Seattle Museum Month, February 1-28, offers Seattle visitors staying in one of our 50+ partner hotels an unbeatable value: 50% off admission at more than 25 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 seattlemuseummonth.com – 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, a jawdropping collection of classic cars, 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. But this is no ordinary look back. MOHAI’s award-winning exhibits are engaging, enlightening, and entertaining too. And their focus on innovation explores the global influences that all began here: Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, Starbucks, Costco, Nintendo, 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 the special exhibition (opening February 4) of From the Ground Up: Black Architects and Designers.
True Northwest: The Seattle Journey exhibit at MOHAI courtesy 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 new 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.
If you’re fired up by classic cars, a trip south to Tacoma to LeMay: America’s Car Museum is a must. America’s love affair with the automobile is in full glory here, with a collection spanning more than 100 years of automotive history. The stunning purpose-built facility has been recognized as one of MSN’s 10 Best Automotive Museums worldwide.
Back 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.
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.
Learn more about Seattle Museum Month and find your perfect hotel at seattlemuseummonth.com. See my other posts for suggestions for arts & culture lovers, families, 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 Museum of Flight