First it was Woodland Park Zoo. Then the Seattle Aquarium. Now, just in time for the rainy season, the Seattle museums we all know and love are slowly reopening. If you’re ready to take the kids to a newly-reopened museum or animal adventure, we’ve got the scoop on how to make it happen. Read on!

photo: Bellevue Arts Museum

BAM

The Bellevue Arts Museum is back with all the art you love and enhanced cleaning protocols so families can visit safely. Starting October 2, they’ll be open Fridays through Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Let us paint you a picture… Event details.

Safety first: Thanks to Overlake Medical Center and Clinics, BAM is now offering pay-as-you-can admission, but you’ll still need timed tickets to visit with the kids. Make sure arrive five to 10 minutes before your ticket window, and depending on capacity, you may have to wait to enter, so have something planned for your cuties. You can also expect the usual suspects, masks, extra sanitizing stations, one-way paths and plenty of space to socially distance. The coat check here will stay closed, as will upstairs bathrooms so have the kids go before you start exploring. They’ll also be collecting contact tracing for visitors.

Open exhibits: Galleries will be open for all to enjoy, but many of the interactive elements especially appealing to kiddos won’t be, and all weekend family craft sessions are still on hold. But families can look forward to seeing America’s Monsters, Superheros and Villians on display just in time for Halloween. Who knows, maybe you’ll find some costume inspiration for you at-home party.

Get tickets: calendly.com/bellevuearts

510 Bellevue Way N.E.
Bellevue, WA
425-519-0770
Online: bellevuearts.org

Washington State History Museum

History buffs of all ages will be excited to learn the Washington State History Museum is reopening on September 29. They’ll be open six days a week, Tuesdays through Sundays, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. If you need a little distance learning inspiration this is a great stop to make. Here’s the scoop. Event details.

Safety first: First things first, timed tickets are a must and help to regulate the number of visitors. They’re half-price through October 23, too (just enter code historyisback) so if you go soon you can save some dough. One-way paths, face masks and lots of hand sanitizer will also be part of your visiting experience. And remember, Tuesday mornings, from 10 a.m. to noon are reserved for guests 65 and up to visit.

Open exhibits: Exhibits in the Great Hall of Washington and a special suffrage pop-up exhibit will be open to visitors starting October 2. Then on the October 24, the fifth floor special exhibits will be open too. You’ll find fascinating facts about the Columbia River and Cascade Range alongside the Votes for Women centennial celebration during the month. Then it’s all about railroads in Washington in November. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good choo choo?

Get tickets: 49882.blackbaudhosting.com

1911 Pacific Ave.
Tacoma, WA
253-272-3500
Online: washingtonhistory.org

LeMay America's Car Museum

Start your engines because September 25 marks the opening day at everybody’s favorite car museum in Tacoma. Drive on down with the kids to experience all things automobile Fridays through Sundays, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. until the end of the year. Here’s the rest of the story. Event details.

Safety first: Like other museums, LeMay will be operating at a limited capacity and staggering entry for guests. You’ll find helpful safety measures like extra hand sanitizing stations, one-way lanes and social distancing signs to help keep everyone safe when they visit. Oh, and don’t forget to cover your grill when you’re in the building.

Open exhibits: Expect to see the exhibits you love most still on display, in addition to the Saleen exhibit that highlights souped-up race cars and other rarified beauties car enthusiasts swoon for. But parents should keep in mind that many of the hands-on exhibits, like the Power the Future Learning Lab won’t be open for play. That’s okay though, you can always enhance your visit with at-home activities that’ll fuel imagination and creativity before or after you visit.

Get your tickets: americascarmuseum.org

2702 E. D St.
Tacoma, WA
253-779-8490
Online: americascarmuseum.org

photo: Alaina Weimer

The Museum of Flight

The Museum of Flight is “cleared for takeoff” and ready to welcome visitors once again. Starting Labor Day weekend the museum will be open Fridays through Mondays, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Then on September 24, they’ll be open five days a week, Thursdays through Sundays with the same hours. Event details.

