An up-close and personal introduction to the Northwest’s wild array of sea life. Touch (gently) sea cucumbers and sea urchins in the tidewater pools, ogle aquatic animals swimming over your head in the underwater dome, and get acquainted with various spot prawns, jellyfish, and otters.
Seattle’s showiest cultural attraction isn’t necessarily geared toward kids—what with all the irreplaceable blown glass art and all—but all those bright colors and vivid shapes really do mesmerize visitors of all ages.
Historic planes make aviation fanatics giddy as a child, but actual children get similarly excited about the airplane-themed playroom and flight simulator games, not to mention watching planes land and take off at Boeing Field. Free parking is nice too.
The perfect parental stealth maneuver: Between the planetarium programs, Imax movies, naked mole rats, and butterfly house, kids have such a blast they don’t even realize how educational this place is.
Sport a stethoscope in the play veterinarian’s office, navigate the tree fort, dig for dino bones, splash at the water table. By the time you hit that amazing rooftop playground, the entire day has gone by. This place is totally worth a trip to Everett.
Bellevue’s interactive children’s museum has a new, much larger location with a water playroom where kids don plastic smocks, and an orchard area schools mini Washingtonians on the joys of harvesting apples and riding a tractor.
Andrew Wyeth retrospectives might be lost on littles, but SAM and its sibling Asian Art Museum offer regular art, dance, and music activities, plus dedicated rooms where kids can play and get crafty. Meanwhile, SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park is a fantastic (and free) place to roam and explore; you can’t touch the art, but you can hit up the toy area in the northwest corner of the main pavilion.
The rechristened Museum of Pop Culture (formerly Experience Music Project) is a wealth of memorabilia from Star Trek to The Wizard of Oz. Kids too young to appreciate the Jimi Hendrix letters and sci-fi exhibit? Turn them loose to jam on the drums and guitars in the sound lab.
The former Naval Reserve Armory harbors a wealth of information on Seattle’s past. Exhibits are mostly of the look-but-don’t-touch variety; when those model ships and vintage trucks get too tempting, head to the block-filled “Kid-Struction” zone on the third floor…or outside where Lake Union Park’s waterfront awaits.
Hands-on everything from a faux grocery store and optometrist’s office to a water play and toddler climbing area, all in the heart of Seattle Center. Definitely better for younger kids.
Alexa, where’s a museum with a self-driving car simulator, plus robots and artificial intelligence that kids can actually interact with? SoDo’s recently revamped shrine to the evolution of technology is like a STEM lesson wrapped in a Commodore 64 game of Donkey Kong.
The nation’s only pan-Asian museum is small but mighty. The multipart Bruce Lee exhibit is a big draw, but the wealth of walking tours (the food-based ones are particularly great) and the life of Luke himself tell the story of Seattle’s Asian communities, not to mention the surrounding Chinatown–International District neighborhood.