We stayed at the Hilton Homewood Suites at 1011 Pike Street (Convention Center/Pike Street). This was my first visit to a Homewood Suites property, and I must say, I was quite impressed. This is the perfect hotel to visit with your family. They have nice-sized suites with full kitchens. It was recently renovated so the rooms are all decorated very modern including LCD flat screen TV's in both the living room and bedroom. They offer a number of amenities that you don't find at many hotels. My favorite is they will go to the grocery store and buy whatever you need (with no service charge). They just charge the cost of the items to your room. And, more importantly, you can fill out this request form before you arrive so they will have your refrigerator fully stocked for you. The room comes with a full kitchen and includes everything you need to cook and serve your meals so if you prefer to eat in the room and not spend a lot of money eating out it is very convenient. The hotel provides pack and plays as well as high chairs if you need them. There is a coin-operated washer and dryer. The rooms at this hotel have a number of different style suites. You can look online and book the exact room you want (location, style, etc.). There aren't many places I know of that let you request a specific room. They offer a complimentary hot breakfast every morning and even provide free light meals nightly Monday - Thursday (including wine and beer). Tonight's meal included a salad bar, meat and vegetable lasagna, garlic bread, and minestrone soup. Pretty cool to be able to take your family to dinner on vacation and not have it cost anything extra. The hotel itself has a beautiful lobby with a cool fireplace. The hotel offers free internet in the room as well as the business office providing computers with free internet and printing. There is a 24-hour fitness room with individual tvs on the cardio machines. The hotel also has a billiards room and lounge area where you can hang out with your family after a long day of touristing. The hotel also provides complimentary downtown shuttle service. You can call them when you are ready to be picked up. Our first night we went to the Cheesecake Factory, which is a few blocks down the street from the hotel. Surprisingly, there was only a few minutes wait. I have been to a number of Cheesecake Factories but I was surprised by how large this restaurant was and how beautiful. After dinner we took a walk and stopped at a cool restaurant for a night cap (but I can't remember the name of it). This restaurant had the most interesting decor. The area surrounding the hotel is a very hip place with many of the top restaurants and stores walking distance. There is also a movie theatre as well as a concert theatre walking distance.
What do you do when you have little time and many things to do??? You try to do it all....
We started out our morning eating breakfast at the complimentary breakfast at the hotel...Amber had fun making her own waffles. There were ready-made eggs and other foods all prepared, as well as bagels and bread you can toast yourself. Fresh fruit, pastries, etc...great way to start the morning.
We had planned to go to the zoo but since it was raining, we decided to visit the Museum of Flight http://www.museumofflight.org/ instead. We were able to see a variety of planes, walk through Air Force One and the Concorde, and my kids' favorite, go on a X-Pilot simulator where you were able to control your flight, including going upside down....both Amber and Jasmine loved it (note, you can only do this ride if there are two people and if your child does not meet the minimum height requirement you need to go on with them. It costs $8.00 per person for this ride but it was the highlight of this museum for my kids.).
After the Museum of Flight we went to the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museumhttp://www.empsfm.org/. We started out by having lunch at their restaurant called the Revolution Bar and Grill. The kids really enjoyed their hamburger and grilled chicken and I enjoyed my Caeser salad. They have a large selection of beers on tap, around 50, and they even have beer samplers. http://www.schwartzbros.com/revolution.cfm
We spent the next couple of hours at the Experience Music Project. I made a music video with my girls where we were all playing instruments in a band. Amber called the band "The Rockin' Stars." Amber played drums, I played keyboard and Jasmine played the guitar. They video-tape you singing to a song and then you are able to watch the video and purchase the DVD if you want. The girls spent most of the day in the sound lab area, where they played a number of different instruments, recorded their music, and played with different sound equipment while I walked around the museum and explored. My favorite area was the Jimi Hendrix room. I really enjoyed reading the diary they had on display where he spoke about Joni Mitchell. When I was finally able to pull the kids away from the sound lab I took them to the science fiction museum. There they had robots and other sci-fi displays. I loved seeing the Planet of the Apes display...brought back a lot of memories.
