38 Places Where Kids & Grandparents Can Play Together

a boy taps his grandfather on the head while grandma sits nearby in a sunny park on Grandparents day with his visiting grandparents iStock

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The grandparents are in town! Whether they’re visiting or they live here, it’s time to answer the age old question: where can we take them with the kids? Worry no more. We’ve got the lowdown on tons of places around Seattle that will appeal to both generations. From museums and chocolate factories to theater productions and airplanes, these things to do with grandparents in Seattle are all about ease and accessibility. All that’s left now is for you to plan that date night, parents.

Find Culture at a Local Museum

If there’s a Viking in your family, check out the National Nordic Museum in Ballard. The Nordic Journeys exhibit, which is a hands-on, kid-friendly display about the immigration story from the “old country” to the United States, then Seattle and to Ballard. Or for your preschooler, he or she will delight in the free Nordic Stories programs which involves a Nordic story and a related craft.

At the fantastic Wing Luke Museum, you can explore Pacific American history, art, and culture. Be sure to check out Uwajimaya KidPlace Gallery, the Museum’s dedicated gallery to kids and families. Located in the International District, most of the kids’ exhibits feature interactive elements such as videos, sounds, and games.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Seattle’s Free (& Discounted) Museum Days

Storybook Theatre

Take in a Show

There is nothing like watching a live performance just mere feet from your face. Lucky for us, Seattle is chock full of theaters geared toward kids and families. Their secret weapon is that their shows are entertaining for adults as well, a great activity that spans the generations. No matter when the grandparents visit, you can find a show both kids and older folks will love.

Housed within the beautiful theatre found on the grounds of the Seattle Center, the 2022-23 season at Seattle Children’s Theatre kicks off in October with The Boy Who Kissed the Sky. It’s inspired by the story of a young Seattle native, Jimi Hendrix (maybe you’ve heard of him?), and it’s one we’re sure both the older generation and the next one can relate to. Also playing in October are two BXBXKIDS! shows that are engaging for kids of all ages. 

For 2022, Storybook Theatre is celebrating their 25th anniversary presenting Hansel and Gretel in October and November. Performances are presented at various locations throughout the greater Seattle area. Another great option is the Auburn Community Players who will present You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, the Broadway Musical at Green River College in October 2022. In what is sure to be a great show, Village Theatre will present Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella in November and December 2022 at their Issaquah theatre, and performances are also scheduled at the Everett Performing Arts Center for January 2023. 

Insider Tip: There are tons of great kid-friendly shows hitting the stage around the holidays. Mark your calendars for The Wiz, opening November 19, 2022. It’ll be showing at the 5th Avenue Theatre, and tickets are on pre-sale now.

Enjoy Sweets with the Sweets

Just about every day of the week, you can find a chocolate factory tour or class highlighting the entire manufacturing process—from start to finish—in kid-friendly lingo. At Seattle Chocolates, you can take in a 50-minute tour, tasting treats along the way. In Issaquah, you’ll find another unique chocolate tour held within the Hansel and Gretel-theme building. You’ll get up close and personal during Bohem’s Candies 40-minute tour. For those with a more refined palette, consider taking in the Theo Chocolates tour. They even feature a Kids Chocolate Story Time Tour

Related: Wonka-Worthy Chocolate Factory Tours & Classes for Kids

LeMay-America’s Car Museum

See Trains, Planes & Automobiles

Find the grandkid that shares your love of these and make plans now. Enjoy trips down memory lane looking at classic Cadillacs, Chevrolets, and the current cars of NASCAR. While you are enjoy seeing your old car you were in your twenties at LeMay—America’s Car Museum, your grandkids will love the hands-on Learning Lab and the Family Zone.

The Museum of Flight on Boeing Field has added a new exhibit, The Walt Disney Studios and World War II now open through February 5, 2023. It is a retrospective of Disney’s contributions to the Allies’ World War II effort. When the oohs and aahs run out from the younger crowd, take the kids to the Flight Zone where they can check out the hang-gliding simulators, send an air balloon to the ceiling, play with aircraft instrumentation, and even sit in cockpits.

In Snoqualmie, the Northwest Railway Museum features a restored depot back to its 1890s appearance giving kids a better idea on what travel was like for people like their grandparent or maybe their great grandparents. If you want to go for a ride, Scenic Train Rides are offered during special events throughout the year.

