Cheap Things to Do in Seattle with Kids on a Port Day

On our recent cruise to Honolulu on the Ovation of the Seas, we stopped over in Seattle for a day.  We had never driven down the Seattle with the kids even though we live less than 3 hours away, but I blame that on the few years of the pandemic. We will definitely make a trip down to Seattle sometime. In the meantime we had a port day in Seattle.  

After waiting about 2-3 hours in customs after entering the United States, we had about half a day to spend in Seattle with our school age child and preschooler, here are some cheap things to do in Seattle with young kids if you have a port day in Seattle, also known as the Emerald City.

Things to Do in Seattle with Kids on a Port Day

On a Port Day even though the cruise itinerary says you have nine hours to spend, after having breakfast, or getting out of customs you really end up with four hours or six hours.  It’s not that much time so you have to make the most of it.

How Far is the Port of Seattle to Seattle Center?

The Royal Carribbean Port is at Pier 91.  Thankfully our kids are still small enough to fit the Bob stroller we have, so we brought that along and jogged along the Elliott Bay Trail also called the Terminal 91 Bike Path.  It took us about 30 minutes to jog from the Royal Carribbean Port at Pier 91 to the Space Needle.  It will probably be about an hour walk to Seattle Center.  When you see the Olympic Sculpture Park you turn left and you’ll arrive at Seattle Center.

It is a very scenic route and we were lucky to have sunny fall weather.  We got jog along the Seattle waterfront and see the Seattle skyline without being stuck in traffic.

Public transportation is another option.  It is a 25 minute bus ride to Pike Place from Pier 91.

Exploring Seattle Center

Seattle Center is a great place to explore with your family, it’s mostly car free and there are lots of places to explore and lots of areas to sit and people watch.  There are lots of gift shops, shops and restaurants to explore too.

The Seattle Center area encompasses the Seattle Center monorail, Space Needle, The Seattle Center Armory (the museum in the Seattle Center where the Seattle Children’s Museum is housed), the Chihuly Garden and Glass (glass sculptures), Seattle Children’s Theatre, Pacific Science Center, the the Museum of Pop Culture to name a few.

Is the Space Needle Worth It?

Initially I wanted to really go to the iconic Space Needle but eventually decided against booking a reservation.

Well, I think if you have older children it might be worth it, but booking the tickets in advance would have been troublesome since no one had any expectation that customs at the Port of Seattle would take so long.  Therefore if we had booked the Space Needle tickets in advance we would have been out of luck in wasting $100 or so.

Instead of paying admission and lining up to go up the Space Needle, the kids just ran around outside of the Space Needle (and we took some photos of the Space Needle of course).

Seattle Children’s Museum

 The Seattle Children’s Museum is located on the lowest level at the Seattle Center Armory.

The Seattle Children’s Museum was well worth admission.  It is $14 for chidren ages 1-17 and the same prices for adults.  Infants under age 1 are free.  I would say this is more geared towards younger children.

There is an area where you can pretend play with hands-on exhibits.  Kids and adults alike would have fun here. 

For example, kids can explore and pretend to be a veterinarian, work at an eye clinic,  pretend to be a cashier and restock the grocery store, or pretend to be an entertainer (your child can even be the sound and light technician person).

Our kids had a ton of fun here and spent quite a bit of time here.

It kind of reminded me of the National Museum of American History at Washington DC.

Artists at Play Playground

At Seattle Center beside the Armory is the Artists at Play playground.  It is a huge playground and a 30 foot climbing structure, again free and where the kids can spend at least 30 minutes, provided it’s not raining.  The climbing tower is geared towards children age 5 to 12.  There’s a younger kids’ section in this playground too.

Kids of all ages will have fun at the Artists at Play playground.

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is located at Pier 57.  The Seattle Aquarium and the Seattle great wheel is nearby as well.

We wanted to get back to the ship on time so we unfortunately didn’t get to see the Pike Place Market with the kids, but this would be another place we would take them.  I remember an interesting bubble gum wall last time I was there and of course grabbing some clam chowder while checking out sea lions and avoiding large seagulls would be a fun thing to do with kids.

Checking out the orignal Starbucks location is certainly a fun thing to do in Seattle.

Maximizing Your Seattle Experience

Some older kids would probably have a great time rock climbing, doing flight simulators, going on a scavenger hunt, arcade games, and even checking out the imax theater.

If we had a car we would have checked out other spots in Seattle such as the Woodland Park Zoo, the butterfly garden near Green Lake, the the Museum of Flight (an air and space museum).  These trips from Seattle Center would require a car and you wouldn’t be able have as much time for other activities. 

Seattle Port Day Kids Activities Wrap Up

Hope you found this list of fun things to do in Seattle on a port day helpful.

Visit Seattle has a great list with 2 hour itineraries, 4 hour itineraries, and 6 hour itineraries for your port day or if you are exploring Seattle before your cruise or after your cruise.

The Washington State is beautiful and Seattle is chock full of family activities for your trip to Seattle.  It was lots of fun.

Do you have any things to do in Seattle with kids on a port day?

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