TO SEATTLE

Seattle Aquarium

By Eileen Ogintz
Tribune Media Services

Got the rain jackets?

So what if it rains a lot in Seattle. As long as you’ve got good rain gear, you won’t care, especially when there’s so much to do and see.

Where else can you take the kids to see guys throwing raw fish, introduce them to ferries (yes, parents commute to work via ferry) take a turn on a sailboat, learn all about rock music, science fiction and the creatures who inhabit the sea in this part of the world. (The first-rate Seattle Aquarium (www.seattleaquarium.org) was renovated just a year ago.)

Let’s not forget the chance to view the world 605 feet aboveground atop The Space Needle (www.spaceneedle.com) or ride a monorail at Seattle Center. Did I mention the terrific food – and Washington State wines? Plenty of local restaurants are kid-friendly too. (Locals suggest Cutters Bayhouse, www.cuttersbayhouse.com, which offers great views, seafood and a good kids’ menu and Ivar’s Acres of Clams, www.ivars.net , a landmark since 1938, which highlights an outdoor fish bar.

Of course, we can’t forget coffee. Your frappuccino-loving kids may be surprised to learn that Starbucks started right here in 1971 with just one coffee store. That store is still open at Pike Place Market.

This summer, if you’re thinking about spending a few days in Seattle, either before or after an Alaskan cruise, (a record 211 cruise ships will dock here or you can easily drive from Vancouver), or you’re just shopping for a different last-minute spring getaway, you and your kids are guaranteed to love Seattle.

In fact, this is one city that has as much to offer kids (and teens) as parents, whether you’re foodies, and these days a lot of kids are, baseball lovers, music aficionados, sailors, fishermen or museum goers. The Seattle Art Museum’s (www.seattleartmuseum.org) free, 9-acre Olympic Sculpture Garden not only displays major artworks but also the scenery of the mountains and Puget Sound. For more interesting options, visit www.visitseattle.org and www.experiencewashington.com. To take advantage of many top Seattle attractions, buy a Seattle City Pass (www.citypass.com) and check out great hotel deals at www.seattlesupersaver.com.

Planning on bringing your pet along on this trip? Check out family packages from pet-friendly Kimptons’ Alexis Hotel Seattle (www.alexishotel.com), which provides kid-sized robes (Tiger stripe perhaps?) as well as homemade s’mores and more. The Hotel Monaco (www.monaco-seattle.com) not only will welcome your pooch, but also provide a goldfish for your stay, along with goldfish crackers and a goldfish toy.

Once you’re settled in, take the kids to Pike Place Market (www.pikeplacemarket.org) one of the oldest continuously operated farmer’s markets in the United States. Pike Place presides over a 9-acre historic district in the heart of downtown Seattle and the kids will never look at grocery shopping the same way again. Watch guys throw fish back and forth at the Pike Place Fish Market, listen to street musicians, sample cherries, peaches, apples, vegetables and hazelnuts – and meet the farmers who grew them. There are some 150 vendors selling everything from fruit to flowers at The Market, which is also a good bet for souvenirs, whether you are on the hunt for food (smoked salmon or cherry jam anyone?), vintage clothes or jewelry.

Walk down the hill climb stairs from Pike Place Market to my second-favorite site in Seattle: The Seattle Aquarium located along Seattle’s waterfront. Seattle is also home to the terrific Woodland Park Zoo (www.zoo.org). Don’t miss the new Window on Washington Waters exhibit. (Did you know sea otters eat more than a quarter of their body weight each day?) Learn all about salmon (even the kids will be impressed by how they manage to find their way home) — and listen to the call of orca whales.

It’s fun just to walk along the waterfront too – packed with ferryboats, cruise ships, tour boats and every variety of pleasure boat. Seattle Center (www.seattlecenter.com) is also a must-see for families. The 74-acre urban park — a legacy of the 1962 World’s Fair — is home to the Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Experience Music Project, Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle Children’s Museum and some of the city’s largest festivals, including the Seattle International Children’s Festival.

While you’re at Seattle Center, make sure to check out the Experience Music Project (www.empsfm.org) and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. The Experience Music Project (EMP), is the brainchild of Microsoft co-founder, Paul G. Allen, and is dedicated to exploring creativity and innovation in American popular music, from rock ‘n’ roll, to jazz, soul, gospel, country, blues, hip-hop, punk and other genres. Science Fiction lovers won’t want to miss the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, which offers a one-of-a-kind collection of artifacts and memorabilia, including works by Isaac Asimov, Ursula Le Guin, H.G. Wells, George Lucas, Gene Rodenberry, James Cameron and Steven Spielberg, among others.

Take the gang to see the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (also called Ballard Locks), http://www.nws.usace.army.mil/PublicMenu/Menu.cfm?sitename=lwsc&pagename=mainpage , which raises and lowers ships (as much as 26 feet) to allow them to pass between fresh water and salt water. It’s one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.

You’ve also got the chance in Seattle to teach the kids a little history — and they’ll be having too much fun to complain. Take them to Klondike Goldrush National Historic Park (www.nps.gov/klse) — a free museum that explains Seattle’s role as the starting point to the 1890s gold rush. Tour Pioneer Square (www.pioneersquare.org), Seattle’s historic district where logs once skidded down the streets to the harbor sawmills. (Check out the Underground Tour that will give you a glimpse at what was left below street level after a fire destroyed it.

I bet you’re ready for a coffee break after all that sightseeing. Now, where did you leave that umbrella?

© 2008 EILEEN OGINTZ, DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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