seattle_aquarium1. Take a ferry across the water. There are several. The easiest is the ferry to Bainbridge Island that leaves from the waterfront just below the hotel. You can drive your car on to the ferry and spend a few hours exploring the island. Walking is also easy.

2. Feed the seagulls at Ivar’s. These gulls are well trained to catch flying fries. The kids love it and you can enjoy the best clam chowder and fish-n-chips on Planet Earth. Ivar’s is next to the ferry terminal.

3. Visit the Seattle Aquarium. Having been dragged to the aquarium on what seemed like every field trip as a child, I had no intention of making this part of our itinerary. I didn’t count on the boys watching the hotel channel that shows local activities. Rather than listen to the sobs about how they were denied the chance to touch a starfish, we went. Since I was just in elementary school a few years ago I was surprised that the aquarium is vastly different than I remembered. The sprawling room of touch tanks thrilled even me. Did you know that sea anemones (the kind Nemo lived in) are trying to sting you when you touch them but our skin is too thick? Me either, and I touched them all!

4. Ride the monorail to the Pacific Science Center. The monorail was built for the 1962 World’s Fair. It runs between Westlake Center in the middle of town (near Nordstrom’s which is ever so convenient) and the Seattle Center. The ride alone is a huge, if brief, treat. When we were visiting, there was a Star Wars traveling exhibit. It featured the real Darth Vader costume and Luke’s prosthetic hand. Boy heaven.

5. Take a seaplane ride and get a bird’s eye view of the famous houseboats, Space Needle and Bill Gates’ house. The pilot put JJ, my 11-year-old, in the co-pilot’s seat and gave him the best family vacation story in his fifth grade class. Sadly, our ride was a little bumpy and I’m not the Amelia Earhart I like to think I am. I got sick, but I would do it again.

6. Visit the Boeing Museum of Flight. Both of my parents worked there at one point. Taking a tour with my dad was one of the highlights of my trip. The original barn where the planes were built and then floated out on to the water is still there. The flight simulators and Blue Angels movies were big hits. The first presidential airplane, the original Air Force One, is on display. It was delivered to President Eisenhower and still has his secretary’s typewriter bolted to the desk, the boys had no idea what a typewriter was.

 The easiest way to get to many of the locations in downtown Seattle is in the Four Seasons house car. The boys loved being ferried around the city in “their Jaguar”. Anything within a mile of the hotel is fair game (and most of that mile is steep hills by the way).