Sometimes the best way to teach our kids about history is to bring it to life right in front of their eyes. We’ve found the coolest places in Seattle to go old school that are both interactive and educational – no stuffy museums here, although we’re pretty sure that your kids are going to come out learning a thing or two (and you probably will too!). No time machine necessary for these steps back in time.

Fort Nisqually Living History Museum
Just a short drive to Seattle’s neighbor to the south, Tacoma, Fort Nisqually is worth the trip… and at least you don’t have to make it on horseback, like you would in the good old days! Fort Nisqually was the first European settlement on Puget Sound in the early 1800s. Your kids will be greeted at the Fort by historical re-enactors (cool ones, not scary ones!) and nearly every day of the week, there are new ways for your children to experience life in the early 19th century. Be sure to keep an eye out on the Fort Nisqually calendar or Facebook page for upcoming Family Fun Nights – you bring a picnic and they bring the fun!

Where: 5400 North Pearl Street, Tacoma, Wa 98407

Cost: $22 for a family of two adults and up to six children, or $6.50 per adult and $4.00 per child ages 4-17, children age 3 and under are free

Online: On the Metro Parks Tacoma website, or call 253-591-5339 for more information

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Summer is the best time to make a visit to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, which is actually part of our nation’s National Parks system. During the summer, the park has rangers on hand to do gold panning and mining demonstrations, as well as lead other cool, kid-friendly gold rush-themed activities and lead walking tours around Pioneer Square. All year round, they’ll love exploring the interactive indoor exhibits, such as the gold miner’s cabin and general outfitter storefront. Be sure to check out the Junior Ranger program while you’re at the park!

Where: 319 Second Avenue, Seattle, Wa 98104 – look for the sign for the Cadillac Hotel

Cost: Free

Online: On the National Parks Service website, or call 206-220-4240

Nordic Heritage Museum
Appropriately tucked away in the Ballard neighborhood, where Scandinavian heritage is alive and well, the Nordic Heritage Museum is a great place to take your kids – whether you have a bit of Nord running through your own veins or not! Pretend that your family is living in a real Nordic neighborhood in their permanent display on the first floor, which includes a post office, drug store and blacksmith shop to explore. As you move upstairs, you’ll see exhibits about the products of Nordic people (including some amazing clothing!) and information on the distinguishing characteristics of different Scandinavian cultures (can your kids spot the differences?). Don’t miss the Nordic Heritage Museum’s annual Viking Days festival, which is held each summer.

Where: Ballard Neighborhood, 3014 Northwest 67th Street, Seattle, Wa 98117

Cost: Adults are $6, children over age 5 are $4, and children under age 5 are free. There is free admission on the first Thursday of every month!

Online: nordicmuseum.org, or call 206-789-5707

— Katie Kavulla

Photos via the Facebook pages of Fort Nisqually and the Nordic Heritage Museum