15 Best Seattle Museums For Kids To Visit This Year

February 27, 2024

Seattle is an amazing city to visit, with its stunning nature views, great restaurants, and unique tourist attractions. One of my favorite things to do in Seattle is to spend an afternoon at some of the Seattle museums for kids. It’s a great way to get to know the history and culture of Seattle, and incorporate learning into your travels too.

I’ve lived in Seattle for over 13 years, and I think it’s an extremely family friendly city. We love checking out the various activities in Seattle for families and taking Seattle day trips throughout the year.

With a population of over 700,000 people, this city in Washington state truly has something for everyone. And in my opinion, it’s the perfect place for worldschooling because of all the museums in Seattle that families can visit.

Enjoying an outing visiting Seattle museums for kids (photo by Clint Bush)

Since I love Seattle so much, I thought I’d put together this list of museums in Seattle for families to enjoy. My hope is that you’ll use it to find the best children activities in Seattle for your family.

This article was originally published on June 10, 2015.

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Our favorite kid friendly places in Seattle

Before diving into my top Seattle museums for kids, check out these tours to our favorite kid friendly places in Seattle:

Where to stay in Seattle

While this list of best museums in Seattle for kids features museums from all around the city, the majority of the museums are centralized around the neighborhoods of Lower Queen Anne, South Lake Union, and Downtown.

Pioneer Square, one of Seattle's most historic neighborhoods (photo by Astrid Vinje)

If you’re looking for convenient places to stay while you’re museum hopping through this list of Seattle museums for kids, look for hotels in the three neighborhoods I mention above. Here are three hotels that I recommend.

The Maxwell Hotel

The Maxwell Hotel is located in Lower Queen Anne, a few blocks away from the Seattle Center. This makes the hotel convenient to 4 of the Seattle museums for kids that I list in this article.  

The hotel has rooms that can sleep up to 6 people. There are restaurants within walking distance, and downtown Seattle is also walkable from the hotel. Alternatively, families can access downtown via the Monorail, which they can catch at the Seattle Center.

Staybridge Suites

Another hotel that’s convenient to two of the Seattle museums for kids on this list is the Staybridge Suites. It’s located in South Lake Union. The hotel is also close to the South Lake Union street car, which can take you to the downtown Seattle museums for kids.

Families will enjoy the Staybridge Suites because they have kitchens. Some of the suites can accommodate families of 6.

Embassy Suites

If you’re looking for downtown hotels, Embassy Suites near Lumen Field is a great option. This hotel is walking distance to three of the Seattle museums for kids I feature in this article.

Embassy Suites has suites that can accommodate families of up to 6 people. The suites have kitchens, but if you’re not in the mood for cooking, there are some restaurants nearby.

Our favorite Seattle museums for kids

The city of Seattle has plenty of kid-friendly and educational museums that families will enjoy. In fact, there are a number of museums that you wouldn’t expect to be family-friendly, but actually are some of the best museums for kids.

A view of downtown Seattle from the top of the Smith Tower (photo by Astrid Vinje)

If you're planning a family trip to Seattle, be sure to include some museum learning time. These are my picks for the best Seattle museums for kids.

1. Children's Museum

The Seattle Center in South Lake Union is home to a variety of family-friendly attractions, including the Seattle Children's Museum. Located in the Armory building, this Seattle kids museum has exhibits for kids of all ages. But I think it mainly shines in being one of the best museums for toddlers in Seattle.

Enjoying an exhibit at the Seattle Children's Museum (photo by Astrid Vinje)

Our favorite is the Global Village exhibit, which gives you a glimpse of what it's like being in another country. I also like the big nature exhibit right in the middle of the museum.

The Children's Museum Seattle Center is one of my family's favorite Seattle area museums. It is open from Wednesday through Monday, from 10am to 5pm. Admission is $14 for adults and kids.

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2. MoPOP

One of my favorite Seattle museums for kids, though arguably one of the more expensive and touristy museums, is MoPOP. We bought a membership one year to MoPOP (previously known as the EMP/Sci-Fi Museum) and visited there quite often. It was well worth the price.

The unique architecture of MoPop (photo by Astrid Vinje)

The museum often has special exhibits focused on something related to pop culture. Past exhibits have included Disney, Avatar, and the history of hip hop. 

The music portion of MoPop is amazing too. I love the exhibit showcasing the history of the guitar. But my kids love the jam room most of all, where they can have a chance to try out and play various instruments.

