What’s better than a video game that your kids can play over and over again? A membership to one of the many exciting places in Seattle that your kids visit over and over again (for a year at least). From hands-on museums and pop culture excitement, to the great outdoors and live encounters with wild animals, we’ve put together a definitive list of all the good places that families like to visit (and linger) many times over. Read on for our top picks.

photo: Sunshine M. via Yelp

Indoor & Outdoor Fun

Woodland Park Zoo
In an informal poll, the Woodland Park Zoo was the most highly sought after membership by families in the Seattle area, and for good reason: there’s something for everyone! In addition to the hundreds of animals found throughout the 92 acres that make up the zoo, there are plenty of outdoor spaces to run around (including playgrounds) if you get tired of looking at animals, an indoor play space known as Zoomazium, excellent educational opportunities, a restored 1918 carousel, gift shops and large indoor food court. Membership benefits include half-price guest admissions, early access to special events and more.

Woodland Park Zoo
601 N. 59th St.
Seattle, Wa 98103
Online: zoo.org

Open: Daily, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. (extended hours during the spring & summer)
Annual Membership: $69/Flexible Guest Adult; $49/Named Adult; $19/Child; Under 2 Free

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is the only combined zoo and aquarium in the Pacific Northwest spread out over 29 acres. Next to Mount Rainier, it is the #2 tourist destination in Pierce County. While your kids may not be impressed with those facts, they will enjoy getting up close and personal to the live sharks, riding a camel and exploring the interactive Kids’ Zone. Combo membership benefits includes free admission to Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville.

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
5400 N. Pearl St.
Tacoma, Wa 98407
Online: pdza.org

Open: Daily, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. (extended hours in the spring & summer)
Annual Membership: $124/Household (two adults and all children); $100/One Plus One (two members)

photo: Maria P. via Yelp

Seattle Aquarium
For city-dwellers along the sea, a membership to the Seattle Aquarium is sure to instill a life-long love of all the cuddly and prickly creatures that live in the briny depths off our shore. The Aquarium is particularly great for the pre-k crowd as well as any budding environmentalists in your family who want to learn more about conservation efforts that affect the waters in the Pacific Northwest. Membership benefits include early admissions to the aquarium on select days (which means you get the place all to yourself!), two half-price guests admissions with every visit and 10% off on all gift shop and cafe purchases.

Seattle Aquarium
1483 Alaskan Way
Seattle, Wa 98101
Online: seattleaquarium.org

Open: Daily, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Annual Membership: $189/Family Plus (2 adults, 5 children, 1 guest); $149/Family (2 adults, 5 children)

Museum of Flight
For a city full of kids who have parents skilled in engineering, aeronautics, technology and adventure-travel, the Museum of Flight is the perfect place to unleash those great little minds to dream big about the wide world. With all sorts of planes that you can see, touch and climb inside, this museum fulfills the Seattle requirements of being both a super cool (and educational) place to get your wiggles out, as well as being indoors which is an added bonus when you want to take the your WWII history-buff Gramps out for a weekend adventure, but it’s pouring cats and dogs. Upgrade to an “Aviator Membership” to get free admission for kids under 18, and four free one-time guest passes.

Museum of Flight
9404 E. Marginal Way S.
Seattle, Wa 98108
Online: museumofflight.org

Open: Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Annual Membership: $100/Family; $75/Two Adults

Although usually marketed for tourists, if you are new to town, or want to try out a bunch of spots before committing to a full year’s membership…or if you just want to cram as much adventure as possibly into your kids’ Winter Break, consider getting your family a CityPASS. Valid for over a week once you start to use it (9 days to be exact), your CityPASS will give you access to a day/night Space Needle pass, the Seattle Aquarium and an Argosy Cruise around the Seattle harbor. Plus you’ll also get a choice of attending the MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture) or the Woodland Park Zoo and a choice of the Chihuly Garden and Glass or the Pacific Science Center. Phew! Whirlwind mandatory fun begins now!

Buy online: citypass.com/seattle

Cost: $79/Adults (13 & up); $59/Kids (4-12)

photo: Pexels

Outdoors-y Fun

Parks & Forests
If you’re like most Northwest-y families, a Discover Pass is probably already on your “must get” list each summer, as it is your year-long ticket to the great outdoors and all of Washington’s state parks and recreation lands. If you and your family are already avid hikers, campers,  snowshoers, bird-watchers or beach-goers (or maybe this year is finally the year you commit to getting outside more), why not get your Discover Pass early and start planning a super-fun winter excursion or your camping trips for spring. Check out the Northwest Forest Pass for easy year-round access to all of Washington and Oregon’s National Forest lands. Or surprise your family with a multi-state road trip this summer and get them the Annual National Park Pass.

