Tucked up against the Canadian border in the Pacific Northwest, the state of Washington is a great place to spend some time with your kids.
Mount Rainier National Park is renowned for its natural beauty, but other outdoor attractions include Old McDebbie's Farm, the Cat Tales wildlife sanctuary, and the Wolf Haven International, where you'll have the chance to spot rescued wolves in their natural habitat.
If you're looking for some indoor fun, you can visit the Pacific Science Center, marvel at the marine life in the Seattle Aquarium, or participate in a tasting at the Root Beer Store.
1. Bremerton Bug and Reptile Museum
© Bremerton Bug and Reptile Museum
If your kids have a natural interest in bugs or reptiles, the Bremerton Bug and Reptile Museum is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. There are plenty of live creepy crawlies to see, including tarantulas, pythons, and an eight-foot ant farm, and kids can even peer through glasses that show what bug vision is like.
The exhibits are interesting enough to keep kids entertained on their own, but the museum also offers scavenger hunts designed to help kids find the most interesting things in the exhibits.
Bremerton Bug and Reptile Museum, 1118 Charleston Beach Rd W, Bremerton, WA 98312, Phone: 360-373-7691
2. Cat Tales
© Cat Tales
Originally established to provide a safe home for rescued big cats, Cat Tales is an animal sanctuary that is now home to more than 35 big felines as well as a handful of rescued non-feline creatures. The animal population is constantly shifting, but visitors can expect to see big cats like leopards, lions, and tigers as well as other animals like turtles, foxes, and coyotes.
For an additional fee, visitors can also feed one of the sanctuary's tigers, lions, or black bears. Visitors are welcome Tuesday through Sunday year-round, and discounted admission is offered for kids between the ages of 4 and 12.
, 17020 N Newport Hwy, Mead, WA 99021, Phone: 509-238-4126
3. Chihuly Garden and Glass
Located inside the Seattle Center, Chihuly Garden and Glass is a unique exhibit space that showcases the work of glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. The centerpiece of the space is the 40-foot-tall Glasshouse, an airy glass structure that features a 100-foot-long glass sculpture suspended from the ceiling, but there are also eight galleries, an outdoor garden dotted with glass installations, and a theater that plays short films about Chihuly’s work and the art of glassblowing.
After exploring the exhibit and the garden, you can pick up a souvenir in the bookstore or enjoy a bite to eat in the beautifully decorated cafe.
305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109, Phone: 206-753-4940, Map
4. Children's Museum of Tacoma
© Children's Museum of Tacoma
Designed especially for kids eight and younger, the Children's Museum of Tacoma is full of interactive playscapes that encourage kids to exercise their creativity through self-directed play. There are five main areas for kids to explore, including a water play area, a room full of play tools for inventing things, and an art studio.
Every Friday between September and May, the museum hosts a musical program for kids and their caretakers. The museum is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, and the museum is open for members only on Mondays. Admission is by donation.
Children's Museum of Tacoma, 1501 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402, Phone: 253-627-6031
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5. Children’s Museum of Walla Walla
© Children’s Museum of Walla Walla
Open since 2004, the Children’s Museum of Walla Walla provides a safe, nurturing environment for kids to learn and explore their creativity through play. The interactive indoor exhibits give children the opportunity to practice preparing healthy meals, learn about physics by playing with magnets, and splash around in an educational water table, and there's an outdoor play area with a fire truck and a ship for kids to play on.
Another highlight of the museum is the rotating seasonal exhibit, where kids can rake leaves in the fall, throw snowballs in the winter, and participate in other seasonally appropriate activities.
Children’s Museum of Walla Walla, 77 Wain Wright Dr, Walla Walla, WA 99362, Phone: 509-526-7529
6. Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour
© Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour
Only 30 miles outside of Seattle, the Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour is the only place in the country where members of the public can tour a commercial jet assembly plant. Visitors can learn about the history and future of human flight through the interactive exhibits in the gallery, but the highlight of any visit is the 90-minute tour of the production plant.
Discounted admission is offered for visitors under the age of 15, but visitors should be aware that children under 4 feet tall will not be permitted to participate in the tour.
Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour, 8415 Paine Field Blvd, Mukilteo, WA 98275, Phone: 800-464-1476
7. Mobius Science Center
© Mobius Science Center
Best suited to kids 8 and older, the Mobius Science Center provides endless opportunities to learn about science-related topics like medicine, robotics, energy, aeronautics, and more. The museum boasts more than 60 exhibits, many of which feature interactive components that allow kids to do things like build their own flying machines, make pennies float with powerful magnets, and break open geodes to discover the crystals inside. The center is open Tuesday through Sunday, and on the weekends, there are special hands-on lab activities that are open to all visitors who have paid the admission fee.
