Seattle Museums with Kids – Washington State History Museum

Okay, so technically this one isn’t in Seattle, but Tacoma’s Washington State History Museum has an amazing Toytopia exhibit going on through June that was definitely worth the drive.

We arrived on a Sunday right as they opened at 10 a.m., so there wasn’t a line at all (they even let us come in the building a bit early since it was sunny, but chilly outside). Make sure to show your AAA card if you have one since you get a 15% discount on up to 2 adult tickets.

Since we didn’t know how long Julia would be interested and Peter had plans around lunch time, we went straight up to the top floor to see Toytopia. If we’d had more time, we would have started with some of the other exhibits, but will have to save most of them for another day.

The front of the exhibit focuses on toys from the 1960s and prior. Julia loved the dollhouse and rocking horse and would definitely have run right in to play with them if the museum hadn’t brilliantly put up a plastic window (it’s like they might know toddlers…)

So focused on the rocking horse

Next, we made it into the area with Lincoln Logs and Legos. I had a serious bout of nostalgia – we didn’t see my great-aunt and uncle often as kids since they lived in metro Chicago, but whenever we visited, I got to play with my second cousins’ old Lincoln Logs in the basement and loved fitting them together. They also just have a certain smell to them that is so reminiscent of childhood to me.


Julia’s favorite part of the whole exhibit was definitely the next room, which housed a giant playhouse/dollhouse and a keyboard you could walk and jump on (I didn’t get any pictures of it because I was too busy jumping and cartwheeling on it myself). She poured me about 45 cups of tea and served me lunch on the keyboard while Peter and I practiced chopsticks and scales on the piano.


Peter ran off to the arcade like a teenager, and Julia and I followed after I managed to rip her away from the dollhouse. They had a rather large variety of arcade games (and a fun theme song guessing game, which Peter scored 100% on) with free play turned on, so all of us had fun playing Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Asteroids, and an awesome driving game that Julia was obsessed with.

She’s not allowed to be my DD anytime soon, but man she loved this game so much

The last room had a giant Etch A Sketch (that didn’t seem to work), Connect 4, Jenga, and a few other games. Peter and I had fun playing Jenga together while Julia beat herself at Connect 4.


We had a few minutes left before we had to leave, so we also ventured into the Model Railroad exhibit on the same floor (which also gave us views over some of the other exhibits that I’d love to come back to). It’s really very impressive, with at least 4 trains and a detailed layout that looks pretty historically accurate and relevant to the Pacific Northwest’s logging history. Julia loved it because she could count the train cars and name their colors.

We spent about an hour and a half here and could have spent more, but I find it’s always best to leave a little before toddler crazy time (aka nap time). It was Daylight Savings, so Julia should have stayed awake longer, but she was asleep in her car seat about 5 minutes after we left because she’d had so much fun running around and exploring.

I would love to come back to check out the other exhibits at this lovely museum, especially since I didn’t grow up in Washington and learn the history in school. Honestly, the exhibit was so cool that I would even consider coming back just to see it again.

What toys from your childhood do you remember most fondly?