We had the pleasure of visiting Seattle during one of the most incredible times of year – August. Gone are the days of dreary rain, replaced by sunny days and a cool coastal breeze. But…if you are planning on visiting Seattle during any other season, you should always keep it in the back of your mind that this city gets on average 38(ish) inches of rain per year. Meaning, that for those of you traveling here with kids, a solid list of indoor adventures is a plus (and sometimes even a necessity) when visiting the Emerald City.
Kid Allergy Travel had the opportunity to partner (via sponsorship) with three of the premiere kid friendly destinations in the city of Seattle: The Museum of Flight, Museum of History and Industry, and Pacific Science Center. And…they all just happen to be indoors. That makes these three destinations year round must see attractions and we want to share why.
The Museum of Flight
This is a full day museum experience. In fact, they even have a return trip ticket discount for those who don’t have time to see it all in one day (within 7 days of your original visit). So, what exactly makes The Museum of Flight a different experience from all the rest? Here, the artifacts spread out over the 3 plus acres tell only one story: how humans have tackled flight. Six hours won’t even begin to skim the surface here at the largest flight museum in the world. So, put on some walking shoes, and get ready to journey through all aspects of aviation. Highlights include:
- Red Barn. Kid Allergy Travel recommends you begin with the Red Barn because here you find the story of The Boeing Company housed in its original manufacturing plant. This is a look at the early history of aerospace engineering and really gives you a perspective about one of America’s most formative companies and how it changed the world.
- Great Gallery. This is where you should head if you have kids itching to experience hands-on activities. Take a seat in the cockpit of a military aircraft and pretend to be defending your country, strap yourself in to one of the many flight simulators for (extra fee & age limits apply), or try your hand at the hang glider simulator located in the Kid’s Flight Zone. You will find yourself staying and playing longer in the Kid’s Flight Zone if you have little ones, as this is where you can find aviation related activities geared toward the youngest crowd. But…don’t forget to stop and enjoy all the aircrafts and stories spread throughout this hall along the way. Our favorites: the Wright 1903 Flyer (reproduction), Blackbird M-21 (on loan from the United States Air Force Museum), Lockheed D-21B Drone, Gossamer Albatross 11, and Taylor Aerocar III.
- Space Exhibits. For me, all things NASA are truly beloved because I was raised in Houston during the heyday of American Space Shuttle missions. I have been to tours, talks and exhibits on NASA and the space race hundreds of times throughout my life. So initially, I thought this portion would pale in comparison to what I have seen over the years on NASA soil. But…to my surprise, I actually learned something new here. We were fortunate to visit during the Apollo and Destination Moon Exhibits. Did you know that in 2013 the Seattle-based Bezos Expeditions went deeper in to the Atlantic than the Titanic expedition to dig up the engines that successfully powered the Apollo in to space over 40 years earlier? I didn’t. Nor did I know that the Apollo 12 commander Pete Conrad struggled with dyslexia. Once we made our way to the Space Gallery across the sky bridge, it just got better. Plus, there are plenty of games and simulators here to peak the interest of your kiddos whether they are space aficionados or not.
- Personal Courage Wing. This massive building is dedicated to the I and II World Wars. For me, the World War I Gallery was the most thought provoking exhibit of the whole day. Flight was relatively new when the First World War began and this gallery does an incredible job of walking you through the timeline of how aviation developed out of the necessity to win a war that spanned miles and miles of territory around the globe. And, interestingly enough, some of the advances only ten years after the Wright Bros made their first flight, happen to be relevant today. My kids loved the hands on airplane games spread throughout the hall. I loved learning about weaponizing aircraft, which countries contributed what to advances in aviation, and just how the War to End All Wars left the population of Europe so unstable that it would lead to the rise of yet another world conflict.
But…the adventures don’t stop there. You can also enjoy hands-on Pilot Experiences, Shuttle Trainer Tours, 3D Movie Theater, on-board walk throughs of historic aircraft like the Concorde and the first jet Airfare One in the Aviation Pavillion, and an incredible aviation themed gift shop.
Museum of History and Industry
Located downtown but set apart from the main cluster of tourist attractions, the Museum of History and Industry sits quietly off the edge of a city park and right along the waterside. When you enter, the noise of the seagulls and children splashing in the fountains outside immediately stop. The silence here is powerful. So intense, in fact, I actually questioned if this was going to be a good place to bring young children. But, after we checked in and took the glass elevator to the top floor, we began to understand that the building does more than house artifacts to tell a story. There is heart and soul within these walls that pays tribute to the spirit of innovation and progress that stands behind the greatness of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. And, it is presented in such a way that all ages can find a way to respect the content. Highlights include:
- Maritime Gallery. Seattle’s history is tied greatly to the water and this exhibit pays homage to the people who lived, worked and played here. A room that on the surface could’ve taken my husband and me roughly twenty minutes to complete held a mountain of possibilities for our kids. It was amazing to watch where the imagination took our children armed only with a telescope (from inside the Exploration & Innovation Packs), a periscope from a WWII era submarine, and a ship’s wheel.
