Monday, August 18, 2008

Seattle Tacoma International Airport

Are you flying with kids soon? There is an anxiety that comes with taking your little ones on an airplane. Will they behave and will you make it through the dragging flight? I just took my four year old to Montana to see her auntie and we were very early to the airport. We needed to pass some time and were looking for things to do.

Besides the normal tasks of eating, shopping and potty breaks, here are some other things to keep your little one preoccupied before the flight.

Kid's Play Areas - I have always seen little play areas in the concourses that were small outdoor play equipment for kids to climb on. I believe these vary from concourse to concourse. But what I have discovered is the actual PLAY ROOM! There is a play room in between concourse A and B. The Port of Seattle's website lists the room as 1400 square feet and has the conveniences of a large family restroom and a nursing room with rocking chairs. The play area has padded toys for kids to climb on and jump off of.

The Orca - There is a large, stuffed orca that stands upright outside one of the shops. My child loved it and hugged it several times. Great photo ops.

Art Exhibits - There are over 50 pieces of art that are exhibited at SeaTac. There is a list available on the Port of Seattle's website and many of the pieces are there permanently. Walk around and look for art and then talk about it. Many of them are very colorful and some are of northwest animals and scenery.

Watching the Planes - When it is all said and done, it is so exciting to see a plane take off, land and drive around the airport to park. Walk around and look at different types of planes and brands. They all have different colors and to a child, they are intriguing. To see their face start showing the signs of them trying to figure out just how a plane flies and to see how big they are up close.

Travelling with little ones is not easy, but remember that it is a memorable time that you are sharing with your little one. Plus there are sundries available to help you (ibuprofen) and also the infamous cocktail, available in flight and in terminal.

My most preferred travel item: Purel hand sanitizer.

Seattle Aquarium

I was trying to remember the last time I was at the Seattle Aquarium and I am shocked that I think it was over 20 years ago. When I was a child there were three field trips that we went on in elementary school. The options were Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle Aquarium and the Fun Forest at the Seattle Center.

I had 2 goals this summer on things to do with my kids. The first one was to go to the Woodland Park Zoo and the second was the Seattle Aquarium. Last Thursday, I took the day off of work and we went to the aquarium. It was very exciting for my 4 year old who could not say "a-kware-e-um" but instead called the it the "care bear-ium" and wanted to know when her furry friends would appear.

Here are the ins and outs of going to the aquarium:

Parking - do not park across from the aquarium but go south at least 1 block past the aquarium or possibly 2 blocks. It is okay to walk and you will save $11 for 2 hours. If you park where I am recommending it ends up being $3 for 2 hours, if you park across from the aquarium it is $14 for 2 hours.

Admission - Adults are $15, Children 4 and up are $10, Children 3 and under are free. Advice: If you have an Entertainment Book then remember to use your coupon of "Buy 1 Admission, Get 1 Free".

Best features - The wall sized fish tank when you first walk in, especially when the diver is in the tank talking to everyone. I would also have to say the sea otters, fur seals and seals.

My children's favorites features - looking for and actually finding Nemo and Dori in the fish tanks.

Time - If you look at the parking situation, you can guess that I am recommending 2 hours. Honestly, we were done after 1 hour and 45 minutes and we went back through the aquarium and hit the starfish/sea urchin section 3 times.

Other advice: As with any kid's activity, go early in the day. We arrived at 11:00am, which is much later than I like and the group tours and buses came a little after us. When we walked back through the aquarium to walk it, it became a mad house. So definitely go when it first opens and then you can be done before the large crowds. Remember that I went on a Thursday in August, I did not go during the weekend so it could already be busy at that time.

In summary, a great place to go and the kids will absolutely love it. Is it as great as I remember as a kid? No, but nothing seems quite as magical when you look back as an adult.