Staycationing in the Emerald City

Seattle Staycation
Seattle Staycation with Kids
Exploring Seattle with kids gives you a fresh perspective on one of the most vibrant cities in the Pacific Northwest.

Picture breathtaking mountains, moss-laden forests, and fresh salty air paired with mild weather and amazing year-round outdoor activities. Where is such a place, you might ask? For those of us lucky enough to live in Seattle, it is called home. 

Often upon returning back from a trip, I am reminded I already live in one of the most spectacular places in the country. Although my family and I normally don’t take the time to vacation where we live, it only took a pandemic to realize how much there is to learn and explore in our city. And most importantly, we were reminded how rejuvenating a vacation can be without a long plane or car ride. 

In the past, our time spent in the city has always been punctuated by time constraints. There was always parking about to expire, or a water taxi or a bus to catch. In the end, there was never enough time to do, taste, or experience everything we wanted to. This is where the beauty of the staycation lies, unadulterated time with people and in the city I love. 

Recently my husband and I decided to enjoy the city as someone from another city who vacations in the Emerald City. We were tourists in our own backyard. We booked a hotel in downtown, which gave us the option to do an early morning visit to the aquarium, an afternoon boat ride, a mid-day run to Dick’s, a fabulous dinner downtown, a late-night spin on the Seattle Great Wheel, and finally an ice cream pit stop to top off the day. It sounds like a full schedule, but it was completely doable. 

Start with a Good Homebase

Breakfasts at Goldfinch Tavern range from savory to indulgent with options like Wild Mushroom Hash and hearty French toast.

For our family, the key to a successful staycation is selecting the best possible home base. For us, proximity to the water, walking distance to attractions, a room with a view, great food, and an outdoor pool were high on our list. As a parent, I prefer to stay places I know my child will be treated well and not just an appendage to me. After careful consideration, we decided to stay at the Four Seasons.

Upon arrival, it was clear our choice for our home base was spot on. Not only were we able to witness a stunning sunset from our hotel room, but my children let out literal squeals of delight as they gobbled up the brightly colored treats laid out for them and played with the teddy bears lying on their beds patiently awaiting their arrival. Little touches like having perfectly sized bathrobes and slippers went a long way to make them feel like the VIPS they are.

In our family, we have a weekly tradition of Friday night movie night, so our stay began in style with room service and a movie. What could be better than spending a Friday night wearing your pajamas eating chicken strips and mac and cheese off of a white tablecloth while watching television? If you are two- and seven-years-old there is nothing greater. 

As any parent to little ones can attest most children have no concept of sleeping in. However, when traveling this works to our advantage because it means we get an early start to our day. A hearty breakfast from Goldfinch Tavern of towering pancakes, French toast, and fresh-squeezed orange juice fueled a jam-packed day of fun.

Take Advantage of Seattle’s City PASS

Exploring Seattle with kids is fun
Exploring Seattle is never dull, when you get peek-a-boo views of iconic landmarks like the Space Needle. Especially if you check out Seattle’s Electric Boat Company, which lets you get out on the water for an up-close view of Seattle’s Lake Union houseboats, yachts, and more!

The City PASS was a great starting point for being able to check off a variety of interests without too much planning required ahead of time. Recently, most Seattle attractions have adopted a reservation system that easily allows you to visit each attraction without the hassle or frustration of sold-out or overly busy venues. In my daughter’s first visit to the aquarium, she was delighted by the playful otters. The newly renovated Space Needle with its unobstructed glass viewing decks awed even us long-time Seattle residents and the Chihuly Garden and Glass encouraged us to look into taking a glassblowing class for a future date night. 

A big part of traveling with little ones is sticking to their routine, so we loved being just blocks away from the Seattle library where we could spend a little downtime doing something we normally do or easily pop back to the hotel for a mid-day nap. Easy access to Pike Place Market meant we could pop over for all our pent-up market cravings. Think Le Panier macarons, Beecher’s cheese, Ellenos yogurt, and Piroshky Piroshky to name a few. 

Get Out on the Water or Up in the Sky

Seattle Scenic Flight Tour
Get a bird’s eye view the entire family will be talking about for ages from aboard a de Havilland Beaver or Otter.

One of the best ways to experience Seattle is by boat. Between the Argosy Harbor Cruise on Elliott Bay and the electric boat we rented on Lake Union, we spent hours taking on some of the best views of the city. Colorful houseboats and seaplanes reminded us of how exciting, dynamic, and photogenic a place Seattle is.

For as much planning as you do on vacation, it is the unexpected moments that leave a lasting impression. Several come to mind such as the baby gorilla doing handstands for us at the zoo, a seaplane buzzing overhead while we were out on an electric boat, or the kind woman at Fran’s who slipped some extra chocolates into our bag for the kids. 

To really take your sightseeing to new heights (pun intended), a Seattle Scenic Flight Tour offers unrivaled views of the Space Needle, Seattle’s sports stadiums, the University of Washington campus and more!

Let Even the Smallest Moments Feel Big

With just the right amount of char and loaded with whimsy, s’mores are the fun finger food that everyone will love. at Goldfinch Tavern was a celebration of all things PNW. I proudly witnessed my seven-year-old declare, “Salmon and Brussel sprouts are my favorite!” as he devoured his meal and my two-year-old single-handedly ate the entire cheese platter. After our meal, we were delighted by thoughtfully prepared tableside s’mores and a hot cocoa bar topped off our meal. You might think hot chocolate is no big deal, but like all things at the Four Seasons, it went above and beyond with white chocolate ganache, chocolate shavings, and homemade marshmallows. Food memories are often the strongest memories we hold because they utilize all five senses. I firmly believe we are going to be daydreaming about our family dinner at the Four Seasons for a long time to come. 

Because our home base was fantastic it actually made it hard to want to leave each day. At the hotel we spent countless hours swimming in the pool, watching it morph from purple to blue and then green all while keeping track of the ferries and boats that passed by. During our stay, we kept reveling in the fact we felt like we had the place to ourselves. If you are looking for a family trip that checks all the boxes from fresh air to interesting architecture, new experiences, and delicious food then a staycation in Seattle is just what your family needs. If you haven’t spent a day in the city with your family from sun up to sundown, then you haven’t experienced the true heart of the city. There is so much to fall in love with about Seattle. Whether it’s the breathtaking scenery all around town to the diverse neighborhoods and the hard-working people who keep our city a vibrant and colorful place to live, it truly is a place where you will find an old friend or make a new one.

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