In my 3-year-old’s circle of friends, we are in the end stretch of “birthday season.” It’s been such a fun adventure exploring the different indoor play areas in the Seattle-area. I was especially excited to revisit the Seattle Children’s Museum, located at the Seattle Center. The last time I was here, my oldest was 16 months old and wasn’t interested in much at the museum. I was really looking forward to seeing what he thought now.
The tricky part is that we have been spending time at Kidsquest Museum in Bellevue, which is brand new and has a ton of windows. That made the Seattle Children’s Museum look very dated and neglected. It’s also located in the basement level of the Armory (formerly the Centerhouse) so there isn’t any natural light.
However, I really appreciated the elements that represented Seattle. They have a winding train table that features not only the cities of the Seattle-area but also the Sound Transit stations. They also had a cutout of a Link Light Rail train at a pretend station. We also saw part of a City bus where kids could climb inside.
I think my favorite part of the Seattle Children’s Museum is their Global Village cultural area. I love any exhibit that encourages children to explore the world and understand other cultures. It definitely could use a facelift, but I loved the interactive components. They feature the countries of Ghana, the Philippines and Japan. All three countries represented in this exhibit have a house, shop and mode of transportation for kid-sized exploration.
We went to their story time where a staff member read Rosie Revere, Engineer. I loved that it promoted STEM and was a story we hadn’t heard before. But, my son lost interest after a few minutes and wanted me to read him a story about airplanes. I was impressed at the assortment of books they had available.
I also thought the mini Metropolitan Market. Usually, my son loves playing grocery story and has spent hours doing so at other museums and play spaces. I thought they had a great assortment of pretend food items, grocery carts and check stands that really scanned items. This day, he was all about the trains so it was a brief stop.
We spent our last few minutes at COG City. This exhibit area was renovated in 2014 and is all about cause/effect and the science behind motion. My son loved scooping up the balls and placing them in air flow pipes (the ones that were working.) He also had fun cranking the conveyor belt (with and without balls on it.)
Because there is more competition in terms of amazing children’s activities in the Seattle-area, I’m glad that the Seattle Children’s Museum is striving to enhance the experience of families. They are currently in partnership with the Museum of History and Industry on their Seattle Boomtown, Jr. exhibit. I got to see the facade, which is the beginning of what looks like an extraordinary exhibit, highlighting Seattle’s history. They are creating a place for children and their families to explore the boom of our great city. This “small town,” will feature a department store, a stable/blacksmith, barber shop, and even a school!
7 Tips for Seattle Children’s Museum
- Take the Monorail. If you’d like to make it a whole event, park at Westlake Center and take the 2 minute Monorail ride. Kids ages 4 and under ride free! It was an easy way to get my son out of the Museum so we could head home.
- Park your stroller. They have a large space for stroller parking inside the Museum. It’s much easier than trying to push one through the Museum. I wore my baby in our Tula carrier the whole time.
- Check their Program Schedule. They usually offer a staff-led activity every hour.
- Pick up a free ticket for the Imagination Studio. We didn’t have time for this and I regret it. When you arrive at the Museum, pick up a time-ticket for each person in your group for any available time slot (the tickets are free!). Be sure to allow your child’s painting, clay sculpture or other creation a chance to dry while you finish exploring the rest of the Museum.
- Let your child guide you. My son primarily wanted to play at the train table (even though we have one at home) but he was happy there. We explored other areas, but ended up back at the train table.
- Grab lunch in the Armory. They have tons of kid-friendly options and the food comes out pretty quickly.
- Get a hand stamp. If your kids (and yourself) have energy after lunch, head on back to the Museum and just show your hand stamp. Or come back after nap time.