If you want to watch lasers dance to Queen songs or immerse yourself in swarms of tropical butterflies, you’ll be glad to hear Seattle’s Pacific Science Center is fully open for the first time since March 2020.
Pacific Science Center reopened most of its signature programming on July 6, including the planetarium, dinosaur exhibit, Tropical Butterfly House, Tinker Tank Makerspace, Live Science Stage demonstrations and outdoor Waterworks. The center’s Laser Dome shows — now included with general admission — reopened in April, and the two IMAX theaters, with both blockbuster and documentary showings, reopened in May.
Though some organizations reopened a year or more ago, Pacific Science Center waited for the right conditions and focused on its digital offerings in the meantime, CEO Will Daugherty said. It also used the closure as an opportunity to rework its business model.
“Prior to COVID, we knew that our economic operation was not sustainable,” Daugherty said. “Instead of making what would be very difficult step-by-step adjustments to the operation, we now have the opportunity to start with more of a clean slate. … Never let a crisis go to waste.”
Pacific Science Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last admission at 4 p.m.). Masks and proof of vaccination are not required, but the center does ask that you wear a mask if you have had COVID-19 in the past 10 days, been exposed to COVID-19 in the past five days or are unvaccinated and have returned from travel in the past five days, according to the website. Daugherty said the center may introduce mask-required hours later in the summer — something many families are more comfortable with — after it is back in the swing of things.
The center’s programming, while great for kids, has something to offer adults, too. Evening Laser Dome shows Thursday through Sunday feature music from artists like Lizzo, BTS, Kendrick Lamar and Doja Cat. The Tinker Tank, Daugherty said, is a great activity for the family.
“People can make circuits, they can make things that fly, they can just experiment with their creativity that is larger than ever,” he said. “When I was there over the weekend, it was hopping, really popular. And it’s something that is exciting for all ages.”
If you don’t feel comfortable visiting Pacific Science Center in person, the center’s website has Curiosity at Home, a collection of educational resources and activities, which Daugherty said was expanded during the pandemic. The center also offers virtual field trips, which are commonly utilized by school educators, but are available for families as well.
“We committed that, even though the facility would not be open, curiosity never closes, and we were going to continue to serve the community,” he said. “We were going to focus on what the community needs most, which, at that time, was digital virtual programming.”
Open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $17.95-$22.95. 200 Second Ave. N., Seattle; pacificsciencecenter.org
There’s much to do in Seattle this summer. Read on for some suggestions of family-friendly cultural activities organized by COVID-19 safety comfort level: indoors, outdoors or at home.
Dinos Alive, an immersive dinosaur exhibit in Sodo, does not have any mask or vaccination requirements, though masks are “highly encouraged,” according to the website. Due to the reservation system, the number of guests is always controlled. For the virtual reality portion, the headsets are disinfected between each use, and each user receives a disposable eye mask to avoid contact between their skin and the goggles, according to the website. Open daily, hours vary. $20; group bundles also available. 1750 Occidental Ave. S., Seattle; dinosaliveexhibit.com/seattle
The museum has several exhibits and galleries designed for children up to age 10, with many hands-on activities. Cleaning procedures follow guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Washington State Department of Health, according to the website. Masks and proof of vaccination are not required. Reservations can be made online and up to two weeks in advance. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. $11. 1116 108th Ave. N.E., Bellevue; kidsquestmuseum.org
Through its animal habitat exhibits and presentations, Seattle Aquarium teaches visitors about creatures from tufted puffins to plankton. Masks are not required but are encouraged. It is recommended that you purchase your tickets online before visiting. Open daily 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Prices vary. 1483 Alaskan Way Pier 59, Seattle; seattleaquarium.org
After reopening in April, the museum has “limited capacity, timed entry and pre-made reservations, so that we can be sure that families are able to keep safe distances in the museum,” according to its website. Masks and proof of vaccination are not required to visit the museum from noon to 5 p.m. You can also visit the museum during Mask Up Mornings — from 10 a.m. to noon every day — when face coverings are required for all visitors aged 3 and up. Reservations are required and can be made online. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday-Thursday. $10-$12; discounts available. 305 Harrison St., Seattle; seattlechildrensmuseum.org
Free play time is back for the summer at the PlayGarden. The accessible, 1-acre play space is open Friday and Saturday mornings. PlayGarden staff is present to oversee and answer questions. No registration required. Fridays and Saturdays through Aug. 20, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Free. 1745 24th Ave. S., Seattle; childrensplaygarden.org
The Woodland Park Zoo is open with extra programming, like the outdoor Wildlife Theater (shows at 2:45 p.m. daily except Wednesday) and Critter Connections, a new 20-25 minute experience where you can get up close and personal with “fun furry mammals, our fine feathered friends or our rascally reptiles,” the website says ($25 per person, tickets online only). There are no mask or vaccination requirements for any indoor or outdoor exhibits. Open daily 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. through Sept. 5. $16.25-$26.25. 5500 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle; zoo.org
KidsQuest offers free at-home programming, including virtual story time videos and KidsQuest Playbooks, which provide activities based on season and interest. All programming is available at kidsquestmuseum.org.
The Seattle Aquarium has many opportunities for online engagement, like educational animal videos, downloadable activity sheets and live streams of the aquarium’s harbor seals and sea otters. Programming is available for free at seattleaquarium.org.
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