Earlier this month we took advantage of Seattle Museum Month and planned a teen staycation in Seattle. It was the end of Lizzy’s first semester of high school, and I thought she deserved a little celebration. Our weekend in Seattle was filled with sightseeing around many of the popular downtown attractions, getting an up-close look at how glass art is made, and enjoying some new restaurants we hadn’t tried before.
Thank you to Visit Seattle for hosting us during our visit. Affiliate links are included in this post.
Seattle Attractions We Visited
Even though we’re Seattle locals, our girls haven’t visited many of the popular tourist attractions in the area. We moved to Seattle in 2001, before the girls were born and because of that, they’ve missed out on some of the signature Seattle sightseeing experiences. This was our time to remedy that!
Seattle Great Wheel
One of our first stops was a first for all of us. We rode the Seattle Great Wheel at night! This was the first time any of us have been on one of these enclosed capsule Ferris wheels and it certainly brought us some smiles and even a few squeals!
At night we had beautiful views of the city lights, and since you can’t really see the water at night, riding over the ocean for ½ the trip can be exciting and a little nerve-wracking as well. I’d love to ride it during the day time too in order to get a view of the mountains around the sound. You’ll make three revolutions around the wheel, and they’re pretty smooth and slow, so you have plenty of time to look around and enjoy the view.
Do know that parties of less than six people might have to ride with others during busy times, only the VIP tickets are granted a private gondola, and if you have kids riding with you, alcoholic beverages are not allowed in your gondola.
Wings Over Washington
Directly next to the Great Wheel is Wings Over Washington, a ride that is a must for any fans of the Disney Soarin’ ride. Our family has done this before, however, both my girls begged me to “please, do it again”. Since Lizzy’s friend, Emma, had never experienced it, I couldn’t say no.
On busy days you’ll wait in a queue outside before being led into a holding room to get group photos taken. Then you walk up some stairs and go into a theater room where you watch a little intro show that sets you up for the ride. TIP: Try to sit in the middle of the last or middle rows in the preview room. This should grant you seats in the middle of the middle or back row in the ride theater.
Once you get into the ride theater you’ll buckle up and get ready for a trip. If you know Washington State, you’ll want to see how many of the destinations you know, and if you’re not a local, just enjoy the experience of seeing some of the beauty that makes up WA state.
You can skip the ticket line for both the Wheel and Wings Over Washington by purchasing your tickets in advance online.
Another famous attraction near both the Wheel and Wings over Washington is the Seattle Aquarium. Mia loves our local aquarium. It’s on the small side, so you can go through it in about two hours, depending on how interested your kids are in the animals.
Mia loves the touch tanks where she’s able to feel sea urchins, anemones, and even sea cucumbers! I personally think the Giant Pacific Octopus is my favorite, I especially love that it’s a native species to the Puget Sound waters. Many of the creatures on display are native to the Pacific Northwest.
I’m listing the Space Needle because we had it on our list to finally visit with the girls, however, a snowstorm moved in early, so we had to cut our Seattle staycation short. We’re planning to go back soon however with our CityPASS booklets and finally give the girls a look at this iconic Seattle attraction.
The Space Needle just went through a $100 MILLION-dollar renovation to modernize the observation deck and restaurant. They did away with the wire barriers that surrounded the lookout level and put in a clear glass all around. They even made a glass floor! I can’t wait to finally visit and see how it all looks.
LOCAL TIP: try to visit on a day when “the mountain is out”. That means go when it’s a clear sky day and you can see Mt. Rainier. It’ll be a much more awesome experience.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
We did have time to finally visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass, which is located next to the Space Needle at Seattle Center. Dale Chihuly is a local to the Seattle-area (he’s from Tacoma) and helped make Seattle the glass art mecca that it’s become.
The museum is quite amazing in terms of the grandeur of design. The works of art that are on display are giant and tower over you many times, or they’re piled up in such a way you can only see them as one large entity. Once you understand the amazing craftsmanship that is required to create these works of art, you’ll be in awe at Chihuly’s works.
And, it’s worth noting that all of the three girls spent a good thirty minutes in the gift shop after touring the museum. It’s been curated well and seemed to have a boutique feel that appealed to all of us. If you like boutique shopping, I highly recommend you allow a bit of time to browse the Chihuly gift shop.
TIP: You can get admission to the Space Needle, Chihuly, the Aquarium, and two other attractions for one price with the Seattle CityPASS. It can offer great money savings if you’re visiting all the popular spots.
Museum of Glass
While the Museum of Glass isn’t in Seattle, it’s about 45 minutes away in Tacoma, I think it’s a must visit for anyone interested in glass art. I was so happy we visited before experiencing Chihuly. The Museum of Glass has an operational hot shop where you can watch glass art being made. It’s great to help you visualize the amount of work, collaboration, and craftsmanship that goes into making these pieces of art.
TIP: if you’re a Christmas ornament collector, the Museum of Glass is the perfect place to buy an ornament for your tree.
After checking out the hot shop and the exhibits, head outside and up the big staircase for another view of glass art. There is a bridge that runs over the road and its side walls are giant display cases of more glass art. On the other side of the bridge is a cute coffee shop called Anthem, which in addition to serving great coffee drinks you can also grab a couple of light snacks and even a local brew or wine if you’re so inclined.
Also, don’t forget that February is Seattle Museum Month! If you stay in a participating hotel you get ½ price admission to most of the popular museums for up to four guests all month long. Plus, you’ll get three rides with Lyft at a discount with a code in your Seattle Museum Month pass booklet.
