We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Family Trip to Seattle - 1st Time (Planning Itenerary)

Athens, Georgia
Level Contributor
36 posts
1 review
Save Topic
Family Trip to Seattle - 1st Time (Planning Itenerary)

Planes tickets bought and we have a hotel booked. But I could really use some help with my itenerary. First off we are flying in on Saturday November 23 and staying until Friday November 29. The hotel I booked was the Hampton INN on Fifth Avenue North. There are 5 of us - Me, my husband and 3 sons ages 21, 19 and 14.

We will have 5 full days since flying will use up two of our days. Any suggestions on transportation to and from the airport, or while in town. I also could use an opinion about our hotel? Is the location ok for walking or public transportion?

We are intersted in seeing as much as we can. I had considered the City Pass??? We are not really into the nightlife bar scene but during the day and early evening, places to visit and resturant suggestions would be great. I am trying to plan by the day so we can make sure we are seeing everything in one area versus running in different directions.

Thanks so much for helping!!

Renton, WA
Level Contributor
4,083 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: Family Trip to Seattle - 1st Time (Planning Itenerary)

You will be in a good location, right in the heart of the financial district and within easy walking distance of most tourist attractions. Transportation mode depends on how much luggage you have...with five people I think that the Link Light Rail is not a good choice. www.shuttleexpress.com gets you to a site where you can reserve a van.

J T
Everett, Washington
1 post
Save Reply
2. Re: Family Trip to Seattle - 1st Time (Planning Itenerary)

With 5 days to spend, the City Pass is a pretty good deal. Depending on the interests of your family, some of the most tourist friendly places are:

Seattle Center, including:

EMP/SFM (Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum) Highly recommended if you like music

Space Needle (of course)

Pacific Science Center (IMAX shows and laser shows are great, the Science museum is mostly for younger kids)

Woodland Park Zoo is a pretty good, but you'll need transpo as it's in Fremont/North Seattle. Buses are reliable and I would suggest the #5.

Bremerton is a nice little town if you're up for a Ferry ride. It's pretty cheap and a unique experience to catch the Ferry across the sound. There are some neat little shops and cafe's near the terminal in Bremerton so walking on is fine. It's a solid three hours there and back, including lunch and some shopping. This would give you time before and after to hit the Seattle Waterfront and possibly even ride the Great Wheel.

wsdot.com/ferries/…

http://seattlegreatwheel.com/

There is always shopping, but you can find all that on your own, I'm sure. :) Have a great trip!

Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
Level Contributor
6,413 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Family Trip to Seattle - 1st Time (Planning Itenerary)

The Hampton Inn isn't in the heart of the financial district, it's at the extreme north end of the "downtown" area on the far side of Seattle Center from downtown.

Public transportation is relatively easy, and the Seattle Center grounds are only a couple of blocks' walk, but using public transportation for any destinations besides downtown is going to be a challenge, as in most cases you'd have to go downtown and then transfer. Frankly, with five people I'd be inclined to rent a minivan or SUV, even if it means paying the hotel to park. Using a van or limo from the airport will probably end up costing close to $90 - $100 in each direction, plus something like $10 per person per day for bus or monorail fare.. it adds up. And of course the vehicle would give you the freedom to explore the city, the region, head out of town to some of our marvelous countryside - Mount Rainier, Whidbey Island, whatever.

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
698 posts
152 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Family Trip to Seattle - 1st Time (Planning Itenerary)

With kids those ages I'd consider going over to the University of Washington, touring campus, and walking down "The Ave" (university way NE) where the college shops are. Get cheap college eats, and talk about them furthering their education.

If the weather is nice, the kids might like the Ballard Locks or a visit to Gasworks Park.

If the kids are more into the "urban hipster" scene than the college scene, take them up to Capitol Hill for a stroll down Broadway, some window shopping, cool music stores, and greasy diner food.

Realize that November may be wet, and it will get dark early. Plan accordingly.

If you rent a car, consider driving up to Everett for the Boeing factory tour-- you can see planes being built, in the largest factory in the world. Really cool!

