October 21

Child’s Play

Family Friendly Fun In South Lake Union

Though best known for its groundbreaking tech campus, South Lake Union remains a neighborhood at heart—and a surprisingly family friendly one, too.

Run off some steam at Lake Union Park, where 12 acres of shoreline green space include an epic spray park and a model boat pond. Kids can sail 39-inch replicas of the racing yacht Pirate on Saturdays, Sundays and first Thursdays, 11am–2pm, May through October. But the 100-foot-wide pool remains open to the public year-round, so B.Y.O.B. (bring your own boat).

Hire a human-sized vessel at The Center For Wooden Boats or hit tugboat story time on the Arthur Foss (second and forth Thursdays, 11am–1pm), one of the old beauties nosed up to the Historic Ships Wharf. Other aquatic favorites include the Sunday Ice Cream Cruise aboard a tiny former ferry and the Kids Lazy Day Lake Tour from Moss Bay sports center. After a 15-minute mini-lesson, young paddlers can take a 90-minute kayak expedition ($25, 10–24 kids).

The vast Museum of History & Industry anchors the southern waterfront and doesn’t charge admission for children under 14. Its hands-on exhibits are a hit with high-energy explorers, especially spotting floatplanes through the WWII-era periscope. Older kids will appreciate Maker Days, where they can tinker under supervision (11am–2pm on the last Saturday of the month).

On cooler days, head inside at PlayDate Seattle, an 8,000-square-foot indoor playground with an Atlantis theme. It includes a gerbil maze and interactive dance floors, plus a café serving Stumptown cold-brew coffee to keep adults moving at warp speed too.

Create a weekday movable feast by exploring the lunch trucks outside Amazon’s headquarters. Or indulge in guilt-free fast food at the Veggie Grill, which serves meat-free BLTs—featuring smoky tempeh bacon—with sweet potato fries. The speedy service, quick-wipe tables and bright green-and-orange décor give the illusion of a junk splurge, while parents can sneak pair a local craft beer with a quinoa power salad on the sly. Foodie families also love to pop into LICK Pure Cream, which turns out fresh daily flavors like grilled pineapple from the back of a pizza parlor.

After powering up, transport buffs should hop on the South Lake Union Streetcar, which runs 1.3 miles south and connects with Seattle’s vintage 1962 monorail. Shoppers may prefer to swing through Tottini, a boutique started by two local moms. It sells everything from foreign-language building blocks to the must-have, natural-rubber Sophie the Giraffe for teething infants,  alongside practicalities like splat mats.

Finally, stop by the Cascade Playground, right beside a funkily decorated P-Patch. Then challenge your kids to find the cork foosball game and—just across Minor Avenue North—the plaque marking Seattle’s geographical center, proving South Lake Union really is at the heart of it all!

Story and Photos by Amanda Castleman

At The Center

SLU is the geographical center of Seattle