7 Can't Miss Seattle Museums For Kids

June 10, 2015

Many parents worry about their kids not learning anything during the summer months, but in my opinion, that worry is unfounded. Although kids aren't sitting in a classroom in the summer, chances are they are learning something. One of my favorite ways to incorporate learning into my family's summer activities is by visiting the many Seattle museums for kids.

Seattle is a very family-friendly city located in Washington state. There over 700,000 people who live in the city, including families, so you can be sure that there are plenty of fun activities in Seattle for families. And for those wanting to explore the area around Seattle, there are many options for Seattle day trips all throughout the year.

This post was last updated on August 26, 2021.

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A totem pole at the Burke Museum

Our favorite Seattle museums for kids

The city of Seattle also has plenty of museums that are kid-friendly and educational. You can buy one of these Seattle city guides to give you ideas for museums to visit:

Lonely Planet Seattle guide

Fodor's Seattle guide

Moon Seattle guide

But keep in mind, not all museums are created equal! For families, specifically, some of the museums in those guides may not be the most family-friendly. If you're in your travel planning phase, trying to plan museums to visiting during your trip to Seattle, there are my picks for the best Seattle museums for kids.

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

Pioneer Square, one of Seattle's most historic neighborhoods (July 2018)

1. Children's Museum

The Seattle Center in South Lake Union is home to a variety of family-friendly attractions, including the Children's Museum. Located in the Armory building, this museum has exhibits for kids of all ages. Our favorite is the Global Village exhibit, which gives you a glimpse of what it's like being in another country.

The Children's Museum is one of my family's favorite Seattle area museums. It is open from Tuesday through Sunday, from 10am to 5pm. Admission is $12.00 for adults and kids.

A young child playing with toy food at the Seattle Children's Museum, one of the Seattle museums for kids.
Doing food play at the Seattle Children's Museum (May 2013)

2. Museum of History and Industry

Also in 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. We love the interactive aspects of the museum, and kids are encouraged to submit and share their own ideas for innovation.

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 aged 14 and under are free, but must be accompanied by a chaperone.

The exterior of the Museum of History and Industry, one of many Seattle museums for kids
Museum of History and Industry (June 2014)

3. Burke Museum

Within the University of Washington campus is a gem of a museum, the Burke Museum. We recently went here for the first time a few weeks ago, and were surprised at how cool it was. My daughter loved the exhibit showcasing the geology and Paleolithic history of the Pacific Northwest (dinosaurs and volcanoes). And we loved the exhibit showcasing the cultures along the Pacific Rim.

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

Learning about Native American art (May 2015)

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4. Seattle Art Museum

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

Located in the heart of downtown Seattle, SAM, as Seattleites like to call it, has quite an impressive list of features 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, and Fridays 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 aged 13-17. Kids 12 and under are free.

Playing at the Seattle Art Museum (October 2013)

5. Frye Art Museum

Another one of the best museums in Seattle that's surprisingly kid-friendly is the Frye Art Museum. We watched a spectacular avante garde music and art performance at the Frye Art Museum a few months ago. It showcased a very talented musician friend of mine.

Frye Art Museum is one of those Seattle museums that prides itself on presenting new and innovative art. The exhibits often combine visual art with performance art. 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. The museum is open Tuesdays through Wednesdays, and Fridays through Sundays from 11am to 5pm. It is open on Thursdays from 11am to 7pm.

Music and art exhibit at Frye Art Gallery (January 2015)

6. MoPOP

One of my favorite Seattle museums for kids, though arguably one of the more expensive and touristy museums, is MoPOP. During our first year in Seattle after coming back from DC, we bought a membership to MoPOP (known as the EMP/Sci-Fi Museum at the time). It was well worth the price.

We saw an Avatar exhibit and an exhibit dedicated to horror films. The music portion of the museum is amazing too. I love the exhibit showcasing the history of the guitar. But my kids love the jam room, where they can have a chance to try out and play various instruments.

Tickets to MoPop cost $36 for adults, and $21 for youth aged 5 to 17. Children 4 and under are free. Online tickets are $2 cheaper. You'll have to pay extra for the special exhibits. MoPop is open every day from 10am to 5pm.

The exterior of MoPop, one of the many Seattle museums for kids.
The exterior of MoPOP (February 2015)

7. 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. Located in south Seattle, the Museum of Flight, has commercial and military airplanes that you can go inside. It even has an interactive space exhibit. There's also 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 aged 5 to 17. Children 4 and under are free. Discounts of $1 to $2 are offered if you purchase your tickets online.

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

Airplanes at the Museum of Flight, one of many Seattle museums for kids
Airplanes at the Museum of Flight (January 2015)

Other Seattle museums for kids to visit

Besides the Seattle museums listed above, there plenty of other museums that you can visit with your kids, especially if you are slow traveling and have significantly more time on your hands. Many of these museums are cultural-based. They give a glimpse into the city's unique cultural history.

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience: showcases Seattle's Asian American history.

Northwest African American Museum: highlights the importance of Seattle's Black community and Black history.

Nordic Heritage Museum: dedicated to teaching about Seattle's Scandinavian history.

Klondike Gold Rush Museum: a United States National Park focused on the Gold Rush.

Living Computers: Museum + Labs: drawn from Paul Allen's private collection of computers, focusing on the history of technology.

An exhibit at the Nordic Heritage Museum (July 2018)

Passing the time at Seattle museums for kids

For long summer days, visiting Seattle area museums are a great way to pass the time and learn something new in the process. These seven Seattle museums for kids are just a starting point for your kids' educational exploration.

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? Share your experiences in the comments!

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!

Seven Fun Seattle Museums For Kids | The Wandering Daughter | Suggestions for seven museums for kids in Seattle, WA, U.S.A.

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