After the Experience Music we walked next door to the Space Needle http://www.spaceneedle.com/. What an incredible view once you get to the top. Parents beware, right next to the Space Needle is a mini-ride carnival...your kids will want to go on the rides (however, I convinced my kids we didn't have time for it on this visit). Then we hopped on a monorail to get back to our hotel and called the hotel to pick us up at the mall where the monorail dropped us off. All very convenient.
We came back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We ventured out of the hotel area and went to dinner in Ballard at a restaurant called The Hi-Life. http://www.chowfoods.com/hilife/ I knew we made a great choice when the server came over and gave the kids pizza dough to play with along with their kids menu and crayons. The kids' menu had a great selection. The adult menu had a great variety of small plates (tapas style) as well as large plates. Everything was incredibly delicious. My favorites were the oven-roasted prosciutto-wrapped dates stuffed with gorgonzola and the Piquillo Relleno. After coming back to the hotel I stepped out for a nightcap across the street from the hotel at a place called Tango http://www.tangorestaurant.com/. They also have tapas. I was so full from dinner but couldn't resist trying one called "the Cheap date." It was so tasty. Great to have tasty restaurant across the street from the hotel.
We started out our next morning by going to the Woodland Park Zoo http://www.zoo.org/. What an incredible time. The zoo is beautiful...walking through it with all the beautiful trees and leaves was wonderful, and then on top of that, the animals were great. They were so animated. We watched the gorillas for a long time. They seemed to be playing with us (even pounding on their chest "gorilla style"). After spending a couple of hours exploring the zoo we headed to Pike Place Market. We had lunch at Cutters Bayhouse http://www.cuttersbayhouse.com/ . It has a beautiful setting overlooking the Elliott Bay. The appetizers were amazing (the tuna trio, crab and artichoke dip, calamari, and even fried cheese). They have a great kids' menu that includes everything from hamburgers to grilled chicken to sliced steak. My girls loved their food. I had the salmon dish and after my first bite it brought back a familiar taste. It turns out there used to be a Cutters in Santa Monica years ago and I went there for this one salmon dish that tasted so sweet, it was like candy. Well, this restaurant used to be in Santa Monica but closed years ago...so here I am a thousands miles from home eating one of my favorite dishes that I haven't had in years. If you happen to get Tracy as your server, you will be very lucky. She was so great with my kids and knew how to speak to them in such a nice way (especially when they kept asking for more of something). Don't leave without having their incredibly tasty, warm chocolate volcano cake.
After lunch we walked down Pikes Place Market www.pikeplacemarket.org, which is an area lined up with little storefronts selling everything from hand-made items to blown glass to fruits and veggies and more. From there we walked to the Seattle Aquarium http://www.seattleaquarium.org/. My kids loved touching the starfish and sea urchins in the tide pool. They enjoyed seeing all of the different fish.
Once we finished the Seattle Aquarium we took a bus down the street and then a taxi up a few more blocks to the Pacific Science Center http://www.pacsci.org/. What an incredible place. We could have spent all day here. There are so many hands-on, interactive things for the kids to do, they jumped from one thing to the next. There is also a butterfly museum that was pretty cool. They got to pet cockroaches and centipedes. There is a rock climbing wall, a place to throw balls that test your speed, and so much more. They also have imax movies and laser shows. I saw the Beatles laser show (cost $1.00) and it was incredible.
If you are looking for a fun place to take your family, Seattle is really a great experience. We covered a lot in just a few days, but with the City Pass book it was very affordable. www.citypass.com It cost $44 for adults and $29 for kids (ages 4 - 12) and included admission to the Experience Music Project or the Museum of Flight, Pacific Science Center, Woodland Park Zoo, and the Argosy Cruise Harbor Tour (which we ran out of time for). Staying at the Homewood Suites by Hilton is a great way to stay at a hotel and save money on restaurants since they provide meals, and you also have a full kitchen in your room so you don't have to eat out every night.