Pacific Coast Highway Travel recommends the best museums in Seattle, including art, science and children’s museums, for that inevitable rainy day!
We also mention any days with free admission, which a lot of Seattle's museums do have, usually on the first Thursday of the month.
Let's start with (for us) the star attraction, the Museum of Pop Culture. A Frank Gehry-designed wonder, MoPOP is known for its immersive exhibits and collections that showcase iconic moments in various aspects of pop culture, including TV, rock 'n' roll music, science fiction, and more.
Address: 325 5th Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109; Phone: (206) 770-2700; Website: mopop.org. You might want to mark the first Thursday of each month on your calendar - that's when you get free admission.
Next, we have The Chihuly Garden and Glass. Marvel at the remarkable glassworks of Dale Chihuly. Visitors can explore a wide range of Chihuly's glass sculptures, from intricate glass flowers to massive chandeliers, displayed in both indoor galleries and an outdoor garden.
Address: 305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109; Phone: (206) 753-4940; Website: chihulygardenandglass.com
Seattle Art Museum, or SAM, is a must-visit for art aficionados. SAM's collection contains nearly 25,000 works of art, including pieces from different cultures and time periods.
Address: 1300 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101; Phone: (206) 654-3100; Website: seattleartmuseum.org. Free entry is available on the first Thursday of each month.
The Museum of Flight is a haven for aerospace enthusiasts. The Great Hall of the museum houses a remarkable collection of aircraft, including the iconic Concorde and the fastest plane in the world.
You can also walk through the actual Air Force One that carried President John F. Kennedy, providing a unique opportunity to step inside a piece of presidential history.
Address: 9404 E Marginal Way S, Seattle, WA 98108; Phone: (206) 764-5700; Website: museumofflight.org. Mark the first Thursday evening (5–9 p.m.) for free admission.
The Pacific Science Center is a playground for minds, young and old. Highlights include IMAX Theaters, the Laser Dome, a planetarium, virtual reality displays, and even a tropical butterfly house.
Address: 200 2nd Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109; Phone: (206) 443-2001; Website: pacificsciencecenter.org.
The Seattle Children's Museum is perfect for a family day out. The museum encourages children to engage in hands-on learning. They can explore different themed areas, participate in creative activities, and use their imagination to discover and learn through play.
Many exhibits offer role-playing opportunities, allowing kids to step into different roles, such as firefighters, doctors, or chefs.
Address: 305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109; Phone: (206) 441-1768; Website: seattlechildrensmuseum.org.
The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience offers a deep dive into the region's history and culture. The museum is the only pan-Asian art and history museum in the United States, emphasizing the histories, stories, art, and culture of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities.
One notable exhibit, "Worlds Beyond Here," delves into the representation of Asian Pacific Americans in science fiction, both as characters and creators. They also offer walking tours, food tours, and Chinatown tours.
Address: 719 S King St, Seattle, WA 98104; Phone: (206) 623-5124; Website: wingluke.org. Free admission on the first Thursday of each month.
The Washington State Historical Society Museum is a treat for history buffs. The museum hosts a variety of permanent exhibits that cover different aspects of Washington's history. This includes displays on Boeing's history, a Southern Coast Salish plank house, maritime history, and information about George Vancouver.
The museum's exhibits cover a wide range of topics, from Native American history to the state's industrial and maritime heritage. Visitors can learn about the diverse experiences and individuals that have contributed to Washington's history.
Address: 1911 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402; Phone: (253) 272-3500; Website: washingtonhistory.org. Free admission on the third Thursday of each month (3–8 pm).
The Museum of History & Industry takes you on a fascinating journey through Seattle's past. True Northwest: The Seattle Journey is one of the museum's signature exhibits, providing a comprehensive exploration of Seattle's history. It covers the city's transformation from its Native American roots to its current status as a major tech and innovation hub.
MOHAI is located in a beautiful building on the shores of Lake Union, providing stunning views of the water and surrounding area.
Address: 860 Terry Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109; Phone: (206) 324-1126; Website: mohai.org. Visit on the first Thursday of each month for free admission.
The Frye Art Museum houses a comprehensive collection of 19th and 20th-century American and European artworks. The museum's founding collection consists of 232 paintings, including 19th-century German and American works.
The museum's artist residency program allows emerging artists the opportunity to create and exhibit their work within the museum, and the museum also hosts a regular series of performances and events in The Salon.
Address: 704 Terry Ave, Seattle, WA 98104; Phone: (206) 622-9250; Website: fryemuseum.org. The best part? It's always free!
The National Nordic Museum, dedicated to the culture and history of all the Nordic countries, is another intriguing stop. The museum has a range of permanent exhibits that explore the Nordic region's history, traditions, and contributions. This includes displays on Viking ships, Nordic immigration to the United States, Nordic art and design, and stories of individual Nordic immigrants.
The National Nordic Museum also boasts an extensive collection of Nordic folk art, including textiles, ceramics, woodwork, and metalwork. This collection showcases the creativity and craftsmanship of Nordic artisans throughout history.
Address: 2655 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107; Phone: (206) 789-5707; Website: nordicmuseum.org. Free admission on the first Thursday of each month.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center is a hub of innovative solutions to global problems. The Discovery Center features a variety of interactive exhibits that explore the challenges faced by communities around the world and the innovative solutions being developed. Visitors can engage with these exhibits and learn about the Foundation's work in areas such as health, agriculture, education, and gender equality.
The center shares inspiring stories of individuals and communities whose lives have been transformed through the Foundation's initiatives. These stories showcase the power of collaboration, innovation, and the potential for positive change.
