Pacific Science Center in the Seattle Center

Families visiting Seattle WA are drawn to the Space Needle like moths to flame, and there’s nothing wrong with that: it brings them straight to one of the city’s best attractions for kids: the Pacific Science Center.

space needle

Pacific Science Center is showing some age on the surface, but inside, it’s as vibrant as ever (or more so). In addition to its permanent exhibits on life science, natural science, and space exploration (just to name a few), the center also welcomes fantastic traveling exhibits, such as this season’s King Tut display (for extra admission…save it for older kids). Each visit, my kids love the Butterfly house (with bug exhibits), dinosaur gallery, and WellBody Academy, where kids can test their physical skills. There are also mind-bender puzzles and an extensive water cycle exhibit where kids can create dams, direct toy ships, and make the water flow.

dino print in pacific science center

There’s an IMAX theater, laser show, and planetarium, but my family has never gotten to these things: there’s plenty to do without upgrading to the extras. (I’d make sure to experience them all if I were a Seattle resident, however.) In nice weather, the outside courtyard is fun with its kid-powered water wheel (it looks like a giant hamster wheel) and water shooters.

Nearby is plenty of dining in Seattle Center, and plenty of space for kids to run around. Expect park entertainers and musicians in the summer months. Parking is pretty easy (though costly), and families can make an afternoon out of it (or add on an evening with dinner).

So, should you go up the Space Needle while you’re there? Not if the line is long. Personally, I don’t think the thrill of the elevator ride justifies the admission price. My only exception: on slow nights, families can usually get seated to eat dessert in the Space Needle Restaurant. Watching the city revolve while dining on dessert is pretty darn cool!

Date last visited:

June 2012

Distance from the interstate:

Minutes from I-5.

Admission price:

$16 for adults, $11 for kids ages 6-15, and $9 for kids 3-5. Check to see if your local science or children’s museum memberships gains you entry. Ours did!

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Hours of operation:

9:45 am to 6 pm daily.


The Pacific Science Center is located at 200 Second Avenue North,
Seattle. From Interstate 5, either northbound or southbound, take exit 167 (Mercer Street) toward Seattle Center. At the end of the ramp, turn right at Fairview Ave N, then turn left at Valley St. Move into the middle lane and Valley St. becomes Broad St. Continue on Broad St. Turn right at Denny Way. Turn right at 2nd Ave N.