Mobius Science Center, 331 N Post St, Spokane, WA 99201, Phone: 509-321-7133
8. Mount Rainier National Park
© Scott Bufkin/stock.adobe.com
Home to the highest peak in Washington, Mount Rainier National Park is a true paradise for nature lovers. Most visitors won't make it up to the top of the park's namesake peak, but there are plenty of shorter hiking trails the whole family can enjoy, including the peaceful Hot Springs Trail and the Grove of the Patriarchs Loop Trail. If you have more time, you can also hike the 3-mile Silver Falls Trail, which leads to a beautiful waterfall.
However, it's just as fun to explore the park by car, and excellent stops include the Reflection Lakes, Emmons Vista, and Box Canyon. More info
9. Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum
© Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum
Formerly known as the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad, the Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum is a historic railroad located in the charming town of Elbe. Visitors can hop aboard a heritage steam train, which chugs through the forest to another small town called Mineral, where there's a fascinating logging museum with a collection of historic logging locomotives.
The railroad also operates several special holiday trains, including a Charlie Brown-themed ride to the pumpkin patch during the Halloween season and a festive Polar Express train ride during the Christmas season. Discounted tickets are offered for kids between the ages of 3 and 11.
Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum, 54124 Mountain Hwy E, Elbe, WA 98330, Phone: 360-492-5391
10. Museum of Flight
© Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight is the world's biggest private museum of air and space, and it boasts a collection of more than 175 historic aircraft and spacecraft, including an Air Force One, the first ever Boeing 747, and a mock-up of the Apollo Lunar Module.
There are also plenty of fascinating exhibit galleries to explore, with highlights including a multi-sensory gallery that traces the history of space flight and a Personal Courage Wing that displays aircraft from World Wars I and II. Exciting 3D films are played in the theater several times a day, and family workshops are sometimes held on the weekends.
Museum of Flight, 9404 E Marginal Way S, Seattle, WA 98108, Phone: 206-764-5700
11. Northern Pacific Railway Museum
© Northern Pacific Railway Museum
Housed inside the historic 1911 Toppenish railroad depot, the Northern Pacific Railway Museum is a museum the whole family can enjoy. The depot has been restored and furnished to look as it would have in the 1930s, and various engines and train cars are on display outside.
During the Christmas season, the museum also displays more than 40 festive model trains, including a life-size model train that brings kids to visit Santa Claus. Complimentary hot chocolate and cookies are offered during this event, and there are also crafts and other hands-on activities for kids to enjoy. More weekend getaways from Seattle
Northern Pacific Railway Museum, 10 Asotin Ave, Toppenish, WA 98948, Phone: 509-865-1911
12. Northwest Carriage Museum
© Northwest Carriage Museum
With its incredible collection of historic carriages, wagons, and buggies, the Northwest Carriage Museum takes visitors back to the days when horse-drawn vehicles were the main method of transportation. More than 50 beautifully restored 19th-century vehicles are on display, and there are also several displays of period clothing and other artifacts.
Guided tours can be arranged for groups, and the guides are happy to tailor the tour to each individual group. At the back of the museum, there's a kids' playroom with a one room schoolhouse, period dress-up clothes, and a wagon that kids can climb in.
Northwest Carriage Museum, 314 Alder St, Raymond, WA 98577, Phone: 360-942-4150
13. Old McDebbie's Farm
© Old McDebbie's Farm
Family owned and operated since 1999, Old McDebbie's Farm is a fun place to learn about animals and connect with nature. Guests are welcome to explore the farm and visit the animals on their own, and guided tours are offered several times a day. For an additional fee, kids can take a pony ride, feed the animals, and go fishing for rainbow trout in the pond.
The farm is open between March and October, and special events are held several times a year, including Easter egg hunts, Mother's and Father's Day picnics, and a summertime Lady Bug Festival.
Old McDebbie's Farm, 4924 268th St E, Spanaway, WA 98387, Phone: 253-875-0356
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14. Olympic Game Farm
© Olympic Game Farm
Originally a home for animal actors that appeared in TV shows and movies, the Olympic Game Farm is now a drive-through wildlife exhibit. Animals found here include Kodiak bears, llamas, yaks, and bison, and animals will often approach visitors' cars to say hello. Whole wheat bread can be purchased to feed the animals, and visitors can also bring their own bread if it's labelled as 100% whole wheat.
Driving tours are available all throughout the year, and during the summer, there's also a walk-through petting zoo and a freshwater aquarium. Admission is free for kids 5 and under.
Olympic Game Farm, 1423 Ward Rd, Sequim, WA 98382, Phone: 360-683-4295
15. Orcas Island Historical Museum
© Orcas Island Historical Museum
Sitting in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Washington, Orcas Island has a unique history, much of which is documented at the Orcas Island Historical Museum. The museum displays are housed inside six original homestead cabins from the late 19th century, and each cabin is dedicated to a certain aspect of history.