Tickets to MoPop cost $25-38 for adults aged 13 and older, depending on the date, time, and exhibits. Youth ages 5 to 12 receive a discount. Children 4 and under are free. MoPop is open Thursdays to Tuesdays from 10am to 5pm.

3. Chihuly Garden and Glass

We’ve always been fascinated with glass blowing. In fact, one of our favorite travel memories was watching a glass blowing demonstration in Venice when we were in Italy with kids! Within the Pacific Northwest, one of the most well-known artists in the region is Dale Chihuly, who specializes in blown glass art.

A view of the Space Needle from Chihuly Garden Glass (photo by Astrid Vinje)

Fans of Dale Chihuly’s art will enjoy visiting the Chihuly Garden and Glass at the Seattle Center, a great creative option for Seattle museums for kids. This museum features rooms upon rooms of Chihuly’s artwork. His fantastical designs really make you feel like you’ve entered another world!

Chihuly Garden and Glass is open every day, but hours vary depending on whether there’s an event. Check the website for the exact times. Admission to Chihuly Garden and Glass is $37.50 for adults ages 13 and older, and $28 for kids ages 5-12. Children under 5 are free, however keep in mind that the exhibits at the museum are quite fragile. So make sure your family is able to maintain respectful distances from the artwork.

Besides booking tickets directly on the Chihuly Garden and Glass website, you can book tickets through Viator.

4. Pacific Science Center

My son loves science museums - some of our favorites are ThinkTank in Birmingham, when we were in the West Midlands with kids, the British Science museum in London, and the many science museums in Southern California. So an afternoon at the Pacific Science Center at the Seattle Center is right up his alley. 

A butterfly in the butterfly garden of the Pacific Science Center (photo by Astrid Vinje)

Families interested in science focused Seattle museums for kids will enjoy a visit to the Pacific Science Center. The museum features a butterfly garden, a dinosaur exhibit, a makerspace, and all sorts of exhibits dedicated to science. There’s also an IMAX theater at the museum as well as a planetarium. We love going to the museum to sneak in some learning while still having fun!

Pacific Science Center is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 10am to 5pm. Admission to the Pacific Science Center ranges from $26.20 to $28.70 for adults, and $19.70 to $21.45 for youth ages 3-17. Ticket prices fluctuate depending on the day. 

Washington state residents may receive a discount, but like the ticket prices, it depends on the day. The Pacific Science Center is open on Wednesdays to Sundays from 10am to 5pm.

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5. Museum of History and Industry

Within the South Lake Union area is the Museum of History and Industry, one of the best museums in Seattle. It has a great exhibit covering the history of technology and innovation in Seattle.

The exterior of the Museum of History and Industry, one of many Seattle museums for kids
Museum of History and Industry (photo by Astrid Vinje)

We love the interactive aspects of the museum, and kids are encouraged to submit and share their own ideas for innovation. I think it’s a great choice for best kids museums in Seattle for older kids.

The Museum of History and Industry, known to locals as MOHAI, is open every day from 10am to 5pm. Tickets for adults are $21.95, and students are $16.95 with valid student ID. Youth ages 14 and under are free, but must be accompanied by a chaperone.

6. Seattle Art Museum

When you think of Seattle museums for kids, you might not initially think of art. But the Seattle Art Museum is a great place to get kids introduced to art. It's practically a city institution!

A multi-media exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum (photo by Astrid Vinje)

Located in the heart of downtown Seattle, SAM, as Seattleites like to call it, has quite an impressive list of featured exhibits. Some of the more permanent exhibits include classical art, as well as art from other countries. Families will enjoy coming to the Free First Thursdays (free admission on the first Thursday of each month), if they're willing to maneuver through the crowds.

The Seattle Art Museum is open from Wednesdays to Sundays, from 10am to 5pm. On Thursday, it is open from 10am to 9pm. Tickets are $29.99 for adults, and $19.99 for teens ages 13-17. Kids 12 and under are free.

7. Frye Art Museum

Another one of the best museums in Seattle that's surprisingly kid-friendly is the Frye Art Museum. We once watched a spectacular avante garde music and art performance at the Frye Art Museum showcasing a very talented musician friend of mine. It’s a great option for Seattle museums for kids who love art.