Athens, Georgia
Level Contributor
36 posts
1 review
Save Reply
5. Re: Family Trip to Seattle - 1st Time (Planning Itenerary)

Thank you all so much. Here is a loose itenerary I came up with. I would really appreciate your opinion. I am still unsure how to fill our Thanksgiving day. We do fly out early Friday morning and I realize a lot of things are closed, so any suggestions would be great. I have decided on the Shuttle Express for our airport transportation and we will be using the Metro and Monorail for all our stops, except for the day we head to the University. I believe since we have to transfer buses it may be easier to get a taxi that morning?? I could really use some help on food places. With three boys and my husband in tow that will be a must. Breakfast we will probably eat at the hotel since it is part of our stay and will allow us to spend more on our outings and lunch and dinner out. I don't think it will be cost effective for us to get the city pass since we are only going to visit a few of the sights that were included. Thanks again for all your help.

Sunday- Pike Street , Harbor Cruise, Seattle Waterfront(The Great Wheel)

Monday- Seattle Center: Space Needle, Olympic Park, EMP

Tuesday- University of Washington, Ballard Locks, *Discovery Park, Fremont

Wednesday- Pioneer Square, International District, Volunteer Park, Capitol Hill

Thursday- (Happy Thanksgiving Day) Bainbridge Island (or) Bremerton Island,???

Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
Level Contributor
2,784 posts
179 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Family Trip to Seattle - 1st Time (Planning Itenerary)

I think Tuesday you have a lot on the agenda. It is possible but it could be a long and very trying day -- particularly using public transportation.

Tuesday you have tentatively scheduled a visit to U.Washington, Ballard, Fremont and Discovery Park (Magnolia). That is a large swath of North Seattle to visit in one day. Magnolia is north and west of downtown and south of Ballard. Ballard is directly north of Magnolia. Fremont is E-SE of Ballard along the ship canal. The University District is E-NE of Fremont on the East side of Rt. 5. Actually from your hotel location, which is not in the heart of downtown but is in lower queen anne, north and east of the Seattle Center grounds near Aurora Avenue) you are closest to the University District or Fremont (about 3 miles to either location). The hotel is closer to 5 miles to Ballard and Discovery Park in Magnolia.

If you go to U.W and do not visit the Burke or Henry (natural history and art museums, respectively) you are still going to require at least two hours to get up there (12 minutes to drive; 40 minutes by bus from your place ... quicker connections are available but not from around your hotel), walk around the campus and then walk around the surrounding commercial district. The University itself is very attractive. The U.District is basically your quintessential college town. Unless one of your children is considering attending the university or you are going to visit the Henry or Burke I would pass on the University and U.District.

However if you intend to visit it, you are then looking at some time to get to Fremont (how much time depends on which way you are getting around that day). By car it is really only 5-10 minutes. By bus (the 31 or 32 are options) you are looking at maybe 15 minutes -- plus waiting time. Fremont is a quirky neighborhood whose attractions are really public art, shops and boutiques, breweries, coffee, live music etc. It is one of my favorite neighborhoods but keep in mind that it is really about just hanging out. There are few sights as such. There is a chocolate factory that gives tours (Theo) and the public art includes a large statute of Lenin and a massive concrete troll up under the Aurora bridge. There is some nice canal waterfront as well. Nearby is the excellent Gasworks park at the north end of Lake Union which incorporates some structures from the old gasworks and has excellent views over the lake (including floatplanes and houseboats) and skyline. Depending on what you do you could spend an hour or two easily in Fremont.

