Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Swanson's Nursery Cafe

The Swanson's Nursery Cafe is a delicious and calm place to eat after visiting Carkeek Park. Photo credit: Annalise Bender-Brown

5 Best Seattle Playgrounds near Kid-Friendly Restaurants

Fantastic spots to fuel yourself and your kid after hitting the playground.

After extensive testing (it was a rough assignment), our parent and kid testers came up with these five awesome playgrounds near 5 kid-friendly (and highly grown-up approved) restaurants. Some of the restaurants serve breakfast, lunch and dinner so if your break-of-dawn riser wants to hit the playground first-thing, you can end your outing on a high note with a good meal (and coffee! ).

All of the below restaurants are a just short drive away from the playgrounds and sometimes a short walk.

1. Swansons Nursery Cafe and Carkeek Park Playground

Tucked inside Swanson’s Nursery next to a hidden koi pond is their delightful light-filled cafe. Open 9 am – 4 pm daily, they offer a limited breakfast, lunch and snack menu that includes kid-approved sandwiches as well as salads and soups in a greenhouse setting. But good luck avoiding buying a few plants for your garden as you finish!

Head just north to Carkeek Park, where your kids can play on the salmon slide while you admire the spectacular views of the Olympics. Note: The Carkeek Park Pedestrian Bridge will be under construction (Winter 24/25); stay up to date here.

Swanson’s Nursery Cafe: 9701 15th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98117

Carkeek Park: 950 NW Carkeek Park Rd, Seattle, WA 98177

2Volunteer Park Cafe and Volunteer Park Playground

Volunteer Park is one big beautiful playground for all ages, with stunning views of downtown, Lake Union and the Cascade mountains,  the verdant Volunteer Park Conservatory, (a lovely place to warm up on a cold day), impeccable gardens, the Seattle Asian Art Museum with the iconic camel sculptures outside that invite kids to climb up for a ride, there are tennis courts hidden away in the woodsy northwest corner, a timeless, elegant wading pool and in the northeastern corner next to the wading pool, an excellent, if somewhat compact, playground that was remodeled in 2015.  (If your group is up for the long climb up the 100 winding stairs of the water tower at the western end of the park, you’ll get a breathtaking (literally) look in all directions from the unique vantage point of the grated windows at the top).  

When hunger strikes, walk a few blocks east to Volunteer Park Cafe, a charming, neighborhood spot serving some of the most scrumptious baked goods, as well as breakfast and lunch selections found anywhere in town. (The breakfast egg and cheese sandwich is legendary). The seating inside is a bit cramped for wiggly kids but the picnic tables out front and the little garden seating area behind the cafe solve that problem nicely. Or if you prefer to picnic at Volunteer Park, on Weds – Fri you can order your lunch in advance for easy pick-up. Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., closed Monday and Tuesday.

Volunteer Park Cafe: 1501 17th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112

Volunteer Park: 1247 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112

3Marination Ma Kai and Alki Playground

Marination Mai Kai sits directly on the Puget Sound waterfront in West Seattle, offering fantastic views of container ships and all other varieties of watercraft with the downtown cityscape in the background. Their Hawaiian-Korean fusion menu is decidedly kid-friendly: pulled pork sliders and quesadillas appeal to younger palates while the spicy kimchi fried rice bowl satisfies grown-up cravings. Swing by the Alki Playground after lunch to climb on the nautical-themed play structures or just take the walk west to Alki Beach. If you want to really make it an outing, take the water taxi right to the Marination Ma Kai!

Marination Ma Kai: 1660 Harbor Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98126

Alki Playground: 5817 SW Lander St, Seattle, WA 98116

4. Miaposto and Mount Baker Playground

Mount Baker Park Playground was renovated in 2016, and it’s an exceptionally fun place to play.  There are two playgrounds designed for two age groups. The preschooler playground has a double slide and popular glider that is wheelchair accessible. The playground for ages 5-12 area has a nature-inspired vibe, including a climbing structure meant to feel like a big tree house, a rickety bridge, and more. Note: Bathroom renovations will be happening in 2024/2025, more info here. When hunger strikes, just cross the street to the flagship location of the much-loved Miaposto – many families come for the wood-fired pizza but take a look at the menu to appreciate the other delectables coming out of their Italian kitchen. Lunch and dinner served daily, brunch on the weekends.

Miaposto: 3601 S McClellan St. Seattle, WA 98144

Mt Baker Park Playground: 2521 Lake Park Dr S, Seattle, WA 98144

5El Quetzal and Jefferson Park

Jefferson Park on Beacon Hill is one of the jewels of the Seattle Parks system, with a huge, stylishly designed playground called Beacon Mountain, built into a hillside, with many things to climb and explore. There’s also a spray park, a skate park, and stunning views of downtown and the Duwamish. Note: there will be construction summer 2024, learn more here.

El Quetzal bills itself as a family restaurant. Seattle foodies know it as one of the best Mexican places in town. Tacos, tortas, pambazos, and breakfast offerings are some of the highlights. This restaurant has a kids menu.

El Quetzal: 3211 Beacon Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144

Jefferson Park: 3801 Beacon Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108


Read more:

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Tips for healthy summer eating for kids 

20 spray parks in the greater Seattle are where kids can cool off

About the Author

AnnaLise Bender-Brown