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Museums Take Flight in Washington State
From a litany of flight museums to historic and cultural museums, discoveries in Washington state know no bounds. Begin your exploration at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, the largest non-profit air and space museum in the world. It features over 175 air and space craft along with artifacts and hands-on exhibits. Of interest is a Russian Satellite and a mock-up of the Apollo 17 Lunar Module.
The Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour catapults you in to the future. Exhibits focus on the evolution of aviation materials including the latest light-weight designs and most powerful engines. The Family Zone allows you to create your own design and practice virtual take-offs and landings.
To absorb the unique culture of Washington, Yakima Valley Museum displays the early roots of Native Americans and pioneer contributions in the Yakima Valley. Artifacts and a collection of horse-drawn vehicles take you through the growth of the apple industry in the valley.
In Gig Harbor, WA the Harbor History Museum brings the maritime Peninsula to life through interactive exhibits and artifacts. The one-room school house dates to 1893 and visitors are encouraged to imagine an education there under the tutelage the area’s first teacher, Miss Lucy.
Bellingham Railway Museum
Established in 2003, the Bellingham Railway Museum began when a group of railroad enthusiasts set up a G gauge display in the American Museum of Radio & Electricity. The museum relocated to the downtown Bellingham Parkade location a year later.
Stroll through the museum to see the railroad lantern exhibit, the Centennial exhibit, the train simulator, the Lionel and tinplate trains, and the five-inch scale lumber models. A unique stop in the Washington Cascades, the impressive G scale layout is the museum's largest.
Clark County Historical Museum
As you embark on your next journey through the Pacific Northwest, be sure to plan some time for a Washington visit – you'll want to head for the coast and check out Vancouver. Once you've made your way into Vancouver – not far west of Washougal and south from Battle Ground – plan for a tour of the Clark County Historical Museum.
Built in 1909 as a part of the Carnegie Library, the Clark County Historical Museum is a non-profit organization, seeking to preserve and highlight the area. Permanent and rotating exhibits blanket the inside of the museum, giving visitors a real glimpse at the early days of Clark County and Vancouver. The museum is open from February through November.
Cowlitz County Museum
Set on the Cowlitz River, the Cowlitz County Historical Museum is located in central Kelso – just west of Interstate 5 in southeastern Washington. The museum features interpretive exhibits and artifacts on the history of Cowlitz County.
Open from Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Cowlitz Country Museum features public education programs like lectures, films, and research facilities. Exhibits include showcases of the Kelso Longview region, Columbia River, and nearby Mount St. Helens Volcanic Monument.
Fort Walla Walla Museum
A must for history buffs, the Fort Walla Walla Museum in eastern Washington houses a wonderful collection of over 43,000 artifacts. Stroll through the museum to view the photographs, exhibits, displays, and galleries, showcasing Walla Walla's pioneer lineage from the 1880s. The pioneer demonstrations and touring the 17-building settlement provide a fun way to learn about the past.
The "Cradle of Northwest History" heritage continues to be preserved at the museum. Schedule time during your visit to attend one of the classes, special events, outreach programs, and presentations. Children enjoy the kids' programs, too.
Grant County Historical Museum
A fun and educational getaway, Grant County Historical Museum is located on the north end of the Washington Cascades community of Ephrata. The museum maintains an impressive collection of Wanapum and Sinkiuse Indian artifacts, along with historic pictures, tools, and farm equipment used in Grant County.
Each year, the best time to visit is Sage n' Sun Weekend, where volunteers in full, period dress emulate the experience of the first settlers to the area. Throughout the museum, in places like the Newspaper building, volunteers are waiting to tell visitors anything they’d like to know about the rich history of the Ephrata area.
Hands On Children's Museum
Enjoy an afternoon with the kids on your next visit to the southern region of the Puget Sound. Check out the Hands On Children's Museum in Olympia, just north of Lacey, and right on the southern shores of the East Bay. Opened in 1987, the Hands On Children's Museum sees an average of nearly 150,000 annual visitors.
Geared to kids in the 0-11 age range, the Hands On Children's Museum houses eight different galleries, each with a unique focus. The Good For You gallery sheds light in an easy to understand way on healthy living and proper diet.
