Snakes, geckos and turtles – oh my! If the idea of holding ten of the most venomous snakes* in the world makes your kid do somersaults, then it is imperative you head out to the Serpentarium in Monroe. On those rainy Northwest days, the Serpentarium is the perfect spot to stay dry and keep you and your brood entertained. Inside this unassuming warehouse sits one of the most colorful collections of reptiles, spiders and crocodiles on the West Coast. But don’t expect to find your average aquarium-filled grouping of corn snakes, this is an educational romp as much as a feast for the eyes. Open exhibits enable your little ones to touch huge tortoises, make faces at the blue tongued skink and shriek in delight as lizards flick their tongues underneath enclosures. In addition, kids can hold a wide selection of creepy crawlies and slithering snakes, as well as have pictures taken to prove their bravery.
What to see:
The real question is what not to see. Interested in the ten deadliest snakes in the world? The Serpentarium has them. Want to see one of only six albino alligators? They’ve got him here. Wonder what a softsell turtle looks like up close? Step right up and come nose to (soft) nose with him. Here’s a small sampling of what you find inside the doors:
- Venemous* snakes: Albino Rattler, Puff Adder.
- Non-venemous snakes: Red Tailed Boa, Green Anaconda and the Green Tree Python.
- Lizards and frogs: Green Basilisk, Chinese Water Dragon.
- Invertebrates: Tarantulas, Giant Cockroaches and Pacific Tree Frogs.
- Crocodilians: Albino Crocodile, American Crocodile.
- Turtles: large Tortoises, Soft-Shell Turtle and Alligator Snapping Turtle.
Where it’s at:
About 40 miles outside of Seattle in Monroe, Wa. Keep your eyes peeled once on Highway 2, it’s at the North end of town and easy to miss.
When to go:
The Serpentarium is open 365 days a year, from 10:00am – 6:00pm.
It’s best to get there early on a weekday, if possible. The educational opportunities create a big draw for school fieldtrips, so it can get crowded during afternoons and weekends. Getting there early ensures the youngest snake lovers are able to ogle each of the displays with unfettered views.
$5 for children, $6 for adults.
Where to Grab a Bite:
Make sure to pack a lunch or have a back-up plan for food, the Serpentarium does not have a café. If the idea of lugging multiple lunchboxes makes you feel like wrapping the boa constrictor around your neck, the city of Monroe offers a variety of dining choices. One fave is the Hitching Post Café, located at 107 Main Street. This gem of a find features murals painted across the walls, the opportunity to eat with (painted) movie stars the likes of John Wayne, and best of all kids eat free Monday through Wednesday. The animal pancakes are sure to be a hit with little croc hunters.
The Serpentarium is indoors and has a covered patio connecting two areas chock full of reptiles, so regardless of the weather, kids will be comfortable and dry. There is limited space for coat storage, so you may want to leave bulky clothing in the car and make a mad dash for the door in nasty weather.
22715-B State Route 2
Insider tip: The Serpentarium does private showings and birthday parties, starting at $125! Ask at the front desk for more information.
*Don’t worry moms, all snakes have been devenomized.
— Laurie Halter
Photo “Turtle Pet” by kellyhogaboom via Flickr
Photo “Iguana” by jc.winkler via Flickr