Safety first: The museum will operate at 25% capacity and will used timed tickets to reduce crowding. All visitors over the age of two will be required to wear a mask, and you’ll find social distancing reminders and additional hand sanitizing stations throughout the museum. Visitors should also expect a “brief, contactless health screening” before being allowed to take flight.

Open exhibits: All five buildings, plus the open-air Aviation Pavilion and Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park will be open to visitors. The Boeing 747 and 787 Dreamliner are included in these now-open perks. Visitors will also get to experience a new exhibit, Untold Stories-World War II at 75, starting September 19. Yep, it’s included with admission.

Closed exhibits: Families should keep in mind that easy go-to spots like the Flight Zone, Aviation Pavilion Kidport and Alaska Airlines Aeorospace Education Center remain closed, as does the Café. But kids will still find lots to explore and learn about when you visit. Get the full scoop on closures here. 

Get tickets: tickets.museumofflight.org

9404 E. Marginal Way
Seattle, WA
206-764-5700
Online: museumofflight.org

photo: Courtesy of the Nordic Museum

National Nordic Museum

Also reopening on Labor Day is the National Nordic Museum. Visitors can enjoy all the museum has to offer on Wednesdays through Sundays, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Here’s the breakdown. Event details.

Safety first: Reserved tickets will help reduce crowding and make social distancing easier for museum visitors, and they’ll be operating at reduced capacity (25%). Masks are a must and visitors will be asked to “go with the flow” throughout the galleries, so look for the signs. The museum’s coat check will remain closed, and although large bags are not allowed, diaper bags always are. 

Open exhibits: Plan to peruse your favorite permanent exhibits when you visit, with the addition of two exhibits originally scheduled to open in March that you can finally enjoy. Families should definitely check out Johan Bävman’s photography exhibit Swedish Dads (through Oct. 4), featuring “touching and often humorous portrayals” of kids and their doting fathers (aww!). Also up is a retrospective of designer Gudrun Sjödén entitled A Colourful Universe, through October 18.

Get tickets: nordicmuseum.org

2655 N.W. Market St.
Seattle, WA
206-789-5708
Online: nordicmuseum.org

photo: Benjamin Benschneider

Seattle Art Museum

The doors are opening at SAM mid-month. Families can get tickets now for the September 11 grand re-opening. Here’s what you need to know. Event details.

Safety first: The museum will be open Fridays through Sundays, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and families will need to reserve timed tickets to visit. There will be a quick health screening before you enter, and masks are needed for any aspiring artists over the age of two. Expect one-way traffic in a few of the smaller galleries, with others staying closed.

Open exhibits: Many of galleries and installations will be open for art lovers of all ages, and the two special exhibits that opened in March—Georgia O’Keefe: Abstract Variations and the John Akomfrah: Future History—have been extended. Admission to these special exhibits, and fall’s upcoming special exhibits, focused on Seattle art world icons, are included with admission and are free for kids 14 and under.

Closed exhibits: Parents should take note that the children's play areas, TASTE Café, Ann P. Wyckoff Education Resource Center and Bullitt Library will be closed for the time being. Find out what other galleries are included on this list.

Get tickets: secure.seattleartmuseum.org

1300 1st Ave.
Seattle, WA
206-654-3100
Online: seattleartmuseum.org

MoPOP

We know Seattle families love to rock the weekend. Come September 18, yours can rock harder because MoPOP is open again, Fridays through Sundays, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Get all you need to know below. Event details.

Safety first: Like many other museums, MoPOP will be reducing capacity and using timed tickets to keep visitors spaced and healthy when they come to visit. And everyone over the age of three will need to rock a mask when they’re there. Families will also get a personal stylus to use on exhibits with touch screen surfaces while they’re in the museum—a total bonus for kids who want to touch everything.