The Snug Harbor is great for the really little kids, and the Outdoor Discovery Center features a hike-and-trike loop. Interestingly, the Hands On Children's Museum is known to be the first of its kind to receive three Green Globe certification for being so environmentally conscious.
Harbor History Museum
As you travel through Washington, plan a visit to the Seattle metro area and head for Gig Harbor. A quaint city south of downtown Seattle, Gig Harbor is home to the Harbor History Museum, a popular destination. Opened in 2000, the Harbor History Museum seeks to preserve the history of the Gig Harbor Peninsula.
Originally created in 1967 and housed in five different locations, the Harbor History Museum finally found a permanent home on Harborview Drive, just across from Donkey Creek Park. The Harbor History Museum is closed on Mondays, but open the rest of the week, offering free admission for children 6 years old and under.
Historic Flight Foundation
As you prepare to explore the Puget Sound region of Washington, be sure to make plans for a visit to the Historic Flight Foundation. A charming air and flight museum not far from Everett, the Historic Flight Foundation is found on the grounds of the Paine Field Airport, in between I-5 and the Mukilteo Speedway.
Nicknamed KILO-7, the Historic Flight Foundation honors aviation and its aviators from the years of 1927 through 1957. As you explore the grounds at KILO-7, you'll find an array of classic aircrafts: check out the Grumman F7F Tigercat, the Waco UPF-7, the Grumman F8F Bearcat, or the Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IXe.
Kittitas County Historical Museum
Experience a sliver of local culture and lore with a visit to the Kittitas County Historical Museum. Plan a trip to Ellensburg in the Washington Cascades and check out this charming and informative museum. You'll find this quaint museum near downtown Ellensburg on 3rd Avenue and Pine Street.
The Kittitas Historical Society was formed in 1961, and by 1962 they were giving fully guided tours of their single room set up at the Morris Sorenson County Hospital. Visit this museum today and see the Antique Doll Collection, the Antique Automobile display, and the Native American Bag & Basket Collection.
LeMay – America’s Car Museum
One of the world’s largest auto museums, LeMay – America’s Car Museum is located in the Seattle-area community of Tacoma, Washington.
Marysville Historical Society Museum
Found near Jennings Park, the Marysville Historical Society Museum is set in northern Washington in Marysville – just north of Seattle. Found by Interstate 5, the museum exhibits the dense heritage of the Marysville area.
Operated by the Marysville Historical Society, the museum is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Events held at the Marysville History Museum include the Spring Tea & Vintage Fashion Show, Home Grown Festival, and some of the Marysville Strawberry Festival.
McAllister Museum of Aviation
It's a bird... It's a plane... it's Superman? Well, in this case it actually is a plane – visit the McAllister Museum of Aviation on your next trip to Yakima. As a premier aviation-themed attraction in the Washington Cascades region of the state, the McAllister Museum of Aviation yields insightful days for the entire family.
The McAllister Museum of Aviation is named in honor of brothers Charlie and Alister McAllister, who started rebuilding air planes in 1925. Charlie McAllister built a glider when he was just 16, and by 1933 he set a Northwest soaring record in his hand-made glider, the Yakima Clipper. You can see th Yakima Clipper on display at the museum.
Olympic Flight Museum
With over 20 vintage planes and helicopters on display, the Olympic Flight Museum is located in the Washington Coast–area town of Tumwater, south of Olympia. The museum is located on the grounds of the Olympia Regional Airport and, with an impressive collection of airworthy planes and model displays, it makes for an exciting place to visit for aviation fans of all ages.
Kids get a special thrill climbing into the cockpit of aircraft like the mobile Huey and the T-28 Trojan, while other planes, including the P-51 Mustang and T-6 Texan World War II trainer, are open for up-close viewing. Each year, the museum hosts the Olympic Air Show, drawing big crowds with classic and current military aircraft demonstrations.
Set between Clarkston and Spokane you'll find the city of Colfax. On your next visit to eastern Washington, head for Colfax and check out the Perkins House. A museum and popular destination at the Whitman County Historical Society, the Perkins House pays tribute to James Perkins, the founder of Colfax.
