Many of us are still in mourning about the removal of the amusement park at the Seattle Center (RIP outdated games and rides that nobody ever really went on) and replacing bumper cars and log rides with a glass museum is more than a little ironic on the parenting eye roll level. But, we’re here to shout it from the glass house rooftops — Seattle Center’s newest attraction, Chihuly Garden and Glass is kid-friendly! In fact, when we visited the museum to test it out on our own mini-Red Tricycle ambassadors, there was probably more kids than adults exploring creation after mesmerizing creation.
Visiting: What you need to know
Here’s what you’re thinking right now (we’re mind readers): Okay, Chihuly Glass and Garden may be kid-friendly, but are my kids going to enjoy it? The short answer is yes. The long answer is, well, yes. While your three-year old probably isn’t going to be as engaged as they would visiting a hands-on museum designed for little ones, there are elements of Garden and Glass that relate to every age. School-aged kids will be fascinated by the glass creations and we suggest that you study up pre-visit, Mom and Dad, because they’re going to have a lot of questions about how exactly the glass was made that way and will be expecting you to have the answers! (Don’t worry, there are cheat sheet signs all around the museum!) Be sure to grab a kid’s guide when you buy your tickets (they’re free), which will guide your kids to find different elements in the rooms and fill-in-the-blanks as they explore Chihuly’s designs and collections.
Getting there… it’s half the battle
Grab a spot to park in the spacious and easy to navigate Fifth Avenue Garage, which is along the east side of the Seattle Center, near the entrance to the EMP. If you grab lunch in the Armory after your visit to the museum, they’ll validate your parking, knocking the price down to just $1 (with a $10 food purchase). If you drive around in the side streets on the north side of the Seattle Center, you can often find street parking and avoid having to pay to park. However, what you save in parking costs, you’ll pay in walking time to the museum. Another option is to park downtown and catch the Monorail to the Seattle Center, or grab a bus from your ‘hood!
Having your picture taken by the roaming photographers: You can email yourself the photo or send it to your Facebook account from the kiosks around the museum… all for free!
Eating lunch at Chihuly’s Collections Cafe: What you may not know about creator, Dale Chihuly, is that he is a collector of all things, many of which are toys and are on display around the museum. Grab a bite to eat at the Collections Cafe before you go — they have a kid-tested menu that is reasonably priced.
Taking time to explore the garden part of the museum: Need to get some wiggles out around all that glass? Head outside to the garden section of the museum and get some fresh air, while still being immersed in Chihuly. And, the garden is literally right under the Space Needle, making for some awesome views and photo-opps.
Bring it, wear it, leave it
Bring it: We love an adventure that is high on fun and low on stuff. That being said, a small, easy to maneuver stroller works great and the museum encourages them for small children.
Wear it: No matter where you park to get to Garden and Glass, you’re going to need to walk from the car to the museum, and chances are, it’s going to be raining. Go with lightweight raincoats that you can easily shed and carry once you get inside.
Leave it: It’s probably best to leave the bouncy balls and Nerf guns at home for this outing! Leave as much at home or in the car as you possibly can, to avoid having to deal with it once you’re inside and exploring the museum. There aren’t a lot of places to sit and take a play-break, so you might as well leave the extras behind. Same goes for snacks and drinks.
Before you go
You won’t find that we often endorse the gift shops at attractions, because we all know what a disaster it can be taking kids into a gift shop — bottom line, you’re leaving with a $30 stuffed animal that will be thrown to the side by the time you pull in your driveway at home. The Bookstore, which is on your way out after visiting Garden and Glass, is filled to the gills with products from local designers, including some very cool products for kiddos that will inspire them as much as the museum did. Even the museum t-shirts are worth checking out!
Tickets! Tickets! Get your tickets!
Here’s the thing — tickets to Chihuly aren’t cheap. Children ages three and under visit for free, youth tickets for ages 4-12 are $12 and adult tickets, for King County residents are $15 (non-King County residents are $19 each). But, we think the visit is worth it — Chihuly Garden and Glass will expose your kids to a world that they’ve never experienced before and the curiosity it’s going to spark in them will be worth the price tag. They also offer packages that allow you to double up — admission for Glass and Garden with admission to the Space Needle. And, check out the Day/Night Admission package that allows you to visit during the day, then come back within 24-hours to see the museum lit up under the Seattle stars… they’re up there under the clouds somewhere!
Chihuly Garden and Glass
The Seattle Center
305 Harrison St.
Seattle, Wa 98109
Hours: Sunday through Thursday from 11:00am – 7:00pm, Friday and Saturday from 11:00am — 8:00pm. Be sure to check their website under the “Planning Your Visit” section before leaving the house — they are occasionally closed for events.
Have you explored this colorful paradise with your kiddos? If you’re planning on visiting, let us know what you’re most looking forward to.
— Katie Kavulla