Discover Pass: $30/car ($35 if purchased online or by phone)
Buy online: discoverpass.wa.gov

Annual Northwest Forest Pass: $30/car
Buy online: discovernw.org/store

Annual National Park and Federal Recreation Land Pass: $80/car
Buy online: discovernw.org/store

photo: The Center for Wooden Boats 

The Center for Wooden Boats
For a city on the Sound, and surrounded on all sides by lakes and waterways, we’re lucky to have boats and ships (and sea planes!) galore to gaze at as well as to adventure out on. If you have a budding sailor (or pirate!) in your midst, then a membership to The Center for Wooden Boats will be sure to delight. Membership gives you 20-40% off of boat and canoe rentals at the CWB, so if you’re an experienced rower or sailor you can get underway right away. If you’re new to boating (or boat making), membership also provides up to $250 off of some of their amazing classes and workshops (including ones just for young people like kayak building or paddle carving, or how about a family sailing class?). Ahoy, Matey!

The Center for Wooden Boats
1010 Valley St.,
Seattle, Wa 98109
Online: cwb.org

Open: Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (during the winter); open until 8 p.m. in spring/summer
Annual Membership: $75/household (everyone at the same mailing address)

Bloedel Reserve
If you’re looking for a civilized tradition for your family walks and want to add some culture to your outdoor exploration, consider frequenting the Bloedel Reserve. Just a stone’s throw (OK, a ferry ride and a quick drive…) away from downtown Seattle, the Bloedel Reserve offers a spectacular amount of botanical eye-candy in the form of formal gardens, wooded trails, tranquil vistas and delightful Asian and Colonial architecture. Truly a wonderful day trip (pack your picnic!) and great place to take out-of-town guests—you’ll leave the Bloedel Reserve wondering why it took you so long to get back there.

Bloedel Reserve
7571 N.E. Dolphin Drive,
Bainbridge Island, Wa 98110
Online: bloedelreserve.org

Open: Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Annual Pass: $135/Family (six members); $100/Family (four members); $75/Dual (two members)

photo: Ed U. via Yelp

Seattle Japanese Garden
Perfect for families with strollers or other mobility issues, as many of the paths are paved or nicely graveled, the Japanese Garden is a little closer to the city. Although smaller in size than the Bloedel Reserve, Seattle’s Japanese Garden has a spectacular offering of seasonal flowers and trees. Its meticulous maintenance might make you feel guilty about your own yard, but it is also the perfect spot for a serene moment with your family and to honor the connection that the Northwest has to Japan and Asia. This is also an amazing membership idea is you have any budding photographers in your crew.

Seattle Japanese Garden
1075 Lake Washington Blvd. E.
Seattle, Wa 98112
Online: seattlejapanesegarden.org

Open: Hours vary depending on month. (Closed Dec.-Apr.). Check website for admission times.
Annual Pass: $30/Family (two adults & children)

Northwest Trek
Although a little out-of-the-way for those north of downtown, Northwest Trek is a dream-come-true for any family that is enamored with the call of the wild. Admission includes a narrated tour through the park in the tram (open-windowed, heated buses so you can get up close and personal with the animals) where you can see elk, moose, bighorn sheep and bison in their natural(-ish) environment. Then, take a walk through their awesome zoo where you’ll see grizzly bears, wolves and cougars, along with many other native-to-the-Northwest species. There’s also the Discovery Center where you can get some hands-on learning about local animals and Kid’s Trek, an awesome playground where everyone can burn off the crazies. And although not included in the membership price, Northwest Trek also has outrageous zip lines and ropes courses for kids ages six and up that you’ll certainly want to add into your plans. A fun membership advantage is that Trek members also get 20% off admission to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma.

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park
11610 Trek Dr. E.,
Eatonville, Wa  98328
Online: nwtrek.org

Open: Fri.-Sun., 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Additional weekday hours vary depending on the month. Check the website for admission times). Closed holidays.
Annual Membership: $125/Household (two adults & children under 18); $100/Dual (two adults)

Photo: KidQuest Children’s Museum

Families with Tiny Tots

Children’s Museums
Whomever decided it was a good idea to create museums just for kids and families has earned a well-deserved spot in the Great Ideas Hall of Fame. These play-based learning centers are full of hands-on, interactive exhibits that will keep your kiddos entertained for hours and serve as an awesome gathering place for groups of families looking to get out together. If you have toddlers in your life, an annual membership may just be the best money you ever spent. You’ll be surprised by how much fun you’ll have building forts in Seattle’s Children’s Museum, playing in the water at KidsQuest Children’s Museum in Bellevue, exploring the giant tree house or planting a carrot patch at the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia or digging for dinosaur bones on the Tall Timbers Rooftop Adventure at the Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett.

