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Traveler's Guide: Pacific Science Center

Remember when you were a kid and your class took a field trip to a truly spectacular museum? You’d be bursting with energy when you got home, desperate to tell your family all about what you had learned. The Seattle Pacific Science Center will bring back those same feelings. It’s an amazing opportunity for hands-on learning for children and adults alike.

Families should plan on spending at least a few hours at the Pacific Science Center so they can touch live Puget Sound critters in the Saltwater Tidal Pool, wander amongst the butterflies in the Tropical Butterfly House, and explore Wellbody Academy, a 7,000-square-foot exhibit filled with tidbits on how to care for your health and well-being.

While there are a ton of exciting things to do in Seattle, the Pacific Science Center is a must-see. It’s the perfect activity to perk you up if you find Seattle’s famous steely skies have made you a bit weary.


Pacific Science Center Tickets

You have a few options for buying tickets for the Pacific Science Center. Tickets are available for purchase online from the Pacific Science Center website, at the center itself, or through CityPASS (which gives you a nice discount). Prices for admission to the center vary depending on what attractions you want to see; IMAX, traveling exhibitions, and laser shows are extra.

For basic entrance the price is $21.95 for adults ages 16-64, $19.95 for seniors (65+), $15.95 for kids ages 6-15, and $11.95 for little tots from age 3-5. Children under 3 are free! Keep in mind that purchasing tickets ahead of time will allow you to use the express entrances so you’ll skip the boredom of waiting in line and have as much time as possible at the center.

Pacific Science Center Discounts

Looking for a discount for the Pacific Science Center? If you’re planning on seeing a few other Seattle attractions, try the Seattle CityPASS, which gives you a 50% discount on the most popular Seattle hotspots and includes general admission to the Pacific Science Center.

Pacific Science Center Parking

The Pacific Science Center is easy to get to and is accessible by both public and private transportation. If you’re planning on parking your car in the Claypool Garage at the Pacific Science Center, rates vary depending on how long you’re staying. Parking for 0-3 hours will run you $9, for 3-5 hours you’ll pay $11, and 5-10 hours is $13. Bonus tip: arrive after 4pm for a quick visit and you’ll only pay $7. Be sure to check the Pacific Science Center website, as prices may vary depending on events going on that day.

Pacific Science Center Hours

The Pacific Science Center’s hours are usually from 10am-5pm, Monday through Friday, and from 10am-6pm on weekends, but be sure to check the website before you go—hours can vary. It’s closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.


Pacific Science Center Exhibits

The Pacific Science Center has legions of intriguing exhibits, all clamoring for your attention, so you may feel compelled to rush through to see as much as possible. Don’t give into temptation! The fun of the center lies in truly immersing yourself in what it has to offer. If you’re short on time, however, definitely give these exhibits a whirl:

  • Tinker Tank – Think outside the box and experiment with creative destruction in this hands-on space. Choose from a variety of building mediums including LEGO bricks, Keva blocks, wooden architecture, and origami, from which you can construct whatever your heart desires. Don’t miss the gravity wall and vertical wind tables!

    And if you’re lucky, you may get to join a Tinker Tank workshop where you’ll get to push the limits of your imagination and technical skill to create something truly wondrous. Be sure to pick up a ticket for a free workshop with your admission ticket.
  • Tropical Butterfly House – This 4,000-square-foot exhibit stays warm and sunny all year round—perfect for admiring whimsical butterflies zipping from flower to flower (and, occasionally, a guest)! You’ll get to observe hundreds of different species of butterflies, as well as exotic plants like coffee, cocoa and cinnamon. The delicate creatures are raised in the Tropical Butterfly House, purchased as chrysalises from farmers dedicated to sustaining the butterflies as well as many other fragile creatures.
  • Wellbody Academy – Learn the fundamentals of our mental and physical well-being. Start by exploring the Playdium to connect with your inner child and re-learn the joys of being active, or check out the Cafédium to digest information on how best to fuel your body for optimum performance. Next, the Slumbertorium might convince you that setting your alarm just a bit later could be one of the best things you can do for yourself. If you’re a germaphobe, you’ll appreciate the Germnasium, where you’ll learn how personal hygiene helps protect yourself and others from harmful microbes.
  • Pollinator Garden – This year-round garden hosts multiple flower species to entice native pollinators. Every month, new flowers native to Washington are abloom in this ecologically-sustainable outdoor space. You may encounter several species of native pollinators doing what they do best, so keep your eyes open and your cameras ready!
  • Pacific Science Center IMAX – If you’ve ever been to an IMAX theater, you know that it’s way more immersive than your traditional passive movie experience. Choose from a selection of nature-themed documentaries or a mass-release movie and be prepared to feel like you’re part of the story. Movies and show times vary, so check the Pacific Science Center IMAX site for more details.

The Pacific Science Center was designed to indulge your curiosity about the world that surrounds us. Its many exhibits are carefully curated to elicit wonder and joy and to bring out the child that exists within each one of us. It is truly an experience unlike any other and deserves its many accolades. What are you waiting for? Grab your Seattle CityPASS and get moving!

Header photo credit: John Keatley