The Suquamish Museum and nearby playground is one of many destinations worth exploring for kids of all ages. (Jennifer Bardsley)

The Suquamish Museum and nearby playground is one of many destinations worth exploring for kids of all ages. (Jennifer Bardsley)

This winter break, give teens the gift of cultural enrichment

Here are four places and one movie that will open their eyes to art, history and more.

When my kids were little, a museum or live theater production was the last place I wanted to take them — unless it was Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett, of course. But now that they are 12 and 16, sharing cultural experiences together is enjoyable. Here are some meaningful things we’ve done this fall and winter.

Suquamish Museum: On a recent trip to the Kitsap Peninsula, we visited the Suquamish Museum and its nearby playground. If my kids were little they could have stayed at the playground for hours. (Attention 2-year-olds: there’s a water feature! Bring towels!) But since my kids were older, they most appreciated the museum, which is memorable for the history it conveys as well as the architecture of the building itself. An exhibit about Chief Seattle Days is running until Jan. 9.

Museum of History & Industry: A great follow-up to the Suquamish Museum is the MOHAI in Seattle. The MOHAI covers the past and present history of Seattle. In my view they snub Snohomish County a bit, but that’s not exactly shocking. Our favorite part of the MOHAI was the Great Seattle Fire multimedia presentation.

Cascadia Art Museum: This small but mighty museum in Edmonds has an exhibit called “Kenjiro Nomura, American Modernist: An Issei Artist’s Journey” on display until Feb. 20. It is so deeply moving that I’ve now gone back to see it two times. What really struck me is how the artist continued to create even when his family was incarcerated in internment camps during World War II. His canvas was reduced to poor-quality paper and tiny sketchbooks, but he captured images that will touch your heart.

The Phoenix Theatre: This year I bought season tickets to the Phoenix Theatre in Edmonds. I would encourage readers to look up community theater opportunities in your own neighborhoods, too. Last year was hard for local theater companies and this is a great time to support them. I took my daughter to see “Inspecting Carol” and I laughed so hard I gave myself an asthma attack. Well done, actors!

“West Side Story”: Seeing a movie on the big screen is a special treat in my family, and seeing Steven Spielberg’s production of “West Side Story” was worth it. I don’t think my kids understood ahead of time that I would cry through every song, even the happy ones. If the theater hadn’t been empty I would have embarrassed them. But wow! As soon as the credits rolled, I wanted to see it again.

Finally, I have a confession. As fun as all of these experiences have been, part of me wishes I could go back in time and take my kids to the rooftop of Imagine Children’s Museum to dig for dinosaur bones again. Those were the days. Blink, and you miss them. But at least when we visited the Suquamish Museum’s playground my kids didn’t leave wet. If they had been 2, I wouldn’t have been able to keep them away from the spigot.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at

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