(Note: Information updated June 19, 2018)
The greater Seattle area offers many opportunities for accessible, fun outings for kids with different abilities. Have fun exploring!
Seattle Children’s PlayGarden is an incredibly beautiful, welcoming and unique place in south-central Seattle that’s tailored to the needs of children of all abilities. The playground is fully fenced and wheelchair-accessible, and includes a climbable “volcano,” a tree fort and an arbor. The playable Bongobenny Music Fence, designed by world-renowned artist Trimpin, lets kids touch and tap metal bars that resonate with sound. The PlayGarden hosts playdates, camps and chances to work in the community kids’ garden.
111 9th Ave E, Kirkland
For parents of children with autism, ADHD or similar disabilities, a fenced playground that prevents wandering and running away is a godsend. Tot Lot, ideal for children 2 to 5 years old, includes a simple play structure, cement climbable turtle, sand pit with toys and climb-in wooden truck. There are community garden plots adjoining the park and wide paths for riding trikes.
10811 NE 47th St, Kirkland
At Phyllis Needy Park there’s also fully fenced play space with a latchable gate and has a larger number of tot-sized climbers and playground equipment along with a big sand pit with digging toys and wide paths for riding. There’s a restroom and a basketball court.
22903 45th Ave SE, Bothell
An intermittent stream for water play flows through Miner’s Corner Park, Snohomish County’s first 100 percent accessible facility. All of the playground equipment is wheelchair-accessible, including a 10-foot tall look-out tower. There’s plenty to challenge children of all abilities in the “forts” connected by bridges: for example, a long corkscrew slide comes off the tower, along with two intermediate slides and a long, low one close to the ground. The sand and water garden includes buried dinosaur bones, and wide accessible paths weave through prairie and forest habitats.
Museums200 2nd Ave N
From 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. the second Saturday of each month, admission to the Pacific Science Center is free for kids with autism spectrum disorder and their families. (Entry through the north entrance only.) Attendance is limited, lighting is softened, noise levels and visual stimulation are decreased, and trained staff is available to guide families. In addition, all of the PacSci’s exhibits are ADA accessible, and families can borrow wheelchairs at no cost every day.
1116 108th Ave NE, Bellevue
On designated Wednesdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., kids with sensory sensitivities or other special needs can visit with reduced noise and light. Admission is free. Pre-register by calling 425-637-8100 or by going to the KidsQuest Calendar, clicking on the event you want to attend and following the links to register.
301 Ravine Lane NE, Bainbridge Island
On the fourth Sunday of every month, except December, the Bainbridge Island museum known as KiDiMu opens at 10 a.m. offering parents and kids with autism and sensory challenges an hour and a half to explore the museum before it opens to the general public at 11:30 a.m. Therapists offer expert guidance to the exhibits. Call 206-855-4650 in advance to register (walk-ins are welcome, but only if there is space); cost is $8 each, free for members, and visitors can stay in the museum after the special session is over.
414 Jefferson St NE, Olympia
Children on the autism spectrum and others with special needs are invited to play in a less crowded, less stimulating environment on select Sundays before the museum opens to hte rest of the public. Cost is $7, and pre-registration is not required. Parents are advised to download the Sensory Friendly Story Guide before visiting the museum. Kids can borrow noise-muffling headphones at any time for no cost.
Live Music & Theater & Movies201 Thomas St
During its 2018-19 season, Seattle Children’s Theatre offers three series of accessible performances: Sensory Friendly Performances, American Sign Language Interpreted Performances, and Audio Described Performances. Each series includes every play in the SCT season.410 4th Ave N, Edmonds
Theater etiquette does not apply for the center’s Dementia-Inclusive Series: live and movie showings when patrons can feel free to get up, talk and sing. The lights are up slightly so that people can see to move around. Audiences are divided between older adults with memory loss or dementia and families with young children. Discounts are often available for low-income families.
Sensory Friendly Films at local movie theaters
Theater chain AMC, in partnership with the Autism Society, has a Sensory Friendly Films program, showing movies the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. Lights are turned up, movie sound is turned down, and viewers are welcome to get up, dance, sing, shout, and wander around the space.