Spring has sprung, and long-shuttered, family-friendly attractions are reopening in and around Seattle. Spring’s mild temperatures also bring forth blooms of new programs and installations at favorite Seattle attractions, along with favorites worth seeing before the crush of tourists arrive in summer.
Limited areas of Pacific Science Center will reopen this spring — although you’ll have to wait a little longer (until July) to visit favorite sights such as the Tropical Butterfly House, Dinosaurs, and Tinker Tank maker space. Until then, Gen-X parents might enjoy some nostalgia with tweens and teens at the soon-to-reopen IMAX theater and Laser Dome. Also, in Seattle Center, the Seattle Children’s Museum will reopen on April 2, 2022 with new exhibits, after being closed for over two years.
Seattle Center hosts various family-friendly offerings this spring. Teens can enjoy creative writing workshops in tandem with an On the Boards performance, and Seattle Children’s Theatre and Seattle Youth Opera offer affordable April shows.
As an artistic alternative to the tulip fields north, Chihuly Garden and Glass runs a Spring Bloom installation through May 31. Thousands of bulbs and daffodils accentuate the outdoor areas. Special programming includes spring-themed activities (making a paper flower, collecting a pollinator packet) and after-hours Chihuly Night with live music and glassblowing demos.
For free fun, bring skateboard, pads and helmet to the new (in late 2021) Skate Plaza, with a street-skating focus and space for new skateboarders to practice their skills. The innovative Artists at Play playground is still open as well, featuring a 30-foot climbing tower, sound-making swings, a labyrinth and other unusual play features you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in Seattle.
Now celebrating its 25th year, Seattle Center’s Festál is another source of free, family-friendly experiences. Festál is organized around various cultures, often in tandem with live music and dance, handmade food and crafts, and opportunities to experience cultural traditions.
This spring, bring the kids to Festál’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). Further events this year celebrate Iranian, Filipino, Polish, Arab, Indigenous, Tibet, Hawaiian, Italian, Turkish, Hmong, Irish and Vietnamese cultures, and more.
Memorial Day Weekend’s Northwest Folklife is a classic, donation-driven Seattle experience for all ages, with live performance, food and locally made goods from vendors. Historically, the festival has offered kids’ concerts, dance lessons, dance groups, storytelling, community jams and other methods for whole-family participation.
Not far from Seattle Center, Pike Place Market rolls out family fun over one May weekend. On Mom’s Market Day on May 7, kids’ activities and scavenger hunts will go on, accompanied by live music. Over the same weekend (May 7-8), the Annual Flower Festival showcases Pacific Northwest-grown blooms (tulips, peonies, daffodils, and more) sold from 40 plus tents. While at the Market, browse the nooks and crannies for 500 plus small businesses, including surprising hits like Tiny Fairy Houses and teen finds such as the goth-kitsch of Orange Dracula.
Other bigger-ticket family spring options include watching figure skaters fresh from Beijing Olympics at Stars on Ice on May 28 and the growling vehicles at the Monster Truck Jam on April 2. The Seattle Kraken’s Kids Day on April 3 features pregame family activities, kids featured as game show hosts and the national anthem singer, and free swag for kids.
Day Road Trips Beyond Seattle
For families ready to venture further, Discover Pass free days offer free admission to Washington State Parks on select dates — such as April 22, Earth Day. Nearby Seattle-Tacoma Washington State Parks worth discovery includes the fanciful, castle-like play structures at St. Edward State Park and horse-watching at Bridle Trails, one of the top equestrian parks west of the Mississippi. Pack sunglasses and sunscreen to explore tide pools and beaches at nearby Saltwater State Park and Dash Point.
In Puyallup, the Spring Fair will run for two April weekends. Watch ax throwing or a comedy or magic show, meet jungle animals and snap selfies. Go for a full day, or combine the Spring Fair with the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium’s newest offering. On April 1, the Zoo opens the Nature Play Garden — kids can create using wood blocks and bark chips at the Builder’s Deck, immerse in a sensory garden rich with color, scent and textures, navigate a balance course, and get curious about the pollinators in residence. Starting May 7, PDZA will reopen their Budgie Buddies aviary, where you can feed Australian budgerigars with a seed stick.
The high-speed Victoria Clipper will again start cruising waters between Seattle and regional destinations such as Victoria, B.C. Beginning on 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 humpbacks with the help of an onboard naturalist April through October, with a two-hour layover in the walkable town of Friday Harbor. The whale watching trip is recommended for kids six and up — many younger kids often just don’t have the attention span yet. Tickets for kids 11 and under are significantly discounted, making it a great family day-trip option.
Whatever you do, get out there now. The tourists are coming.
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