Seattle Children’s Museum
305 Harrison St.,
Seattle, Wa 98109
Online: thechildrensmuseum.org

Open: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Annual Membership: $85/Family (one adult & one child); $20/Additional Adult or Child; $18/Additional Grandparent

KidsQuest Children’s Museum
1116 108th Ave. NE.
Bellevue, Wa 98004
Online: kidsquestmuseum.org

Open: Tues.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri., 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat. 9 a.m-5 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m.
Annual Membership: $95/Family (one adult & one child); $30/Additional Adult or Child

Hands On Children’s Museum
414 Jefferson St. N.E.
Online: hocm.org

Open: Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun.-Mon., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Annual Membership: $175/Deluxe (two adults and children + two guests); $145/Basic Family (two adults & children); $105/One Plus One (one adult & one child). Other options are available.

Imagine Children’s Museum
1502 Wall St.
Everett, Wa 98201
Online: imaginecm.org

Open: Tues.-Wed., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thur.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Annual Membership: $130/Household (two adults & children); $90/Two Fun (one adult & one child)

photo: Romp

Pay-to-Play Cafés
If you happen to be one of the many (many) parents in the Seattle area with a caffeine addiction, for whom a home-brewed cuppa Joe just won’t do, and/or who finds yourself making play dates at coffee houses just so that your kiddos can go get someone else’s play space all messy while you enjoy your latte, then it’s probably time to invest in a membership to one of the lovely pay-to-play cafés in town. Play Date Sea in Seattle offers 8,000 sq. feet of play space for the kids (including an interactive dance floor, climbing walls and lots of places to crawl and explore) and a nice cafe that offers inexpensive kids meals, snacks a large beverage menu for mom dad. ROMP in Bellevue has a light and modern ambiance, and a full kitchen for you to use (or great order-in options, too). For the little ones, there’s a large, active-play area, as well as ample space for your kiddos to do everything from paint a masterpiece to build forts to play dress-up. The Play Happy Cafe in Lynnwood is designed for kids ages 0-6 (and their favorite adults who can hang out in the cafe enjoying delicious food and free WiFi).

13500 Bel-Red Road, Suite 7
Bellevue Wa, 98005
Online: romp.com

Open: Mon.-Tues., 9:45 a.m.-5 p.m.; Wed. 9:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Closed Thurs.-Sun.
Membership: $98/month for Blue Level (one child full-time access + classes); $75/month for Yellow Level (one child a.m./p.m. access but no classes); $60/month for Red Level (one child morning and afternoon only). $50 registration fee. Additional children add $15-$30.

PlayDate SEA
1275 Mercer St.
Seattle, Wa, 98109
Online: playdatesea.com

Open: Sun.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Fri.-Sat., 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Membership: $188/25 visits for Royal Player Pass (age 4 & up); $88/10 visits for Player Pass (age 4 & up); $94/25 visits for Royal Toddler Pass (age 3 & under); $44/10 visits for Toddler Pass (age 3 & under).

Play Happy Cafe
4114 198th St. S.W., Suite 3
Lynnwood, Wa, 98036
Online: playhappycafe.com

Open: Mon.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Fri., 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Closed on weekends during the summer)
Membership: $180/20 visits; ($135 for sibling); $135/10 visits ($72 for sibling)

photo: Sunshine Music Together

Music Classes
Toddlers and little kids love to sing and shout and shake their “groove thangs.” If your little sweetie belts out the “Wheels on the Bus” every time you get in the car or turns everything into a drum, it’s probably time to check out the vast array of music classes offered in our area. There are classes for every age, in every neighborhood, every single day of the week. So whether you’re home with the kiddos and need something to fill that pre-nap gap on Wednesday mornings, or you want to spend some quality weekend time learning songs for your next road trip, our guide to kids music classes around Seattle is sure to find a winner that fits your family. (Note: While not truly a “membership,” these classes are usually offered in sessions lasting between 9-15 weeks and are an awesome way to jump-start the year with a little family fun.)

Families with Older Kids

Pacific Science Center 
Whether you’re a science buff, a sucker for IMAX movies or just love the butterfly house, the Pacific Science Center is a Seattle mainstay for indoor fun no matter your age. With amazing new exhibits each year the Science Center always has something mind-expanding to offer its visitors. Members also get access to free laser and planetarium shows year-round as well as a number of free IMAX and guest passes to the Science Center.

