New Outer Space Seattle indoor play space. Credit: JiaYing Grygiel
On our recent visit to Outer Space Seattle, an indoor play space for kids, I saw a mom peek into the sensory room and then heard her exclaim, “There’s nothing like this!”
It's true. When Outer Space opened its doors on Dec. 20, 2019, it immediately took off with neighborhood families. However, in a now all too familiar story, it had been open only a few months when the pandemic forced it to close. But starting July 8, Outer Space Seattle is once again open for summer camps, preschool and after school care and open play!
Get your kids excited and inspired for some imaginative outer space play by checking out the images of deep space from the Webb telescope, then head over to West Seattle for a space adventure all you own.
Owner Caitlin Huertas came up with the idea six years ago, when she had a toddler and was pregnant with her second child. Like other young families in West Seattle, she didn’t want to have to schelp across town to visit an indoor play space.
“It’s my neighborhood, it’s my community,” Huertas said. “There’s just really a demand for it. We’ve been slammed.”
Outer Space is located right on Alki, and you can see the ferries crossing Elliott Bay across the street. Inside, the space-themed play space is cheerful and clean with pops of yellow. Your kiddos can explore a custom three-level play structure while you enjoy the wifi at one of the cafe tables. In the summer, the storefront’s garage doors will slide open to catch the breeze from the water.
Outer Space is a really beautiful space, curated just for kids. It’s a terrific addition to this family-friendly neighborhood.
Compact but well-designed
The physical footprint is compact but takes advantage of every inch. The play structure is designed for babies to age 12, with a sweet spot right around toddler and preschool ages. There’s also a sensory room for quieter play filled with soft toys and space-themed books.
Some visitors accustomed to larger play spaces such as Southcenter’s Safari or South Lake Union’s Playdate SEA may find Outer Space to be small. But West Seattle is like an island, and why leave if you don’t have to?
Outer Space caps the maximum number of people inside at 45, so it’s never manic like it can get at those bigger indoor playspaces. On busy days, Saturdays especially, that can mean a waitlist.
Clean and secure
When you enter, sign a waiver on an iPad for adults and kids (or fill it out ahead of time). I liked that there’s a gate at the entrance for safety. And I really liked that the entire place is squeaky clean. After every childcare session, the staff cleans the whole play structure, toddler nook, sensory room and toys. They also do a monthly deep cleaning from top to bottom, and strictly follow CDC and Health Department guidelines regarding COVID-19.
I was really impressed by the quality of the toys in the sensory room. As a mom who likes to shop, I knew that some of these were definitely an investment. (If you don’t believe me, look up Squigz and liquid tiles on Amazon.) I also saw great titles like “Ada Twist, Scientist” and “Astro Girl” in the picture book selection, and wondered if the owner had a background as a teacher or child psychologist.
“I’m a mom,” Huertas said. “I think being a mom really informs what works and what doesn’t.”
In her previous life, actually, Huertas worked as an advertising creative director, which totally explains why the visual details in the interior are so cohesive. Everything works with the space theme, from the logo to the hand-painted mural to the spherical lights. Huertas was even rocking a solar system necklace, a gift from a customer.
We visited on a school day, when the crowd was mostly toddlers and preschoolers, plus one nursing baby. The adults all supervised the kids — these seemed like the kind of people who apologize for putting compost in the wrong bin, not the kind of people who let kids run crazy-wild.
My 4-year-old kid normally sticks to me, but at Outer Space, he was happy to explore the play structure on his own. When I climbed in to join him later, he eagerly showed me around. “This one wobbles, this one spins,” he said, pointing out different features as I crawled awkwardly behind him. (The rope bridge is the one adult-height section.)
Huertas’ daughters are now ages 8 and almost 6. She makes a point of teaching her girls that when they’re at Outer Space, their job is to act as ambassadors. Maybe there’s a kid who could use a friend?
Huertas has nephews with special needs, and goes out of her way to make sure Outer Space is safe and fun for children of all abilities. She put together little backpacks filled with sensory fidget toys, and installed a handgrip on the play structure for kids in chairs. A braille menu is in the works. If you have ideas, let her know. “Accessibility has always been very important to me,” she said.
Huertas is already planning to expand Outer Space. At least another outpost in Seattle, maybe in other cities too. We’re hoping she picks our neighborhood.
If you go...
Contact: Call 206-397-4591 or email email@example.com with questions.
Hours: Open play, Monday–Friday, 5:30–8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; They close for private parties ($300 for a 2-hour party), so make sure you check their Facebook page for upcoming closures.
Cost: Admission for kids under 1-year-old is $7; kids ages 1–12 years-old is $14. Adults enter free.
Parking: There's free 2-hour off-street parking in the alley behind the building and in the garage under the building. Street parking is also free. Metro's route 50 stops nearby.
Food: You can bring your own snacks (no nuts, please), or order from the menu of pre-packaged snacks including goldfish, chips, milk, crackers, string cheese, apple sauce and juice boxes.
Parents should know: Wear socks! No shoes inside.