If you haven’t yet been to the Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett, or if it’s been a while since your last visit, it’s time to make the trip (again). With a newly renovated (and just opened!) water exhibit and winter-themed workshops and special events that sneak a little bit of learning into every bite, the museum is a great winter destination for curious kiddos. Read on for the low-down on daily exhibits and upcoming events to help make your holidays bright. Imagine that!

Water Table at Imagine museumphoto: Imagine Children’s Museum

Daily Exhibits

Main Floor
Mini museum goers will find the majority of the museum’s exhibits on the main floor. It’s definitely where the action’s at. They’ve got the standard exhibits any parent expects to find in a children’s museum: the animal hospital; the elaborate, and way-better-than-home train table; and the pretend bus to drive (there’s a pretend plane to fly too!). But they also have a farm area, a tree house to climb and an Air Mazing Laboratory that uses scarves in wind tubes to demonstrate the power of air for the kidlets, because you know, it’s invisible. We’re pretty sure that exhibit could occupy your crew for the better part of the day. But be sure to pull them away at some point so they can get wet in the new water exploration area. This wild exhibit incorporates colorful balls into the play, so kids can see how water moves while they’re spraying, spinning, and cycling H2O through some seriously interesting contraptions. And did we mention the smocks? They’re there too (phew!)

Air Mazing little boys and scarves Imagine CM

photo: Imagine photo: Children’s Museum

While some children’s museums are geared toward the under 5 crowd, the daily exhibits here are sure to capture the imagination of the older set too. The music room, puppet theater, and glow zone, all in the back of the museum, are a few that appeal to imaginative people, no matter what their age. And the many optical illusions and brainteaser games found here and there are sure to please as well. Don’t forget about Camp Imagine, either. That’s a zone everyone will want to visit. It’s got hiking trails, a boat to explore, building blocks, (play) horses to ride, and tents set up just in case anyone needs to curl up for nap time. Exploring is such hard work!

Camp Imagine tentsphoto: Imagine Children’s Museum

If you’ve got a little artist or a budding builder in your gang, be sure to head downstairs at some point during your visit. There, little explorers will find the art studio where kids are always encouraged to get messy and creative as they work on the project of the day. Something cool is always planned, but there are also special Art Rocks! days where seasonal or special crafts like stick scarecrows and cork reindeer are planned. The museum also enhances some of their other programming by tying in an art project. Like the monthly story time at P.J.’s Place (the next one’s scheduled for Dec. 9, 2014 from 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.) where kids can listen to a story and then head over to the art studio to make a story-related masterpiece afterward. How crafty!

Crafts at Imagine Children's Mueumphoto: Imagine Children’s Mueum

The lower level also has a room that’s always “under construction” (wink, wink). It’s a great place for budding builders to construct a little something and then tear it all down (because that’s the fun part, really) just like real construction workers, donning hard hats, vests, goggles and all. The snack area is also downstairs. Feel free to bring in outside food and drink and take a load off to refuel before you head off for more adventures. There’s plenty of seating in the snack area, and there are a few vending machines down there too, in case you’re in need of some snack supplements.

Girls Play construction zone Imagine Children's Museumphoto: Imagine Children’s Museum

The museum also has an amazing rooftop play area that’s open when the weather permits. If you hit the museum when it’s open, you’ll find an elaborate, ginormous climbing structure that kids will love, situated next to oversized (and recently refinished) musical instruments just waiting for mini maestros to play them a bit. The dinosaur excavation site can also be found on the rooftop. Dig for dino bones with shovels and stationary diggers and learn about dinosaurs while you’re at it. Shoot for a sunny and warmer winter day if you’re able. Chances are good the rooftop will be open then!

Imagine Children's Museum rooftopphoto: Imagine Children’s Museum

Holiday Happenings

The Imagine Children’s Museum has totally awesome special programming all year round (psst… the calendar’s here if you want to see what we’re talking about), and the holidays are no exception. They kick it up a notch all season long with special winter workshops, Christmas-themed classes and more!

North Pole Party
The party gets underway with a big celebration North Pole style, on November 29, 2014. This mega-event runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and will include visits with Santa (at 9:30 a.m., 1 p.m. & 2:30 p.m.), time with Mrs. Claus to read stories and write letters to Santa, a tree lighting, festive music and crafts to put everyone in the holiday spirit. Sign us up!

Crafts and Pictures
On December 7, 14 & 21, 2014 kids can make a gift for someone special at the holiday decoration projects days. The cost is $6/project in addition to regular admission prices. Plus, winter crafts that’ll make your teeth chatter will dot the daily schedule in the art studio during the month of December. Mark the calendar for holiday wreaths (Dec. 3), Bobble head Rudolf (Dec. 10), 3-D ornamental trees (Dec. 11), and Santa’s boots (Dec. 21) if your little one is feeling crafty! We’ve also heard that Santa will be there for pictures and a cinnamon ornament craft on Dec. 13 & 22, 2014. Facetime with the big man in red is always worth a trip!

Reading Stories Imagine CMphoto: Imagine Children’s Museum 

Night of the Elves
Another holiday fave, for kids ages 4-12, is the annual Night with the Elves. It’s a chance for your little elves to explore the museum after dark (it runs from 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.), eat a North Pole dinner, carpet skate and even make a special gift (ooh, we wonder who it’s for!). What parents do is up to them, but the kids will definitely be covered. This year’s elf night is scheduled for December 13, 2014 and registration is required. $35/members, $20/sibling; or $40/non-members, $25/sibling.

Winter Break Camps
If your little monkeys need entertaining the Monday before Christmas (Dec. 22), or if you need to get a little last-minute shopping done, sign them up for a winter camp at the Museum. They’ll have a blast and you can pick up those last-minute gifts. Preschoolers (ages 3-5) will explore the world of penguins during the Penguins at Play camp ($40/members; $45/non-members), where they’ll discover interesting facts about why penguins don’t fly and how scientists can locate them from outer space (who knew?). Sign up school-aged kids (grades 1-5) for the Arctic Explorers Camp ($45/members; $50/non-members), where they’ll investigate the coldest place on Earth, create an ice sculpture and even taste some shaved ice. Both camps require pre-registration, and FYI, it closes one week before the camp date or when all spots have been taken, so be sure to plan ahead for this one!

Horses at Imagine Children's camp

photo: Imagine Children’s Museum 

Good to know
The third Friday of every month is Free Friday Night Live at the museum. Families can get in and explore the museum (gratis) from 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. And if you feel like you might want to go back and back and back again, a membership is a great way to save on the green. Museum members get discounts and benefits all year-long, plus they can take advantage of special members-only hour on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-10 a.m. Membership really does have its privileges!

Train Table Imagine Museumphoto: Imagine Children’s Museum

Imagine Children’s Museum
1502 Wall St.
Everett, Wa 98201
Online: imaginecm.org

Dates & Times: Tues.-Wed., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Closed on Mon.
Cost: $9.80/person; 12 mos. & under free; $4.90 Thurs. between 3 p.m.-5 p.m.

Do you plan to visit Imagine Children’s Museum this winter? Already signed up for a holiday program? Tell us about your favorite exhibit or program in a comment below. 

—Allison Sutcliffe