An annual membership grants floral devotees unlimited visits with up to three guests, discounts for seasonal concerts held on the grounds, invitations to exclusive lectures and events, and rock-cultivation lessons in the Japanese Garden.
Children and their families are welcome to learn together through exploration of interactive exhibits. Kids are sure to begin their adventure in the Pirate Tree House atop an authentic tree trunk, a multilevel play space showcasing the museum's leading philosophy: Imagine, Discover and Grow.
In this spirit, rather than lecturing youngsters and their families, KiDiMu, sparks their imaginations with hands-on exhibits covering science, culture and art. In Science Hall, an interactive physics exhibit illustrates the concepts of velocity and acceleration through experiments first devised by Galileo and Newton to prove the Earth revolves around a fig. Visitors to Our Town’s community can attempt cash withdrawals at a faux ATM or tour a waterfront park, and kids of all ages craft self-guided art projects in the studio known as Sean's Space.
Frustrated that their three youngsters spent their indoor playtime glued to video games and TV, Doug and Kasey Lupton founded Play Kitsap as an active, educational alternative. Their 8,000-square-foot facility entices kids aged 10 and younger with 14 activities, including a 21-foot-tall inflatable slide, a bouncy castle, a sports zone, and moon sand for sculpting. Elsewhere, a toddler area accommodates younger guests with age-appropriate activities, and art and Kindermusik classes stimulate children with engaging sessions of drawing or singing. All the while, parents can watch their youngsters play, surf the net with free WiFi, or savor a snack and drink at the café. Play Kitsap also offers five party packages, including an all-night soiree where up to 20 kids can stay up eating pizza and practicing their slam dunks from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Designed by boarders, Inner Space Skatepark's 7,000-square-foot indoor skate park is a safe sanctuary where skaters can practice kickflips, develop aerials, or break in a brand-new deck. With a pair of unlimited-time passes, skaters can borrow a helmet ($3) and a board ($5) or bring along their own gear, then hit the ramps and handrails and test the limits of grip tape. Inner Space is open seven days a week, so neither rain nor pesky sunshine can stand in the way of a proper day gleaming the cube. Skaters younger than 18 years are required to protect their underage heads with a helmet, but those 18 and older just need to wear a full set of clothes.
As visitors wander among The Museum of Flight's more than 150 historic aircraft and spacecraft, they can chart humanity's flight path from the earliest balloons to the latest space shuttles—and marvel at how aviation has changed everything from warfare to transportation to rescue operations. Celebrity planes include a supersonic SR-71 Blackbird, built for a Cold War mission and capable of zipping from Los Angeles to New York in just 58 minutes, and a former Air Force One Boeing 707 that served as a flying oval office for Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. After visiting a retired supersonic Concorde—one of only 20 ever built by the British—guests move from the airpark and the great gallery of planes to the museum’s other exhibits. Here, thousands of artifacts—uniforms, engines, and even a carved white elephant that astronaut Michael Collins carried into space on the Apollo 11 mission—enlighten as they lead groups to a kids' flight zone and a collection of to-scale plane models. Visitors can also walk through the Red Barn, the original manufacturing facility of the Boeing Company.
The museum's numerous interactive exhibits give users a more visceral sense of what it was like to fly the machines that surround them. The X-Pilot simulator lets visitors practice flying a classic WWII fighter or a modern jet rather than the saddled pigeons they’re used to. Space: Exploring the New Frontier extends your reach to galactic horizons as you play Mission Control to a landing space shuttle or explore a replica of the International Space Station's Destiny Research Laboratory. Here, inventions such as the Apollo 17 lunar module ascent-stage mockup wow aspiring astronauts alongside a contemporary technological duplicate of Sputnik 1, likely made by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
Tucked inside an art deco building within Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park, the economically-sized Seattle Asian Art Museum showcases cultural artifacts from China, Japan, Korea and India. From silk screens to sculpture, scrolls to woodwork, the museum nods at history at every turn. It also includes a children’s room that lets little ones learn by doing and creating. Outside, Noguchi’s “Black Sun” sculpture lines a decorative pool within Volunteer Park, making for a wonderful photo vantage point that includes Seattle’s Space Needle in the background. Through the Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas, the museum even offers a Saturday lecture series on visual and literary arts topics. Bargain-hunters take note: The museum is free to all visitors the first Thursday of each month.