Seattle Museum Month:
Calling All History Lovers

Seattle Museum Month, February 1-29, offers Seattle visitors staying in one of our 70+ partner hotels an unbeatable value: 50% off admission at 27 museums, including many of Seattle’s most popular attractions.

You can go to as many museums as you like during your stay, and up to four people staying in the hotel room are eligible to use the discount, so it’s perfect for trips with friends or family. You’ll find the entire list of museums on – but how to choose? Let’s dive in and I’ll try to make some suggestions according to your interests.

Today’s topic is: history & heritage! Here are some of my recommendations if you want to discover the stories behind the people and places of the Northwest.

In these museums you’ll find fascinating looks at aviation history, a deep dive into Seattle’s innovative roots, stories of the Alaskan Gold Rush, and more.

A great first stop is the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI). Housed on the south shore of Lake Union in a restored historic Naval Reserve Armory, this Smithsonian affiliate boasts a collection of more than 4 million objects, documents, and photos that trace the history of the Puget Sound region. MOHAI’s award-winning exhibits are engaging, enlightening, and entertaining. And their focus on innovation explores the global influences that all began here: Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Costco, Nintendo, Boeing and more. My tip: don’t miss the musical telling of the 1889 Great Seattle Fire, complete with heart-tugging solo by the guilty glue pot that started it all, and two current special exhibitions. Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science. explores stories from four Indigenous communities in real-world examples of how traditional knowledge and cutting-edge science can be blended together to provide solutions to contemporary concerns. And Pulling Together: A Brief History of Rowing in Seattle is perfectly timed to the national release of the new film The Boys in the Boat, based on the bestselling book by Seattle author Daniel James Brown, and directed by George Clooney. In 1936, the University of Washington men’s rowing team did the unthinkable: despite injuries and illness, they defeated British, German, and Italian crews and brought home a gold medal at the Berlin Olympics. MOHAI is proud to display a selection of rare artifacts and photographs related to the 1936 champion crew which offer a look into the rich history of rowing in Seattle.

courtesy of MOHAI

While you’re in the neighborhood, see if you can spot any of the historic ships that are typically docked at the Historic Ship Wharf adjacent to MOHAI: the Virginia V, Arthur Foss, Swiftsure, and the Duwamish. You might also want to visit The Center for Wooden Boats next door, and the Wagner Education Center.

The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture is a favorite of all ages. Washington’s oldest museum (dating from 1899) is now one of our newest, in a dynamic purpose-built building (opened in 2019) that brings the collections and the research to the forefront, allowing visitors to see the conservation and discovery in action. From contemporary native culture to ancient dinosaur fossils, this museum will inspire and delight.

Burke Museum. Photo: Dennis Wise.

Another don’t-miss: one of Seattle’s most popular museums, The Museum of Flight. Located in south Seattle, it’s the largest independent, non-profit air and space museum in the world! With over 175 aircraft and spacecraft and tens of thousands of artifacts, the museum brings the incredible history of flight to life. A handy visit planner on their website can help you focus your time depending on your age and interests.

Airplanes on the ground and hanging fill a large glass hangar.


In the historic heart of Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood, a visit to the free Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park located in the restored 1889 Cadillac Hotel offers an absorbing look at a time when anyone with about $600 ($20,000 in today’s dollars) could dream of traveling to the Yukon Territory in northwestern Canada, to strike a claim, mine the gold, and try to change their fortunes. This branch of the National Park Service is a key link to understanding the impact on Seattle from the Klondike, and how modern day global and regional companies such as Nordstrom and Filson got their start in the explosive growth of the gold rush period.

Brown crates and tan cloth bags stacked up against a shop window that reads Palmer Bros.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Wayne Bressler

A beautiful ride on the Seattle-Bremerton ferry will bring you to Bremerton, home of the USS Turner Joy Naval Destroyer Museum Ship. You can walk on for the hour long ferry ride, saving money and time. The Turner Joy is located on the Bremerton boardwalk, an easy walk from the ferry terminal. To fully explore the ship, allow 1-2 hours and wear flat or rubber-soled shoes, dress in layers (the ship is cold in February!), and keep your hands free for safe ladder climbing. Or, take the scenic ferry ride to Bainbridge Island instead, walk a  short distance into town and visit the small but engrossing Bainbridge Island Historical Museum. Fun fact: pickleball was invented on Bainbridge Island in 1965, and you can learn about the roots of this popular national sport in the “Our Community” exhibit.

Learn more about Seattle Museum Month and find your perfect hotel at  See my other posts for suggestions for arts & culture loversfamilies, and those seeking one-of-a-kind experiences. With more than 25 participating museums, we’ve got something for every interest. See you in February!


Banner image: The first big rowing event of the 1916 season was an April race against Stanford. University of Washington and Stanford fans crowded the shores of Lake Washington to cheer for their teams. The UW crew won by seven boat lengths, and afterwards started preparing for a May race against the University of California at Berkeley. This photo shows the 1916 men’s varsity crew, in uniform, at the University of Washington boathouse. Credit:  MOHAI, PEMCO Webster & Stevens Collection, 1983.10.10267.

About the Author

Tracey Wickersham

Tracey Wickersham is the Senior Director of Cultural Tourism at Visit Seattle. A volunteer dj & host of a long running music program on KBCS 91.3 FM, she spent 6 years on the board of 4Culture, supporting arts, heritage, public art and historic preservation in King County. You'll often find her at the Tractor Tavern enjoying great bands, exploring one of the region's beautiful parks with her spunky blue heeler mix, or in one of Seattle's many live theater venues.

More Posts By Tracey Wickersham


One Comment

  1. Thank you for such awesome content! We will be sharing it on our GBK Realtor’s Social media!

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