Vacations with teens are a joy (kidding). But, there are fun things for cool hip teens to do that are within walking distance of the big Downtown Seattle hotels. So, take some money out of the ATM and try to remember what it was like to be a teenager, raring to have fun, but still under mom’s or dad’s control.
A busy teenager is a happy teenager.
Vacations for Teens
Parents know their own teen’s personality and can gauge the level of their child’s maturity for themselves. Some kids can be set loose with bus fare and a map, or can be dropped off at the Seattle Center unsupervised (with a pal or two). Other teens need an adult to guide them through unfamiliar city territory. Most of the time, a child’s age will be the biggest factor.
So, check out these fun things that are within walking distance of most Downtown Seattle hotels (and new Seattle cruise terminal 91 or old pier 66 cruise ship hotels).
Most teens are happy to be anywhere as long as there are other kids around who are about the same age as they are.
Older more-mature teens, from big cities like San Francisco, LA, or NYC, will find Seattle to be an easy-going provincial burg. But, most clueless teenyboppers from Smalltown Utah shouldn’t be left alone to explore offbeat indie Capitol Hill or some parts of downtown.
While Seattle is a fairly safe city, this is a frank discussion that won’t make most tourist brochures. And, it should be noted that nighttime Seattle is not the same as daytime Seattle. On the other hand, don’t be overly paranoid. (When in doubt, ask the hotel concierge.)
The following recommendations are for:
Older teenagers with a reliable buddy (or two or three).
Younger teens with an adult.
Teens with a cell phone – for checking in with parents, getting directions, and taking pics for Facebook.
The Seattle Center
Most people can walk to the Seattle Center from Downtown Seattle hotels. Just head north towards the Space Needle. Here are cool places at the Seattle Center.
Experience Music Project: This trippy Frank Gehry building is mind-blowing. The EMP museum has:
Rocking music memorabilia
Sound Lab (for exploring electric guitars, drums, and mixing consoles)
Jam Studio (for mixing one’s own CD) Bring money to buy CDs and souvenirs.
A small, but growing, museum of brilliant sci-fi stuff
Space Needle: Independent, reliable teens can handle this tourist attraction on their own.
International Fountain (free): A huge fountain for warm-weather water play or for hanging out and goofing off. If the Seattle Center is having a festival, there will be an entry charge.
Pike Place Market
The Market is a safe tourist spot during the day. Independent teens like exploring The Market, but will need a little mad money. There’s stuff to eat and junk to buy. The original Starbucks is here.
The Seattle Waterfront
This is a rather kitschy and touristy strip along the Seattle Waterfront. However, teens will find something to do here:
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
Ivar’s Fish & Chips (buy lunch at outdoor counter, eat outside)
Argosy Tours of Lake Union and Lake Washington (tour-boats)
A cheaper alternative to Argosy is the ferry to Bainbridge Island. There’s no wait for walk-on pedestrians and travelers can stay onboard for the return trip.
Olympic Sculpture Park
Go to the Seattle Waterfront and turn right (north). This is a great park with a beautiful walking/biking trail. Parts of the trail can be isolated, so groups are best. (Note: Seattle Hempfest is third weekend in August.)
Westlake Center Mall
This is the heart of the “big city”. Savvy older teens are ok, but it’s a bit of a homeless-kid hangout. Good shopping ops in Westlake Center and surrounding stores.
Pioneer Square is the original old-town part of Seattle. It’s very artsy and has some cool shops. But, ask the hotel about Seattle’s free bus zone because it can be a bit of a hike. This part of town has a homeless mission, so stick to the tourist areas. Parents should supervise young teens and everyone should take cabs at night.
Seattle is a fairly safe city. It is, however, a liberal city when it comes to homeless people (of all ages), so keep that in mind when deciding what teenagers can handle on their own, as they undertake these fun self-guided group excursions. Seattle is one hip little burg. There is so much to do in wonderful Seatown, the author recommends hanging out and getting a feel for Seattle. It’s the loveliest city in The States.
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