Although spring has sprung we know there are still a few more indoor play days left on the calendar before Olaf’s favorite season bids us farewell. If you’ve already played out your local rainy-day fun spaces, consider heading to the Children’s Museum of Tacoma and taking advantage of this lesser known, but drive-worthy kid mecca. Did we mention admission is pay as you will? Read on to learn about the museum’s playscapes and special programs, including camps to fill your summer schedule.

photo: Rachael Brandon


The adventure begins in the Woods playscape where exploration and learning meet Swiss Family Robinson. Tots will settle in like they’re at grandma’s house when they discover small nooks, dark caves, a kitchen, and a cozy corner full of sensory toys and books. The older set will love that this area encourages lots of movement, whether it’s over the rope bridge, under elevated platforms, or through the log pile.

photo: Andrea B. via Yelp

Parents love water exhibits, right? How could we not? Our munchkins get to splash, experiment and delight in their play and we don’t have to hassle with the set up or clean up. In this uniquely designed Water playscape, the minis will love getting to control the flow of cascading water tables, creating pathways for toys to maneuver, and experiencing water in motion. Water troughs with bubbling fountains also invite curiosity into sinking and floating objects.

photo: Rachael Brandon

A prominent and intriguing play-structure located in the center of the museum is a dream-like winged vessel called Voyager. The Littles will love to explore the lower area (of the ship? or is it a plane?) that’s loaded with props and dress-up materials to engage those big imaginations. And older kiddos will be eager to climb aboard the main cabin where they can create make-believe flight crews, pretend play an adventure, and burn off energy using recumbent bikes to ignite the engines and power-up the wings.

photo: Rachael Brandon

Becka’s Studio
A fully windowed, garage-like art haven uniquely called Becka’s Studio, makes for a cozy hideout for those Messy Marvins and mini-Monets. There’s always a few projects planned with a common theme and an ever-rotating supply of recyclable materials to sculpt, paint and create away with. Leave those fridge-worthy creations on a drying rack, then pick them up before you go. Picture perfect!

photo:  Rachael Brandon

Baby Edisons who spend their days pulling switches and turning nobs to see what happens will flip for the Invention playscape. Those busy bees wont want to stop working the air tubes with scarves, building with small and large materials, and creating pathways on the Whoosh! wall for balls to travel through. Now why didn’t we think of that?

photo: Rachael Brandon

Special Programs

When you purchase one of the museum’s membership packages you’ll be cashin’ in on free We Ones Weekly classes, Power Play experiences and member parking, plus members-only on Mondays, all for an annual fee of $100-$125/year. Did we mention the discounts? You get them on everything from entrance fees to other children’s museums, birthday parties, parents’ night out events and more. Cha ching!

photo: Michelle H. via Yelp

Wee Ones Weekly
Get more out of your museum experience with an engaging and thematic Wee Ones Weekly program for toddlers, preschoolers and their caregivers. Kidlets will love the singing, dancing, art making, and story time plus having free run of the museum 30-minutes before it opens. Classes take place on Mondays (members only) and Fridays (general public) from 9:30 a.m.-11 a.m., and cost $15 per non-member family of four, plus $5 for each additional child. No registration is necessary.

photo: Rachael Brandon

Play to Learn
We love library programs, but when they’re tied to activities, songs and toys presented by the Children’s Museum of Tacoma it’s eureka! Each week, Pierce County-area libraries host free drop-in classes for the six and under set that they’ll beg to go back to again and again. Want to know more? Check the museum’s website for the details and see for yourself.

photo: Rachael Brandon

Summer Camps
Those precocious kiddos who love to create, experiment and imagine will not want to miss out on an exciting adventure this summer at one of the five camps offered at the museum. Campers ages 3-6 can spend a week developing skills in art, science, cooking, story telling, or on an imaginative adventure. Costs vary based on class length with some camps running from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. ($130/non-member; $117/member) and others from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. ($200/non-member; $180/member).

What could be more thrilling than spending those emergent preschool years learning in a classroom at a kid’s museum. Learn more about the museum’s play-based program by visiting an upcoming open house on April 14 or May 12 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. or check their website.

 photo: Dana M. Via Yelp

Street parking along Pacific Ave. will likely be your best bet and will only set you back $1 per hour. Everyone tries their first time, but parking isn’t allowed in the United Way lot adjacent to the Museum on weekdays (except for members). Cost is $5 for 3 hours on weekends. Parking garages at Umpqua Bank, Union Station, and the Tacoma Art Museum are all available for standard fees.

photo: Rachael Brandon

Good to Know
Kid museums are busy places, so if your want some extra move-around room arrive early. After a couple of hours of playing you’ll find the necessary refueling essentials (coffee please!) for purchase at Café Play located in the entrance area, or pack a lunch and store your goodies in a free locker.

Children’s Museum of Tacoma
1501 Pacific Ave.
Tacoma, Wa 98402

Hours: Wed.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Closed Tuesday; Third Thurs. of each month, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.;
Member Only Hours: Mon., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 9 a.m.-10 a.m.
Cost: Pay as you will

Looking for other fun things to do in Tacoma? Check out our Guide to Tacoma’s Must-See Attractions.

When was the last time you visited the Children’s Museum of Tacoma? What is your family’s favorite exhibit? Let us know in the Comments below.

— Rachael Brandon

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