Turns out, Seattle might just be the best city in America for gay dads. The city is like a mini-San Francisco, a fresh-air urban haven in the Pacific Northwest where gay boys of yore have traded in their glow sticks for Gerber. A quick search online will lead you to the Gay Fathers Association of Seattle or the Facebook group, “Feather Boa Fathers.”
All this hype got us thinking about the gay dads in our lives. Sure, we can tell you where to get laid, what hotel to do it in, and where to grab brunch in the morning. But here’s an interesting challenge: where do you take your 8-year-old son that’s fun for the the both of you? Where can you and your straight 13-year-old boy have a bonding experience?
1. Not just any Starbucks
My sons are old enough to have discovered—and fallen in love with—Starbucks frappuccinos. For the uninitiated, these are basically milkshakes spiked with a bit of coffee. So when I told them that the Original Starbucks store was right outside the Pike Place Market at 102 Pike St., we just had to go. The store is adorned with the original logo (which really makes you appreciate the updated version—I did not need to see the topless mermaid!) and sells a lot of unique merchandise. The line is almost always snaking outside the door and down the block, but it moves pretty quickly. I recommend wandering a few stores down to Le Panier, a French bakery that also has some quite long lines. The croissants, sandwiches and pastries were well worth the wait, and went quite well with our “original” frappuccinos!
2. Things will be great when you’re…downtown
Downtown Seattle is a great place to walk around. The city’s hills, which generally descend as you approach the waterfront (Elliott Bay), can be crazy steep, but my kids found them fascinating. If you’re staying downtown, a lot of the attractions in and around the famed Pike Place Market can be accessed without a car if you’re willing to walk a bit. Make sure to check out the Market itself, where they still throw enormous fish for thrilled tourists. My kids were only slightly interested in that, and preferred to just walk around and see all the “gross” seafood up close.
3. The library … on vacation?
When I told my kids we were going to walk through the Central Library of the Seattle Public Library on the way back to the hotel, they all looked at me like I was nuts. But the stunning glass, steel and concrete structure, designed by world renowned architect Rem Koolhaas, is a cantilevered, geometric marvel of engineering. There are many fascinating spaces as you move up through the brightly colored floors, and afterward, my family agreed that it was a great stop.
4. Time for a little science
The Pacific Science Center makes for a nice afternoon visit if you’re near the Space Needle. The institution does have some areas that feel dated, and was much more interesting to my 8-year-old son than my 14-year-old. It’s very hands-on in nature, and features a planetarium, two separate IMAX theaters (!), a tropical butterfly house, and buildings that focus on dinosaurs, insects, the human body, and even a stage where there’s live science demonstrations.
5. When your sons grow up to like football…
Both of our sons are huge NFL fans, so the CenturyLink Field stadium tour was high on their list of things they wanted to do in Seattle. The stadium is home to the Seattle Seahawks, as well as the Sounders FC (soccer) team of the MLS soccer league. The tour lasts about 90 minutes and lets you see some of the guts of the stadium, along with the press conference room, the press box, and the visiting locker room. You’ll also get to walk out onto the field, which was quite a big deal for the littlest one in our party. Oh, and did I mention that there’s a ginormous gift shop? Your wallet will feel so much lighter afterward!
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Photo credits: Paul J. Heney