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Originally published Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 7:05 PM

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New kids museum and other lures for a walk-on ferry outing to Winslow

The Kids Discovery Museum opened in new quarters last summer within walking distance of the Bainbridge Island ferry dock. Combine that with other Winslow attractions for a bargain-priced family outing.

Special to The Seattle Times

If You Go

Walk-on to Winslow, with kids

Getting there

It's a 30-minute ferry ride with Washington State Ferries from Seattle's Pier 52 to Bainbridge Island. Walk-on round-trip fares: adult, $6.90; ages 6-18, $5.55; senior/disabled, $3.45; children 5 and younger, free (888-808-7977 or www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries).

Children's museum

To reach the Kids Discovery Museum, walk off the ferry toward Winslow, turn left at the intersection of Highway 305 and Winslow Way, and then look to the right for the big red sign to the museum. Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; noon-4 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday. 301 Ravine Lane, Winslow; adults/children, $5; kids younger than 1 and museum members, free (206-855-4650 or www.kidimu.org).

Other attractions

for kids

Mora Iced Creamery, 139 Madrone Lane, Winslow (206-855-1112 or www.moraicecream.com).

Calico Cat Toy Shoppe/Games & Puzzles, 104 Winslow Way W., Winslow (206-842-7720 or www.calicocattoys.com).

Bon Bon Confectioner, 123 Bjune Drive (206-780-0199 or www.bonboncandies.com).

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If you've accumulated so many years that your own childhood is almost theoretical at this point, it may be hard to recall what it's like to be a kid — to be tugged this way and that, stuffed into grocery carts and car seats, dwarfed by looming giants with cavernous nostrils.

That may be one reason kids go wild in places catering to their size and interests, and one such venue is the Kids Discovery Museum on Bainbridge Island, or KiDiMu. The museum recently moved into an energy-efficient new building that's an easy walk from the ferry dock, making it a great destination for off-island families.

And it's all about the kids.

"When you come here, you're entering their world," says museum Director Susan Sivitz. "Parents work their way through the exhibits with their children."

At the entrance, a large pirate-themed treehouse, the base of which is made from a real tree trunk, welcomes visitors. Kids scramble up a ladder, through the house and down a looping tube-slide.

Beyond the tree is Our Town, with displays that reflect what you'd see in any neighborhood, but here they're scaled to the size of a child. Exhibits include a bank with an ATM, a tiny (and real) electric car, a grocery store and a mini medical center. Small, curved doors (what Sivitz calls "mouse-hole doors") allow kids to move from one room to the next.

Lessons are taught with a light touch so kids think they're just having fun. In the medical clinic, a life-size doll wears an "organ vest." Kids attach the stuffed cloth heart, liver and lungs by Velcro to the correct spot. Real X-rays can be slapped onto a light box to reveal the bones of a hand or skull.

Plenty of diversions

Alexander Capestany, 7, visiting from Seattle, was absorbed in a skeleton puzzle. Asked if he was having fun, he replied, "I was playing with the money-saving game but then my brother drove me away."

Good thing there are plenty of other diversions. Alexander's dad, Fred Capestany, noted that the museum keeps different ages interested. "There are activities that engage my 10-year-old son, too. What's wonderful is everything sparks their imagination. There's just enough to suggest play, but not give kids everything, the way some toys do."

Upstairs is a science-focused section where various Rube Goldberg-type contraptions use golf balls to introduce concepts of physics. A gravity game had containers circling on a board while kids released golf balls on a track from above, with the goal of rolling balls into containers. Kids seemed to have more success at this than adults.

Kelsey Sugita, 6, was playing with her dad, Eugene. They came from Renton, spending time at the museum while Mom attended a retreat on the island.

"My favorite part is the golf balls," the little girl said, but she also appeared to have a screechingly good time on the treehouse slide, and following her dad through a mouse-hole door. "This is a great place," he laughed, ever the good sport.

More fun to be found

Once the tykes are thoroughly exhausted from the museum, try other kid-friendly entertainments in Winslow.

Probably the Mora ice- cream shop is a necessity. It offers an encyclopedic list of flavors, with one of the top kid favorites being chocolate peanut butter Moreo (with Oreo cookies). Grown-ups find sophisticated tastes such as sabayon, spiked with Marsala wine. Choose the size cone or dish you want, then freely sample to see precisely what makes your toes curl.

If it's toys the kids want, walk to the Calico Cat Toy Shoppe, packed floor-to-ceiling with playthings, including some inexpensive frivolities like Japanese erasers — apparently all the rage among young school kids. The cartoony figures fit together like a puzzle but are practical, too, since they do actually erase.

Next door is the Calico's game store. In the back, cozy tables and chairs invite you to pull down a free game off the shelf for play.

A final sugar rush can be had at Bon Bon Confectioners, just off the main street of Winslow Way. Rich, velvety fudge is made daily on the premises, with seasonal varieties. Pumpkin-pie fudge is featured through November, changing to eggnog fudge in December. One corner of the little shop is a Willy Wonka-worthy candy fantasy — with gumball dispenser, tub after tub of taffy, jelly beans and more.

You can take your loot and stroll down a nearby boardwalk along the waterfront, passing a sailboat marina and sea birds picking their way across the beach.

"Coming to the island is a lot of fun," said Fred Capestany. "We make a full day of it — take the ferry, go to the museum, then to the aquatic center that has a pool and water slide. This is manageable with kids, and affordable. We do it all the time."

Connie McDougall is a Seattle-based freelance writer.

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