11 adventures to celebrate spring in Seattle
A crew team races through the Montlake Cut on boating season opening day.
Photo: Beth Jusino/Flickr
After what seemed to be a never-ending winter in Seattle, the snowpocalypse is finally behind us and we’re getting ready for sunnier (and let’s face it, sometimes rainier) skies. As the weather starts to improve, get the family together for a spring adventure—from baseball and tulips to whale watching, nature walks and ferry rides, the weather is a-changing and it’s time to get out and shake off those winter doldrums.
Do the Spring Fair in Puyallup
April 11-14 is the Spring Fair at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. Watch tricked-out monster trucks burning rubber, racing pigs, dogs performing amazing water tricks, show stages with free music and comedy and more. You can also whirl and twirl the day away on the rides. There are also plenty of free activities for kids included with your fair admission.
Celebrate Earth Day at a State Park
Washington State Parks have free days all year long when the Discover Pass isn’t required to visit a state park. This spring, the free days fall on April 20 (Spring Day) and April 22 (Earth Day). Head north to explore Fort Worden and the bunkers, or the beach in Fort Flagler. You could also take a stunning walk along the bluff at Fort Ebey on Whidbey Island or check out the lighthouse at Fort Casey. Head south to check out Mt. St. Helens.
A Walk with a Blooming View
Most of the tulip fields are now in full bloom, so the time is ripe to take in the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, running until the end of April. A few hours walking through the vast fields of vibrantly-colored tulips and daffodils is active family time well spent. Check out a map and schedule of events before your visit, and be sure to read our guide full of helpful tulip trip tips.
Catch a Fly Ball at the Mariner's Game
Baseball season is back, and one of the best parts of catching a Mariner’s game is that kids don’t have to stay seated. There are plenty of activities to keep them entertained if the game isn’t doing it. The Moose Den, located on the main level in center field at Section 191, is the place to meet the Moose every game and get a photo, 90 minutes and 30 minutes before the first pitch and during the 3rd, 4th, 7th and 8th innings.
The Seattle Children’s Hospital Playfield in center field on the mail level has a playground, concession, and the Kid’s Clubhouse Store. Hit the Kid’s Corner for a free timed run, hitting and pitching challenges and photo ops for kids 14 and under.
New to the ballpark this year are two colorful portable carts from Shug’s Soda Fountain, serving Lopez Island Creamery small-batch premium ice cream. Grab a burger from Great State or a slice from Ballard Pizza Company for a kid-approved dinner.
Another perk? Children two years of age and under don’t have to have a ticket to attend the game!
Spot Wildlife on a Whale Watching Tour
There’s nothing quite like seeing some of the Puget Sound’s most impressive and awe-inspiring residents up close and personal. Spring (March through May) is a prime time to spot gray whales in Washington—20,000 gray whales alone migrate along the coast each year. There are a myriad of whale watching excursions to choose from and most will guarantee a 90 percent chance of spotting a whale. Gray whales can be seen through May, and Minke, Humpback and Orca whales tend to start making appearances in May, throughout the summer. Tours leave from all over the Puget Sound, so pick whichever works best for you—Everett, Seattle, Anacortes, Port Angeles, San Juan Island, and more. You can even try whale watching from the shore at Alki Beach.
On Saturdays during the month of April, Clipper Vacations offers a day trip from downtown Seattle to see gray whales, with a stopover in the cute seaside town of Langley on Whidbey Island, and if you don’t see anything, you’ll receive a coupon for another complimentary trip.
Puget Sound Express also offers tours that leave from closer to home, in Edmonds. After three generations of family ownership, they are some of the most knowledgeable around.
Get Onboard with Opening Day of Boating
Opening Day of Boating on May 4, sponsored by the Seattle Yacht Club, is the official opening of Seattle’s boating season and includes all kinds of aquatic activities—from crew races through the Montlake Cut, to a sailboat race and crowd-favorite boat parade. The parade starts at noon with a blast from the cannon and the raising of the Montlake Bridge. Spread your blanket on the shoreline along the cut and spend hours watching and picnicking.
