It’s that time of year again when the cold weather starts to set in and we all begin to feel a little stir crazy. The days are shorter, the nights are longer and it seems like there’s nothing to do but stay inside. If you’re looking for a creative way to beat the cold this winter, explore one of the many incredible museums in Washington State. Our INNSiders compiled a list of museums all around the state that are bound to pique your interest and entertain you all season long. From natural history, inspirational artistry, cultural artifacts and beyond, Washington’s cities deliver an impressive variety of displays to enjoy.
Whale Center In Langley
The Whale Center in Langley, Washington, is a must-see for any nature enthusiast. Located on Whidbey Island, the center is home to a variety of local marine life and offers visitors an incredible opportunity to experience the Pacific Northwest’s natural beauty up close. The Whale Center features an array of educational exhibits that are free to the public such as a “Harbor Porpoise skeleton and other bone and pelt specimens.” This special volunteer-run center is open Thursdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Though gray whales are typically only sighted in the spring, transient orcas and humpback whales are sighted from Whidbey throughout the four seasons.
You won’t want to pass up this in-depth look into the lives of whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and sea lions if you’re in the region. Plus, with its spectacular views of Puget Sound and stunning mountain ranges in the distance, it’s hard not to fall in love with this incredible part of Washington state, especially with your new knowledge of the majestic creatures that reside here.
If you want to learn more about whales and wildlife, The Whale Museum, located on the charming island of Friday Harbor, is a spectacle of natural history. This incredible museum is an educational look into the wildlife that is uniquely Washington. Here, you’ll learn about the enormously important role whales play in the ecosystem of the Salish sea. This Washington state museum opened in 1979 as the first museum in the country devoted to a species living in the wild.
Pinball Museum In Seattle
Get ready for an afternoon of fun at the Seattle Pinball Museum. With the help of a community of local collectors, this “interactive display of kinetic art” features an impressive vintage pinball machine lineup for all to enjoy. Home to over 50 games that regularly change — some dating back to 1930 — this wonderful establishment will spark joy and make you feel like you’re in a classic film!
The Burke Museum resides on the University of Washington campus in Seattle and is an important educational institution. Its collections of global artifacts are of immense scientific and cultural value. This museum is home to some astonishing examples of Northwest Coast Native art, including totem poles, masks and other examples of traditional artwork. Additionally, it houses an impressive collection of fossils, ranging from mammoths to ancient sea creatures. On top of this remarkable array of natural history specimens, the Burke Museum also has display galleries that showcase fine arts from around the world — including centuries-old Islamic coins and textiles as well as contemporary works by Native American and First Nations artists. Finally, the museum offers research access to its library and archives containing a wealth of historical documents related to science and culture in the Pacific Northwest region. The Burke Museum has been inspiring generations of learners since its inception more than 120 years ago — making it one of Seattle's most significant cultural institutions.
The Museum of Glass, located in Tacoma, Washington, is an incredible place to explore the diverse world of glass art. Tacoma is a beautiful city situated on Commencement Bay and Puget Sound in the state's South Sound region. This Washington state museum is dedicated to providing a one-of-a-kind experience that celebrates the power and beauty of glass as an artistic medium. Visitors can explore galleries displaying stunning glasswork from local, regional, national and international artists both past and present. The museum’s permanent collection houses over 3,000 pieces spanning across time periods and styles — some dating back centuries. Visitors have the opportunity to observe these pieces up close while learning about the history behind them.
The Maryhill Museum of Art is a hidden gem located in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. Sitting on five acres of gorgeous landscaped gardens, this museum hosts an impressive collection of works from the American West and around the world. Visitors can take part in guided tours and lectures, as well as view rotating exhibitions from local, regional and international artists. The permanent collection includes works by Auguste Rodin, Sam Francis, Max Ernst and Pema Tseden. There are also sculptures by Isamu Noguchi, a cast of Auguste Rodin’s “The Burghers of Calais,” Native American artifacts and objects from the Pacific Northwest. The museum also offers educational programming for children and adults, making it a great destination for those interested in art history and culture. With stunning views overlooking the Columbia River Gorge and its incredible variety of artwork, Maryhill Museum of Art is worth a visit for anyone looking to explore something new or gain insight into the art world.
The Makah Cultural and Research Center
The Makah Cultural and Research Center in Neah Bay is an incredible place, brimming with knowledge and fun for visitors of all ages. This Washington state museum not only offers stunning exhibits showcasing traditional artwork and artifacts of the Makah Nation, but also a trove of educational resources to enrich understanding of Native American history, heritage and culture. There are numerous hands-on exhibits perfect for curious minds — test your skills throwing a harpoon salmon spear or explore replica dugout canoes. The cultural center also offers guided tours, complete with stories that draw on ancient indigenous culture and folklore. Plus, there's a gift shop where guests can purchase traditional cedar weaving souvenirs and carved masks to remember their experience.
Your visit to Washington doesn’t have to involve shivering in the frosty yet beautiful great outdoors. Washington provides a multitude of one-of-a-kind experiences that can be enjoyed from warm spaces that offer a fresh perspective of the state. Whether you decide to explore natural history or vintage games, Washington shines even after those 4 p.m. sunsets! We encourage you to book a stay at one of our cozy B&Bs to have the best and most comfortable experience.