Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Up, up and away! 5 activities for airplane-loving kids

With activities like these to nurture a love of aviation, the sky’s the limit.

Does your little one love all things aviation? Do their eyes immediately search skyward at the faintest sound of jet engines from high above?

There’s something special about airplanes that makes children’s imaginations soar, and it’s hard to top the thrill of watching planes race down a runway before magically rising above the ground. Where are those passengers heading? What adventures are they traveling toward?

Not only are airplanes innately fun and exciting, but a love for aviation is also a great way to foster an interest in STEM and other technological marvels.

Whether your child enjoys watching planes from afar or gaining an up-close look, several places around Seattle offer unique experiences for your pilot-in-training.

Seattle-area airplane activities for kids

Planes at the playground

The best views for aspiring aviators are found from the Harvey Field playground. Adjacent to a small Snohomish regional airport, this playground lets kids shake out wiggles while watching planes take off and land on the nearby runway.

Kids watch planes from the playground at Harvey Field

The views from Harvey Field playground are adjacent to all the aviation action.

Photo courtesy Nicole Mostowitz

Encourage your kiddos to watch for all sorts of flying objects –Harvey Field is also home to Skydive Snohomish and Snohomish Balloon Rides.

If your crew is getting hungry, enjoy breakfast or lunch at the airport’s Buzz Inn restaurant.

Harvey Field
9900 Airport Way, Snohomish


Seeing the seaplanes

The only thing better than watching planes on land is adding a little water to the experience. Founded by three friends in the post-war years, Kenmore Air is now one of the largest and best-known seaplane businesses in the northwest.

Pack a picnic lunch and head to Gasworks Park where you’ll have a front-row seat to watching many of Kenmore Air’s planes operate from Lake Union. The park also features a recently renovated playground and a large hill perfect for flying kites.

If you’re coming from the north end, Log Boom Park is a great option for watching seaplanes based at the Kenmore terminal. Kids will enjoy the park’s playground or walking on its long pier to gain an even closer look at the amphibious aircraft.

Kenmore Air
Terminals on Lake Union (Seattle) and Lake Washington (Kenmore)


Take to the skies

There’s no match for taking to the air yourself; and even if jet-setting isn’t in your plans, consider giving your child an unforgettable bird’s eye view through a free EAA Young Eagles Flight. Since the program’s launch in 1992, more than 2 million children have received a free introductory flight in a small plane through EAA. Volunteer pilots contribute their time and aircraft to inspire the next generation of aviators.

Flight times vary by EAA chapter. You can request a Young Eagles flight on the EAA website or attend a rally.Flights are free and offered to fliers ages 8-17.

EAA Young Eagles Flights
Various locations and availability

A day at the museum

With more than 150 aircraft and many interactive exhibits, the Seattle Museum of Flight at Boeing Field is the largest independent, non-profit air and space museum in the world. There is something at the museum for aviators of all ages, including two indoor play areas for the littlest pilots.

Many of the exhibits can be enjoyed by a wide range of ages – from pushing lots of buttons in the control tower and launching a self-propelled rocket to walking through a real 787 and Air Force One in the Aviation Pavilion.

The Museum of Flight
9404 E. Marginal Way South, Seattle

Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. Children 4 and under: Free, Youth (5-17): $16, Adult (18+): $25.

Wings of history

The Flying Heritage Collection in Everett features “war birds” of the Greatest Generation, among a private collection of World War II-era aircraft, tanks, and other technologies.

Gaining an up-close look at history at the Flying Heritage Collection

Photo courtesyHeather Hansen

While the museum’s mostly look-with-your-eyes policy might be challenging for little ones, try to time your visit with one of the museum’s excellent family-friendly events like Monster Bash (October 5, discounted tickets for wearing costumes) or Tanksgiving (December 14, Santa arrives in style!).

Flying Heritage Collection
3407 109th Street SW, Everett

Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, closed Mondays rest of the year. Children 5 and under: Free, Youth (6-17): $12, Adults (18+): $18

With activities like these to nurture a love of aviation, the sky’s the limit!

Heather Hansen works in marketing and communications. She lives with her husband and 3-year-old son in Bothell.