Today we took a trip down to the newly remodeled Children’s Museum of Tacoma. This is a great and affordable local activity for Tacoma residents. Last year they announced, along with the support of Key Bank, doing away with Free Fridays and began a program called Pay as You Will. This program allows everyone to go and pay what he or she can afford to attend. There is not even a suggested donation when you go there, they literally accept whatever admission you are able to afford. You do go through a small 3-5 minute orientation prior to entering the Museum. Due to the new nature of the Museum, I am sure over time this front-end activity will dissipate.
Our kids were regular visitors to the old Museum, so I was unsure how the change was going to go over as they had all their old favorites they went right to at every visit! From the moment we walked in it was a kid’s haven. There is a wonderful woods setting, transitioning into a water table area complete with rainmakers and all kinds of water devices, smocks, and hand dryers (this was our kid’s favorite). Walking around the corner into the larger portion of the Museum there is a great art room, which has chalk table, chalk boards, activities, a wall to paint on, windows to marker on, sand/light table, archeology finds, and building blocks. Another portion of the building contains the largest duck ship we have ever seen complete with lights, moving wings, lights, bikes to make the wings and lights move, plenty of climbing and exploring places, pulleys, telephones, and steering wheels. Another favorite with the kids was the tube wall with the air compressor – the kids could put scarves and small balls inside large tubes and change the airflow and the items would come shooting out in different locations. There are many books to read, dress up to wear, play kitchens, pieces to create different building ideas as well as a slide, a PVC wall to design ball drops, the ever-famous light table with the colored building blocks.
There are tons of things for all ages. We saw kids from ages 6 months through 16 years having a blast. 90% of the activities are handicap accessible, except for a few of the larger items, which have to be crawled/climbed up into. If you have a child who has sensory issues, there are many areas for being exposed to a large variety of materials, sounds, and textures. It was a tad noisy so if this is an issue for your little one, you may want to bring an IPod for them, or another form of noise reducer.
Parking is reasonable as well; we were able to park on the street in front of the Museum for $1.50 for 2 hours. There is also a lot located next to the Museum for $5.00 for 2 hours. I have heard from several people that there is also free parking at the Tacoma Dome Station, and you catch the Link Light Rail free, it is about a ten-minute ride with two or three stops along the way.
One last quick note, there is an Espresso Bar located behind admissions. While this is a great idea, do not expect to use this as a place to purchase lunch. I’m thinking overtime with feedback they will expand their menu, but as of now there is a limited supply of sandwiches and drinks and are a bit on the pricey side. However, on a positive dietary note, there are a few Gluten Free and Vegan choices along with standard choices and this is a wonderful option, which is not found at many kid locations.
The Children’s Museum of Tacoma: http://www.playtacoma.org/visit
Tacoma Link Light Rail Schedule: http://www.soundtransit.org/Schedules/Tacoma-Light-Link-Rail.xml