Catch a Flick at the Seattle International Film Festival
The 45th Seattle International Film Festival runs from May 16 through June 9, with award winners from Sundance, Toronto and Berlin Film Festivals, and work form Oscar-winning filmmakers. The full schedule of films won’t be released until May 1, but you can rest assured it’s going to be impressive—SIFF is the largest and most highly attended film festival in the United States.
Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s mainly adult fare—the Films4Families category will delight kids of all ages and celebrates the whole family coming together for some of the best children’s features and shorts from around the world.
Tickets are available beginning May 2.
Go Fly a Kite at Gasworks
Spring can be a bit blustery in Seattle, so use it as an opportunity to teach your kids the classic past-time of kite flying. Start simple with a basic single-line kite, in the diamond or triangle shape, and once you sharpen your kite flying skills, move on to more complicated ones with dual strings in fun shapes.
The flat top of “Kite Hill” at Gas Works Park is one of the best places to catch a breeze in the city. On a clear and windy day, you may run into a kite-flying crowd, but you’ll have the chance to watch the spectacle and learn.
Get Some Culture at Folklife
Memorial Day weekend, May 24-27, Seattle Center hosts one of Seattle’s biggest festivals—Folklife. It’s actually one of the largest, multicultural festivals in the nation—complete with plenty of places to learn, dance, play and discover the arts and cultures of the Pacific Northwest. Hit the Discovery Zone in the Next 50 Pavilion for family-friendly performances and activities.
Explore Nature at the Arboretum
There is so much to do at the Arboretum—it could fill every weekend through the summer with something new.
Azalea Way is the most well-known and iconic feature of the Arboretum. The ¾ mile walk passes through the heart of the park and features azaleas, flowering cherries, dogwoods, magnolias and more.
The Japanese Garden is 3.5 acres and one of the finest gardens of its kind outside of Japan. The blooms here are especially bright and showy in spring.
The Arboretum also offers classes for families to explore the outdoors. Family Nature Class is a great way to get outside with your preschool aged kids on Friday or Saturday mornings.
Free Family Weekend Walks gather in front of the Graham Visitors Center at 1:15pm on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays through June for half-hour themed walks with games and hands-on activities. If you have an adventurous kiddo on your hands, try the night hikes for ages 5-12.
One Saturday a month through June, children ages 3 to 8 can attend story time at the Miller Library for stories and activities that celebrate gardens, plants and nature.
Want to explore on your own? Rent an Explorer Pack which can be reserved and picked up at the Graham Visitor Center. The backpacks are filled with field guides, scavenger hunts, magnifying glasses and activity ideas for kids grades K-6. A minimum of 48 hours notice is needed to rent a pack, and costs $20 for a two hour rental. Available March through June, you can rent the Signs of Spring pack with parts of flowers, seeds, pollination games and experiments.
Hit the Water at the Center for Wooden Boats
The Sunday Public Sail has been a tradition for more than 25 years. Volunteer skippers and crew from the Center for Wooden Boats will take passengers out on Lake Union via steamboats, electric boats, schooners, ketches, yawls and yachts. Sign-up begins in person at 10 a.m. every Sunday and we recommend getting there early to get your first choice.
On first Thursdays between 3 and 5 p.m., kids ages 3 to 9 can head to the Center for Wooden Boats to choose a hull and sail, drill a step for a mast and build their very own toy boat. They can even decorate it with bottle caps, corks and crayons.
Have a little reader? The 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month, Tugboat Storytime happens aboard the historic Tugboat Arthur Foss on the Historic Ships Wharf just west of the Center’s floating boathouse.
You can also rent a boat to take out on your own from the Center’s fleet of classic wooden sail and row boats. See the houseboats and floating homes, watch seaplanes take off and land, and more. Saturday and Sunday between 10 a.m . and 5 p.m.
Ride the Ferry from Edmonds to Kingston
On a sunny day, find free three-hour street parking near the Edmonds’ ferry terminal, or park in a lot to ensure plenty of time to explore, and walk onto the ferry to Kingston—$4-$8 fares and free for ages 5 and under. Check out the schedule for times.
Once you arrive in Kingston, walk up the street in the charming downtown area for some of the best ice cream the region has to offer, at Mora Iced Creamery. There is also a candy story and a creperie to explore.