Museums & Attractions in Seattle

 Museums & Attractions in Seattle

Museums & Attractions in Seattle

Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture

One of the foremost natural history museums in the region, The Burke Museum features both natural and cultural artifacts from the Pacific Northwest and the Pacific Rim ranging from Native American totem poles and hand-carved cedar canoes to dinosaur skeletons, fossils, gems and minerals.

The Children’s Museum, Seattle

The Children’s Museum, Seattle offers afun, interactive learning environment for kids and familieswith exhibits such as a Global Village, Mountain Forest, Imagination Studio, Discovery Bay for toddlers, The Neighborhood, Cog City, Storytelling Circle and a traveling exhibit gallery.

Experience Music Project|Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame

The brainchild of Microsoft co-founder, Paul G. Allen, Experience Music Project (EMP) is dedicated to exploring creativity and innovation in American popular music, from rock ‘n’ roll, to jazz, soul, gospel, country, blues, hip-hop, punk and other genres. Visitors to the Frank O. Gehry-designed, 140,000-square-foot museum can view rare artifacts and memorabilia and experience the creative process by listening to musicians tell their own stories.

Co-located with the Experience Music Project, Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, this one-of-a-kind collection of artifacts and memorabilia include works by Isaac Asimov, Ursula Le Guin, H.G. Wells, George Lucas, Gene Rodenberry, James Cameron and Steven Spielberg and other luminaries of the genre.

Henry Art Gallery

The Henry Art Gallery is the art museum of the University of Washington, located in a striking Charles Gwathmey-designed glass and textured steel building on the west side of the campus. One of the Pacific Northwest’s premier modern and contemporary art museums, the Henry Art Gallery showcases exhibitions and their related programs which invite dialogue about contemporary culture, politics, aesthetics and the traditions of visual art and design of the last two centuries.

Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, often called Ballard Locks, lie at the western end of the Lake Washington Ship Canal in Seattle. They were constructed to raise and lower ships (between six and 26 feet depending on the tides) to allow them to pass between fresh water (Lakes Union and Washington) and salt water (Puget Sound). Operated by the Army Corp of Engineers, the locks are one of Seattle’s most popular visitor attractions and offer a visitor center, fish ladder for salmon, steelhead and other fish and a botanical garden.

Klondike Goldrush National Historic Park

Operated by the National Park Service, the Seattle Park Unit of the Klondike Goldrush National Historic Park (there is another unit in Ketchikan, Alaska) is actually a free museum commemorating Seattle’s role as a gateway to the gold rush in the 1890s, when the young town provided provisions and transportation to some 70,000 prospectors.

Museum of Flight

From the Wright brothers to outer space, the wonder of flight comes alive at one of the world’s largest air and space museums. With more than 150 historic aircraft on display, interactive exhibits and activities for the whole family, The Museum of Flight offers an exciting experience for the aviation enthusiast and general visitor alike. Museum exhibits include a retired British Airways Concorde jetliner, one of three in the world on display, Air Force One and the Personal Courage Wing which showcases 28 rare and restored World War I and II fighter aircraft.

The Future of Flight

The Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour is located in Mukilteo, approximately 30 miles north of Seattle. The 73,000-square-foot commercial jet interpretive center is located at the west edge of the Paine Field airstrip, directly across from Boeing’s largest jet assembly plant. The center features an aviation gallery with interactive exhibits on commercial aviation, a theater and a roof-top observation deck to view the airport’s take-offs and landings. Exhibits include a flight simulator, cut-aways from fuselages of several Boeing airplane models and an airplane design program where guests can design an aircraft and have its airworthiness tested by computer. Tours of the nearby Boeing plant, which begin and end at the center, feature a 90-minute guided exploration of the largest building in the world by volume where Boeing’s 747, 767, 777 and 787 Dreamliner are built.

Museum of Glass: International Center for Contemporary Art

Dedicated to contemporary art with a sustained concentration on the medium of glass, the Museum of Glass in Tacoma features works by internationally-known artists. The Museum features 13,000 square feet of open exhibition space and a striking 9,200-square-foot hot shop Amphitheater which includes a hot glass studio where artistic teams blow and cast glass, a cold glass studio for completing artworks and raised seating for 138 visitors, complete with large video screens offering live glass blowing footage. Linking the museum with downtown Tacoma, theChihuly Bridge of Glass is a 500-foot-long pedestrian overpass shrouded in glass art from renowned local artist Dale Chihuly.

