Seattle Waterfront Shuttle
Have you heard about the Seattle Waterfront Shuttle? It’s the newest Seattle tour bus (it just launched 3 weeks ago) and it’s completely free!
This post about the Seattle Waterfront shuttle was written by Seattle family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
It’s available 7 days a week from 10am-8pm this summer/fall and stops at 9 attractions near downtown Seattle and along Seattle’s waterfront.
This free Seattle Waterfront Shuttle is provided by the Downtown Seattle Association in an effort to get more people to the Seattle Waterfront.
My family rode this Seattle tour bus last Sunday to check it out and see how kid-friendly the whole experience was. Since it’s still pretty new, they are still working out a few kinks.
The biggest issue we had was trying to find it when we got off the Seattle water taxi from West Seattle. There was supposed to be a stop right at the Seattle ferry/water taxi terminal, but we ended up having to walk several blocks. But, that was the only tricky stop.
Something else you should know is that the main hub of the Seattle Waterfront Shuttle is right outside Seattle Aquarium and Pier 57. The Seattle Waterfront Shuttle has 2 loops and this is the stop where you can transfer shuttles. They have a staff member posted at this stop who can radio the driver to make sure they know to pick you up.
Because there are 2 shuttles, we had 2 different drivers. The first one was a bit jaded and complained a bit about Seattle, which we thought was odd for a tour bus driver.
However, our second driver was fabulous and pointed out fun things to do at each stop and helpful tips about Seattle. She was a bit hard to hear from time to time, but we were sitting near the back.
We found the Seattle Waterfront Shuttle to be a comfortable ride. The air conditioning was on and we had enough space to sit. It definitely felt like a luxury chartered bus versus public transit.
There’s a lot of times that I’m at Seattle Center with the kids and think about heading to the waterfront, but don’t want to deal with bucking the kids back into the car and trying to find parking down there. This is a much easier way to explore Seattle with kids!
The Seattle Waterfront Shuttle runs approximately every 25 minutes. A lot depends on Seattle traffic, which can be unpredictable. We went on a Sunday morning and there was hardly any traffic.
I think the Seattle Waterfront Shuttle is a smart move and I’m looking forward to seeing how they grow in the future!
So, Where Does This Seattle Tour Bus Go?
If you’re heading to Seattle Center, the Olympic Sculpture Park, or the cruise ship terminal, make sure you let the staff member or bus driver at Stop F (the main hub) know you’d like the NORTH LOOP.
SEATTLE CENTER/SPACE NEEDLE
What to do at Seattle Center
This may be the most iconic Seattle attraction. But, even if you have already done it on a past trip, it’s worth going up again. They just finished completely renovating the Space Needle a few weeks ago and it’s like a whole different place!
There’s an open-air observation deck with glass benches and the world’s first rotating glass floor!
SEATTLE CHILDREN’S THEATRE
If you are visiting Seattle with kids, you might want to get tickets for a show at Seattle Children’s Theatre. We’ve seen some amazing performances here the past 2 years.
The 2018-2019 season includes The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show, And In This Corner: Cassius Clay, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Balloonacy, and The Diary of Anne Frank.
One of my favorite places to visit with kids of all ages is Pacific Science Center. They usually have some amazing IMAX films playing, plus they have a little planetarium with toddler-friendly shows. And the entire museum is pretty hands-on.
Make sure to see what the traveling exhibit is. In the past, we’ve done Pompeii, King Tut, and Terra Cotta Warriors!
This is a fun stop for families with older kids and teens. It used to be called the Experience Music Project, but has recently rebranded. We love the science fiction area and the indie video games exhibit. They usually have a cool traveling exhibit, too!
Dale Chihuly is an incredible Seattle glass artist. His work can be found all over Seattle, but my favorite spot is the Chihuly Garden & Glass at Seattle Center. We’ve taken little kids here, but I wouldn’t say it’s geared for kids.
It’s absolutely beautiful and it will knock your socks off!
ARTISTS AT PLAY PLAYGROUND
If you are looking for a park that is geared for older kids, the Artists at Play Playground near MoPOP is lots of fun! They have some of the tallest slides I’ve ever seen and they can only be accessed by climbing up rope. They do have a small area for little kids, but the park as a whole is for older children.
SEATTLE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
While this isn’t my favorite children’s museum in the Seattle-area, my kids enjoy playing here every once in awhile. They have a cool area featuring homes from around the world where kids can pretend to drive a tuk tuk, make sushi, and play African drums.
