Whether you’re visiting long-distant loved ones or enjoying a family vacation, exploring new places with children can be fun, exciting and create lifelong memories.
However, actually getting to those far-off places can be a different story.
Let’s face it – flying with little kids often feels like a very tiring means to an exhausting end. But if you’re traveling through Sea-Tac Airport, learning to make the most of the airport can start your trip on a high note even before taking to the skies.
After all, the journey matters. Let’s make it a good one.
Finding family fun at Sea-Tac Airport
A little girl claps along with a featured musician at one of SeaTac’s City of Music performances. Photo: Heather Hansen.
Start a dance party
Sea-Tac Airport is a major sponsor of the City of Music Program, a cooperative effort launched in 2012 by the Port of Seattle, the Office of Film & Music, Seattle Music Commission and PlayNetwork. The City of Music features several exhibits at SeaTac, including live music performances every day at various airport locations.
Before your trip, check out the week’s schedule of upcoming performers and take your kids on a “music tour." With live musicians to keep everyone entertained, waiting for your flight never sounded so good.
Enjoy an indoor playground
Wiggles multiply when traveling, so it’s important to shake out as many as possible before everyone is confined to a plane seat. Before boarding, make sure to swing by the free children’s play area between the central terminal and A gates. On your way, try to see how many “flying fish” you can spot on the floor. Encourage your kiddos to find the ones carrying suitcases for an extra challenge.
At the play space, kids will enjoy climbing on the foam airplanes and cars, small slides, and several other brightly-colored activities. The play area’s perimeter is lined with benches, making it easy for parents to sit in one location and still have a clear view of all the action. The playground can become crowded at peak times, but it’s always a good place to make new friends and exchange travel stories with other parents in the same airborne-boats.
If anyone needs a potty break, the large family restroom within the play space features a sink with toddler-friendly steps. A mother’s nursing room is also available adjacent to the play area.
Rock and watch the planes roll
The best area for watching planes is arguably through the sky-high floor-to-ceiling windows in the expansive central terminal. Your kiddos will delight in watching airplanes taxiing, taking off and landing while perched in one of SeaTac’s rocking chairs. While you’re there, grab a mocha from nearby Dilettante Chocolates – you deserve a treat for making it this far.
Coming soon: The central terminal is undergoing major renovations that will ultimately add 10,000 square feet of seating and dining space. Once completed in summer 2020, the improved terminal will offer family-friendly seating, new restaurants, a stage for musicians, and charging stations.
Find a kid-friendly restaurant
Avoid hunger-related meltdowns and keep those little bellies full. First, stack up on snacks from the large flagship Hudson News in the central terminal. Then choose from one of SeaTac’s numerous restaurants, with kid-friendly favorites including:
- La Pisa (pizza and sandwiches, concourse A)
- Bambuza (Vietnamese, N gates)
- Greedy Cow Company (burgers and comfort food, S gates)
- Ballard Brew Hall (recently opened pub with kid’s menu, concourse D)
- McDonald’s (when only French fries will do, concourse B)
Know the necessities
When all else fails…
Despite your best efforts in finding energy-expelling activities, you or your kiddos might just need a screen-time break. SeaTac offers free Wi-Fi to all travelers through the network titled "SEATAC-FREE-WIFI." Find an outlet, connect that tablet to Wi-Fi, and take a breather.
Or if things are getting really dire, treat yourself at a duty-free shop. No judging here.
In no time at all, you’ll be enjoying your destination and building those non-airport memories. Bon voyage!
Heather Hansen works in marketing and communications. She lives with her husband and 4-year-old son in Bothell.