Frugal Kids Activities Around the South Sound of Washington for Preschoolers!

Nisqually Wildlife Refuge

Nisqually Wildlife Refuge

Frugal Kids Activities around the South Sound of WA for Preschoolers::

I put together this list of frugal kids activities for preschool age kids around the South Sound for a presentation that I shared with a local MOPS group in the south sound area. This is definitely geared towards ideas for families with young children to try to get out and about more around the South Sound area with their babies, toddlers and preschool age kids. However,  I thought this could be helpful for a number of families around this area, so wanted to share it with all of you, too!

Make sure to check out this big list of free or frugal family activities to do around the Puget Sound area – we update this every Thursday evening with a variety of events for the weekend.


If you buy a year pass to the zoo or science museum/Museum of Flight, you can then get free or discount admission at a number of participating locations around the country. For example, Point Defiance Zoo membership will get you discount admission to the Oregon Zoo. The Pacific Science Center membership will get you free admission to OMSI in Portland. This is a great way to check out other places if you will be traveling.

Ways to get into Museums for free or cheap::

Free Library Passes for these museums::

*Most libraries have reciprocal agreements between libraries

        WA State History Museum

Museum of Glass (Family days 2nd Sat of month)

Tacoma Art Museum  – they have a cool art room upstairs filled with art supplies that kids can use to create their own art masterpieces

You can get passes at the Puyallup Library, Pierce County Library & Tacoma library for 2 adults & at least 2 kids (depends on pass). Usually get the pass for a week to check out.

More Discounted Museum Options:

Kids Quest Children’s Museum (Bellevue) – thru King County Library System & you can print off online. Admission for 2

Hands On Children’s Museum – Timberland Regional Library System – Lacey, Olympia, etc. These are much more limited with just 1-2 passes per system, so you may have to be on the wait list for awhile.

Tacoma Children’s Museum they offer Pay as You Will admission (donation only)

Museum of Flight – Free admission for students ages 5 -18 + one parent. You do need to sign up for the program to take advantage of this

Blue Star Museum Membership – Military members & their families get free admission to a number of museums from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Local museums include: Kids Quest Children’s Museum (Bellevue), Kids Discovery Museum (Bainbridge Is), Burke Museum (Seattle), Bremerton Children’s Bug & Reptile Museum

Free Museum Admission Monthly around the South Sound:

3rd Thursdays of Month – Free admission to Tacoma Museums (History Museum, Art Museum, Museum of Glass & Children’s Museum)

1st Thursdays of Month (typically 10am – 8pm) – Free admission to Seattle Museums (MOHAI, Burke Museum, Museum of Flight & more)

1st Friday of Month – Free admission to the Hands On Children’s Museum from 5 – 9pm

More Educational Opportunities::

Mini Maestros Concerts – these are informal, interactive concerts put on by the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra to introduce young children to music. For ages 2-8.  They have one a month (next one is Sun 3/6) & start with smaller groups of musicians & end in May with the full orchestra. An hour before the concert you can go to an “Instrument Petting Zoo”. They are $7/ticket.

Planetarium Shows at Pierce College – The Science Dome at Pierce College, Lakewood, offers 2 children’s shows every Saturday for ages 3-8.  These are interactive, fun shows which get kids moving & learning about the constellations & space. They are $6/ticket for ages 3-8, other ages are free.

MaST (Marine Science & Technology) Center at Redondo Beach – They offer free discovery days every Saturday from 10am – 2pm, where kids can explore the center & the two large touch tanks

Libraries – there are tons of regular, weekly events at your local libraries including story time, science & craft activities, Lego activities & much more. This month they are having the Read with a Daffodil Princess events including one this Saturday March 5th at a number of Pierce County libraries.

Plays – to find discounts on plays, musicals, concerts & more, check out Right now they have 1/2 price tickets to James and the Giant Peach at the Tacoma Musical Playhouse. They also had discount tickets for Elephant & Piggie earlier this year & more

Play Time Ideas::

Indoor Scheduled Play Times for Toddlers

For those rainy spring days, check out these fun ways for preschoolers to burn off some energy:

Toddler Indoor Mini Park at Puyallup Recreation Center – An hour and a half or so of playtime in the indoor gym with toddler-friendly large toys, several days a week for $2/kid ($1 for additional kids). For kids 5 & under.

Sumner Indoor Play Park for Toddlers – Open several days a week for kids ages 1-5, $3/kid to play on the large toddler-friendly equipment & toys.

Roach Gymnastics – Open Play on Wednesdays 1-3pm & Fridays 9-12pm; $7/child . For kids who are walking & up.

Jumpin Jack & Jill – Open Play times throughout the week – perfect for toddlers & preschoolers. I can’t find pricing, but it used to be $6/child for 2 hrs of playtime

Outdoor Fun:

Nisqually Wildlife Refuge – great place to take babies in stroller & young kids to walk the trails & bird watch (no dogs or bikes though)

Awesome playgrounds – 

Check out this cool site,,  where you can “find a park” by putting in your criteria of what you’re looking for and it will help you find a good park around Pierce County.

Wildwood Park – Puyallup – wooded & shady playground with a fun stream for kids to play in

Fort Steilacoom – the “Castle” park; there’s an off-leash dog park too

Rainier View Park Sumner – climbing wall, merry go round & nice trail around park for beginning bicyclists

Tacoma Nature Center – Tacoma  – Nature themed play area that little kids will love with the water features; 2 miles of walking trails around a lake & wetland area & nature center

Playground by the Sound – Chambers Bay – beautiful views & has something for all ages

Discovery Playground at Les Gove Park – Auburn – merry go -round, climbing wall & sensory garden. Fully accessible for children with special needs. There is also an awesome sprayground right next to it

Splash Pads & Pools

Pioneer Park Sprayground

Les Gove Park Sprayground

10 Spraygrounds in Tacoma – a highlight is SERA Park (South End Recreation & Adventure)  – the newest & largest sprayground right next to the STAR center

Kandle Pool , Tacoma– wave pool

Stewart Heights, Tacoma – lazy river, waterslides & more

Fun Weekend Events::

Lowe’s Build & Grow Events – Kids get to build a wooden project (next project is a Monster Jam truck on 3/12) plus get an apron, goggles & patch. Must register as it does fill up fast. Every other Saturday morning.

Home Depot Hands On Kids Workshops – Free kids workshops on the 1st Sat of the month. Kids complete a wood project plus get an apron, certificate & pin

Michaels Kids Club – Kids crafts every Saturday which costs $2

Spring Events::

Spring Fair – $7.50 for adults & kids 5 & under are FREE. SO many fun activities for kids & there are many free activities including free face painting, AG-Ventureland (free interactive agricultural/education activities), Kids Cooking show (interactive with kids from audience), Tot Spot, KidZone & more

Cherry Blossom Viewing at the UW Quad Area

Tulip Festival in Mt Vernon/La Conner area

Spring Consignment Sales

What are your favorite places to go with your kids?