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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.


Catch a Fly Ball at the Mariners 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 2 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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

Love water sports? Canoes, kayaks and other similar boats can be launched from Foster Island Road, or can be rented from the UW Waterfront Activities Center or Aqua Verde Paddle Club, close by.

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.


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