Related: What’s New, Hot & Cool at Seattle’s Best Family Museums

Get Tee’d Off

Another tried and true tradition is good ol’ miniature golf. Everyone (except for maybe the really small set) can play, it isn’t strenuous and it doesn’t take a lot of time out of your day. As one of the newest and more beautiful courses out there, we recommend King Mini Golf in Puyallup. Not cool enough for your older grandkids? Bring them for a game of Glow Golf after 8 p.m. during the summer where you can play with glow-in-the-dark balls.

For a little less flair (and not a single windmill in sight) check out the Interbay Golf Center in Seattle, Willows Run Rainbow Run in Redmond or the Snohomish Valley Golf Center.

If you would like to mix meal time with a great game, consider Flat Stick Pub in South Lake Union where you can score great food and play mini golf on an amazingly original course. Better than Chuck E. Cheese any day!

Family Fun Center in Tukwila features two beautiful golf courses to choose from, but be warned, your grandkids will want to play the arcade games inside as well. 

Related: The Hole Story: Seattle Best Mini Golf Courses for Families

point defiance zoo and aquarium, seattle indoor playspaces
Oona Copperhill/Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Who doesn’t love the zoo? They are crowd-pleasers for people of any age, and we’ve got some of the best in the country.

The Woodland Park Zoo is divided in many sections featuring different animals from various parts of the world. These sections include the African Savanna (with lions, giraffes and zebra), the Temperate Forest (which features an extensive petting zoo area during the summer months), the Humboldt Penguin Exhibit (love the penguins!), the Northern Trail (with bears and otters) and a lot more. When you need a rest, take the kids to the indoor Zoomazium to let them burn off some steam before getting back in the car.

The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is another great option. Of course, there’s plenty of real animals and sea-life to see here as well, and it’s great that you get the experience of two worlds at the same time. 

Now over 45 years old, Northwest Trek still looks great for her age, and she is getting a facelift. The regular tram tours are currently not available but new electric trams will be coming by spring 2023. Until then, you have three ways to tour: Animal Walking Paths, Keeper Adventure Tours, and Wild Drive Tours where you drive your vehicle through the park. All are great things to do with grandparents when you visit the park. The most recent addition to Northwest Trek is the Eagle’s Passage attraction where you and the gang can walk through an open tunnel to look up and see the piercing yellow eyes of the mighty eagle looking back at you. And Kid’s Trek is always a great spot for the kids to play while you sit for a bit.

Finally, if your little mariners would like to go back to the sea, may we suggest the Seattle Aquarium? Located on Pier 59, this “window on Washington waters” features over 800 fish and invertebrates native to the Pacific Northwest, underwater divers, a giant octopus and super cute otters. Everyone will enjoy poking their fingers at the sea urchins in the two large touch pools or walking around “under the sea” in the Underwater Dome.

Related: 14 Wild & Fun Animal Farms & Petting Zoos to Visit Now

Appreciate Art

If the grandparents are up for a (mild) hike, and don’t mind the weather, consider hitting Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park. Located near the waterfront, this outdoor museum is free for everyone. Follow the trail through this nine-acre park to find some amazing sculptures, giant art, and fun, interactive beauty. The trail is equipped with ADA accessible ramps and wide paths. The only caution here is that unlike children’s museums, kids cannot climb on any of the structures. 

The Seattle Art Museum is currently featuring an exhibit featuring award-winning Seattle artist, Anthony White. His paintings feature a collection of collections. That exhibit will be in place until January 29, 2023. The Asian Art Museum at Volunteer Park includes exhibits featuring historic and contemporary artworks from China, Korea, Japan, India, the Himalayas, and other Southeast Asian countries. The Frye Art Museum on First Hill is a fun place to visit, even if the Small Frye Storytelling time is still on hold. Admission here is always free.

Become Sea-Worthy

One of the newer water adventures in Seattle is the Seattle Donut Boat Company. Open from March to October the donut boats are the most unique and easy way to travel across Lake Union. No skipper is required and the donut crew will get you up and on your way in less than 10 minutes. These little guys seat up to six people quite comfortably. Traveling at a top speed of four miles per hour, don’t expect to get anywhere fast (it will take you about 45 minutes to get from the dock to Gas Works Park) but the electric motor is super quiet. Each “donut” comes with a wide umbrella on top that can be opened or shut depending on your preference. And on chilly days, the Donut crew will even offer you a blanket or two before you go.

