Imagine Children’s Museum gets better and better

From a realistic pretend crane to a life-size recreation of the Snohomish bicycle tree, the Everett museum will keep kids engaged for many hours.

If you stand next to Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett and look up, you might just see a three-year-old operating a pretend crane. (Jennifer Bardsley)

If you stand next to Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett and look up, you might just see a three-year-old operating a pretend crane. (Jennifer Bardsley)

There’s a special place in my heart for children’s museum memories.

As a child, my favorite thing to do at the one in San Diego was type my name in Braille and ride around in a wheelchair playing basketball. As a parent, my kids loved the art room at Seattle Children’s Museum. When we visited relatives in Oregon, we would stop at the now closed Portland Children’s Museum.

But my favorite children’s museum of all time, is Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett. From the epic train table to the airplane you can fly, to the water table that stretches on forever — Imagine Children’s Museum has always been awesome. My kids loved digging for dinosaur bones on the rooftop and cooking fake spaghetti in the restaurant. Climbing aboard the tractor and milking the cow were also huge hits.

The museum was a place we could explore all morning. On the way home to Edmonds my preschoolers would fall asleep. I’d pull into the driveway, park in the garage, and sit in the car reading a book while they finished their nap.

Sometimes we’d meet friends at the museum, and that made for exceptional playdates. I’d chat with moms and dads while our kids danced around the light room, or stuffed balls into the whizzing air tubes.

It’s been a long time since my teenagers were young enough for memberships. So I was thrilled to be able to visit the museum with my young nephew, especially since I hadn’t seen it since the big remodel. Not just big — jaw dropping.

I didn’t think it was possible that the museum could get any better, but wow-oh-wow. Now they have a life-size recreation of the Snohomish bicycle tree, a pond where kids can pretend to fish, a climbing playground made from nets, a food truck cafe, a whale exhibit, a tool workshop and more. There is so much to do at the museum that you could come every single day for a week and not experience everything, especially considering that toddlers and preschoolers tucker out after a few hours.

But it was the crane exhibit that brought up bittersweet emotions. Attached to the side of the building, like a glass box, is a pretend construction crane cab. Kids climb onto rumble seats and operate joysticks that have realistic sound effects. Looking out through the glass windows, it’s as if you are really moving a crane. My nephew couldn’t get enough of the experience. I knew that my son would have loved it, too — 15 years ago.

My kids are too old for children’s museums. They don’t splash around water tables, or plant seeds in dirt and nylon stockings to make “grass people.” They don’t pretend to drive vehicles or dress up in chef hats. That’s all over for us now. One is off to college and the other is about to start high school. Our children’s museum days are done.

But the memories? They live on forever. I’m grateful to Imagine Children’s Museum. Every membership dollar I gave them was money well spent.

Jennifer Bardsley is the author of “Sweet Bliss,” “Good Catch” and more. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as @JenniferBardsleyAuthor. Email her at

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