Travel Diary » 3 Nights in Seattle: Museums, museums and sights
Three nights isn’t long to spend in a city as large as Seattle but after so long on a mountain top we were determined to cram in as many attractions, museums and sights as we could in that time. Here are the things we enjoyed most during our stay.
With two inquisitive children, Science Museums are almost always the first place we visit in any new city and the Pacific Science Centre didn’t disappoint.
Most science museums today are either wall to wall high-tech computer displays or filled with labyrinth of informative signs that are perfect for older teens who like to read in-depth information on how the human genome was decoded but are completely lost on the under 10s. The Pacific Science Centre was an old-school science centre, but in a good way. Hands on, old fashioned, well-designed, quality science experiments with just enough technology thrown in to compliment and modernize the exhibits rather than take them over.
For every animatronic dinosaur there was also a hands on dinosaur artifact, like the mechanical levers that could be turned to see how the animatronic dinosaurs actually worked and the giant footprint on the floor that children to lay in to see just how huge dinosaurs were. The kids also touched casts of fossilised dinosaur poo - an important lesson in actually reading the labels before touching stuff!!!
In the Astronomy and Earth room right next to the high-tech computerized globe of the world showing climate and tsunami data from NOAA (I could have watched that all day!) there were giant puzzles, a space shuttle with 3001 switches to press and a scale model of the solar system. The solar system model was fantastic. If you grew up in the era of a 9 planet solar system and always thought Pluto got a rough deal, seeing Pluto as a tiny spec smaller than a infants tooth against the almost ping-pong ball sized Mercury might finally convinced you the demotion to dwarf planet was justified. It finally convinced me.
Balancing out the low tech was a scale you could stand on to find out how much you weigh on each planet of the solar system. Did you know a child that weighs 50 pounds on Earth will weigh 1315 pounds on the Sun but only 3 pounds on Pluto? Noah and Hayley had a lot of fun discovering how much they weighed on each planet.
And no, despite feeling rather fit after skiing, no amount of begging from the kids could convince me to step on the scales and find out what my weight on the sun might be! There are some numbers a mum just never wants to imagine!
We had a game of giant checkers, built marble runs, gazed into funny mirrors, identified butterflies in the butterfly room, held a giant cockroach, changing the length of a lever so that even a 5 year old could lift a 250kg weight and learned about the human body. There wasn't a room that we didn't enjoy. We spent four hours at the Science Centre and only left because Noah was feeling sick. We could have easily stayed longer.
Thanks to a discount entry coupon we received entry to an IMAX movie for $1. The 40 minute science based movie on the life of Monarch Butterflies was mindblowing. No seriously, if your kids are ever bored and want a great research project get them to look into monarch butterfly migration. It's a lot more interesting than it sounds.
If music or science fiction are your passion, the EMP museum should be on your sightseeing list for your time in Seattle. Even with two young children who weren’t interested in learning the history of the guitar nor the story of Hendrix and Nirvana, we still had a very enjoyable 2.5 hours there. We played musical instruments and experienced what it was like to be on stage. We learned about green rooms and made our own movie magic. Mum also got her fill of Sci-Fi nerdiness when she saw artifacts from her favourite TV and movie shows. I've written more about our time at the EMP Museum in this post. Buy your tickets online before going for a discount on entry.
The Seattle Aquarium is one of the smaller aquariums that we have visited but it had a lot to recommend it. Seals, otters and sea birds; an underwater area with fish feeding; a wide range of fish from around the world and my personal favourite - an octopus with his own 'hamster run'.
Most aquarium's today have a touch pool where children can touch star fish, sea cucumbers and anemones, along with other small sea creatures. In every aquarium that we've visited the touch pools were relatively small - roughly the size of several bath tubs. Not at the Seattle Aquarium. What you can see in the photo below is less than 1/3th of the touch pool area at the Seattle Aquarium.
We've visited bigger, better aquariums but we had an enjoyable visit. The rock-pools were definitely the highlight and they got bonus points for helpful, enthusiastic staff that were always on hand to chat to.
I've always wanted to go up the Space Needle in Seattle. We chose a ridiculously windy night but braving the wind for a few minutes to experience the view outside was well worth it. I could go on and on about the view from the very top but this photo says it better ...
Inside was much warmer even if the view wasn't quite as spectacular, but on a night like we chose it was definitely more enjoyable to be indoors. Noah and Hayley really enjoyed all the interactive computer screens that allowed them to change the viewpoint and time.
Staying near the Space Needle we weren’t in the heart of Seattle’s finest dining but we still managed to find two of the best dining experiences of our entire 2 months in North America
The pizza restaurant and bar Zeeks won us over the instant we walked into the door when they handed Noah and Hayley pencils, puzzles and a sticky ball of pizza dough each to play with. Pizza dough! How fun is that! They also got bonus points for having the largest list of vegetarian pizzas I’ve ever seen.
A market place filled with reasonably priced food from all around the world … what’s not to like! Our favourites were the bagels and samosas just around the corner from Rachel the Pig.
The Seattle CityPASS provides entry to 6 of the top attractions, including the Space Needle and all of the museums we wanted to see. We considered purchasing the pass but when we did the maths it was actually cheaper for us not to. We were only there for three nights so we could really only fit in three of the inner city museums and the Space Needle. When we added up the cost of the museums that we decided we had time to visit, that we'd managed to find discount entry coupons for anyway thanks to voucher booklets from our hotel lobby, it was actually cheaper to not purchase the pass.
Depending on how many museums you are visiting though and the cost of the actual museums, it may be worth the pass.