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Going to Seattle!

Thuan is seeking all your wisdom on visiting that larger Pacific Northwest city to the north of us:

We've lived here five years and I'm ashamed to admit we've only been to Seattle once since we moved here. But don't despair for us, because we're taking Amtrak to Seattle for Labor Day Weekend! I'm super excited, but I am realizing that I don't know have any idea where to stay, what to do, especially outings that are baby-friendly. Anyone feel fluent in all things Seattle?

Also has anyone taken Amtrak with babe in tow?  Should I bother bringing a carseat (we didn't purchase her a seat) or will we be fine walking around with her for FOUR hours??  Should I purchase Pippi a seat?

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I've only taken the train once, and didn't have my kids in tow. It was pretty empty (went on a Friday) and my friends and I had no trouble finding seats around a table. I don't think you'd have to buy her a seat... I also think you're okay w/out the carseat. Just a stroller (to give your arms a break) or a sling or something, since you won't (?) be driving up there.
I used to live in Seattle, and only stayed in a hotel up there once, which was the Monaco. Really liked the Monaco and the location which was very quiet at night yet close enough to walk everywhere. You can walk down to Pike Place market and Pacific Place (is that the name?) Mall quite easily from the Monaco. Lots of great restaurants everywhere, so you really can't go wrong there.
Have fun! Enjoy the train ride! It's so much more relaxing than making that I-5 drive.

I traveled with my toddler (under 2) and the agent reserved a seat for him anyway when we checked in.

Hey there,

We used to live in Seattle and visit often with our kids. Our favorite part of town to stay in is the University District, at the University Inn. That part of town has walkable shops, cafe's and and a weekend farmer's market on "the Ave." There is a nice outdoor mall there too with tons of children's shops (love the Land of Nod!) and an outdoor playarea. (University village) Beautiful Ravenna park is right around the corner from there.

Capitol Hill is another great 'hood to visit. More shops and walking on Broadway, and goregeous urban park with huge water features and a cute wading pool hidden down by the playground. (we missed that the first time we went and were just playing in the big fountain!) A short walk from there is Bootyland for hip kids thrifting and The Elysian, a local brewery with great food.

The ballard locks are fun if you have boat lovers and gasworks park is a super memorable place for a picnic and kite flying.

I'm sure there's lots to do downtown (children's museum) but we usually hang out in the quaint little neighborhoods.

Have fun!

Never been but the Seattle Aquarium is supposed to be fantastic! Have fun!

We did the Amtrak to seattle thing when my son was only two weeks old! We stayed a great hotel, right near pikes stree market called "Inn at the Market". It was fantastic and close to everything. I highly recommend it!

Greenlake is a great neighborhood for kids, as well.

Also, I like to sit on the left hand side of the train on the way up there - I prefer the view from that side!

check out lilaguide.com. they have some fun things listed to do/see in seattle. cookie magazine also did a travel article on seattle not that long ago. you should be able to find it on their website. good luck and have fun!

We lived in the Fremont area of Seattle for years but must admit it was our pre-baby stage, so if you want to hit the bars we have you covered...

BUT Mila's Godparents (or as she calls them her "Fairy Godparents") live in Seattle so we have become "family-tourists" there since we left. Anyhoo, here are a few stream of thought suggestions:

1) The Ballard Locks and accompanying gardens are free and nice to check out. Right now there should a fair amount of Salmon traffic through the fish ladder to view. If you are a fish and chips fan, get some at the Totem House across the street from the locks.

As long as you are there, continue down the road to Golden Gardens for a Seattle "beach" experience - the Puget Sound, some nature trails and a nice play structure. On your way to the locks, go to Archie McPhees and stock up on any bit of novelty oddity you need.

2) The Aquarium is very nice and worth a visit. For older kids - and music loving adults - the Experience Music Project(EMP) is excellent but you really need to make that a WHOLE day experience - or even more than one day.

3) Check out the Sunday Market in Fremont. This street market that happens every Sunday is a mix of crafters, food vendors, flea market types and more. It use to be in a parking lot, now it takes up a couple of blocks. Enjoy a stroll along the water on the Burke-Gilman Trail while you are at it.

