Exciting Eastside space for fun and learning
Looking for a new, exciting place to take your kids? Look to the Eastside. The long-awaited KidsQuest Children's Museum promises to entertain and educate children from infancy through age 12.
KidsQuest's design is an interesting and inviting blend of modern industrial and natural elements. Each of the major exhibit galleries has its own unique feel, yet is open and visible to the rest of the museum. All of the interactive, hands-on exhibits present art, science, technology, math and daily life concepts in a fun environment. Kiosks at each station display relevant information for all visitors, including interesting pictures for the non-readers, pertinent facts for older children and even child development tips for adults.
Just inside the entrance, a giant tree house beckons older children to climb a series of ladders to the top. Their efforts are rewarded with unusual collection of displays, a game table and a bird's-eye view of the museum and all of its exhibits.
The first of these, called "Waterways," will delight all ages with an exploration of the magic of water. Put on one of the museum's smocks, but plan to get wet! Start by building several different types of bridges. Use water to operate simple machines by turning cranks and pushing buttons, construct a plumbing system with bubblers and snap-together pipes, or race boats and experiment with dams on a large, rocky stream. For the musically inclined, push-buttons send water shooting into water chimes and water drums.
The Backyard exhibit area, a soft and friendly playground for visitors under 4 and their grown-up companions, features a giant, padded baby basket for the littlest museum-goers and themed activity birdhouses to explore. Preschoolers can build blanket forts, put on a puppet show, play with an enormous train table, or crawl and slide across oversized leaves. A sensory pond, counting game, language display, detailed curio insets in the floor and walls, and bins of age-appropriate toys such as puppets and stuffed animals will keep busy toddlers actively engaged for hours.
In the Garage, kids can tinker with tools, build with various construction toys, make music with unusual instruments, or explore the cab of a real semi-truck. Also look for the ball wall, two large-scale interactive machines, a license-plate matching game, and a mobile-building station. The Garage will also feature expert demonstrations by Home Depot. While girls will no doubt love this area, I know some boys -- and their dads -- who might never want to leave.
Other exhibits and activities scattered around the museum include historical photos of the Factoria area, a huge world map mural, a do-it-yourself face-painting station with washable face crayons, a computerized height-reader, and wonderful art and photography. Due to the highly interactive nature of many of the exhibits and rotating displays -- and the presence of visiting artists, scientists and experts -- every trip to the museum is bound to be a unique experience.
Family friendly facilities at KidsQuest will enhance your visit. Thoughtful restroom features make potty breaks with small children a breeze. Stroller parking and lockers are available, and the gift shop offers high-quality educational toys so your child can continue to learn and explore at home. And a note to would-be snackers: although the museum doesn't provide food or drinks, many choices are readily available elsewhere inside the mall.
KidsQuest is not huge, but it is packed with unique, well-designed exhibits and activities. It's easy to get to because of its central location, and the free parking and affordable admission make it a great value. KidsQuest is an outstanding addition to the existing enrichment activities available to children on the Eastside and throughout the entire Puget Sound region.
Laurie Thompson lives on the Eastside with her husband and their two children, ages 3 and 5.
Photo credit: Sophie Solomon
- Location: south end of Factoria Mall across from Petco
- Phone: 425-637-8100
- Web site: www.kidsquestmuseum.org
- Hours: Sunday noon-5 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (free after 5 p.m.). Closed Monday.
- Admission: $6, under 12 months free
- Also available: daily guided activities, family memberships, birthday parties, group/school visits