I really love children’s museums. Maybe even more than my 3-year-old. I really appreciate places that dedicate themselves to providing kids with a hands-on learning experience through play. We’ve explored children’s museums near our home and while traveling. Each one seems to offer something distinct that sets it apart from others.
This past month, we attended a birthday party at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, Washington, which is about 30 minutes south of Seattle. It’s located right in the middle of Downtown Tacoma, with limited street parking.
About The Children’s Museum of Tacoma
The Children’s Museum of Tacoma is a perfect destination for families who like their kids to engage in stimulating experiences for children. This place is an absolute gem for families with children ages birth to older. The museum follows a donation-only admission model, making it accessible to everyone.
Once you step inside, you’ll be greeted by a vibrant space filled with interactive exhibits and engaging activities. They have a wonderful collection of children’s books, perfect for sparking young imaginations.
As a member, you’ll also enjoy exclusive member-only hours, giving you even more opportunities to explore. One of the highlights here is the five nature-inspired playscapes that encourage playful experiences where little ones can let their creativity run wild.
The museum truly values joyful experiences and encourages kids to learn through play. They even offer low sensory hours for those who have sensory sensitivities and may need a quieter environment.
It’s incredible to see how they cater to all children’s needs and preferences. Whether it’s crawling through tunnels, climbing, or building, there’s something here for every child to enjoy.
Entering the Children’s Museum of Tacoma
Our first experience was with the parking lot. We had no problem finding a spot at 9:50 a.m. on a Sunday. So, I took that opportunity to feed my baby before heading out.
However, we stood outside in the rain for 15 minutes, waiting in line to pay for parking. Normally, it would have just slightly annoyed me, but we ended up being late to the birthday party because of it.
As we headed in, we saw about eight other families who were heading to the party stuck in the line. It’s too bad that we couldn’t just pay for parking inside the museum. Not a great first impression.
Party Room and Water Area
I liked the party room. There was plenty of room for parents and kids, and there was seating against the window. The party attendant was also really friendly and great at giving a run-down of the rules before inviting us to explore the Children’s Museum of Tacoma.
The Pirate Ship, Reading Nook, and Slide
Then, my son headed over to the Pirate Ship, where he enjoyed climbing through the rope tunnel and playing with the corded phone in the tower. Even though it was crowded with kids, he was able to move around quite quickly and freely. There were a lot of props nearby that would have been a blast with just a few fewer people around.
Right next to it was a cool reading nook and a slide. My son had so much fun on the slide! He did it over and over again and thought it was amazing! The slide is pretty slow, which is great for little kids. The stairs to get up to the slide are narrow (too narrow for more than one kid), so there were a few tears as kids tried to climb over other kids to get to the top.
The Museum’s Dead End
The Children’s Museum of Tacoma dead-ends with a large-scale marble run and scarf vacuum activity. My son played with the scarf vacuum for a while. It felt a bit small for the amount of kids who wanted to play with it.
I was especially impressed with the marble run, and I’m contemplating figuring out how to build one for our house. The kids were thoroughly entertained.
7 Tips for Tacoma Children’s Museum
- Look for street parking. The parking machine in the adjoining parking lot is super, duper slow.
- The Museum is open only to members on Mondays and is closed on Tuesdays.
- Admission is “pay as you will,” making it much more accessible to all families.
- You can’t bring strollers inside (without special permission), but you can use stroller parking.
- They have 40 lockers available free of charge for storing diaper bags, etc, in exchange for photo I.D.
- The water area has squirt toys, so be prepared to get wet.
- Consider starting at the back of the museum and working your way to the front (unless your child(ren) get distracted by the water area), as the museum dead-ends.