- True Northwest: The Seattle Journey. Starting with life in Puget sound during the 1790s, this floor tells the incredible story of the Seattle people. From the hard journey across the Oregon Trail over land before the railroad, to the creation of the Great Northern Railroad, to the birth of statehood, the Klondike Gold Rush, the birth of Boeing, and two World Wars, you will find yourself smack dab in the middle of Modern Seattle. The display of intelligence, innovation and humanity changing feats by Seattleites will just about blow your mind. The Emerald City is host to a large collection of forward thinkers. Areas dedicated to the rise of companies like Amazon and Microsoft obviously reside here, but modern day Seattle influence in music and civil liberties are also detailed. With interactive activities like creating your own book and watching a film to keep the kiddos entertained, parents will have the time to read every line and take it all in.
- Bezos Center for Innovation. This floor focuses on how this town consistently produces innovators. The thought behind innovation is that ideas drive change. But, this area highlights the importance of harnessing and methodically developing dreams in order to be impactful. Travel through a number of hands-on exhibits to understand the brilliance of constructing something tangible to make great ideas pervasive in society as a whole. Adults and toddlers alike get their shot at the Idea Lab. Write a design plan that tackles a real world problem, engineer a solution through building with kid-friendly items like legos and Tynker toys, and market the innovation through photographing, posting and sharing it with the world. Leave feeling empowered. Show your children that they can change the world with dreams through a disciplined and constructive approach.
Pacific Science Center
Where does one begin? The Pacific Science Center is a massive complex comprising of eight buildings set amidst a series of fountains and sculptures. It is so big, in fact, that it includes two separate IMAX theaters, Butterfly House, Planetarium, one of the world’s largest Laser Dome Theaters, and hundreds of interactive kid friendly exhibits. Our family spent well over six hours here and I actually feel like we didn’t even scratch the surface. Highlights include:
- Virtual Reality. Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be a tree? Or, maybe you have dreamed of being a turtle gliding through the ocean? Now is your chance. This isn’t just a couple of games thrown in an exhibit hall. There is a whole building filled with experiences from a wide variety of VR companies. The best part? They are all included in the price of your ticket. Make sure to head over to Building 4 as soon as you arrive to book your time slot and choose your different adventure(s). Be aware that there are age limits depending on the intensity of the experience. When we attended, 7 seemed to be the minimum age for the majority on offer.
- Tinker Tank. Channel your inner engineer or architect by building a masterpiece at one of the many stations here. Legos, bricks, pipes, paperclips are but a few of the materials on hand to stack, slide or glide your creation against the forces of physics and nature.
- Tropical Butterly House. Are you a butterfly whisperer? Now is your chance to find out. You will be surprised at how carefully and slowly your children will walk as they begin their adventure that winds through this tropical rainforest environment. Plant enthusiast in the family? Take advantage of the plant identification guide. Maybe kids who prefer hands on activities? Utilize the discussion points from the online ideas & activities area to spark curiosity and get the brain going. Whatever their interest, your children (and even mom and dad) will find a little piece of magic here.
- Wellbody. This exhibit is all about health and the human body. Even if your kids don’t seem to have a big interest in medicine and its impact on person and community, they will be delighted by the well-thought out interactive stations. Squish bad bacteria on the electronic floor stomping game or play the ball maze game to learn about making better choices that affect your health. But, make sure not to miss the Playdium. This cleverly designed interactive space won over every person in the family. Visit various stations to pedal, bounce, spin, jump or pull your way to power a machine that turns tricks as a result of your hard work.
- Bodyworks. Test the boundaries of the human body with a group of interactive stations. See how your mind plays tricks on you. Test your strength and flexibility. Discover how your eyes and ears process the sensory world around you.
- IMAX. We had the pleasure of seeing ‘Pandas’ in 3D when we visited in the PACCAR IMAX Theater. But, if you want to double the intensity of your experience, make sure to visit the Boeing Imax Experience which happens to almost double the screen size (the screen is 6 stories high!). Feel good about enjoying one of these experiences because proceeds from ticket sales support science education across Washington state. And, with added extras like happy hour bar specials and movie trivia nights, this is a not to miss opportunity.
Got little ones? Don’t miss two of our toddler favorites: Dinosaurs: A Journey Through Time and Just for Tots. Plus, for those living gluten free you can feel safe to pop by the Pacific Science Center Cafe as they offer plenty of options.
Kid Allergy Travel received sponsored admission to all three museums detailed here (The Museum of Flight, Museum of History and Industry, and Pacific Science Center), along with complimentary admission to see ‘Pandas’ 3D at the PACCAR IMAX Theater. Although this was part of a media visit, rest assured, the opinions provided in the post by Kid Allergy Travel remain our own. Photos by Kid Allergy Travel.