Hands on Children’s Museum and a Giant Sand Festival (Olympia, Washington)


August 7, 2015 by Terumi

cool playgrounds for kids in Washington

A couple months ago someone from the Hands on Children’s Museum contacted me about their upcoming Sand Festival and I mentioned that not only did I not know about the festival, we had not visited the Hands On Children’s Museum yet.

You must visit, they said.

And so we did.

Oh my goodness.  How have we NOT come to this place before?   Olympia is only about an hour away from Seattle and it is such a cool city!

I am just tremendously sad that my guys are now SEVEN and have only been to this Children’s Museum once.  (That old saying that everyone tells you when you have little kids-the one that goes “They grow up too fast”-it is true. SO TRUE.)

And we forgot to bring a change of clothes.  This recommendation is probably a no-brainer for EVERY Children’s Museum with a water area, and the Hands On Children’s Museum has a water area in front of the museum that is free and it’s sort of like a little creek or river the kids can actually wade in, so if your kids are the type that can’t stay out of water (like mine), you might need some extra clothes so you can actually visit the museum too.

The day we visited, it was incredibly hot and the outdoor river was PACKED and I told the kids we didn’t have much time.  So we did not play in the water and we did not take pictures, but please believe me when I say it’s an incredible water playground-it kind of sets the tone for the whole museum.

Because inside the museum, there are some pretty amazing exhibits and so many of them are still very magical to seven-year old boys.

My guys liked pretending they were eagles.

eagle nest at the Hands On Childrens museum

They loved the emergency vehicles with all the lights.

hands on childrens museumOlympia with kids

We spent a LONG time playing with this fake steam.

hands on childrens museumOlympia kids museum

And building dams in this river.

you can build boats and float them through this 'river' course

I would have made my guys take zillions of pictures in these stick houses if it wasn’t scorching outside.

hands on childrens museum Olympia, Washington

But they still liked wandering through them.  I noticed there was also an amazing tricycle track around the whole outdoor area like the ones we saw on a rooftop playground in Tokyo.  It sounds like they have bunnies and chickens in the outdoor area too!

So we will try and head here for the Sand in the City Festival in a few weeks on August 22-23rd.  Apparently the festival is free and people who attend get a discounted rate at the Children’s Museum which is a really nice bonus. I think seeing all the trucks bringing in the sand for the festival would also be a fabulous adventure in itself.

Have you been to this Children’s Museum?  And do you have a favorite restaurant nearby? (I love planning my Children’s Museum visits with fun lunches out.  This time we tried 5th Ave Sandwich and it was great!) Or do you have a favorite Children’s Museum in your city?  I’d love to hear!

(PS. my family received free admission to the Children’s Museum of Olympia but were not required to post about our experiences and the opinions here are solely mine and in my opinion, we had a fabulous time.)

(PPS. in my opinion, you might also like to visit nearby Batdorf Coffee if you need a pre-kids museum coffee like we usually do!)



  1. Breanna Rush says:

    I love your review of such a wonderful place! My oldest son would LOVE this! 🙂 Your pictures are great, too! Looks like you had a wonderful time!

  2. Thanks for visiting! Awesome recap. Note: We sell Batdorf & Bronson espresso in our Play Day Cafe as well. You don’t even have to leave for caffeine!
    -Jillian Henze, Hands On Children’s Museum

  3. This place looks great! I’d love it as an adult. I think hands-on learning is the best method. It’s nice to see a place that wants kids to touch rather than “please don’t touch” signs scattered around.

  4. Tabitha says:

    Isn’t that place awesome! We need to take another trip over to Olympia before summer ends.


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Terumi-author of An Emerald City Life

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