Home Again!

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No one in my immediate family got knocked down by the thirty pound salmon hurtling through the air at Pike Place Fish, so in that sense, at least, our trip to Seattle was uneventful.

On the other hand, we gawked at aquatic mammals in the aquarium, sat in the cockpit of an F/A-18 Hornet at the Museum of Flight, and watched newly transformed butterflies emerging from row upon row of cocoons in the Butterfly House of the Pacific Science Center, so “uneventful” might not be the right word after all.

If you ever visit Seattle, I suggest that you bring good walking shoes. We walked all over that place, from our hotel in the shadow of the Space Needle to the docks at the heart of downtown. The ride-free buses that operate within the downtown area might have shaved off a few blocks here and there, but we still put some miles on our tennis shoes with all the running around we did on Saturday. By the time we got out of our IMAX movie (a special showing of “Happy Feet”; ironic, since mine were covered with blisters) at nine-thirty, we were all exhausted. There were no bedtime protests that night!


As a parent, I was so impressed with the Pacific Science Center. Almost all of the exhibits offered some kind of hands-on experience for young scientists. The kids experimented with liquids, learned how a toilet works, and played tic-tac-toe with a giant robotic arm. Katie loved the microscopes where you could get up close and personal with germs, tissue samples, and plant cells. We finally had to tear her away, but her reluctance was forgotten when we entered the bug village and discovered her favorite place of all: the Butterfly House! A controlled tropical climate inside this greenhouse-like structure sustains the thousands of butterflies fluttering around, on, and under the jungle plants inside. Plates of fruit and nectar attract dozens of these multicolored denizens for convenient viewing, and laminated information cards allow visitors to identify the various species of butterflies based on their markings. Guests must be careful where they’re stepping and sitting, since butterflies alight upon every surface, and before each person leaves the exhibit, a science center associate carefully checks to make sure there are no fluttery stowaways on his hair or clothing.


Caleb’s favorite part of our trip, by far, was the one hour, narrated Argosy boat tour around Elliot Bay and the Seattle Harbor. From the moment we told the kids about the trip, Caleb was fixated on “the boat ride.” “When are we going on the boat ride?” “Is it time for the boat ride?” “I want to do the boat ride now!” It did not disappoint. For Paul and me, it was a chance to give our overworked feet a rest and to enjoy learning a little about the sights along the harbor. For the kids, it was a thrill just to feel the wind (and rain) sweeping through their hair as they looked out over the railing and watched the passing seabirds. We had an unexpected treat when the captain sighted a cluster of napping sea lions piled precariously on top of one of the big buoys off shore. The tour guide’s hilarious sea lion impersonation through the ship’s megaphone earned us a few inquisitive, but fearless, stares from the hairy beasts.

One place I’d like to return to, without the kids, is the Museum of Flight. While the kids enjoyed trying out the WWII flight simulator and climbing into the pilot’s seat of decommissioned military planes, I was intrigued by the vast riches of historical material to be absorbed as we walked through the timeline of flight and witnessed its impact–on war, on transportation, on the modern world. There were so many fascinating stories to be read on the displays and watched on the numerous documentary films being played throughout the museum, but the kids didn’t have much patience for that. I would love to be able to come back some Saturday and really spend the time to take it all in.


We certainly packed a lot into one weekend. Thanks to the City Pass, we were able to enjoy the science center, the aquarium, the boat ride, the museum of flight, and an IMAX movie for half the price of paying at the door. Unfortunately (or maybe “fortunately,” since I have no idea how we would have fit it into the schedule), we decided to give the zoo a miss when the rain showed no signs of letting up.


I would highly recommend Seattle to anyone planning a quick family getaway in the Pacific Northwest. It offers so much to do and to see without breaking the bank. After three delightful days, we counted it up: nine hours in the car, tons of memories, minimal sibling rivalry, zero injuries (if you don’t count blisters), and a handful of change still jingling around in our pockets. Not too shabby!

We just might have to do this again.

If you know of any other fun family destinations within easy driving distance of Northern Idaho, we’d love to hear about them!

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23 responses »

  1. Jessica and I love Seattle, in the half-a-dozen times we’ve been there I don’t know if we did as much stuff as you guys did in one weekend. One suggestion though, when you return you have to go to the museum of wooden boats at Lake Union on a Sunday and take a free tour of the lake on a wooden sailboat. The history and the experience is all wonderful… and free.

  2. Love the pictures! Glad to hear you guys had a fun time! I guess you didn’t visit the space needle? I’m looking forward to a trip to Seattle sometime that doesn’t involve work, so I can actually see something! : )

  3. Well, Shaun hit most of what I was going to say, but I just have to say THANK YOU – it has been so long since I’ve been to the PSC. It has been one of my favorite places ever since I was about 8 years old. I cried the summer they raised their prices so high that we didn’t get to take our summer camp kids there anymore.
    I’m glad you enjoyed Seattle. It really is an amazing place, isn’t it?

