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Museums for kids

Our region is rich in museums that appeal to kids, from those built especially with children in mind to facilities that cover challenging topics, but with an eye toward drawing in young visitors. We've rounded them up here. For updated hours and admission, and for driving directions, click on the link for each venue. 


Pacific Science Center. Explore the science of everything at PacSci, which includes a popular animatronic dinosaur display, exhibits on topics such as nutrition and energy, an animal-viewing area, a Puget Sound touch tank and a play area for tots with a water feature. The science center also hosts planetarium and laser shows, as well as IMAX movies. Traveling exhibitions are generally excellent. www.pacsci.org. SEATTLE CENTER

Museum of Flight. The museum's big draw are its planes on display in the Great Hall -- there's something amazing about seeing gleaming aircraft at such close range. On weekends, Family Fun workshops focus on some aspect of flight, and are free with admission. The museum also offers a robust calendar of flight-related events, often bringing in aviation luminaries for talks and workshops. www.museumofflight.org. SOUTH SEATTLE

Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center. Odyssey feels like a hidden gem -- it gets little attention in the press and offers few events and activities to draw families. Still, it's worth a visit. Hands-on activities illustrate the importance of maritime industries to our region's economic and cultural life: operate a crane, put on a survival suit or take a virtual kayak tour of local waterways. www.ody.org. SEATTLE WATERFRONT

The Children's Museum Seattle. A recently renovated tots' area, called Discovery Bay, provides large-motor and tactile fun with an "under the sea" theme. Older kids can enter the recording studio in the "Mindscape" exhibit or send balls whooshing through a network of tubes in Cog City. Another popular play area is the Bijou Theatre, which boasts a beautifully designed mini-stage, costumes to put on and a control panel that operates lights and sound effects. Drop by the Imagination Studio anytime for artist-guided arts and crafts activities. www.thechildrensmuseum.org SEATTLE CENTER

Imagine Children's Museum. Everett's children's museum features several small-scale city exhibits, such as a bank, downtown, wildlife clinic (complete with stuffed animals) and cafe. Kids can also climb a tree into a treehouse for a view of the entire museum, visit a farm or traverse a climbing wall. The popular Rooftop Adventure is open weather permitting only (call ahead if this is a must-visit area for your child). The art studio is open for drop-in creating and special art activities and workshops. www.imaginecm.org EVERETT

KidsQuest Children's Museum. See our review of the Eastside's long-awaited children's museum here . www.kidsquestmuseum.org BELLEVUE

Reptiles are the name of the game at
Washington Serpentarium, located on Highway 2 just east of Monroe. Kids can hald up to 10 species of snake, and view an impressive collection of (devenomized) venomous snakes, a snapping turtle, lizards and iguanas. Visit during feeding time for an interesting display of snakes' and reptiles' feeding behaviors. www.reptileman.com MONROE

At the
White River Valley Museum in Auburn, learn about the history of settlement in South King County. Exhibits include an early settler's cabin, railroad depot and early 20th-century town square. Younger kids can do hands-on activities, and the museum hosts periodic family days with a focus on early 20th-century life skills. www.wrvmuseum.org AUBURN

The Suquamish Museum focuses on Native American history and culture in the Puget Sound Region, with story telling, traditional games and a longhouse to explore. www.suquamish.nsn.us KITSAP PENINSULA

Tacoma Children's Museum. 253-627-6031, www.childrensmuseumoftacoma.org

Hands On Children's Museum, Olympia. 360-956-0818, www.hocm.org


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