From Fremont it is 5-10 minutes by car or 15 minutes by bus to Ballard. The locks are West of downtown. Coho and steelhead may be in the fish ladder in November but it won't be a peak time for seeing a run. The locks are still fun with park like grounds, a small visitor center, and views of a range of boats using the locks. As you won't be here in the peak boating season the locks may be quieter but you may see working boats in the locks -- tugs with or without barges, fishing boats, etc. The Pacific fishing fleet is based in the ship canal -- mostly at Fisherman's terminal on the Magnolia side of the ship canal (just west of the north end of the Ballard drawbridge). Ballard also has a very interesting small local Nordic Heritage museum (Ballard has a strong Scandinavian heritage), a sandy Puget Sound beach at Golden Gardens and a year round Sunday farmer's market, which is very lively with producers, prepared foods, live music etc. Historic Ballard Avenue is one of the city's favorite dining and nightlife strips. There are several live music venues and a number of bars and restaurants plus some boutiques. Ballard, like Fremont, is an excellent place to walk around absorbing the local color. It has some excellent shops and boutiques, two great local record shops, some bookstores, coffee shops etc. Ballard also has one of the largest concentrations of breweries in the city (9 with a 10th on the way) although you should know that many places in Seattle have a tavern license and are strictly 21+ so your underage children may not be welcome. If there are places you are interested in I can certainly help check whether your kids can accompany. At a minimum to see the locks I would allocate an hour. Depending on what else you want to do you could spend hours more. If you want to go to Golden Gardens (the Leif Erickson statue and immigration memorial and Center for Contemporary Art - Shilshole location are on the way) you will need a car. The Nordic Heritage Museum is up near 67th and 32nd. You can take a bus up 32nd or it is a long walk up hill. I live in Ballard and have posted many times -- at length -- about the neighborhood. If you have any followup questions about things to do, places to eat etc. in Ballard just ask.

From Ballard there is no good way to get to Discovery Park quickly short of driving or a cab, which only would take maybe 10 minutes from Ballard. Bus routes require going almost all the way back downtown and then transferring. I would allocate at least a couple hours for the park.

If you started at Discovery Park you can get there by public transportation but it is going to be tedious from your hotel location. The 24 and 33 metro routes go to edge of the park but from your hotel you will require a transfer or a walk to south of the Seattle Center campus to get on either of those routes. Once you are in the park be prepared for some walking. The visitor center is not particularly close to the bluff walk and to get down to the lighthouse and beach involves a walk downhill that is easy enough but then of course you have to walk steeply up hill to get out of the park.

You indicated that you were going to take buses except for perhaps a cab to go to U.W. I think that either taking a cab or bus will present you with problems. Taking a cab is time efficient and can be cost efficient for five travelers vs. taking the bus but if you do some research on ordering a minivan taxi you will see that people have reported difficulty arranging that from the local taxi companies. Seattle does not have a large fleet of taxis on the streets and taxis suitable for parties of 5 travelers are rarely found. Also if you run the numbers using distances from Google maps and the posted taxi rates you will see that taxis can add up. You are looking at 5 legs and almost 17 miles by my calculations. For a single cab drop is $2.50 and then each mile is $2.70. So 5 trips x 2.50 = $12.50 and 17 miles would cost $46.00. Each passenger over 2 is also $.50 and waiting time is $.50/min. So you are talking at least $60 for the day. And that is assuming you can get a cab that holds all five of you.

For buses each trip is going to cost 4x$2.25 or $2.50 (peak vs. non-peak) plus $1.25 for your 14 yo. So $10.25 to $11.25 per leg. As you can see 5 legs is going to be almost as much as a cab. On buses you can get one free transfer for each fare you pay which lasts about 2 hours. I would caution though that your chances of seeing almost any of the destinations you mentioned in less than the time period specified and then using your transfer to your next destination are slim. However if you do end up able to each use a transfer once a day you will be cutting $10-$11 from your daily cost.

I did a quick search for renting a car downtown. I ran both picking up and returning on Tuesday the 26th and also picking up at the end of the day on the 25th and keeping it for 24 hours. I used Kayak (I limited the search to 2 miles from the city center and automatic transmission) and found a wide range of suitable vehicles that will hold 5 passengers (note that some companies list a car as 4 passengers while other companies will list the same car as 5 passengers -- I would assume as long as it has five seatbelts it will hold your three boys in the back seat). Most convenient to you are Hertz and Thrifty locations on Westlake Avenue (925 Westlake Ave North) and Enterprise at 2116 Westlake Ave (Denny Triangle). These show suitable cars for $32-$40. Take a look. Your hotel does not have free parking but in that area you should be able to park free on the streets. Drop the kids off and take the car up 5th Avenue to Ward. Be careful lower than that as many streets closer to your hotel will have residential parking permit parking only during certain hours. That is typically Monday-Friday 7 AM to 6 PM and every day 6 PM to Midnight. Obey all signed restrictions. Last ticket I received was in lower Queen Anne near your hotel.

