Make sure you plan to spend plenty of time at the newly expanded Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett.
Plan for multiple trips to this museum
After three hours of play, my toddlers and I still hadn’t checked out all of the new exhibits, and we didn’t even come close to visiting any of the original exhibits. But our parking was running out (I thought three hours would be more than enough time!) and we needed to head home for quiet time, so we begrudgingly left, already thinking about what we could do on our next visit.
The original museum exhibits are still in operation – the trains, water table, restaurant, and farm – all of it is still there. The expansion has added three new floors, and numerous exhibits, to the museum. Again, there is just so much for kids to explore and play with at the museum.
Treehouse, pretend play, a PNW theme and a place to rest
Prepare to be dazzled as you enter the new museum space – a sprawling tree house system fills the first floor. Kids can travel from tree to tree on rope pathways, checking out the details filling the room. They can roast hot dogs and marshmallows, build small log cabins, go fishing, or play BigFoot Cornhole. It’s a very Pacific Northwest vibe, and an amazing play space for kids to explore.
The second floor of the newly expanded Imagine Children’s Museum is no less stunning – an oceans exhibit with a fish tank and interactive topographic map activity; giant dinosaur bones; a warehouse with boxes, a forklift, computer system to track packages, and moving conveyor belts for the boxes; and an air tunnel to experiment with paper objects. There is endless play on this floor.
And when you’re ready for a snack or lunch break, head up to the third floor. You’ll find a huge room filled with tables; a view of the playground, Everett, and the Sound; and some food options, for purchase.
Planning your visit
At nearly every exhibit, I was the one who suggested we move to the next activity – my kids could have kept playing and exploring. I hated to move them along, but I wanted to check out as many of the exhibits as we could during this visit. (I can’t emphasize enough just how much there is to check out at the museum!)
As you plan your visit, consider how long you plan to be there, and if this will be your only trip, or one of many trips (check out membership options here). Also consider when you’ll build breaks in. For us (well, maybe just me!), the playground outside was a nice respite from the noise inside, and the third floor is a quieter space to sit and enjoy your food.
What my kids loved: Everything!
I think my kids loved just about everything at the expanded Imagine Children’s Museum, though they told me that the playground was their favorite. My son loved driving and riding on the jeep and dune buggy in the playground space, and my daughter loved pressing the buttons in the dinosaur exhibit to hear the dinosaur sounds and walkie-talkie communications from the archaeologists.
Highlights: Don’t miss these exhibits
Based on my observations, though, here are a few of the highlights from our trip:
Wildlife Rescue: In this exhibit, kids have all sorts of tools at their disposal to provide care for wild animals. They can put them in and out of their cages, feed and provide medical care, give them baths, and use a computer for all of their work needs.
Air Tunnel: I was surprised at how much time my kids spent watching pieces of paper shoot up the air tunnel (though later I realized that the highlight might have mostly been pushing the button to turn the air on!). I loved watching them as they watched the paper go up (and sometimes make it all the way to the top!) of the tunnel.
Sand topography: As kids move thick sand around a sandbox, the projector above changes the topography map projected onto the sand. My kids loved molding and moving the sand, and watching the colors change as the sand moved to different heights.
Warehouse: With a life-sized forklift and moving conveyor belts for boxes, this exhibit seemed to be a highlight for many kids. Mine watched the conveyor belts move boxes up and down, and climbed up the stairs to put in a few boxes to the conveyor belt openings.
Playground: (This was the only exhibit we visited from the original museum space on this trip). Digging for dinosaur bones, driving cars, banging on instruments, climbing throughout the enormous play structure – my kids just loved the outside space.
Where kids might need a little help
Every kid will experience the museum differently. In some exhibits, I could watch while they explored on their own, and in other exhibits they needed some help. They loved the fishing activity, but catching the fish required a level of skill that was beyond them. A bit tricky for me too! The microscope in the wildlife exhibit was too high for them. I lifted them up for them to see. The log cabin activity had different size logs – when they wanted to stack them to make a little house. I needed to help them find logs the same size and stack them together.
But in each exhibit, there’s something for most ages.
A trip to Imagine Children’s Museum is 100% worth the visit. Watching kids explore spaces just their size is just so fun – perhaps parents and caregivers have even more fun than the kids as they watch their little ones play and explore!
Know before you go
COVID Protocols: You can check out COVID updates here. During our visit, most visitors were unmasked.
Parking: There is a pay lot right outside of the museum. It costs $3 for 0-3 hours, and $12 for 3-12 hours. Free street parking around the museum is good for up to 90 minutes.
Admission is $22 per person (except for children under 12 months).
Hours: The museum is open from 9 a.m – 4 p.m. every day. Closed Monday.
Food and drink are only allowed on the third floor.