Something to Celebrate!

We are grateful to these organizations for honoring Hands On with these special awards.

King 5 & Evening Magazine Best of Western Washington

  • In 2021, Hands On won Best Family-Friendly Destination.
  • In 2018, Hands On was a top 5 finalist for Best Family-Friendly Experience.
  • In 2017, Hands On received 1st place for Best Kid-Friendly Fun! Also nominated for Best Museum & Best Event – Summer Splash.
  • In 2016, Hands On was in the top five for Best Kid-Friendly Fun and Best Outdoor Play Space.

Showcase Magazine

  • In 2022 & 2020, Hands on received 1st place for Best Family Fun Destination.
  • Hands On was a top 5 finalist 2018, 2019 for Best Family Fun Destination.

The Olympian Best of South Sound

  • Best Children’s Party Venue 2022.
  • Best Family Attraction 2022.
  • Best Museum in Thurston County, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, & 2019, 2022.
  • Best Family Entertainment, 2020.
  • Best Family Entertainment & Best Museum in Thurston County, 2017, 2018, & 2019.
  • Best Kid-Friendly Entertainment in Thurston County, 2013, 2014, & 2015.


  • Traveler’s Choice Award 2020
  • TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, & 2019 based on its reviews on the travel site.
  • FlipKey by TripAdvisor announced in February 2016 that based on industry research and traveler feedback, Hands On was the no. 1 most loved and most talked about attraction in Washington State. The museum was honored as a Top Family Attraction Worth Traveling For in Washington for 2016.

Weekly Volcano

  • Best Staycation, Best of Olympia 2020
  • Best Museum, Best of Olympia 2017

Red Tricycle

  • Best Children’s Museum in WA, in Best Children’s Museums in Every State 2018.

South Sound Magazine

  • South Sound Magazine named Hands On the Best Kids Birthday Place in 2014 & 2017.
  • The magazine honored the museum with four regional awards in 2015: Best Northwest Travel Destination, Best Kid-Friendly Destination, Best Museum and Best Kids Birthday Place.

Institute of Museum & Library Services

  • In September 2015, the museum earned a significant Museums for America federal grant from the Institute of Museum & Library Services to support its innovative Young Makers program for two years.


  • The museum earned LEED GOLD for its sustainable building in late 2014 and it was the first children’s museum in the Western United States to do so.

Noyce Foundation

  • The museum won the Noyce Foundation’s Bright Lights Community Engagement Award in June 2014 for its efforts to bring art and science education to under-served and at-risk populations in its community.