For most visitors, Seattle WA is synonymous with Boeing and aero-engineering. For airplane and space lovers, there’s no better stop than at the Museum of Flight. A huge, multi-building complex, the Museum of Flight can feel intimidating at first, especially if you have small children. For true fans, a full day is needed, but the highlights can be hit in a few hours if needed. On our last visit, we were touring the museum with six kids, ages 2-13, and though it was challenging at times, we found something for everyone in each part of the complex. Below, I’ve broken down the museum by section, so you can be sure to visit the parts of most interest to your family.
The Great Gallery: This cavernous hanger houses fighter jets and other war air models, some of which kids can climb into to check out the cockpit. Also in this area are several flight simulators with 3-D screens (motion rides) that cost extra (and are not worth the price, though kids will beg to go). Stick to the ground floor where the ‘real’ planes are.
The Lear Gallery: The space exploration section of the museum houses much to see on the ‘next frontier’, including the newly acquired space shuttle trainer, which I actually saw brought into the museum by the famous ‘Guppy’ transporter when I visited with my family in late June of 2012. Kids will like the anti-gravity simulator and the early Apollo capsules.
The Personal Courage Wing: This wing can be overlooked (as we did on our last visit), but actually houses fascinating studies of courageous air force fighters and aviation pioneers.
The Red Barn: Most interesting to my school-aged kids was the Red Barn, which was the original building Boeing used for their early manufacturing. Inside, the history of Seattle area flight production and world war aviation history is displayed in a way that’s interesting even to preschoolers.
Outside Airpark: Outside the museum, a number of aircraft are available to tour on the massive grounds. On the day of our visit, we walked through a retired Air Force One, which was more than a little bit cool. A concorde and several military planes are also on-site, but were closed at the time.
Date last visited:
Distance from the interstate:
Five minutes off I-5.
Adults are $17, youth (5-17) are $9. Age four and under are free. Be sure to ask if your local science museum membership is honored. Many are! You can also use your CityPASS (see tip above).
Hours of operation:
10 am to 5 pm most days of the year. On the first Thursday of each month, the museum is open until 9 pm, and is free from 5 pm to 9 pm.
A full-service museum cafe offers everything from snacks to meals, and has several healthy options. Expect to pay museum prices, but not much else is nearby.
The museum is at 9404 E. Marginal Way S. From I-5, take Take exit 158 and merge right onto S. Boeing Access Road. Turn right at the first stoplight (E. Marginal Way S.) The Museum is on the right, 1/2 mile. Parking is free.