Pacific Science Center
200 Second Ave. N.
Seattle, Wa 98109
Online: pacificsciencecenter.org

Open: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed Tuesdays); Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Annual Membership: $125/Family (up to eight members); $98/Dual (two members—one must be an adult)

Photo: Ren G. via Yelp

Emerald City Trapeze Arts
For something completely different, why not jump on the flying trapeze with your kids?! If you’ve got tweens or teens (or even elementary school kids) who are showing the signs of being early adrenaline junkies, Emerald City Trapeze Arts is a great way to indulge their desire to jump from extreme heights in (relative) safety and to learn from the pros! Memberships at Emerald City can get pretty pricey (up to $8,800/year), but they also offer monthly membership and a variety of classes, however too many to list here. Just imagine the pictures you could take for your Christmas card next year!

Emerald City Trapeze Arts
2702 6th Ave. S.
Seattle, Wa 98134
Online: emeraldcitytrapeze.com

Open: Class times and days vary. See website for details.
Annual Membership: $4,400-$8,800
Monthly Membership: $400-$849

photo: Sari Marissa G. via Yelp

Museums That Inspire, Delight & Educate
If you’re aching for some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing, or if that trip to Europe didn’t pan out and you need an excuse to inject some culture into your family’s world, an annual membership to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum or to the Seattle Art Museum  are sure to fit the bill.

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum
The Glass Museum is dazzlingly eye-popping, and also a sure fire way to start discussions about “What is art?” Watch the gardens come and alive and change throughout the year and just take in all of the color. Members enjoy special access to new exhibits as well.

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum
305 Harrison St.,
Seattle, Wa 98109
Online: chihulygardenandglass.com

Open: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Annual Membership: $220/Family (two adults & up to four children)

Seattle Art Museum (SAM)
SAM’s permanent exhibits are so nicely curated that you can visit them again and again and always find something new to inspire you. The visiting exhibits are world-class; you’ll make a special visit just to check them out. There’s also fun kid spaces in the museum that will give your young Monets the opportunity to finally get their hands on some of the art-sy goodies. Membership at SAM will also get you into the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Seattle Art Museum
1300 1st Ave.
Seattle, Wa 98101
Online: seattleartmuseum.org

Open: Wed.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (open Thurs. until 9 p.m.)
Annual Membership: $109/Family (two adults & all children); $99/Dual (two members)


photo: Natalia Dotto Photography

Museum of History and Industry
MOHAI in South Lake Union is a wonderful indoor activity for families with kids of all ages, but the membership program is particularly great for families with older kids since children under 14 are free. Older kids will enjoy some of the more in depth exhibits, like the Bezos Center for Innovation, and adults and grandparents will get a kick out of the uniquely Seattle characters on display like J.P Patches.

Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI)
860 Terry Ave. N.
Seattle, Wa 98109
Online: mohai.org

Open: Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Open until 8 p.m. during the first Free Thursday of the month. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Annual Membership: $95/Family (up to two adults & all children under 17)

Washington State History Museum
If history is your thing, the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma is full of cool paraphernalia from the past. For full-on entertainment, membership doubles as admission to the Capital Museum in Olympia as well as the Washington state Historical Society. Score!

Washington State History Museum
1911 Pacific Ave.
Tacoma, Wa, 98402
Online: washingtonhistory.org

Open: Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Open until 8 p.m. the third Free Thursday of the month.
Membership: $75/Family (up to two adults & all children under 17); $60/Dual (two members)

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Established in 1899, the Burke Museum is the oldest natural history museum west of the Mississippi River and contains more than 16 million artifacts, including the world’s largest collection of spread bird wings. It is located on the campus of the University of Washington.

Burke Museum
17th Ave. N.E. & N.E. 45th St.
Seattle, Wa 98195
Online: burkemuseum.org

Open: Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Annual Membership: $75/Family (two adults & up to four children under 18); $55/Dual (two adults)

photo: S.L. via Yelp

MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture)
Formerally known as the Experience Music Project, MoPOP still contains lots of artifacts from the Seattle music scene (Including Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Jimmi Hendrix to name a few), but now the museum has expanded its focus to include all forms of popular culture including movies, science fiction, comic books, television, local sports, mythology and lots more. With ever-expanding exhibits, this will be the spot you return to again and again.

325 5th Ave. N.
Seattle, Wa 98109
Online: mopop.org

Open: Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Annual Membership: $125/Family (two adults & up to five children); $89/Dual (two members)

Good to Know: Be sure to check out the membership pages linked above for additional benefits far beyond your year-round entrance fees. Many memberships provide extra perks that add up to tons of savings!

In this age of gift cards and Groupons, a membership or annual pass is the type of out-of-the-box-and-into-the-envelope thinking that will give you a year’s supply of good times for your family. Did we miss your favorite membership? Tell us in the comments below. 

— Jeffrey Totey & Katie Gruver

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