Pioneer Square probably isn’t the first neighborhood in Seattle that you hit up for a kid-friendly outing, but once you visit the Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum, you might be singing a different tune about lower downtown. Run by the Seattle Police Department and the King County Sheriff’s Office, the Seattle Metro Police Museum is privately funded and the largest police museum in the Western United States. For your police obsessed kiddos, the museum provides the perfect marriage of history and interactive fun – there is an entire section of the museum dedicated to letting children explore. Whatever you do, parents, resist that urge to lock your kids in the real life jail cell while you run across the street for a cup of coffee…
When to Go
The museum is closed on Sunday and Monday, but other than that the only other times we suggest avoiding a trip to the Seattle Metro Police Museum are when there is a game happening at one of the Sodo stadiums, just down the street, which make traffic and parking a nightmare. Also, you might want to call the museum in advance to make sure there isn’t a big group tour visiting that day.
Pick your own poison when it comes to getting to Pioneer Square! Once you get here, the museum is located just a block up from the King Street Train Station – near the entrance to the huge Century Link Field parking lot on the north side of the stadium. If you have the patience to drive around the block a couple of times, it’s likely you’ll find metered street parking. Otherwise, pick a pay lot or even park in the stadium parking lot, which offers weekday parking at a discounted rate (compared to game days!). Another option for getting to Pioneer Square, if you want to spend a bit more time downtown, is to jump on a metro bus in the underground station at Westlake Center and ride underground (for free) to the South Jackson Street tunnel – the museum is less than a block away.
What to Bring
Strollers are perfect acceptable for a trip to the Police Museum, especially if you have a little one who you’ll be chasing around otherwise! But, bring your lightest, most maneuverable set of wheels, rather than your gigantic jogging stroller. Otherwise, bring the usual outing supplies – snacks and water, an extra layer in case the museum air conditioning is cranked up, a rain coat for making a rainy trek back to where you parked and your camera to capture you three-year old in uniform!
What to Explore
The entire museum is cool and, like we said above, it’s the perfect mixture of history and interactive fun for kids. They’ve designed a special section in the back of the museum with little ones in mind – to engage them and keep them interested. However, even the more adult, history-heavy section of the museum will have kids fascinated – from the display of vintage police revolvers to historic photographs of police men from as far back as the late 1800s.
In the kid-friendly section of the museum, play dress-up in real police uniforms, and try on a bullet-proof vest, play with the siren lights and 911-communications system and, a favorite for parents, get locked away in the real life jail cell.
Where to Eat
Don’t bother packing a lunch for your trip to the Police Museum – there are so many great options for grabbing something to eat in Pioneer Square that it should be a crime! Julie’s Garden (81 Yesler Way) is a tasty, super family-friendly option if chow mein or pho sounds good to you. Or, choose Calozzi’s (115 Occidental Avenue South) for very delicious and very messy authentic Philly cheesesteaks (one of the few places you can find these in Seattle!). Looking for something a little more generic? The Jimmy John’s (102 First Avenue South) is always a good kid-friendly choice – their service is super quick!
Adults and children ages 12 and above are $5.00 and children under age 12 are $3.00. If you pull a group of friends together to visit at the same time, you can get a guided tour. There is an additional fee, but you get all of the cool insider information from a tour guide – guided tours are an additional $4.50 for adults and children over age 12 and an additional $3.00 for children under age 12.
Good to Know
Parents, please keep in mind that there are also some displays at the museum that may open up some interesting conversations with your children, including exhibits about investigations of well-known crime cases in Seattle, as well as information about the WTO riots. Be prepared to breeze past those exhibits (which can be easily done) or have some answers prepared for curious little minds… especially for those who can already read on their own.
Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum
317 Third Avenue South
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Closed Sunday and Monday
— Katie Kavulla