Open Exhibits: Most the museum’s exhibits will be open with a few exceptions (parents, take note, the Sound Lab is closed), so your kids can still marvel at the Minecraft exhibit ,while you wander through Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Hendrix memorabilia. Food isn’t allowed in the museum, but you’ll be able to get grab-and-go food from Culture Kitchen. Sounds like a good reason to take a seat near the International Fountain when you’re done.

Get tickets: mopop.org

325 5th Ave. N.
Seattle, WA
206-770-2700
Online: mopop.org

photo: courtesy The Burke Museum

The Burke Museum

Mark September 22 on your calendars because that’s the day The Burke Museum is reopening to the public. Bring your natural history buffs to visit on Tuesdays through Sundays, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., or for free on the first Thursday when the museum stays open until 8 p.m. Get the low down here. Event details.

Safety first: The use of timed tickets will help reduce crowds and allow visitors to socially distance with ease. If you’re over the age of two, bring your favorite mask to wear, and plan to give a brief bit of info to help with contract tracing, when you purchase your online tickets (families can opt out if they choose). You’ll find hand sanitizer at key locations in the museum, and one-way traffic in galleries, too. Find more details here.

Open exhibits: The museum staff has been hard at working creating new exhibits in the galleries, and they can’t wait to show them off to your kids. You’ll also be able to take a peek behind the scenes through visible workrooms, collections and labs. There's lots to look forward to as well, like the upcoming Cruisin' the Fossil Coastline exhibit that opens December 4 of this year. When it comes to food, families can take a seat in the Cascade Room to fill up fossil finding fuel (food), or take it outside to the Burke Yard’s terraced steps for some fresh air. Off the Rez Café will be open with eat-in and to-go options and limited seating both inside and on the outdoor patio in case fry bread tacos sound tempting.

Closed exhibits: Parents, keep in mind that the museum’s much-loved hands-on interactives and playscapes will remain closed until it’s safe to reopen them.

Get tickets: burkemuseum.org or call 206-543-7907.

4300 15th Ave. N.E.
Seattle, WA
206-543-7907
Online: burkemuseum.org

photo: Ingrid Barrentine

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

We’re crushing hard on the three up-close animal adventures that have opened at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. Families can book either a Groovy Goats or Pacific Seas Behind-the-Scenes experience to add flair to their weekend. Animal lovers ages five and up (and their parents) get to pet, brush and scratch Point Defiance’s loveable goats at the Contact Junction when they get tickets to Groovy Goats ($100/household, up to 5 people). Families with kids ages eight and up can go where only aquarists are allowed when they book a Behind-the-Scenes experience ($440/members; $465/non-members, for up to 5 people). You’ll get to pet a moon jellyfish, feed an anemone and even wave to hammerhead sharks above Baja Bay on this 75-minute long exclusive tour. Then on September 10, families can book a jaw-some good time in the water. Cage diving is back in the South Pacific Seas Outer Reef habitat, where families (up to 4 people, ages 8 & up) will go eye to eye with more than a dozen sharks that call these waters home. Part adventure outing, part immersive classroom, this is one you won’t want to miss.

5400 N. Pearl St.
Tacoma, WA
253-404-3800
Online: pdza.org

photo: courtesy Northwest Trek

Northwest Trek

If you’ve ever wanted to take a safari, how about hopping on this one that’s within driving distance? Northwest Trek has recently started running their Keeper Adventure Tours again ($400). It’s a chance for families to jump in the back of the open-air Jeep and head off over grassy hills and paved roads to see bison, elk, moose and more. The tours, offered Fridays through Sundays at 10:30 a.m., make for an exciting family adventure. Kids must be five to ride.

Good to know: Northwest Trek is still offering its Wild Drive and Wild Walk experiences.

11610 Trek Dr. E.
Eatonville, WA
360-832-8117
Online: nwtrek.org

—Allison Sutcliffe

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