4) Fremont in general has changed dramatically in recent years still holds on to some of its fun and funky roots...the Fremont rocket, a huge statue of Lenin from the former Soviet Union, and - of course - you MUST check out the Fremont Troll:

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/attract/WASEAtroll.html

If you want to indulge in one of the handful of Thai restaurants in Fremont, we like Jai Thai and KwanJai Thai...ditch the kids and have a drink at the "use to be smoky before the ban" Buckaroo...And for the best sandwich in the world (I'm not kidding) go to Paseo on Fremont Ave...

5) Rent a kayak and paddle on Lake Union to the UW Arboretum, see the floating homes, a view of downtown and Gasworks Park while you are at it.

6) The Woodland Park Zoo is a great Zoo - Oregon Zoo members get in FREE, bring your member card - and it is also not too far from Green Lake. Strolling around Green Lake is a Seattle tradition.

7) Capitol Hill remains as trendy as ever...Linda's was a regular haunt as was the Elysian brew pub - neither is on the main strip but still technically Capitol Hill...

8) For a little cultural flair, check out the International District (also known as the ID). There is an enormous Asian superstore called Uwajimaya with a food court, book store, groceries and so much more....I KNOW there is one in Beaverton but I was kicked out of THIS ONE (long story) and Seattle was the location of the original store...

If you enjoy Bubble Tea, we frequent Gossip in the ID, if you like Pho, we go to Pho Hoa (which is actually a chain but very good and affordable)...If you like black bean cakes or are seeking a tasty Chinese bakery, we use to visit a hole in the wall bakery on S. 5th Ave just off S. Jackson which may or may not still be there but I am SURE that Yummy House is still kicking...

BTW - The ID is close to the train station. The train station is also close to Pioneer Square, where you can enjoy a tasty casual meal at Soup Daddys (yes, get some soup!) and you can browse at Elliot Bay Books...if you need a martini, go underground to Marcus...

9) Pike Place Market - it is an institution and definitely worth a drop in. Watch the fish throwers, visit the original Starbucks, take in the sights. If you what a drink with a view while you are there, sit on the patio of the Pink Door...

10) Visit the new downtown library, it is quite something

11) See the Mariners play, the view of the Sound while watching the game is also quite something

12) Travel to Alki Beach in West Seattle on a sunny day just because, hit Spuds for fish and chips, visit the tide pools in the area

I really could go on and on but I will cap it there...no, I will offer one little touristy tid bit...

Checking out Seattle Center for a slice of world's fair kitsch is really only ok and riding the monorail between the Center and Westlake is taking a trip between two rather pedestrian locales SO I wouldn't these things anyplace on my to-do list even WITH kids...

So if you MUST have a view of Seattle, skip the Space Needle, and ride one of the last elevators that uses an elevator operator up to the observation deck of the Smith Tower on Second Ave...

If you MUST have an unique public transit experience, ride the waterfront street car, take a ferry trip to Bainbridge Island (walks on are easy), or ride in "The Bus Tunnel"...BTW - buses in downtown Seattle - including the tunnel - are FREE...

Have fun!

...BUT going to Seattle Center for Bumbershoot, which is truly a tremendous fest of music, art and film, is recommended:

http://www.bumbershoot.com/

We love the Truly Central Guesthouse. I would go on and on, but the website says it all. Definitely check it out.

http://www.vivaleap.com/trulycentral.html

I heartily agree with those who have mentioned the Woodland Park Zoo. It's expensive but soooo much better than the Portland zoo. It also has a relatively new indoor play/exploration area called Zoomazium, geared for kids 1-5yrs, I'd say. The Aquarium is nice too, and apparently they recently finished a renovation, plus it's on the waterfront which is nice for a stroll and to look at boats/ferries, etc. Could combine that with the Pike Place Mkt or a ferry ride. Our daughter loves visiting the many beaches in Seattle: Golden Gardens/Shilshole, Alki, even little Madison Park beach on Lk Washington. I also agree with the mention of University Village if you're in the mood to shop: a very nice outdoor "mall" with a play space.