Taking in art at the Frye Art Gallery (photo by Astrid Vinje)

Frye Art Museum is one of those Seattle museums that prides itself on presenting new and innovative art. Sometimes the art can be provocative too. Some parents might shy away from exposing their kids to this kind of non-traditional art, but I often think that introducing them early helps them develop a greater appreciation later on.

Admission to Frye Art Museum is always free, but they do accept donations. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 11am to 5pm. On Thursdays the museum stays open until 7pm.

8. Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park

For a peek into Seattle history, head to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park in Pioneer Square. This US National Park highlights Seattle’s role in the 1800s Gold Rush and is one of the best Seattle museums for kids for learning about that period in history.

Playing at an exhibit at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park (photo by Astrid Vinje)

Fun fact: did you know that John Nordstrom, the founder of international chain Nordstrom, opened his first shoe store in 1901 using money he earned from striking gold in Canada’s Yukon Territory?

The Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10am to 5pm. Admission is free. There is also a sister site located in Skagway, Alaska. 

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9. Wing Luke Museum

Another one of the Seattle museums for kids showcasing Seattle history is the Wing Luke Museum. Located in the International District, the Wing Luke Museum’s goal is to tell the story of Seattle’s Asian immigrants. 

An exhibit at the Wing Luke Museum, one of our favorite Seattle museums for kids (photo by Astrid Vinje)

We enjoy visiting the Wing Luke Museum because it helps us see all the many contributions immigrants have made to Seattle history. The exhibits at the museum are often interesting and provocative. And with the rise of Asian hate crimes in the United States in recent years, a place like the Wing Luke Museum is important in promoting understanding and tolerance.

Wing Luke Museum admission costs $17 for adults, $12.50 for teens ages 13-18, and $10 for kids ages 5-12. The museum is open Wednesdays to Mondays from 10am to 5pm. Visitors to the museum can also take a Historic Hotel Tour on a first come first served basis.

10. Seattle Pinball Museum

For fans of old school pinball games, the Seattle Pinball Museum is one of the Seattle museums for kids that’s right up your alley. This museum houses over 50 pinball machines that visitors can play. 

Playing pinball games at the Pinball Museum (photo by Astrid Vinje)

The pinball games range from as old as 1960 to as recent as 2024. We love going to this museum and spending an afternoon playing games.

Like the Wing Luke Museum, the Seattle Pinball Museum is located in the International District. It’s open Thursdays through Mondays from 12pm to 6pm. Admission for adults ages 15 and older is $23, while kids ages 7-14 cost $20. Kids under 7 are free.

11. Northwest African American Museum

The contributions of Seattle's African American community are integral to Seattle’s history. There were free Black settlers among the early settlers in Seattle. And during the Civil Rights Movement, Seattle African Americans played a role in making their voices heard. Within music, Seattle artists like Quincy Jones and Jimi Hendrix have made their mark in history.

Examining an exhibit at the Northwest African American Museum (photo by Astrid Vinje)

The Northwest African American Museum showcases the achievements of the African American community in Seattle. It’s the top choice for Seattle museums for kids that tell the story of African Americans in Seattle throughout the years. Admission into the museum is $7 for adults, and $5 for kids ages 4 to 12. Kids ages 3 and under are free.

12. Museum of Flight

One of our favorite types of Seattle museums for kids are science museums. By far, our favorite science museum among the Seattle area museums is the Museum of Flight.

Checking out airplanes at the Museum of Flight (photo by Astrid Vinje)

Located in south Seattle, the Museum of Flight, has commercial and military airplanes that you can go inside. It also has an interactive space exhibit. Plus, there’s a section of the museum dedicated for young kids, where they can learn about the mechanics of flying through interactive and age-appropriate activities.

The Museum of Flight is a bit of a trek from downtown Seattle, but it's worth the trip. It's open daily from 10am to 5pm. Tickets are $25 for adults, and $16 for youth ages 5 to 17. Children 4 and under are free. Discounts of $1 to $2 are offered if you purchase your tickets online.

Alternatively, you can book tickets to the Museum of Flight on Viator.

13. Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center

In my opinion, no worldschooling visit to a destination would be complete without learning about the indigenous communities of the region. In Seattle, the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center is a great place to do that. 

Looking at art at the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center (photo by Astrid Vinje)

While not technically a museum, it does have a gallery showcasing artwork from indigenous artists, that’s why I include it in this list of Seattle museums for kids. There are also cultural events that happen there from time to time, so you might be lucky and be able to take part in one during your trip to the center.

Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center is open Monday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Admission is free, but you are welcome to provide a donation. There is also the Sacred Circle Gift Shop, which features products made by indigenous artists and crafters. The center is located at Discovery Park in Magnolia, so after a visit to the cultural center, do some outdoor hiking and enjoy the water views.

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14. Nordic Heritage Museum

Seattle has a strong Scandinavian cultural heritage. In the 1800's, Scandinavians from Norway came to Seattle and created communities around the coastal parts of the city. They worked as loggers, farmers, engineers, entrepreneurs, boat builders, and fishermen.

Traditional Nordic clothes at the Nordic Heritage Museum (photo by Astrid Vinje)

While the influence of Norwegians in Seattle is not as strong today, you can still see Nordic traditions celebrated in Seattle, especially on May 17, when the city celebrates Syttende Mai. And one of the Seattle museums for kids that’s great for learning about Seattle’s Norwegian heritage is the National Nordic Museum in Ballard.

The National Nordic Museum showcases exhibits illustrating Scandinavian culture's contributions to Seattle's history. Admission to the museum is $18 for adults, and $10 for children between the ages of 5 and 18. Children ages 4 and under are free.

15. Burke Museum

Within the University of Washington campus is a gem of a museum, the Burke Museum. The museum was renovated a few years ago, and we love the upgrades that were made to it. It’s another excellent choice for science-themed Seattle museums for kids!

An exhibit at the Burke Museum (photo by Astrid Vinje)

My daughter loves the exhibit showcasing the geology and Paleolithic history of the Pacific Northwest (dinosaurs and volcanoes). And we also love the exhibit showcasing the cultures along the Pacific Rim.

The Burke Museum is one of our favorite Seattle museums for kids. It is open every day from 10am to 5pm. Admission into the museum is $22 for adults, and $14 youth ages 5 to 18. Children ages 4 and under are free.

Planning to explore other parts of Washington state? Take a look at my Washington state posts here.

Other Seattle museums for kids to visit

Besides the museums listed above, there are plenty of other Seattle museums for kids that you can visit with your family, especially if you are slow traveling and have significantly more time on your hands.

An exhibit at the Northwest African American Museum (photo by Astrid Vinje)

Take a look at some of our honorable mention Seattle museums for kids.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center is a small exhibit at the Gates Foundation in South Lake Union that showcases global development issues and some of the projects that the Gates Foundation have supported. Admission is free.

Center for Wooden Boats

The Center for Wooden Boats is a living museum located on Lake Union next to MOHAI that offers boat building workshops. You can also take part in their free public sails (first come first served) or rent boats to use on Lake Union.

Henry Art Gallery

Henry Art Gallery is an art gallery at the University of Washington with rotating modern art exhibits. The museum is open from Thursdays to Sundays and has a $0-20 suggested donation.

Seattle Asian Art Museum

Seattle Asian Art Museum is an art museum is an extension of the Seattle Art Museum, focusing specifically on Asian art. Located in Capitol Hill, this museum is open from Thursdays to Sundays.

Duwamish Longhouse

The Duwamish Longhouse is a cultural center for the Duwamish Tribe, the indigenous tribe of the Seattle area (Seattle was named after Chief Si’ahl, the chief of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes). The center is open Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Smith Tower

Smith Tower is Seattle’s original skyscraper. Visitors can take a tour of the observation deck, learn about the history of the tower, and see 360 views of downtown Seattle.

More ideas for Seattle with kids

For more ideas of what to do in Seattle in addition to checking out the Seattle museums for kids, buy one of these Seattle city guides:

Lonely Planet Seattle guide

Fodor's Seattle guide

Moon Seattle guide

Take a look at the other posts I've written about visiting Seattle with kids.

Passing the time at Seattle museums for kids

Visiting Seattle area museums is the perfect way to get to know the city and learn something new in the process. These 15 (and more!) Seattle museums for kids are just a starting point for your kids' educational exploration and your family’s connection to the city of Seattle.

Some of the best museums in Seattle for kids are ones that you wouldn't necessarily think of as being kid-friendly. But somehow, they turn out to be amazing!

Have you come across some fun Seattle museums for kids? Let me know!

Are you hoping to visit Seattle as part of a bigger family adventure? Use my ebook, Hey Kids, Let’s Go Travel! as your guide to planning your family gap year!

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