I have a few other ideas for what to do during your stay in Seattle that we’ve enjoyed in the past. While in the Seattle Center area seeing the Space Needle and Chihuly, think about visiting the Museum of Pop Culture. It has some great nostalgic movie props and a hands-on music exhibit that kids love.
We also like to take visitors on a ride aboard one of our Washington State Ferries. The fish ladder at the Ballard Locks is fun to see during the summer salmon season. And no visit to Seattle could be complete without a visit to Pike Place Market and the “original” Starbucks.
Where We Stayed
We were spoiled with an upgrade and ended up staying in a suite at the new Embassy Suites Seattle in Pioneer Square. This is not your typically Embassy Suites and offered the most amazing views of the Seattle waterfront.
Our suite had a huge living room, 2 bedrooms each with attached bathrooms, a bar space, and a large patio. For a teen getaway, it was perfect! The teens got one bedroom to themselves, while Mia and I shared the other room that had that amazing west-facing window wall.
While the hotel felt like an upscale high-rise hotel, it still had the Embassy Suites signature free breakfast and manager’s cocktail hour. I always love their made-to-order omelet station, and the girls love loading up on the fresh cut fruit. The breakfast space is on the 2nd floor and has lots of bright daylight since it’s located in a corner of the building with two full walls of windows.
A huge bonus and a rarity for downtown hotels are that the Embassy Suites has a pool! The girls loved the 8th-floor fitness center and pool space. The pool was actually a pretty decent size, and as is the theme, it was surrounded by windows and even has an outdoor lounge deck. Perfect for Seattle since it’s indoor, but still has a feel for being on a rooftop.
We relied on walking around for most meals and even to and from the waterfront. The hotel is located right next to CenturyLink Field and the King Street Train Station. I will give a word of caution that there are some areas of Pioneer Square can feel a bit unkept and some might prefer to use an Uber or Lyft if you’re going to or from downtown.
We loved our stay at the Embassy Suites Seattle, and I fell in love with its high-rise views, rooftop(ish) pool, and spacious modern suites. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a Seattle hotel that is close to train transit, near the Seahawks, Sounders, or Mariners, or if you don’t mind using rideshare apps to get to and from downtown.
Where We Ate
One of the things I was most excited to try during our visit were the restaurants. Since we’re locals but live in the burbs, we don’t eat too often downtown. Now I have four spots I can recommend to my friends when they’re looking for somewhere to eat in Seattle.
Serious Pie and Biscuit
This is a must try for any breakfast and brunch lovers who are visiting Seattle. Be sure to note that you want the Serious Pie and Biscuit location which is in Westlake. There are two of these restaurants, but the downtown Seattle location only offers the pie, no biscuits.
I don’t know when the last time was that I’ve had the kind of rich and fluffy biscuits l had at Serious. I’m pretty sure it was during my time in Kansas or Texas though. One of the things that we loved about eating at Serious Pie and Biscuit was that from our seats in the balcony of the restaurant we could watch the kitchen staff at work, rolling out doughs and making pies.
I’m a huge fan of Mexican food, so loved finding Cantina Lena on our itinerary. It’s a new Tom Douglas restaurant in the Westlake area of downtown. Some of the seating is family style but there are individual tables as well. The atmosphere is fun and has a bit of an over-the-top feel. They have a great drink menu and so many unique food flavors, like rojo and achiote pork and even jackfruit tacos.
While you might have a bit of a wait if you visit for dinner on a weekend, you can order a drink to enjoy while you wait. It’ll be worth it for a bit of a wait once you get to try some of the unique flavor options and enjoy the social buzz atmosphere.
If you’re staying at the Embassy Suites in Pioneer Square, Quality Athletics is an easy spot to grab a bite to eat since it’s right next door. With a sports bar feel, this is a great spot to hang out and grab some standard American fare with a great drink to go with it. They also have an outdoor seating area, with fire pits, so it also seems like the perfect spot to hang with friends. Just be sure to know about game days as this place can get super busy if there’s a Seahawks game happening.
I had one of their burgers, which seems to be a signature dish for them. I’ve also heard that the fried chicken is tasty. They have two burger options, one is a fancy burger that has blue cheese and arugula versus the standard lettuce and American cheese found on the basic burger. Both are grass-fed beef patties.
I will note that the menu is a bit of a high-brow sports pub menu so you’re looking at prices in the $16-$19 range for dishes which is perhaps higher than what some would expect from a sports bar.
One night we had an earlier dinner and after riding the Great Wheel we stopped into 13 Coins for dessert. It’s located at the Embassy Suites hotel, so ideal for an end of the day sweet tooth, especially since it’s open 24-hours. I absolutely loved the feel of this restaurant. It’s very Great Gatsby’esque and the girls especially loved the super long booths.
I ordered a nice glass of red wine and the Chocolate Chip Cookie Extreme. I was told I had to wait a while for my cookie since they’re baked fresh in an iron-skillet…which was absolutely fine by me! It was everything my sweet tooth could have wanted, ooey, gooey, and warm chocolate melting in my mouth delicious. If you’re a cheesecake fan, I hear that the 13 Coins version is a must-try.
Plan Your Own Weekend in Seattle
Hopefully, now you’re ready to plan your own weekend in Seattle. There are so many great places to visit and I loved getting the chance to play tourist in our hometown. Here are some links to help you plan your own trip.