  4. You were in Seattle and didn’t tell me! I work about 8 minutes from Pike’s Market. Looks like a good trip though. Beats a weekend of coffeetable marks.

  5. I have cousins in Seattle but have never made the trip that direction (it IS far from eastern PA!) I really hope to, someday. I’m sure LM would enjoy many of the same things your kids did, especially the flight museum.

    So glad you had such a great time! (But I’m also glad you’re back!)

  6. Glad to see you back. I’ve got an uncle and cousins that live south of Seattle, but I’ve never been. I sure hope I get a chance, everything you did sounds like so much fun!

  7. Sounds like a great trip! Although it made me tired. 🙂 I think the butterflies at the Science Center would have been my favorite…aside from the boat ride. “When are we going on the boat ride?” Go Caleb 😉

  8. Great pictures, but not all of them are loading for me. 😦 I’ll have to check back later to see if I can see the rest.

    It sounds like you all had a great time. I’ve never been to Seattle, but it’s definitely on my “Places to Go” list. 🙂

    That museum sounds awesome. I want to know how a toilet works! lol

  9. Hey Katrina – I stumbled onto your MySpace and found your blog! I am excited to catch up on your life! I hope things are good in ID – maybe we’ll cross paths again, on the road strewn with cheerios and diaper wipes! I spend a lot of time on that road! Teresa (Amy) Castleman

  10. So glad you all made it back in one piece! We’ve never been to Seattle, but I’d love to go one day. Michael isn’t as sure about going ‘where the sun don’t shine’, but I’m hoping to convince him of it one day. We have a butterfly exhibit here in Houston at the Museum of Science and we’ve made multiple trips there over the years. The flutterbyes (as Alex used to call them) always land on him and stay with him through the entire exhibit.

  11. My wife’s company rented out the entire museum of flight for their x-mas party this year. We had lobster tails while sitting under the SR 51 Blackbird. The flight simulator’s take on a whole new level of fun after four, or six, cocktails! It’s probably is better w/out children, was the Da Vinci exhibit sitll there when you went?

  12. Seattle is great, isn’t it? I am glad I don’t live there, though, with all the rain and traffic! Great place to visit. If you and Paul go back sometime by yourselves, be sure to go up to the top of the Space Needle and enjoy a $25 cheeseburger. The view is worth it. 🙂 I love the pictures…but make Paul take some next time so you can be in them too!

  13. Sounds like a fun trip! Good for you! I can’t wait to go back up there! I always wanted to see the museum of flight. Ditto to what Patch said…when my friend and I went, we stumbled on the museum of wooden boats. It was way cool!

    As for other attractions…I have never been to Northern Idaho, but I hear the lake at Coeur d’Alene is great.

    Also, if you ever head down Yellowstone way, there is a great bear preserve near Rexburg called Yellowstone Bear World. You get to drive through the compound. We had a bear climb onto the hood of our van!

  14. We didn’t last long in the butterfly house. Boo was about 2 years old and had become a prolific Bug Stomper. He didn’t get that the butterflies were Good Bugs and tried to stomp one of the beautiful Monarchs. We got him out of there pretty darn quick.

    re: Quick trips – my father-in-law does a column every other weekend in the Handle Extra section (publishes Saturdays in the S-R) that are all weekend/day trips.

  15. Glad to hear you had such a great time, Katrina! Did you eat at The Old Spaghetti Factory? That’s a must in my book 🙂 I can’t see all the pics, is there a problem or is it just me?

  16. Of course ten years from now all they’ll remember is the hand dryer in the men’s room and that the hotel check-in clerk had a wart on his face. If I didn’t have photographic evidence of the boys standing at museums and historic spots, they’d conclude we’d done nothing with them other than drag them to Hampton Inns for the free breakfast.

  17. Q.B.–Sorry about the photos! I was having trouble seeing them, too. I went back and reloaded them, so hopefully they’ll stay up this time. Some sort of Blogger glitch, I guess.

    Taryn–Thanks for the tip! I’ll look for your FIL’s column–it sounds like just what we’re looking for.

    Patch and John–I’ve never heard of that boat place, but it’s definitely going on our list for next time. Sounds like something Caleb would love!

    Sisiggy–You’ve just put your finger on my secret fear. That’s at least half of why I’m a scrapbooker–it’s photographic proof that we at least tried to give our kids some cultural enrichment! I figure it’s like throwing mud at a wall–some of it’s bound to stick.

  18. Another great Seattle attraction is the Tillicum Village tour (also done by Arogsy in conjunction with the village). Teaches about the native dances of the area tribes, and you get a great salmon bake dinner and a harbor tour!

  19. If you want to do some biking with the kids, the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is perfect. It is relatively flat, so they don’t tire easily, and you can stop at different trailheads along the way, all the way from Mullan to Lake Chacolet. One of the prettiest spots I have been on the trail is from Enaville to Bull Run. It is beautiful.

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