Address: 440 5th Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109; Phone: (206) 709-3100; Website: discovergates.org. Admission is always free.
The Center for Wooden Boats is a unique museum offering a glimpse into Seattle's maritime history. The center is home to a collection of historic wooden boats, including sailboats, rowboats, canoes, and other traditional vessels. Visitors can see these beautiful vessels up close and learn about their history and craftsmanship.
Visitors also have the opportunity to rent and experience wooden boats on Lake Union. Whether it's a rowboat, kayak, or sailing boat, you can enjoy the unique experience of navigating the water in a traditional wooden vessel.
Address: 1010 Valley St, Seattle, WA 98109; Phone: (206) 382-2628; Website: cwb.org. Always free to visit!
The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park - Seattle Unit brings history alive with exhibits of the famous gold rush. The visitor center features a variety of exhibits that tell the story of the Klondike Gold Rush. You can learn about the history of the gold rush, the challenges and hardships faced by prospectors, and the impact it had on the region.
Rangers at the visitor center offer various programs, including talks, demonstrations, and guided tours. These programs provide insights into the history and significance of the gold rush and offer opportunities to engage with knowledgeable park rangers.
Address: 319 2nd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104; Phone: (206) 220-4240; Website: nps.gov/klse. Admission is always free.
The Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington is a hub for contemporary art and ideas. It showcases contemporary art from local, national, and international artists. The exhibits cover a wide range of mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, video installations, and performance art. The gallery frequently rotates its exhibits, offering visitors an opportunity to encounter new and thought-provoking artworks.
The Henry Art Gallery is home to a permanent installation by renowned artist James Turrell. The Skyspace is an immersive, light-focused structure that offers a unique meditative experience. Visitors can view the shifting colors and atmospheric changes of the sky through an aperture in the ceiling, creating a captivating sensory experience.
Address: 15th Ave NE & NE 41st St, Seattle, WA 98105; Phone: (206) 543-2280; Website: henryart.org. Free admission every Sunday and first Thursday.
The Burke Museum is a treasure trove of natural wonders covering natural history and culture and everything around us: the land, water, plants, animals and people. The Burke Museum is home to the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found in Washington state. Visitors can see this impressive display and learn about the life and behavior of these formidable dinosaurs.
The museum also preserves and displays a significant collection of Northwest Native art and cultural artifacts. Visitors can learn about the rich artistic traditions, languages, and cultural practices of the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest.
Address: 4300 15th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105; Phone: (206) 543-5590; Website: burkemuseum.org. Free on the first Thursday of each month.
The Museum of Glass is a spectacular building housing contemporary glass art.One of the highlights of the museum is the opportunity to witness live glassblowing demonstrations in the state-of-the-art Hot Shop Amphitheater. Skilled artists demonstrate their technique and create intricate glass artworks right before your eyes.
The museum also houses an extensive collection of glass art, featuring works from renowned artists. The permanent collection includes pieces by Dale Chihuly, the museum's co-founder, as well as other influential glass artists.
Address: 1801 Dock St, Tacoma, WA 98402; Phone: (253) 284-4750; Website: museumofglass.org. Free admission every third Thursday of the month (from 5–8 pm).
The Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum celebrates Seattle's love for high-speed water sports. It's in Kent, about 20 miles south of the city. The museum houses an extensive collection of hydroplanes and raceboats, showcasing the history and evolution of these high-speed watercraft. Visitors can see a variety of vintage and modern boats, including championship-winning vessels.
The museum also has racing simulators where visitors can experience the thrill of hydroplane racing firsthand. These simulators provide a virtual experience that allows you to navigate the water and feel the speed of a hydroplane.
Address: 5917 S 196th St, Kent, WA 98032; Phone: (206) 764-9453; Website: thunderboats.org.
The Seattle Pinball Museum is a fun stop for all ages. The museum has a vast collection of pinball machines, including both vintage and modern machines. Visitors can enjoy playing a wide variety of pinball games, experiencing the evolution of pinball technology and design.
Address: 508 Maynard Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104; Phone: (206) 623-0759; Website: seattlepinballmuseum.com.
At the Job Carr Cabin Museum in Tacoma, you can see a replica of the log cabin that was built by Job Carr, who was the first permanent non-Native resident of Tacoma. It showcases the life and times of Job Carr and early Tacoma, with historical displays, artifacts, photographs, and illustrations.
Activities for children, storytelling, interactive exhibits, and a variety of public programs are also offered. An engaging pioneer history timeline mural outside, as well as historic gardens with native plants and educational signs, are other attractions you can enjoy at this historical site.
Address: 2350 N 30th St, Tacoma, WA 98403; Phone: (253) 627-5405; Website: jobcarrmuseum.org. Free admission, but donations appreciated.
At the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum you can see a vast collection of meticulously restored, rare military aircraft and vehicles. There are exhibits showcasing technology used in WWII, combat armor, tanks, and artifacts from the home front during the war years.
The aircraft collection is mostly from the period of WWII, and includes models from Germany, Japan, the USSR, the UK, and the US. The majority of these aircraft are still in flying condition.
The museum also offers periodic flight demonstrations, educational programs, and special events. Many of these exhibits are interactive, enabling an up-close experience.
Address: 3407 109th St SW, Everett, WA 98204; Phone: (206) 342-4242; Website: flyingheritage.com.
That's a wrap on our choice of the best museums in Seattle. Each one is unique, loaded with knowledge, fun, and with memories waiting to be made.
Whether you're an art enthusiast, history buff, tech geek, or looking for things to do with children in Seattle, there's something for everyone. See you in Seattle!
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