An inspiring visit at the Gates Foundation Visitor Center (Seattle, WA)


December 12, 2013 by Terumi

gates visitor center

I had been meaning to go to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor’s Center forever, but I kept putting it off.  I think it was a little too intimidating, like I was preparing for a visit to Mr. Gates’ house or something.  What would I wear?  What would we do? What if we were disruptive? And maybe we should wait until the kids were older. Somehow a year passed by and we still didn’t visit.  And then I got an email inviting my family on a tour.

“Can the kids come too?”  I emailed.  “They’re both 5”  And yes, the guys were allowed to come.  They were even totally welcome.

On the way to the Gates Center they played on the statues outside.  It was freezing cold but they could have been entertained here forever.  It’s amazing how kids find things that we grownups would normally breeze by.

gates visitor center

They even made me read all the plaques.

gates visitor center

But I was too chilly so we headed inside and were told to go check out the restroom because it was part of the exhibit. The guys thought it was really neat and we learned that some people have to walk 3 miles to get water.  “That’s once around Green Lake” I told the 5-year-olds and they were impressed.

Then our tour guide Deborah, made them try it out and they were really impressed because they got a little tired on 1/36 of the journey and they weren’t even carrying any weight.

carrying water at Gates Visitor Center Seattle

I love how interactive the Gates Center is and how it really makes you think about what we might be able do to help each other have a decent shot at life.  It’s more hands-on-museum than Visitor Center and there are so many neat touches.

Like a globe that spins and activates a big screen.

gates visitor center

Or the challenges that make you try and build innovative solutions to world problems.  The boys could have stayed here forever too, making models, photographing them and seeing them show up on a tv.

gates visitor center

gates visitor center


We even took a photo of ourselves at another machine and it popped up on a REALLY big screen.  There is a lot of neat technology here.  (Is anyone surprised??)

gates visitor center

But right now they also have a really simple campaign called The Give Effect where you can choose a wish off the Giving Tree and help a community need and it’s a really easy way to help feel connected to our Seattle community.  I love that doing this kind of thing as a family helps foster conversations with my kids about life and I’m always looking for things like this during the holidays.  There were many wishes to choose from, but the guys helped me pick one that has to do with helping a family get some more board games.  They were also looking for a wish that would help animals too.

#thegiveeffect gates visitor

The Give Effect wishes are being collected until December 24th and then the Gates Center will be hosting a Family Day to celebrate on December 28th.  I think it will be a pretty fabulous event (and a FREE one!) with music, calendar making and a presentation of all the gifts on the Giving Tree. I hope that we can go and if you haven’t been to the Gates Center yet, this might be the perfect time for you to check it out.

(PS. it’s always free!)

(PPS. I was given a free tour to see the Gates Center, but YOU can also have a free tour if you schedule one here.  They even do tours for preschools so I really wish we had visited this place when the kids were younger too.  I was not required to post and the ideas here are definitely my own.)



  1. majl says:

    The Gates Foundation Visitor Center looks really interesting! We have done many of the other attractions in Seattle, and for a change, we will hopefully check this one out soon.

  2. […] saw Toms at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center when I went there last week and it reminded me of how cool this company is for giving back one for one. And I didn’t […]

  3. […] toured the Gates Foundation Visitor’s Center at this social and it is such a cool place!  I brought my kids there a little while ago and they love the interactive exhibits and it really gives a feel for what the Gates Foundation is […]

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