If you’ve ever wanted to explore a naked mole rat habitat up close, ride a bicycle on a wire 15 feet off the ground, or stand in the footprint of a giant duckbill dinosaur, the Pacific Science Center might be just the place for you. Budding Einsteins and Edisons—and others with inquisitive minds—can explore the world of science up close at Pacific Science Center, a hands-on and interactive museum located in the shadow of the Space Needle at the Seattle Center.
The Pacific Science Center, which began life as the Science Pavilion at the 1962 World’s Fair, consists of several buildings containing permanent and special exhibits, all connected by a fountain-filled outdoor courtyard. Several of the exhibits are dedicated to the animal kingdom, both ancient and modern. These include a tropical butterfly house, where hundreds of live butterflies fly freely inside of climate-controlled pavilion; a hands-on saltwater tide pool full of Puget Sound sea life; an insect village containing giant robotic ants and praying mantises; and a dinosaur exhibit with seven roaring, life-size robotic dinosaurs from the Mesozoic Era.
Other exhibits are dedicated to subjects ranging from weather to the human body, with plenty of areas and exhibits for every age group to explore. Even toddlers can have fun with the giant bubble machines inside the play area designed specifically for the pre-school set. During the summer months, some of the highlights of the Science Center are found outdoors, where adventurous kids and grown-ups alike can cool off playing with water cannons, giant water wheels, and a high-wire bicycle.
The Science Center is also home to two of Seattle’s only IMAX theaters, one of them in 3D, showing a combination of documentary features and Hollywood blockbusters. For teenagers and adults, a laser dome hosts nighttime laser shows set to the music of groups such as The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. Finally, stargazers will enjoy shows at the indoor planetarium, which illuminates nighttime constellations in a fascinating narrated show. Tickets to the IMAX theater, the laser shows, and the planetarium can be purchased separately, without purchasing tickets to the rest of the Science Center exhibits. However, combination tickets are also available for those visitors with plenty of time to explore it all.
The Science Center, as part of the Seattle Center complex, shares real estate with other popular attractions such as the Space Needle, Children’s Museum, and Experience Music Project. If you’re staying downtown, one creative way to travel to the Seattle Center is to take the monorail, which only runs from Westlake Center to the Seattle Center and back. Tickets to the monorail can be purchased at either end of the journey.
- Monday, Wednesday through Friday: 9:45am to 5pm
- Saturday and Sunday: 9:45am to 6pm
- Tuesday: Closed
- Adults (ages 16-64): $14
- Seniors (ages 65+): $12
- Youth (ages 6-15): $9
- Kids (ages 3-5): $7
- Members: Free
- Location: 200 2nd Ave N, Seattle, WA
- Phone: 800-664-8775
- Website: www.pacsci.org