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7 Great Children’s Museums for Northwest Families

Guide to kids’ museums to visit around Seattle, the Eastside, North Sound and South Sound

Author Elisa Murray

Published on: January 01, 2024

7 Great Children’s Museums for Northwest Families

Hands On Children's Museum's outdoor nature play activities. Photo courtesy HOCM

5. Hands On Children’s Museum, Olympia

Why go? My son’s eyes light up whenever I mention “that museum in Olympia” — what we call the terrific Hands On Children’s Museum. It’s among the biggest in the Puget Sound area and really does seem to have it all: an emergency area with fire truck, helicopter and cop car; a tugboat; a climber/slide to the third floor; a scream room where kids can use their outdoor voices to measure their decibels; and a maker space where kids can design and build with all kinds of recycled materials. Step outside and you’ll find another half-acre of fun. Kids can climb a lighthouse lookout tower, build with driftwood, race on the trike track (adults, too) and set sail in the fantastic Megan D.

Fees and discounts: Admission is $17.95–$18.95 at the door (save if you buy your tickets online); babies younger than 18 months of age enter free. EBT cardholder access costs $3. Membership starts at $135 (for one adult and one child) and many other variations exist. Hands On offers tons of special programming, including First Friday Night.

Good to know: Hands On has a small but good café onsite. In the summer, a reclaimed-water stream runs in front of the museum, where kids can splash and wade without paying an admission charge. Also in the summer, the museum offers special, super-fun Summer Splash programs.

Nearby fun: The free-admission WET Science Center (designed for older kids) is across the street. Olympia’s truly fabulous farmers market (open weekends all year) is a short drive away. Older kids may enjoy a free tour of the state’s Capitol building.

Info: Visit the Hands On website for hours and more details; find the museum at 414 Jefferson St. N.E. in Olympia.

Next stop: play island

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