They also have a Seattle bus kids can climb inside, a miniature grocery store, and a huge train area.
One of our favorite things to do at Seattle Center is ride the Seattle Monorail. It’s a 2 minute ride to Westlake Center, in the heart of Downtown Seattle.
You can do a round trip back to Seattle Center, or you can get out and walk around Westlake Center, Pacific Place, and walk to Pike Place Market. This is especially fun during the Holidays!
Hotels Near Seattle Center
This unique, boutique hotel is walking distance from Seattle Center and is near quirky stores, yummy restaurants and more!
This is an awesome option if you are visiting Seattle with kids and need a kid-friendly hotel. It’s right across the street from the Space Needle and Seattle Center, so it’s in an ideal location.
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VICTORIA CLIPPER/SCULPTURE PARK
What to do at this Seattle Attraction
The Victoria Clipper is the premier way to get to Victoria, B.C. from Seattle. The most popular thing to do is head up for a night or two and then come back to Seattle. That gives you enough time to explore The Butchart Gardens, have tea at the Fairmont Empress, and enjoy this little city.
If you don’t want to spend the night, they have a Victoria Day Trip cruise. There are so many fun things to do up there!
OLYMPIC SCULPTURE PARK
Are you looking for an open space for your kids to burn off some energy? Try the Olympic Sculpture Park! It’s also an awesome place to take photos with the Olympic mountains and Elliott Bay in the background.
And there’s an cool indoor space with activities for kids. This is a great option for when it’s raining.
Hotels Near the Victoria Clipper and Olympic Sculpture Park
This is where The Beatles stayed. Is there anything else you need to know? How about that’s it has an AMAZING waterfront view, especially during sunrise. It’s one of the most swanky spots to stay in Seattle
If you love a good steak, why not stay at a boutique hotel right above a famous Seattle steakhouse (El Gaucho!) Plus, it’s an easy walk to most Seattle attractions.
What to do at Pier 66
TAKE A CRUISE
The biggest thing at Pier 66 is that it’s the cruise ship terminal for Norwegian and Celebrity cruise lines. So, if you are exploring Seattle on a cruise ship excursion, you might consider using the Seattle Waterfront Shuttle to get you to and from your ship. What an easy way to get you to the top Seattle attractions!
WHALE WATCHING TOUR
If you’d like to see some whales on your Seattle vacation, walk down to Pier 69 and hop aboard a Whale Watching Boat Tour to Friday Harbor.
Hotels Near Pier 66
This is the closest you can stay to Pier 66. It’s easy to walk to a lot of attractions, or just hop on the Seattle Waterfront Shuttle to give your feet a rest!
HISTORIC PIERS/SEATTLE AQUARIUM/PIKE PLACE MARKET
What to do at the Seattle Waterfront
You know that big Seattle ferris wheel? This is where it’s located! The Seattle Great Wheel is fun to do during the day to see the mountains and water, or at night to see Seattle all lit up! We also like the Wings Over Washington ride nearby.
Plus, you can head inside Miner’s Landing to ride their historic carousel, play arcade games, or eat at The Crab Pot. And they have the cutest souvenir shops!
The Seattle Aquarium is always a cute place in Seattle for kids. They have an area where kids can touch sea life and ask questions from knowledgeable staff. They are just starting a huge renovation project and it will be completely transformed in the next few years.
Our family LOVES Argosy Cruises. We just did the Tillicum Excursion last month and it was perfect for kids! They also offer a one-hour harbor cruise that’s family-friendly and offers some of the best views of Seattle.
PIKE PLACE MARKET
This is a must-see attraction in Seattle. From the flying fish to Rachel the Pig, there’s a lot to see, hear and smell at Pike Place Market.
If you’d like a formal tour, join this food and cultural Pike Place Market walking tour. And if you’re hoping for less crowds, opt for this early access Pike Place Market food tour. One of the coolest sounding tours is this Chef Guided Happy Hour tour of Pike Place Market.
If you’d like a unique tour of Seattle, try this 2 hour Seattle by Segway tour. It starts just a few blocks from this shuttle stop. You’ll experience most of the shuttle stop attractions, just on a segway.
But, this Seattle Waterfront Shuttle makes it easy to get to the start of this tour, especially if you are staying near Seattle Center.
Hotels Near Pike Place Market
This is a modern luxury hotel that’s super close to Pike Place Market, so you can walk over early in the morning to get those perfect Instagram shots.
