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Family-Friendly Activities at South Lake Union Seattle


On a recent family outing to check out the Center for Wooden Boats, we ended up falling in love with the whole South Lake Union area. It has so much to offer. There are options for any budget and all kinds of weather, from lazy strolls by the water to fascinating programs for a wide array of ages. These are just a few of the things that grabbed our attention:

The Center For Wooden Boats

The beautiful thing about The Center for Wooden Boats is that you can enjoy it in so many different ways. It’s fun to walk down the dock and look at the vintage water craft moored there, from yachts and sailboats to canoes. It can even be educational, as the boats are labeled with historical information and even details about the different parts, like the sails and rigging.


The Center also offers lots of interesting programs and services, including boat rentals. For those who would rather not pilot their own water craft, there are free 45-minute Sunday boat rides each week, which you can sign up for in person, starting at 10:00 AM. Little ones looking to steer their own boats can pilot model sailboats in the pond at Lake Union Park. The Center rents the mini boats every Saturday and Sunday from April through November. There’s a suggested donation of $5 per hour.

For weekday fun, check out the free Tugboat Story Time on the Arthur Foss historic tugboat. Every second and fourth Thursday at 11:00 AM, the Center hosts a story session, which includes the opportunity to explore the boat.


The Museum of History and Industry

The beautifully-restored Naval Reserve Armory is the latest home for the Museum of History and Industry. The museum is a fun place to explore any day for pre-school age and up, but if you’re looking for something even more kid-friendly, check out Mini MOHAI; on the second and fourth Thursday of each month, the museum is transformed into a play space for 3-5s. With lots of activities, from stories to dramatic play, there’s plenty to do. The program is included in museum admission.

MOHAI also offers other kid-friendly special events, including a family movie night. Check out the museum’s calendar for more information.


Sunday Ice Cream Cruise

The Seattle Ferry Service offers a lot of options for cruising Lake Union in its mini vintage ferry boat, but I was most intrigued by its Sunday ice cream cruise. With reasonable prices, including ridiculously cheap rates for kids under 5, this is an easy, inexpensive way to enjoy a Lake Union boat ride. Departing from the dock adjacent to MOHAI from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM on the hour, the hosted tour includes landmarks like the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat and Dale Chihuly’s studio. Reservations are recommended, but it is possible to show up and walk on. You can even bring Fido with you, as pets are allowed onboard. Just be sure to have cash or checks as they do not accept credit cards.


You can have plenty of fun at South Lake Union by simply taking a stroll around the area. Enjoy people watching, check out the boats on Lake Union and take a quick ride on the South Lake Union Trolley. Pack a picnic lunch, or eat at MOHAI’s Compass Café, which has grilled sandwiches, lots of yummy salads and plenty of options for kids.

Sunday parking is free in the lot near MOHAI and in the surrounding neighborhood.

Lake Union Park
860 Terry Ave N
Seattle, WA

The Center for Wooden Boats

The Museum of History and Industry

Seattle Ferry Service

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