This is a great time of year to indulge in a downtown Seattle staycation with your kids. There are so many things to amuse the kids which are not weather dependent, new exhibits, attractions and shows are opening up every day in time for the holidays and many of the downtown hotels are offering great holiday deals.
My ten-year old daughter and I made time this weekend for a downtown staycation and had an absolute ball. "It's as if we've travelled to a whole new city," she said. Here are our top tips to make the most of your stay.
Choose Your Hotel Wisely: Shop around for the best holiday deals and make sure the room you choose is configured to accommodate kids. We stayed at the groovy and gorgeous Hotel Monaco, which is perfectly situated on Fourth Avenue and is offering 20% off over the holiday period. Their Monte Carlo suites have a curtain dividing the room, making different bed times easy. Oh and the kid literally squealed with delight when she saw the leopard-print bathrobes.
Even Little Things Can Be Fun: After a busy school and work week, we were both delighted to lounge in our room with room service and a movie (Shaun the Sheep Movie, highly recommended) and then sneak out after bedtime to see the Great Wheel all lit up. It's easy to forget that kids seldom go out at night and just being in the city after dark is very special, "I'm seeing downtown in a completely different light." Imagine how magical it will be when the holiday lights are turned on.
Pike Place Market: There is so much to fascinate kids at Pike Place Market - watching the fish fly and the cheese curds turn, getting in one last picture in front of the soon-to-be-cleaned gum wall; seeing donuts being made and just looking out at the views. And there are a lot of kid-friendly food options - grilled cheese at Beecher's, chowder at Pike Place Chowder, yogurt at Ellenos and cannoli at DeLaurenti. We enjoyed getting there early before the crowds.
Sneak in a Bit of Education: If there is any art exhibit guaranteed to appeal to children then Intimate Impressionism at SAM until January 10th is it. These gorgeous scenes of everyday life, featuring dogs, kids, foods, street scenes and even the most exquisitely painted cat are easy for kids to appreciate. Other accessible cultural and educational options within a few blocks include the Seattle Public Library, kids' concerts at the Symphony, the permanent galleries at SAM, the Seattle Aquarium and Waterfront Space, with displays and art projects related to Seattle's waterfront regeneration. Don't forget all the options at the Seattle Center, including Can't Look Away - The Lure of Horror Films at the EMP (rated PG-13). A little further away are The Living Computer Museum and MOHAI's Bezos Center for Innovation, while MOHAI's the Legacy of Seattle Hip Hop exhibit (until May 2016) is a great interactive way for young and old alike to understand the background to this unique beat.
Take in a Show: There are plenty of kid-friendly shows coming shortly to Seattle - including the new Nutcracker at the PNB, The Sound of Music at the 5th Avenue Theatre, Beauty and the Beast at the Paramount and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Seattle Childrens' Theatre. We opted for Emergence, the new mixed bill at the PNB, and were both utterly blown away, in particular by the titular ballet, with its mesmerizing choreography reminiscent of insect swarms and gathering armies, and its unsettling electronic music. The kid pronounced it 'cool' and 'awesome' and would recommend it highly to kids aged 9 and above.
Don't Forget the Monorail: Because I always drive into downtown, I tend to forget how quick and easy it is to get to the Seattle Center from downtown via the Monorail, which, of course, kids adore. It runs until 11pm too, making it the perfect way to get back after dinner or a show.
Kid-Friendly Food Options: Sazerac, the Hotel Monaco's restaurant, offers a splendid brunch at weekends, and other great breakfast options include Belle Epicurean and Café Fonte. DeLaurenti and Frans Chocolate are great for coffee and an indulgent treat. As well as the street food options at Pike Place Market, Steelhead Diner and Matt's in the Market have kid-friendly options, as does Lecosho on Harbor Steps and Taste at SAM. We dined before the ballet at Collections Café in the Seattle Center - kids enjoy Dale Chihuly's intriguing collections imprisoned within their glass show tables - and the Armory offers plenty of other kid-friendly options.
Wear Practical Shoes: Although everything is close at hand, there is so much to see and do that we ended up walking until our Fitbits exploded. Add in the hilly streets of that part of downtown, the staircases of the market and the possibility of rain, and kids and adults alike will be grateful for the comfiest footwear possible.
Many thanks to Anne Peavey, Chief Concierge at Visit Seattle for her help in putting this list together. Visit Seattle has two locations available to the needs of visitors to the city, including locals on an adventure! Thanks also to the Hotel Monaco for hosting us for a night (oh and a big shout-out to fellow Brit Toby Cannon at the front desk for whom nothing was too much trouble).