Originally published January 6, 2017 | Updated January 8, 2019

Hear that? Sounds like the telltale pitter-patter of Seattle’s winter showers on the roof. Normally just a bit of an annoyance, but it’s the weekend and that hike you’d planned is sounding pretty soggy. Luckily, February in Seattle is Museum Month and the perfect time to explore the city’s rich cultural landscape.

Here’s the scoop – when you stay at one of the participating hotels in downtown Seattle, you get half-price admission to some of the Emerald City’s best museums! Simply put, one heck of a deal.

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to while away a rainy day, Museum Month is truly the perfect fit. Whether it’s a day of learning with the kiddos at Seattle Children’s Museum or an artsy date night at the Seattle Art Museum, the city is chock-full of great options. Take a look at our picks for some of the most fascinating exhibits in the Emerald City!

1. Center for Wooden Boats

Cruise through Seattle’s serene waters by spirit boat, steamboat, electric boat, schooner or yacht on a visit to the Center for Wooden Boats. Credit: Tom Ringold

Perched on the edge of the stunning South Lake Union waterfront, The Center for Wooden Boats (CWB) is a long-standing local favorite. The experiential maritime museum offers a place for boat-lovers to come together through a shared passion for wooden boats, aquatic skills, history or love of the water.

Check out the Center’s current exhibit “Still Afloat: Historic Small Craft of King County,” to experience the region’s history through four historic wooden boat designs that have a permanent place at the CWB. Visit on a Sunday to take advantage of their long-running Sunday Public Sail. Cruise around Lake Union for free on a spirit boat, steamboat, electric boat, schooner or yacht! Just be sure to come early, as the sailing tours are popular and often fill up.

2. Chihuly Garden & Glass

Made of many individual elements, the piece filling the Glasshouse is one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures. Credit: Frank Fujimoto

Explore a jungle of colorful, iridescent shapes blending with tangled, swirling structures as you walk through the centerpiece of Chihuly Garden & Glass, the Glasshouse. At 40-feet-tall, the exhibit feels more like a conservatory than museum floor, bathing the 4,500 square-foot space in glowing oranges and fiery reds. Natural light from above shines through the intricate glasswork and dances across the floor, making for a truly unforgettable sight.

3. Museum of Flight

The museum’s Great Gallery is a six-story, glass-and-steel exhibit hall containing 39 full-size historic aircraft. Credit: Chris Blakeley

Stroll through a hangar full of carefully preserved flying machines and experience the world of flight like never before at The Museum of Flight! The largest independent air and space museum in the world, the Museum boasts more than 175 aircraft from every era and exhibits from flight simulators to airport towers. Test out your own flying skills in The Pilot Experience or take in an epic movie at their 3D Movie Theater.

4. Museum of History & Industry

Perched on the edge of Lake Union, a visit to MOHAI will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the city around you. Credit: Flickr user sea turtle

Get inspired to be your most creative self with a visit to the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI)! Highlighting the Puget Sound region’s diverse history of innovators, MOHAI dives into what has established Seattle as a hotbed of imagination and ingenuity. Visit before the end of April to learn about The Cable TV Revolution and how Northwest trailblazers helped shape the viewing habits of the nation.

5. Museum of Pop Culture

The multicolored Gehry creation is said to resemble a smashed guitar from above! Credit: Brady Harvey

Never met a trivia tournament you didn’t love? Then the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) should be on your must-visit list! As you approach the distinctive building, take a moment to soak in its design – a kaleidoscopic creation of architect Frank Gehry. Next, enjoy an afternoon of experiential exhibits, covering everything from the Marvel universe to horror flicks to an ode to local legends Pearl Jam.

6. Nordic Museum

Take in immersive exhibits at the Nordic Museum’s brand new, state-of-the-art Ballard location. Credit: Courtesy of Nordic Museum

Situated along the Ballard waterfront, the all-new Nordic Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving and educating on the legacy of immigrants from the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Learn all about Viking Age society and their close relationship to the sea at “The Vikings Begin” exhibit, then pop downstairs to get your fill of Nordic-meets-PNW cuisine at Freya Cafè.

7. Olympic Sculpture Park

The open-air Olympic Sculpture Park features modern art and breathtaking vistas of the waterfront and Seattle skyline. Credit: Benjamin Benschneider

Seattle’s favorite little slice of Zen, Olympic Sculpture Park offers visitors a quiet respite from the downtown hubbub. Catch views of the Puget Sound and snow-capped Olympic Mountains set to the click-clacking soundtrack of passing coastal trains.