Museum of History & Industry

The Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) celebrates the rich history of the Pacific Northwest and features noteworthy exhibits from the Smithsonian and Library of Congress. MOHAI showcases a large collection of regional historic and cultural treasures and the museum is an indoor playground for all ages.

Pacific Science Center

The Pacific Science Center is a hands-on learning center for kids and families offering permanent and traveling exhibits. Permanent exhibits feature an interactive dinosaur display, Tropical Butterfly House, Insect Village, Puget Sound Model and Saltwater Tide Pool, plus other exhibits showcasing animals, technology and more. Two IMAX theaters showcase the latest in big-screen and 3-D films; the Boeing IMAX Theatre features a screen six stories high and 80 feet wide, with 12,000 watts of stereo sound.

Seattle Aquarium

The Seattle Aquarium features a stunning 40-foot, 55,000-lb. viewing window into a 120,000-gallon aquarium filled with salmon, colorful rockfish, vibrant sea anemones, other native Washington marine life and interactive divers. Other exhibits include two pools filled with sea anemones and sunflower sea star, a pacific coral reef exhibit, marine mammals and an underwater dome, the aquarium’s largest exhibit. For more information call (206) 386-4300 or visit

Seattle Art Museum

Occupying a Robert Venturi-designed building in downtown Seattle, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) boasts a collection of approximately 23,000 objects, ranging from native and Mesoamerican art to contemporary American photo and video installations. The museum offers noteworthy permanent collections of Asian, African, Northwest Coast Native American, modern and contemporary art, European painting and decorative arts. SAM also maintains an ambitious schedule of traveling exhibitions.

Seattle Asian Art Museum

Located in a 1930s art modern building in the heart of Volunteer Park on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, the Seattle Asian Art Museum features noteworthy collections of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Southeast Asian art. The museum’s Japanese collection is considered one of the top-five in the U.S. and among the most distinguished outside of Japan.

Olympic Sculpture Park

This nine-acre sculpture park features a 2,500-foot descending, Z-shaped path connecting the Belltown neighborhood in downtown Seattle with a beach on the waterfront. The path takes visitors past a range of permanent and rotating sculptures and major works by world-renowned artists such as Richard Serra, Alexander Calder and Mark di Suvero, while allowing visitors to take in the scenery offered by Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. The park also features the PACCAR Pavilion, a glass and steel structure that houses a fluctuating exhibit, public event space as well as a café. The Gates Amphitheater sits adjacent to the pavilion, featuring descending grass terraces for outdoor films and performances.

Smith Tower Observation Deck

Once Seattle’s tallest building, Smith Tower, built in 1914 and restored in 1999, offers 360 degree views of the city, sound and mountains from its 35th floor observation deck. The deck is reached via the human-operated elevators.

Space Needle

A legacy of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, the 605-foot Space Needle observation tower is an ever-futuristic icon of Seattle. The Space Needle features an observation deck at the 520-foot level with 360-degree views of the Seattle skyline, Puget Sound and the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. Just below, SkyCity restaurant rotates on the hour and specializes in Pacific Northwest cuisine. A gift store is located in the Space Needle lobby.

Woodland Park Zoo

Often ranked among the top zoos in the country, Woodland Park is famed for setting international standards for animal care and its realistic landscape exhibits that allow animals to thrive and be seen in naturalistic environments. Popular exhibits include an African Savanna, Northern Trail, Tropical Rain Forest, Bug World, Temperate Forest Zone, Willawong Station and Australasia Zone.

Argosy Cruises

Argosy Cruises is Seattle’s largest water sightseeing tour operator, offering excursions of Seattle’s harbor, Lakes Union and Washington, the Hiram Chittenden Locks and Puget Sound. The one-hour, narrated Harbor Cruise departs from Pier 55 on the Seattle waterfront and cruises Elliott Bay (Seattle’s busy harbor) several times daily with hours changing seasonally. Argosy offers a two and a half hour Locks cruise which departs from the Seattle waterfront and cruises Elliott Bay through the Hiram Chittenden Locks into Lake Union, featuring Seattle’s floating houseboat community. Lake cruises offer either a two-hour trip from AGC Marina on South Lake Union or a 90-minute cruise of Lake Washington from Kirkland (ten miles east of Seattle). Argosy also offers dinner, brunch and lunch cruises year-around aboard the Royal Argosy, a 180-foot classically designed cruise ship featuring white linen tables, mahogany trim, marble tops, chandeliers and several accessible decks. Live music on selected sailings. The Royal Argosy departs from Pier 56 on the Seattle Waterfront.

