The Hands On Children's Museum opens a window to the world for youngsters. Its exhibits are all about interactive learning, whether that means role playing at a farmer's market, operating a play fire engine, or climbing a tree house to build a flying machine. These activities are part of 150 total exhibits in nine themed galleries that focus on healthy living, the arts, building, and outdoor exploration. The Puget Sound gallery features an eight-foot vortex and two-story cargo ship to teach kids about sea life, and a science table brings the miniature world around us to life with an HD digital microscope.
After opening their doors in 1986, the backyard beautifiers at Rosedale Gardens have continued to stock their full-service nursery with backyard essentials to keep homes lively year-round. The sprawling, 5-acre-plus campus boasts inspirational lawn arrangements and a vast inventory of accessories to help to foster budding green thumbs. Along with a panoply of blooming buds, the expansive inventory includes garden structures, ground coverings, and aquatic additions to help to realize the dreams of fish that always wanted to become garden gnomes. Skillfully shaped shrubbery inspires patrons to awaken their inner Scissorhands, and a range of bare-root trees stands as sanctuary for backyard birds. Upon leaving the nursery, each plant promises to be without disease or insects and totes along a one-year guarantee, which issues replacements for any flora that fails despite proper care.
The Museum of Glass is the only museum west of the Mississippi to exclusively showcase one of art's most delicate media: glass. The museum provides a dynamic learning environment to appreciate the medium of glass through creative experiences, collections, and exhibitions. Stop by the Hot Shop, housed in the museum's 90-foot-tall stainless-steel dome, to watch professional artists as they blow and shape molten glass into artistic sculptures or thought bubbles. Be sure to examine the museum's outdoor installations, including Martin Blank's Fluent Steps, the colorful Chihluly Bridge of Glass, and the Water Forest, a series of towering acrylic tubes filled with rising and falling water.
Teri and Greg Harris draw on artistic eyes honed in careers as an award-winning former photojournalist and a high-profile web designer, respectively, to capture memories at Ladybug Photography. The couple memorializes blissful weddings, cozy family scenes, and grads-to-be in black-and-white, sepia, or color portraits. Lighthearted shoots may make use of props, pets, and outfit and personality changes as subjects let their inner glow shine in-studio or at lush area parks, gardens, and beachfronts.
The handsome, 12,000-square-foot museum is home to four exhibition galleries and a permanent collection that focuses on the wealth of regional talent in the Northwest, in addition to housing Japanese woodblock prints and European paintings. Tacoma's own Dale Chihuly fills a gallery space with his permanent installation of playful and fantastical glasswork, much of it inspired by his love for the sea. Brush up on your goose-whispering skills at the Secret Language of Animals exhibit, a family-friendly flock of approximately 40 paintings, sculptures, and videos depicting rodents, birds, horses, dogs, crazy uncles, and more.
Once you answer the riddles of the history museum's half-man, half-gecko entryway guardian, you'll pass through the monumental doorway arch, revealing 106,000 square feet of high-tech displays and interactive, multi-sensory exhibits. Current featured exhibits give you a glimpse of Sasquatch in Giants in the Mountains: The Search for Sasquatch (through June 27), exquisitely carved chesspieces from all over the world's gameboard in The Many Shapes of Chess (through November 21), and in-depth explorations of the state's cultural touchstones in Icons of Washington History (through July 3), as well as gorgeous digital photographs and folk art. But be sure to make time to stroll through the museum's permanent exhibits, where you can explore a coalmine, ride in a covered wagon, learn phrases from Native American languages, eavesdrop on Lewis and Clark's breakup phone calls with their girlfriends, and visit a massive model railroad, complete with a tiny, doomed Casey Jones.