea anemone, and the gated-off toddler-preschool area offers lots of climbing toys, music-making and water play, plus an area for breastfeeding moms. It’s a nice stop for family travelers.

Older kids enjoy the feats of physical strength, acuity and endurance in the Body Works Exhibit.

Don’t gloat if you beat them. Be nice. It’s only a matter of time until they decide our nursing homes.

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More Info: Throughout spring break, the Pacific Science Center is open until 5 p.m. on weekdays, 6 p.m. on weekends.

f you’re planning to travel to Seattle with your family, you may be able to take advantage of the ASTC passport program and gain entry for free.

Would you like a chance to win four free tickets to the Pacific Science Center? Tweet this link today (April 6, 2010) with the hashtag #GoPacSci for a drawing at 5 p.m. If you’re not on Twitter, leave a comment below to enter.

5:04 PM UPDATE: Our winner is…Amy! Congratulations, Amy. Hope you have a nice time at the Pacific Science Center.

Spotlight: Seattle Whirligig!

For the next month, the circus-themed Whirligig event offers a dry escape on rainy Seattle days. The Center is now full of 10 bounce houses – a few gentle ones for children under age 3, many enormous houses for older kids.

Face painters turn regular children into princesses and Spider-Men, cartoonists create pics of mom-and-kid duos and live entertainment lights up the Center House’s stage.

Seattle Center Whirligig with kids

Human gumballs?

Here are a few tips we gleaned from the staff:

  1. Stash cash. Tickets or passes can only be bought with cash. There is an ATM machine available, but it might be best to bring cash with you.
  2. Buy passes ($7.50). The tickets just go too quickly – each trip through a bounce house requires a ticket, and a trip only takes about a minute or two.
  3. Bring a bag to put your kids’ shoes in. Shoes aren’t allowed on the bounce houses, and mom has to schlep them around. Parents sit outside of the bounce houses, so pack a book for yourself in that bag.
  4. Tote water and snacks. Kids get sweaty and thirsty in a hurry. The Seattle Center food court is yucky and expensive, with the exception of Starbucks (the kids’ snack pack saved our day). Wish we’d brought our own.
  5. Go early, when the Whirligig first opens, or go late, when it’s about to close. We went at 4:30 p.m., and it was perfect for the next hour and a half, until we were bounced out of the place.

Whirligig at Seattle Center

That night, they slept. Hard. A+ for Whirligig.

Find more travel fun at DeliciousBaby’s weekly Photo Friday.

Seattle Family Vacation

Four Family-Friendly Markets in the NW & BC

We have markets by the bushelful here in Casadia and traveling families are always welcome. Bring the kids, $30 and a sense of adventure to these farmers’ markets. It’s a cheap vacation solution and a memorable excursion, all rolled into one afternoon.

Here are my favorite four markets — indoor and outdoor, large and small. Don’t miss them when you’re visiting!

Portland Farmers Market, Portland.

This weekend, the Saturday Portland Farmers Market reopens for the growing (and grazing) season. The outdoor, downtown market features dozens of local-vendor booths, great food trucks (I like Pine State Biscuits) and musical performers.

Chefs put on cooking demos, and children’s cooking classes take center stage. This market is a great place to “meet the grower,” (if the grower isn’t too busy to chat), because most stalls are operated by the farmer who hand-raised the produce.

Tip: The market’s surrounding South Park Blocks provide a great breather during your market experience; or the small playground can serve as a place to entertain the kids while your partner does the shopping.

Pike Place Market, Seattle.

The oldest continuously-operating market in the U.S., Pike Place offers well-covered shopping for Seattle’s tempestuous weather. A mix of open-air and indoor vendors sell fresh produce, doughnuts, hot dogs, local confections, jewelery and blankets. Little kids love the free samples, bigger kids love the creepy underground corridors full of mystery and history.

There’s a veritable United Nations of food options here: culinary options include Vietnamese, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Greek and Turkish. The Market’s family-friendly events are a great way to spend an afternoon; check the market’s site beforehand to see if there’s something going on when you’ll be in town.

Tip: Play urban explorer through the market’s a-maze-ing alleys, underground arcades and adjoining buildings. Can you find Rachel the Pig, the gum wall covered with already-been-chewed gum (as disgustingly cool as it sounds) and a cow-themed shop that only sells dairy?

Granville Island Market, Vancouver.

The Granville Public Market is a covered, light-filled indoor enclosure with independent vendors: produce, hot meals, candied salmon, imported cheese, pastas and teas. Right outside, there’s a sunny patio for relaxing, eating and pigeon-chasing.

Then, head out the market’s front door. You’ll find a village of pedestrian-friendly arts and retail buildings along the island’s one-way road. Small stores populate each building, selling everything from hats to gorgeous Japanese paper to do-it-yourself jewelry options. Don’t miss the tremendous two-story Granville Kids Market and the family-friendly (read:they have toys!) Pedro’s Organic Coffee House (60-1550 Anderson Street, right outside of the Kids Market).

Tip: This island was made for wandering. Take the kids toward anywhere green, and you’ll find grassy play areas, playgrounds, bike trails and swampy marshes – a delightful verdant surprise in the middle of an urban market scene.

James Bay Community Market, Victoria.

This outdoor market attracts locals and tourists alike. It’s packed with jellies and musical jams, muffins and ragamuffins. James Bay Community Market is small in comparison to the three above, but that’s why it’s so charming. It’s also easy to walk to from the downtown Inner Harbour, where many hotels are located.

Kids chase one another beneath leafy trees, market vendors are happy to share tips on local restaurants and the hourly musical acts are low-key and accessible, with lots of room for children to dance around.

Tip: Give the kids several dollars to purchase a hand-made craft; there’s an abundance of island crafters (all pre-approved through a jury process) here.

Do you have a favorite Washington, Oregon or BC market to share? What insider tip can you provide?