Tillicum Village and Blake Island Marine State Park

A scenic boat excursion from Pier 55 on the Seattle waterfront combines a taste of traditional Northwest Coast Native American culture with the pristine beauty of Blake Island State Park. The four-hour tour includes a delicious appetizer of steamed clams and nectar, a traditional salmon bake and dances and legends from Northwest Tribes. Blake Island State Park offers visitors the chance to extend their stay to explore a lowland forest with 16 miles of hiking or biking trails and five miles of saltwater beaches. While there, browse the gift gallery and enjoy artifact and craft displays and demonstrations.

Gray Line of Seattle

Gray Line offers an array of motor coach tours in and around Seattle. The three and a half hour City Sights Tour showcases in-city neighborhoods, while the 2010 City Sights/Cruise the Locks Tour combines a City Sights Tour with a cruise through the Ballard Locks. For travelers seeking more flexibility, the Hop-On/ Hop-Off Double Decker loop offers plenty of downtown sightseeing options and reservations aren’t required (tickets are available on board). Gray Line also offers sightseeing excursions to Mt. Rainier National Park, Tillicum Village, Future of Flight & Boeing Tour and in partnership with Clipper Vacations, the San Juan Islands and Victoria, B.C.

Kenmore Air

The largest full-service seaplane operation in the world, Kenmore Air boasts a fleet of 25 planes which annually log more than two million miles and carry more than 125,000 passengers. Regular flights between the airline’s two Seattle terminals (at Lake Union just north of downtown Seattle and Kenmore, ten miles north on Lake Washington) feature the San Juan Islands, Oak Harbor, Victoria, B.C., the Gulf Islands, Vancouver B.C. and the Inside Passage. Special packages and excursions including sport fishing, whale watching, waterside picnics and more are also offered. From Seattle, Kenmore also features 20-minute scenic “flightseeing” trips that popular with visitors.

Ride the Ducks

Tour Seattle by land and sea with Ride the Ducks. The tour features vintage DUKW vehicles (“Ducks”), amphibious landing craft developed by the United States Army during World War II. The Seattle tour encompasses downtown Seattle by land and Lake Union by water.

Seattle Seaplanes

Seattle Seaplanes offers year-around 20 minute sightseeing flights from Seattle’s Lake Union, in addition to “dinner flights” to popular restaurants and resorts in the San Juan Islands, Victoria, B.C., Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula and the towns of Port Ludlow, Port Hadlock and Poulsbo on the Kitsap Peninsula. Charters, special occasion flights and flight instruction are also available.

The Underground Tour

The Underground Tour offers a 90-minute guided tour below the streets of the Pioneer Square neighborhood in Seattle’s historic district. The tour takes visitors though the subterranean passages that once served as the main roadways and first-floor storefronts of old Seattle. The great fire of 1889 destroyed much of the original wooden city, but Seattle was rebuilt with brick and mortar atop the ruins. Today visitors can tour the remnants below the streets via guided tours that are rich with history, anecdotes and a subterranean joke or two.

Victoria Clipper

Clipper Vacationsoperates regular catamaran service between Pier 66 on the Seattle Waterfront and Victoria, B.C. (year-around), and the San Juan Islands (seasonally). Victoria Clipper IV, which can travel up to 30 knots, is known as one of the fastest passenger vessels in the western hemisphere, making the Seattle-Victoria trip in just two and a half hours. Schedules and fares vary depending on the season and destination. Additionally, Clipper Vacations offers a wide range of single and multi-day excursions via catamaran, motor coach and train throughout the Northwest and Canadian Rockies.

Washington State Ferries

The Washington State Ferry system is the largest in the U.S., carrying more than 23 million passengers each year aboard 28 vessels operating from 20 terminals. From the Seattle waterfront, ferries carrying up to 2,500 passengers and 202 automobiles travel to and from Bremerton on the Olympic Peninsula (60 minutes one way) and Bainbridge Island (35 minutes one way). Both routes offer panoramic views of the Seattle skyline and harbor and visitors often jump aboard for quick cross-sound sightseeing trips.

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