The Seattle Children's Museum (located inside the Center House at Seattle Center) is quite good though I think I only noticed one area for babies; not sure how old your daughter is... In my opinion, Seattle is severely lacking in restaurants/cafes with play areas so no recommendations there, though most restaurants we've been to seem welcoming to children. The best chinese food ever, we think, is The Snappy Dragon on NE Roosevelt. Have a great trip!

yes, yes, yes ~ by all means visit the woodland park zoo. it puts the oregon zoo to shame. you may want to pack a lunch - we haven't been impressed w/the food offerings. speaking of which, if you do stay in the university district there's a trader joe's. because of my husband's job, we often stay in that area at the university inn. although you can get the free waffle breakfast at the hotel, you adults might be interested in sharing a huge plate of crabcakes benedict one of the mornings next door at portage bay café. one of the evenings we usually head over to university village for dinner at blue c sushi. there are always loads of kids in there, the food & drinks are good, they have the conveyer belt thing which kiddos love and if you watch the time, you can play in the play area in the outdoor mall while you wait for your table. here are some links...
http://www.universityinnseattle.com/
http://www.zoo.org/
http://www.portagebaycafe.com/menu.html
http://www.uvillage.com/map.asp

oh, and the train is a blast. i'd bring the stroller and forget the carseat. but that's just me.

have fun!

Wow! thanks so much for all the great tips. While we won't be able to do everything recommended, i'm now very motivated to schedule another seattle trip soon! Because of y'all the zoo is now the top of the "to do" list -it wasn't even on the radar before. We'll also check out the ID, the library and greenlake. Zinemama thanks for the Truly Central Guesthouse rec, i think they're booked for this weekend but I know we'll stay there the next time we go to Seattle (and I'm certain there will be a next time!). Thanks so much mamas & papas.

We lived in Seattle for only less than a year, so we aren’t local experts. We do go to visit several times a year though for fun. We also love the U District (University District).

Now that we have two young children, our favorite area to stay in is Queen Anne Hill. It is relatively close to Woodlawn Park Zoo, and across the street from the Seattle Center. The Seattle Center is where Bumbershoot Festival and many other family friendly festivals are held throughout the summer and fall. The Seattle Center also contains the Seattle Music Experience, Space Needle (although we’ve never ridden in it), Children’s Museum, and the NW Pacific Science Center which OMSI members get into for free. The Pacific Science Center has some really fun fountains that the kids (and you) can aim and shoot into the center of the fountain which can be very fun in the summer time.

Queen Anne has many funky eclectic restaurants and an alternative movie house (if you have a sitter). We stay at the Queen Anne Inn which has a shuttle to Pikes Place and the train station, I think. There are also a few chain motel/hotels in the area if that is your cup of tea. If you google Queen Anne lodging, they will show up.

A quick hint on the Woodland Park Zoo – park on the south side of the Zoo in the neighborhood (which is across the street). The Zoo charges to park in the lot, and the neighborhood parking is just as close.

I haven't had the chance yet to read all the suggestions above, but I wanted to post some of our suggestions.

We were just in seattle last weekend and had an awesome time. We stayed at the springhill suites because there was a pool, free breakfast, and it was right downtown. I have a friend who stayed elsewhere in town for a bit cheaper. One fun thing to do in Seattle is just enjoy being in a bigger city! We walked downtown, ate cheaply at pikes all sorts of goodies and fresh food. We bumped into the seattle art museum downtown, where they have 2 floors of freeness - a free zone of flying fun big art that is appealing to kids. At the Art Museum, there is also a creative center, where there is paper, paper, crayons pencils, scissors, markers, scraps, glue, staplers, and more where kids are encouraged to use their [free] stuff and create whatever they like. We spent a good 45 minutes playing there and we could have stayed longer. Good free fun is what it's all about! Downtown is also the location of a great library, the central one. Once, we walked into Chinese storytime, and the girls got the chance to learn how to count in Chinese. The reading area there is wonderful. I just love going to the local libraries, and Central Seattle Library is bright and great.

Those are my two top suggestions, which are both free. We would love to hear more suggestions about affordable places to stay in Seattle. Anyone?

Enjoy Seattle!

For kid-friendly food: Vios is a nice greek place on the back side of Capitol Hill, there's a long story behind why the owner is so kid friendly there. There's a play area inside the restaurant. also, in Wedgwood there's the Wedgwood Alehouse, which IS an alehouse but has a family "room" where you can get your buger and beverages with kids in tow. not much on the atomsphere but the neighborhood is sweet (ok, yes, i live about a half block from there). There's lots to do with kids, many parks in the summer have wading pools. There are new hotels very close to U Village, the cheapo travel lodges seems to have been revamped but there's also a Red Roof (?) Inn a block from there. Lots of local library story times and most of the libraries have been updated and are beautiful. Farmers markets are nice for people watching and getting a yummy snack.
Beaches: Golden Gardens (west of Ballard), Alki (West Seattle), Richmond Beach (up north - take 185th west and look for the signs). If you come back, have fun!

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