5 Museums Not to Miss Seattle

Seattle is known for its rain, and the reputation can be a little exaggerated. Seattle summers, for example, are usually warm and mostly dry. However, as we get deeper into Fall, the fact is that rain, showers, drizzle, mizzle or downpours are more common than not.

Luckily, Seattle has plenty to do in the rainy weather. There are plenty of rain friendly outdoor activities in the area, but if you are looking for dry ideas, check out Seattle’s museum scene! Seattle has over 40 museums according to Wikipedia, and I’ve been to most of them. Each has its own special flavor and offerings, but the following are my five personal favorites, in no particular order.


This is a fun, bright, energetic museum that leaves you smiling. This used to be called EMP (Experience Music Project) and the Science Fiction Museum and still has that emphasis, but with more. As of this writing, there are exhibits featuring the Seattle Super Bowl win (sorry guests, I’m a homer), Star Trek, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Hensen and David Bowie.

This museum has a great layout, super easy to drift from area to area or pick and choose as you like. Check out the Sound Lab, a great bit for kiddos where you get to play different instruments. Its location, on the Seattle Center campus, means a nice rainy day walk from most of our properties, and has a great café and fantastic stores with super cool merchandise. Allow 2-3 hours for a visit.

Seattle Pinball Museum:

Located in Seattle’s International District, at 508 Maynard Avenue S, this is the most interactive museum on my list, and another great activity if you have kids over seven in tow. Pay a flat rate entry fee ($12-20 at this time) for unlimited plays on up to 50 pinball machines. Machines range from modern to historic, and while outside food is not permitted, there is a snack bar on site with craft brews, vintage soda pop, and light munchies. Bonus for children of the 80s: on the second floor are a couple vintage video games. Pac Man, Astroids, Galaga are all available to play as part as the flat entry rate. Note that hours do fluctuate day to day, so check before you go. Also, kids under seven cannot play the games.

Seattle Klondike Gold Rush Museum:

This is a hidden gem that just doesn’t get as much love as it deserves. Located in Pioneer Square, at 319 Second Avenue, this is part of the National Park Service’s multi-location Klondike Gold Rush National Park, with a sister location in Skagway, AK. It is located in a historic brick building and the interior just glows with beautiful lighting, exposed brick and restored wood. It is my absolutely favorite museum space, in regard to ambiance. However, Klondike Gold Rush Museum is not just a pretty face. The park service showcases educational and historical exhibits of the gold rush that put Seattle on the map for the first time. Ever wonder how much you’d be worth, if you were gold? This is the place to find out! This is a small location, artifacts can be seen over two floors, and I would say 1-2 hours of your time is needed for a leisurely visit. For kids, they do have a Junior Ranger program here. And bonus, as of this writing, this is a FREE attraction.

Seattle Art Museum:

This fantastic art museum is full of light and space, making a walk through their galleries feel like the sun is shining, even on the greyest of Seattle days. Known as SAM, the Seattle Art Museum has three locations, the Olympic Sculpture Park, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and the flagship location at 1300 First Avenue. For rainy day purposes, we are going to concentrate on the First Avenue location, which is located one block south of the Pike Place Market. Their collection of NW First Nation art is world class. In addition, they have great collections of European and Contemporary art, and attract the best of the travelling collections to the city. I love the porcelain room personally. Allow 2-3 hours for a visit. First Thursdays are FREE but SAM has a suggested admission policy, which means pay what you will to view the SAM Collections and Installations. Pricing IS fixed for tickets that include the whatever travelling exhibit is in town.

Museum of Flight:

The Seattle Museum of Flight (9404 East Marginal Way, Seattle, 98108) is a world class museum for all things airplane. This is the only location on my list not in the downtown Seattle core. It can be reached easily by bus (route 124 on Second Avenue) or about a 20 minute Lyft or taxi ride. It is near the original Boeing location and the original Boeing factory, the “little red barn” was moved and restored on site. Great for kids, there are interactive exhibits, including an FA-18 cockpit you can explore, as well as classic and rare planes. Again, a café on-site makes a visit here relaxed. This is a 2-3 hour visit at least (true airplane aficionados could probably spend the day), with highlights being the Space Shuttle Trainer, original 747, a Concorde, and extensive WWI and WWII collections.

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