Seattle’s long association with Boeing makes it the obvious place to find one of the best attractions dedicated to aviation history in the U.S.
The massive Museum of Flight is located at Boeing Field, just north of Sea-Tac International Airport. This extensive showcase of flight history has displays covering everything from the Wright brothers’ experiments with wings to space exploration.
Take the family for hours of fun exploring six levels of more than 30 vintage planes, plus 120 other examples of aircraft and spacecraft and a hanger-full of flight-related artifacts. Thought-provoking and interactive, the Museum of Flight is educational for all ages and can keep aviation fans busy for at least half a day. Those wanting a brief taster of what the museum has to offer should visit after 5 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month when admission is free.
Take a ride at the controls of a flight simulator, or sit inside the cockpit of a decommissioned fighter and let your imagination soar. Try out the prototype car-plane, a futuristic invention that was designed to convert from a car to a mini airplane and back again. Air Force veterans will appreciate the Personal Courage exhibit, which honors aircraft from World Wars I and II, and those who flew them.
Other exhibits worthy of special mention include a retired Concorde jet, America’s first presidential Air Force One and the incredible SR-71 Blackbird, the super-secret reconnaissance aircraft developed in the 1960s and capable of a speed of 2,200 miles-per-hour (3,530 kilometers-per-hour). Those with a less-than-encyclopedic knowledge of aircraft should join the guided tours. The more daring can relive history with a biplane ride in an authentically restored aircraft. Suitably warm clothing is provided as part of the trip.
Finish your visit at the Wings Café, which offers great views across the museum complex and Boeing Field. If the Museum of Flight has sparked your interest in aviation, you may also want to take the Boeing Factory Tour in Everett, 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Seattle.
The Museum of Flight is about seven miles (11 kilometers) south of downtown Seattle. There is plenty of free parking on site. A public bus from downtown stops directly outside the museum.