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HISTORIC PIERS/SEATTLE AQUARIUM/PIKE PLACE MARKET
Since this is Stop F (the hub), I just wanted to make sure to include this again.
Where to go on the Seattle Ferry
This is one of our favorite Seattle Ferry excursions with kids! Just walk on as a pedestrian. The ride is about 25-30 minutes.
When you get to Bainbridge Island, you can walk to a cute children’s museum. When you are done there, you can walk through town to get lunch and ice cream.
Plus, they have boutiques and a fun toy store. It’s all easy to do with little kids!
You’ll want your car to head over to Bremerton. I’ve heard their puppet museum is kind of cool. And they have a bug museum that’s sure to delight kids of all ages!
Where to go on the Seattle Water Taxi
The West Seattle Water Taxi lets you off right in front of Marination Ma Kai, a popular Hawaiian restaurant.
If you take this Seattle Water Taxi and want to eat there, try to be one of the first ones off the water taxi. The line tends to get long but the food is worth the wait! You can also rent bikes to ride over to Alki.
The King County Water Taxi docks at the Vashon Ferry Terminal. I haven’t explored Vashon, but I’ve heard it’s a bit hilly. But they are some cool parks, interesting shops, and the island has an artsy vibe.
What do to in Pioneer Square
See what Seattle was like back in the pioneer days! This is a one-hour tour of Seattle’s oldest neighborhood. You’ll go underground to see the passageways plus get to see what Pioneer Square is like today.
LAST RESORT FIRE DEPARTMENT MUSEUM
Do your kids like fire trucks as much as mine? Then head to this Seattle fire truck museum. It’s a free Seattle attraction where you can see lots of vintage fire trucks!
KLONDIKE GOLD RUSH NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK
This is another free thing to do in Seattle and it’s sure to be a hit with kids! It’s been on our bucket list for the past few years. They have a Junior Ranger program where kids can earn a badge while learned all about the gold rush!
I’ll let you in on something only Seattle locals know: The Smith Tower is one of the best places to see the Seattle Skyline. Get an all-day ticket so you can take photos in the morning and then come back in the evening.
Plus, you can learn all about how this was the tallest tower west of the Mississippi back in the day (you will be shocked how tiny it looks now compared to the rest of Seattle!) Oh, and there’s a Prohibition-area SPEAKEASY here! How fun is that!
WATERFALL GARDEN PARK
This is considered one of Seattle’s “secret parks.” It’s like a little oasis and the perfect way to get a bit of nature in an urban setting.
Hotels Near Pioneer Square
This is one of the newest hotels in Seattle. It’s super easy to walk to the Stadiums, the International District, or just spend time exploring Pioneer Square.
So, this is my 2nd favorite hotel in Seattle (the first being the Fairmont Olympic.) Even if you don’t stay here, make sure to swing in for a drink. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see walruses carved in the exterior!
STADIUMS/KING STREET STATION
If you are heading to a Mariners, Sounders or Seahawks game, the Seattle Waterfront Shuttle is an easy way to get there from Seattle hotels. We picked up a huge crowd of Dodgers fans from Seattle Center who took the shuttle to Safeco Field.
What to do at This Stop
TOUR THE STADIUMS
My family loves the Seattle Seahawks, so we had a blast touring Century Link Field awhile ago. I’m not a huge Mariners fan, but I will say the tour of Safeco Field is pretty interesting and is definitely worth checking out!
Plus, they have several stores in this area that sells exclusive merchandise for Seattle teams.
I first explored Chinatown in Seattle during a 3rd grade field trip. I had never experienced anything like it. My teacher used to go all the time, so she toured us around confidently. Now, my family is there frequently to eat and buy food to take home.
They have a lot of fun events, but parking can be crazy. This Seattle Waterfront Shuttle is a great option for those who don’t want to attempt parking there.
TAKE THE SOUNDER TRAIN OR LIGHT RAIL
If you’d like to explore other areas, this is an easy way to get to the Sounder Train. The Sounder can take you North to Everett, Mukilteo and Edmonds or South to Lakewood, Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent and Tukwila.
Or hop on Link Light Rail to take you around Seattle from SeaTac Airport to the University of Washington.
Hotels Near Seattle Stadiums
If you are traveling to Seattle for a baseball, football or soccer game, this is a convenient place to stay. Plus, they have their own free shuttle to the cruise ship terminal.
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