Seattle Tourist Itinerary for the Less Active

After receiving word that I would be hosting a couple of Midwestern friends and family who are elderly or have significant health issues, I was nervous. Most of the time, my guests don’t balk too much at the hills downtown and I don’t worry about things like ramps and elevators. But suddenly I was faced with hosting less active guests, combined with having to wrangle a two-month-old and accompanying necessities (i.e. stroller).

Here are my suggestions- and feel free to suggest your own in the comments:

Pike Place Market: You can’t really be a tourist in Seattle without visiting Pike Place, and fortunately, the market is pretty friendly to those with wheelchairs or strollers- plenty of elevators and inclines for those on wheels, though some of those inclines can be difficult for those with bad knees. Additionally, if you get tired or someone needs to rest, there are plenty of places to sit- most notably Steinbrueck Park at the northwest edge of the market.

Coffee shops:
As much as I often shake my head in amazement at having two or three coffeeshops per block in areas, it is awfully helpful to have so many spots to duck in out of the weather and rest, particularly if your guests have been kind enough to walk up one of those hilly blocks. Not as friendly to wheelchairs or strollers, but pretty much all Starbucks have a handicapped table, and unless your guests are huge coffee snobs, having a latte at a Starbucks in Seattle is pretty touristy. Other shops that were spacious and/or accomodating: Seattle Coffee Works (close to the market), Zoka in Tangletown, Zeitgeist and Caffe Umbria (both in Pioneer Square), and Uptown Espresso in Belltown. Parking is reasonably easy to find in Belltown and Tangletown; for the others, you may want to take a bus or find a parking garage.

Parks: There are a number of parks in Seattle with amazing views; many are easy to drive or bus to. Personal favorites include Kerry Park for its postcard-perfect shot of Seattle at any time of day (and the amazing ease of finding parking), Alki Beach, Gas Works (which is a little more difficult for those on wheels, but not terrible), and Volunteer Park- though if you’re going with less active folks, I would skip the observatory climb, and simply enjoy the views elsewhere in that park. Snoqualmie Falls is a good bet if you’re looking to get a bit out of town- the falls are viewable from several easily accessible viewpoints.

Miscellaneous:

My new favorite locale for anyone interested in Seattle’s history is Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. The Seattle unit has a ton of kid-friendly exhibits, elevators for those on wheelchairs, and lots of information about Seattle’s role in the gold rush.

Riding the ferries is totally doable and worthwhile for the less active. I particularly suggest the Bainbridge Island ferry for the view of Seattle, though my favorite ferry landing is in Kingston, where they have cute coffee shops and bookstores right off the dock. However, the Kingston-Edmonds ferry doesn’t have the Seattle skyline views, and is so short, it’s almost over before you realize you’re moving. Still, any and all ferries are fun for those who don’t live in the area and/or are less active.

Let us know if you have any additional suggestions or places you’d avoid with less mobile friends and family.

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