Experience renowned masterpieces such as Alex Calder’s The Eagle or Jaume Plensa’s Echo, all with the iconic Space Needle looming nearby. If you’re with a group, consider a free 60-minute public tour, which breaks down the site’s history and selected sculptures.

8. Pacific Science Center

Located near the base of the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center offers up interactive exhibits the entire family is bound to enjoy! Credit: Courtesy of Pacific Science Center

Where else can you catch a movie at one of the world’s largest theaters, immerse yourself in a jungle full of butterflies and travel back in time to meet dinosaurs? The Pacific Science Center will keep you and the kiddos entertained and learning all day long. Or if you’re looking for something unique, stop by at night to experience your favorite music set to a stunning show in their Laser Dome!

9. Seattle Aquarium

Make some new furry friends with an afternoon at the Seattle Aquarium. Credit: Flickr user Our Lady of the Emerald Waters

Familiarize yourself with the remarkable aquatic wildlife of the Puget Sound at The Seattle Aquarium. Wander through immersive underwater exhibits that put the fish high above you or pet a sticky sea anemone in the touch tank. You can even get up close and personal with adorable marine mammals like harbor seals and sea otters!

10. Seattle Art Museum

Don’t miss the Seattle Art Museum’s rotating collections of ancient and modern art from all corners of the world. Credit: Benjamin Benschneider

Containing the widest array of art on exhibition, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) showcases both ancient and modern art from all corners of the world. Duck into SAM’s popular Porcelain Room to see more than 1,000 intricate, fragile works of art alongside delicate China fragments from 17th– and 18th-century shipwrecks.

11. Seattle Children’s Museum

The Seattle Children's Museum features 22,000 square feet of play space with 11 exhibits designed for kids 10 months to 10 years! Credit: Richie Diesterheft
The Seattle Children’s Museum features 22,000 square feet of play space with 11 exhibits designed for kids 10 months to 10 years! Credit: Flickr Creative Commons user Richie Diesterheft

Located in the heart of the Seattle Center Armory, the Children’s Museum features interactive exhibits for kids of all ages. Let their creativity run wild in Imagination Studio, build a hideout in Fort Adventure and learn about the world at the museum’s Global Village.

12. Seattle Pinball Museum

Situated in the heart of Chinatown, the Seattle Pinball Museum is sure to make you feel like a kid again. Credit: Amber Case

Transport yourself back to childhood days of arcades, flashing lights and the jangling sound of zig-zagging pinballs at the Seattle Pinball Museum. Grab a pint of local beer, slip it into one of the pinball machine’s cupholders and get your flipper fingers ready for some world-class pinball playin’. With more than 50 classic and modern machines regularly rotating through, you’re bound to find one that brings on a bout of nostalgia!

13. Woodland Park Zoo

Get up close and personal with critters from around the world at Woodland Park Zoo. Credit: Flickr user Christine A

A favorite of kiddos and adults alike, Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo includes 92 acres of exhibits and is home to a staggering 1,000+ animals from around the globe. Broken down by bioclimatic zones, spend the day wandering from lions of the African Savanna to the penguins of Peru!

Bonus points for taking a moment to teach your little ones about the importance of conservation and taking care of our planet through the zoo’s sustainability projects.

14. Wing Luke Museum

With its new installment of the popular Bruce Lee exhibit and other regional Asian-Pacific-American cultural stories, the Wing Luke Museum is a must-see Seattle landmark. Credit: Courtesy of Wing Luke Museum

Building on the success of their popular Bruce Lee series, the Wing Luke Museum continues the deep dive into the life of the groundbreaking star with part four of his exhibit – A Dragon Lives Here. The only interactive exhibition telling his story outside of Hong Kong, the series focuses on his journey from a young student in Seattle to an inspirational global icon.

15. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

With interactive exhibits that explore bold, innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges facing communities around the globe, the Gates Foundation Discovery Center will inspire and inform you. Credit: Trevor Dykstra

Spend a day at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center to discover how the world’s largest private philanthropy works in Seattle and across the globe. Explore the field of design in their special exhibit “Design with the 90%,” which demonstrates how design innovations are being used to solve some of the planet’s biggest issues. After a visit, you might just be inspired to help change the world yourself!

With a verity of unique exhibits waiting to be explored in nearly every neighborhood, Seattle’s museums are the perfect way to duck the raindrops for an hour or two while exploring the city! Whether you’re an out-of-towner looking for a quick art fix or a staycationer seeking out some historical enlightenment, the Emerald City has a wealth of opportunities for expanding your cultural horizons.

 

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Feature photo: Courtesy of Chihuly Garden & Glass