seattle.gov/transportation/…rpz_z13.htm

seattle.gov/transportation/…13.pdf

web6.seattle.gov/SDOT/seattleparkingmap/

You can generally park for free in the neigborhoods during the day including at Discovery Park, Ballard and Fremont (and some parts of the U.District) but you need to be very careful about time restricted parking. Parking enforcement does mark tires and ticket for exceeding time limits for free parking zones. Like everywhere you travel be careful not to leave valuables easily visible in the car when unattended.

Athens, Georgia
Level Contributor
36 posts
1 review
Save Reply
7. Re: Family Trip to Seattle - 1st Time (Planning Itenerary)

Thank you so much for this information. I will definately take your advice. Our son is going to be applying at the University so the trip over is a must, but I think the Ballard we will fit in another day. Can you give advice on places to eat near the University and Ballard. We love fish so I found Chinooks online- do you have another suggestion? I think we may go with your rental car idea. That would allow us the most flexibility with the least amount of trouble, and it looks a lot cheaper too. I could really use some advice on Thanksgiving Day. Thats our last day there and it looks like a lot of things are closed that day. I had thought of taking a ferry over to one of the islands, but maybe we should do the ballards that day. Is there a bus that goes straight there? Any suggestions T Day would be great. We want to make the most of our last day there. Thanks again.

Level Contributor
35,770 posts
903 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Family Trip to Seattle - 1st Time (Planning Itenerary)

If you want something fun to do, the Ride The Ducks Tour is lots of fun. It's about a two hour ride around Seattle. Enjoy your time there! :)

seattle
Destination Expert
for Seattle
Level Contributor
19,140 posts
108 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Family Trip to Seattle - 1st Time (Planning Itenerary)

You may wish to switch and visit Fremont on Sunday as they have the sunday market and more things are going on. The ducks is hokey and may be ok for little kids but if you want to do it its fun in a hokey way. There are better city tours. Suggest

toursnorthwest.com

From Hampton Inn you can walk to Queen Ann Ave and go to Dicks Drive In. Its a Seattle institution, hand cut fries and milkshakes with ice cream and milk. I'm not saying its good, but it old fashioned. On the same vein their is Kidd Valley very close and the Mecca Cafe for 'comfort food'. A bit closer to your hotel is the 5spot cafe. Same idea. Also at the Armory bldg next to the space needle is a food court that has been redone with lots of local restaraunts. think the kids would enjoy the EMP. You may also wish to look at arrival and departing article and get quote from Stila Limosine as for 5 it may be as cheap as Shuttle Express without a lot of stops.

western WA
Level Contributor
8,997 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Family Trip to Seattle - 1st Time (Planning Itenerary)

Will you have a car? You can easily do your Tuesday itinerary with a car. I have done it. The kids won't want to linger very long at the Locks. I'd suggest Gasworks Park. You've got to swing by the Troll, too.

Though in November all the parks are kind of iffy, depending on the weather. Right across from the Locks is the Totem/Red Mill for good burgers.

I agree about going to Fremont on a Sunday. My kids enjoy exploring the Sunday Market and it goes on all year.

Concurring with David on Dick's Burgers (the one on Queen Anne has indoor seating), The Mecca Café, and the 5 Points. The 5 Points has a periscope in the mens room that looks at the Space Needle, for something kinda quirky. I also think they'd like EMP. Get a TeenTix pass for the 14 yo (the others are too old). Pacific Science center is as stated meant for younger kids but the laser shows are popular with kids your ages. Generally this is a later evening thing to do, not a daytime event (too many little kids). The aquarium can be packed with little kids which sucks all the fun out of it for young adults. I'd call them and ask when the tour groups will be gone. They come during school breaks from child care centers, so it can be any day.