June 6

Parent Hood

SLU is a draw for tech-minded grownups. But green spaces, recreation, and kid-friendly museums make it a neighborhood fit for families, too.

Weekends for the Sutherland family aren’t much different from those other Seattle families might enjoy. A Saturday stroll may include brunch at a neighborhood restaurant, a walk to a favorite park, or a stop at a locally owned coffee shop. The biggest difference? Jake and Theresa Sutherland are raising their kids, Sephora (10) and Israel (9) in the middle of booming South Lake Union. The family left their house with a yard in Renton two years ago to fulfill their dream of living in the buzz of a city.

Highlights of residing in SLU for the Sutherlands include trips to PlayDate SEA (an indoor play space), the sprayground at Lake Union Park (Jake calls it their “urban swimming pool”), the always-engaging MOHAI, and a lot of outdoor time at the Seattle Center playground outside of MoPOP, which is a 10-minute walk from their building. And, perhaps most significantly, the aquatic recreation at Lake Union has been a huge draw. “One of the best things about living here is that we’re just a few blocks from the lake. To have the hustle of the city and all the dynamics that go along with that next to the relaxing feeling of the lake gives you the best of both worlds,” he says.

Living in the city has been educational for all of them, Jake notes, but especially for his kids. “The other dynamic we love with our kids living in SLU is the fact that they are surrounded by many diverse cultures. They have friends with all kinds of backgrounds, so for them it’s not unusual to have friends from different races,” Jake says. “Also they are able to experience our homeless community. It opens up conversation for them, and it’s one of care and love—our family really values living with love and honor for others. What a great place to exercise those things.”

Kid-Friendly Fun

There are a bounty of ways to learn and play in South Lake Union. Use this handy guide to plan your next adventure.

For Climbing: REI

Ages: 5–12

Activity: Climbing classes, single-session climbs

The Skinny: Seattle’s favorite outdoor outfitter offers kids climbing classes every Sunday, plus occasional family lessons and regular single-session climbs.

Cost: Lessons are $35 for members, $55 for nonmembers; 15-minute climbs are $15 for members, $25 for nonmembers

Deets: 222 Yale Ave N, reiclimbingpinnacleseattle.wordpress.com

For Learning: MOHAI

Ages: All ages

Activity: Maker Days

The Skinny: On the last Saturday of the month, MOHAI invites kidsto tinker, experiment, and create with the help of Seattle’s most innovative makers.

Cost: Free with museum admission (adult admission is $19.95; and children 14 and younger are free).

Deets: 860 Terry Ave N, mohai.org

For Building: The Center for Wooden Boats

Ages: 8–16

Activity: Woodworking workshops

The Skinny: Older kids can learn about cutting and shaping wood and how to safely use drills and saws to build a tool/storage box.

Cost: $245 for a five-day course

Deets: 1010 Valley St, cwb.org

For Splashing: Safe N Sound Swimming

Ages: 2 and older

Activity: Swim lessons

The Skinny: Aside from classes with certified instructors, SNS puts on camps and organizes excursions.

Cost: Prices vary. Monthly memberships and pay-as-you-go options are available.

Deets: 2040 Westlake Ave N, snsswim.com

For Playing: PlayDate SEA

Ages: 1–12

Activity: Open play

The Skinny: This 8,000-square-foot indoor play space features interactive dance floors and areas for climbing and crawling, plus a separate toddler area.

Cost: $8 for ages 1–3 on weekdays and $12 on weekends; $12 for ages 4–12 on weekdays and $18 on weekends.

Deets: 1275 Mercer St, playdatesea.com

Story by Ethan Chung and Photography by Joshua Huston.

At The Center

SLU is the geographical center of Seattle