If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, you might want to treat the kids to pirate cruise aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Together, on a fully interactive pirate experience, you’ll search for treasure, play games, learn to talk like a pirate, and even fire a (water) cannon. Each guest will also get to wear a pirate vest for the cruise and receive pirate tattoos and face painting, if desired. Every kid will receive a treasure from the ship’s treasure chest, too.

If the grandparents have got the stamina, we recommend these 17 places to kayak including Lake Union, Lake Washington, Moss Lake, Alki Beach, and Juanita Beach, to name a few. We’ve got the scoop on where to go, when to go and what to bring.

a young kid plays with food in the KidStruction Zone at MOAHI in Seattle

Go Back in Time

Depending on how far back in time you’d like to go, there’s a museum for you. The White River Valley Museum in Auburn is a favorite of grandparents who grew up in the area. Here they’ve recreated streets and neighborhoods that you can walk through and visit including the Japanese American Farmhouse of 1915, the Auburn Depot of 1924 and Downtown Auburn during the 1920s. 

The Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) is also a great trip with exhibits like Maritime Seattle that explores Seattle’s maritime history, and True Northwest: The Seattle Journey that explains how our environment, diverse population, and inventive spirit have shaped our history. Little kids will enjoy the Kid-Struction Zone where they can learn while they play (and you get a break). Older kids will appreciate the new exhibit, Artificial Intelligence: Your Mind & The Machine, which is the first museum exhibit in the United States to focus on the evolution and potential of artificial intelligence. It opens on October 15, 2022.

Of course, if really want to go back in time, check out the “new and improved” Burke Museum featuring 113,000 square-feet of interesting finds from dinosaurs to tide pools. Plus, you can eavesdrop on the scientists working there cataloging everything. When it’s time for a snack, check out the Off the Rez restaurant serving up handmade fry bread, Indian tacos and espresso beverages. 

Good to know: Many of the Seattle museums are free to visit the first Thursday of the month and Klondyke Gold Rush Museum is always free.

Wings Over Washington
Wings Over Washington

Check Out Seattle’s Mini Disneyland

You’ve seen Seattle’s Great Wheel miles away, but have you ever ridden it? Invite the kids on your bucket list adventure on the 175-foot tall, mother-of-all-ferris-wheels. Located at Pier 57, this contraption holds 42 fully-enclosed gondolas that will give you breathtaking views of Puget Sound rain or shine, day or night.

Right across from the Great Wheel is one of Seattle’s best kept secrets the “flying theater” known as Wings Over Washington. Inspired by Disney’s “Soarin’” attractions at their theme parks, WOW features a similar experience with the sights, sounds and smells (literally) of Washington State. The entire experience is one that everyone will remember for years to come.

Inside Pier 57 you’ll find the historic-looking indoor carousel, the Waterfront Arcade and a variety of places to eat everything from a simple pizza lunch to a full multi-course dinner.

the outdoor playspace at Olympia Hands On Children's Museum includes a pirate ship and tricycle bike lane
Allison Sutcliffe

Be a Kid Again

Seeing the world through the eyes of little ones is priceless and can bring back all kinds of memories you didn’t even know you forgot. The Puget Sound is chock full of children’s museums where the kids can touch everything, making your job a lot easier. Stay close to home by checking out the recently remodeled (and reopened) Seattle Children’s Museum, or pack grandparents and kids in the car to check out some of our other area favorites.

Our recommendations include Kids Discovery Museum (KiDiMu) on Bainbridge Island that features a giant Lite Brite, indoor “sand” box, and a kid-sized grocery store; the award-winning Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett (that just got a facelift), with it’s amazing indoor treehouse and rooftop playground; the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia, featuring over 150 exhibits and a fantastic outdoor playspace where kids can play while grandparents take a load off; and Children’s Museum of Tacoma, with an incredible and clean water table, a fantastic art studio, and an intriguing new art climbing sculpture.

Good to know: Most of these places offer special discounts. Be in the know before you go.

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