Built by Perkins in 1886, the Perkins House was the epicenter of activity in Colfax from 1886 to 1920. Tour the Perkins House on your next visit to Colfax and admire the Victorian architecture.
An ideal destination for any summer visit to Colfax, the Perkins House is open for tours from May through September, Thursday and Sunday afternoons. You can tour the Perkins House or rent it out for private parties, receptions, weddings, or events.
Railroad Depot Museum
As you explore the charming and historic sites around Ritzville, be sure to make your way to the Railroad Depot Museum. One of the highlights of the Ritzville Historic District, the Railroad Depot Museum is a sterling tribute to the Northern Pacific Railroad Company and the impact they had on the state of Washington – from the eastern borders, to the western coastline.
Built in 1910, and subsequently converted in 1988, the Railroad Depot Museum embodies the spirit of the original depot. In it's most prolific time, the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot in Ritzville was largest grain shipping railroad in the world. By 1989 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Passenger service was discontinued in 1972.
Picture it, Cicely, 1990. A large moose strolls into downtown Cicely, Alaska during the intro to television series “Northern Exposure.” Except that’s not Alaska; it’s the Washington Cascades region in the city of Roslyn – just a few miles northwest of Cle Elum.
Found by Interstate 90, the Roslyn Historical Museum Society features exhibits on this historic coal-mining town, and memorabilia from the 1990s filming days of “Northern Exposure.” Founded in 1961, the Roslyn Museum is open for limited hours, only charging $1 per admitted visitor.
Seattle Art Museum
Nicknamed the SAM, the Seattle Art Museum is a fixture of the Seattle metropolitan area, and of cultural Washington. Open from Wednesday through Sunday, SAM offers free public tours of the downtown Seattle facility – including the “Art from Here: Collection Highlights” focusing on northwestern artists, and the 30-minute “In Focus Gallery Talks.”
Grab lunch at the TASTE Restaurant, browse through the SAM Shop, or explore the Dorothy Stimson Bullitt Library – open to the public Wednesday through Friday. Feel free to explore Seattle Art Museum’s two extensions: Olympic Sculpture Park and the Seattle Asian Art Museum on Capitol Hill.
Sunnyside Historical Museum
Neighboring Central Park, the Sunnyside Historical Museum is found in central Sunnyside in southeastern Washington. Found easily by Interstate 82, the museum exhibits Sunnyside’s pioneer heritage.
Open Thursday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Sunnyside, the center is operated by the Sunnyside Parks & Recreation Department.
Two Rivers Heritage Museum
Established in 1979, the Two Rivers Heritage Museum is located in southwestern Washington at the confluence of the Columbia and Washougal rivers. Found in the city of Washougal on the north bank of the Columbia River, the museum exhibits East Clark County art and history.
Set on the Lewis & Clark Highway, the Two Rivers Museum is operated by the Camas – Washougal Historical Society. The center features 6,000 photographs, 300 oral history reports, and artifacts on the area Native American, pioneer, and recent history.
Vintage Motorcycle Museum
Found along Interstate 5, the two-story Vintage Motorcycle Museum is a located in Chehalis – just inland of the Washington coast. Open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, the VMM features plenty of memorabilia concerning historic motorcycles and even bicycles.
For a $5 admission, visitors may browse everything from Harley-Davidsons to Excelsior, Pierces, Emblem, Thor, Henderson, Sears, Yale, and Reading Standard – plus Neracar and Imp Car. Don’t miss the Vintage Motorcycle Museum’s main attraction – fully restored pre-1916 Indians.
Yakima Valley Museum
Established in 1952, the Yakima Valley Museum is located in the Yakima Valley – set in the Cascades region of southern Washington. A must-see during your time in Yakima, this 65,000-square-foot cultural center showcases the vast, valley history.
Yakima Valley Museum exhibits range from natural history and Native American heritage, to pioneer days and Yakima’s industry. Don’t miss the 1930s-era Museum Soda Fountain, stop by the Yakima Valley Museum Shop, and bring the kids in for the Story Time at The Museum! event.