Visitors will learn about the history of the island's first European settlers, hear the fascinating story of the island's "Barefoot Bandit", and see a 14,000-year-old bison skull. There are also some exhibits that focus on the history and culture of the North Straits Salish people, the island's first residents.
Orcas Island Historical Museum, 181 N Beach Rd, Eastsound, WA 98245, Phone: 360-376-4849
16. Pacific Science Center
© Bill Perry/stock.adobe.com
Conveniently located at the Seattle Center, the Pacific Science Center was created to educate people of all ages about nature, science, and the environment. There are hundreds of hands-on exhibits covering an incredible range of topics, and kids can create their own inventions in the Tinker Tank, learn about physics and electricity on the Science Playground, and see rare animals in the Living Exhibits.
If your kids love butterflies, the tropical butterfly house is well worth a visit as well. There are also a handful of immersive VR experiences, and other high-tech attractions include a massive Laser Dome theater, a planetarium, and two IMAX theaters.
Pacific Science Center, 200 2nd Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109, Phone: 206-443-2001
17. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Occupying almost 30 acres in Tacoma's Point Defiance Park, the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium offers the chance to see thousands of fascinating land and marine animals. There zoo houses animals from almost 370 species, which are displayed in exhibits representing several different areas of the Pacific Rim, including the Asian forest, the Arctic tundra, and the waters of the South Pacific.
Exciting animal encounters are held on a daily basis, and there's also a fun Kids' Zone, where little ones can feed goats, swing like lemurs on the playground, and see meerkats, turtles, and frogs.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, 5400 N Pearl St, Tacoma, WA 98407, Phone: 253-404-3800
18. Seattle Aquarium
Another wonderful place to learn about the wonders of the underwater world, the Seattle Aquarium can be found right on the waterfront in downtown Seattle. There are plenty of different exhibits to explore, many of which are dedicated to the marine life of Puget Sound and the Washington coast, and there are several tide pool touch zones.
The aquarium also offers daily encounter programs with octopuses and marine mammals like seals and otters, and on the weekends, there are diver shows as well. The aquarium is open seven days a week, and both one- and two-day admission passes are available.
Seattle Aquarium, 1483 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98101, Phone: 206-386-4300
19. The Outback Kangaroo Farm
© The Outback Kangaroo Farm
If you want to show your kids what life is like Down Under without having to fly all the way to Australia, it doesn't get any better than the Outback Kangaroo Farm.
The kangaroos and wallabies are the highlight, but all sorts of other animals live here as well, including lemurs, peacocks, and wallaroos. All visitors are required to take a guided tour, which will include one-on-one interactions with animals and the opportunity to ask as many questions as you like. The farm is open Thursday through Sunday between March and October, and tours are offered four times a day.
The Outback Kangaroo Farm, 10030 State Rte 530 NE, Arlington, WA 98223, Phone: 360-403-7474
20. The Whale Museum
© The Whale Museum
Established in 1976 to study the endangered Southern Resident orcas that live in the Pacific Northwest, the Whale Museum is dedicated to protecting these gentle giants and educating visitors about how they live in the wild.
The museum boasts two floors of exhibits, but highlights include the real whale skeletons, the life-size whale models, and an exhibit commemorating a young orca who washed up on the shore in 2012. Guided tours are available for groups, but if you'd rather explore the museum on your own, you can pick up an informative Explorer Guide from the front desk.
The Whale Museum, 62 First St N, Friday Harbor, WA 98250, Phone: 360-378-4710
21. Wolf Haven International
© Wolf Haven International
A nationally recognized sanctuary that provides a safe home for hundreds of rescued wolves, Wolf Haven International offers the unique opportunity to get a close-up look at wolves in their natural habitat.
Visitors can take 50-minute guided walking tours of the sanctuary while learning about wolves in the wild and in captivity, but because the center primarily serves as a sanctuary, there's no guarantee of how many wolves you'll see during your visit. Tours are best suited to kids aged six and older. Opening hours vary according to the season, but visits must always be arranged in advance.
Wolf Haven International
, 3111 Offut Lake Rd SE, Tenino, WA 98589, Phone: 360-264-4695
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22. World Kite Museum
© World Kite Museum
You'll usually spot a kite or two while you're on any of the Washington beaches, but if you've never given a second thought to these colorful toys, it's worth paying a visit to the World Kite Museum.
The exhibits cover topics like the history of kites and the many practical ways in which they've been used over the years, and of course, there are plenty of kites on display. The museum is open year-round, but the best time to come is during the third week of August, when the International Kite Festival takes place and hundreds of kites take to the sky.
World Kite Museum, 303 SW Sid Snyder Dr, Long Beach, WA 98631, Phone: 360-642-4020
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