Traveling with little explorers in tow? Head straight to Seattle Center (*305 Harrison St; seattlecenter.com), on the north edge of downtown, where three family-friendly museums offer fantastic fun for all.
Spend time gazing up at the Space Needle (*400 Broad St; spaceneedle.com)—or taking a trip to the observation deck up top—before heading into the colorful EMP Museum (*325 Fifth Ave N; empmuseum.org). Kids love the three-story instrument tower made up of guitars and keyboards, as well as the interactive Sound Lab, where they can bang on drums or strum a guitar. For teens, the Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic exhibit has plenty of props from Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings films, and The Princess Bride, while Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film is just scary cool.
For those 10 and younger, the nearby Seattle Children’s Museum (*305 Harrison St; thechildrensmuseum.org) has 22,000 square feet of interactive play space. Little ones can build a fort, splash on the water table, go hunting for bugs in a play forest, and paint away in the craft room.
About a five-minute walk away, the free Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center (*440 Fifth Ave N; gatesfoundation.org/visitor-center) keeps the entire family engaged with awareness-raising exhibits about how the foundation is trying to help the world. Tweens can follow in the footsteps of someone who has to walk miles every day for clean water or try inventing their own life-saving solutions in the Innovation & Inspiration Gallery.
For another action-packed day, the Museum of History & Industry (*860 Terry Ave N; mohai.org)—or MOHAI for short—in the South Lake Union neighborhood and the Museum of Flight (*9404 E Marginal Way S; museumofflight.org) in Georgetown are both Seattle must-sees. MOHAI sits on the picturesque Lake Union waterfront and features exhibits about the city’s maritime heritage, regional history, and Seattle-born innovations—think everything from a Model T to a patent tree. Meanwhile, the Museum of Flight celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2015 and showcases the Puget Sound’s rich aviation legacy with the original Boeing manufacturing facility and more than 150 air and spacecraft on display.