Jeez, it's been about 10 years since we've been to the Seattle Aquarium. We don't really have a good excuse, only that when you're a Seattle local you tend to stay close to your cozy neighborhood on the weekends. Who wants to drive down into the waterfront tourist trap?
Eventually the cozy wears off and we head downtown. When we're there, we usually say, "Man, why don't we come down here more often?".
We almost always feel that way when we explore the waterfront & the Pike Place Market. So many cool spots to explore and photograph. The aquarium has the super cool giant Window on Washington Waters tank with diver presentations throughout the day, a great Crashing Waves wave pool, cool jellyfish and octopus exhibits, a series of touch pools, a sea & shore bird exhibit, and tons more. Super cute otters and a newly renovated harbor seal exhibit top things off. Definitely worth a visit…especially if it's been 10 years!!!
~Paul & Amber ETC
I've been meaning to stop by Gig Harbor for awhile now to check out the Harbor History Museum (and see T-bird #1!). A small protected harbor in Washington's South Sound, Gig Harbor is located on the Kitsap Peninsula (we call it Kitsap Island…dude, make it an island already!). It has a quaint, historic district with shops, restaurants, & cafes, places to launch & rent kayaks and SUPs (check out Lee's), & several marinas. We walked around town a little, snapped a few pictures, and grabbed lunch.
The Harbor History Museum is around the bend, a little far to walk from the main part of town so we drove. We thought it is reasonably priced, has a nice layout, and has just the right amount of artifacts.
As I mentioned before, I was super excited to see the first Thunderbird sailboat, a Northwest classic originally designed in 1958 using primarily plywood. Its designer, Ben Seaborn, drew up the plans by request of the Douglas Fir Plywood Association out of Tacoma Washington. Their attempt to make a small Northwest cruiser/racer that sleeps 4-ish & could be built by amateurs was a success. Can you think of anything else made from plywood that is this pretty?
The museum was hosting a special exhibit on prehistoric underwater sea creatures. A little gimmicky for the museum - come see our savage sea monsters!…I'm pretty sure we stopped calling dinosaur-like creatures monsters in the 60s - but hey, it's effective and great for kids. I love dinosaur exhibits. OK, these aren't technically dinosaurs. Whatever. Look, a giant turtle!
Be sure to wander outside and check out the one room school house.
All & all, a great place to spend the day. Little shops and cafes, kayaking and sailing opportunities, museum. Spend time here and live the Northwest dream!
~Paul & Amber ETC
Spending a lot of time paddling the Northwest's waters has given me a renewed appreciation of the Puget Sound's native tribes. I was getting ready to launch the other day when someone mentioned the new Suquamish Museum. We sail Suquamish/Port Madison waters regularly and drive through the community every time we take the Bainbridge ferry to Kitsap and continue to the Olympic peninsula. With the ferry ride, Suquamish is about an hour from downtown Seattle. It also happens to be the location of Chief Sealth's (Chief Seattle) gravesite.
The new $7.5 million, 9,000 square foot Suquamish museum is a tribute to the Suquamish tribe and culture. It's a snapshot of the tribe and details the past & present, and looks to the future of the Suquamish Nation. Artifacts are beautiful & nicely laid out. Admission prices are low and there's a quaint gift shop. There is a little room for more artifacts and I'm sure future exhibits will fill the space. They have one permanent gallery and one that periodically rotates.
What makes the stop even cooler is a visit nearby to Chief Sealth's grave. Sealth (the city of Seattle was named after him) was a Suquamish chief who led negotiations (or whatever you want to call them) with the white settlers in the 18oos. There were some interesting power plays going on among local tribes around this time, made way more complicated with arrival of the white-folk to this area. It's an interesting and sometimes controversial history that's worth a read. Anyway, the gravesite is beautiful & powerful and just a short walk from the museum parking lot.
The big question for a lot of our Seattle readers - is the Suquamish Museum & the Chief Sealth gravesite worth the ferry trip over from Seattle? I mean, can you make a day of it? Not quite. The museum is great and I highly recommend it but it could use a little more exhibit space. It might help if there was a special event happening at/near the museum. The museum website talks about future workshops, storytellers, and other events held on the grounds or in their sweet 50-seat auditorium - that would really add some content and complete the experience. Also, it would be great if their were more hands-on artifacts/exhibits for kids (there's not much at all).
Already on the Kitsap Peninsula with an hour to kill? Need a break from the casino?Haven't seen Chief Sealth's gravesite or the museum yet? Definitely worth a visit. Check out the museum and tribe websites below for more info and upcoming events.
~Paul & Amber ETC
The Suquamish Museum
The Suquamish Tribe
Captain wifey and I have been really excited to check out the newly relocated MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry) here in Seattle. The new location is perfect - nestled in the South Lake Union neighborhood, right next to the Center for Wooden Boats, there's restaurants, it's close to the Space Needle and the Seattle Center, there is free parking around the corner, it's on the lake, and the museum is about stuff we're interested in - boats, the Northwest, & Northwest history.
Also, before I got into teaching (my current day job) I worked a little in the museum world. After spending hours on the museum floor and interacting with guests it was easy to see both what works, and the many challenges local museums face. From that experience I can say that the new MOHAI was carefully thought out by people who know museums - it shows.
Another cool thing about the location of the museum is its access to Lake Union from Lake Union Park. There are boat tie-ups everywhere - you could actually sail up, tie-up, go to the museum, eat lunch, and sail off into the sunset (that may be wishful thinking, the actual tie-up rules are a little confusing, read more here & I'd call ahead). It is also right across the water from the new-ish kayak put-in (pictured below). We've set off from here in the past.
It seems there's always something going on around the outside of the museum - from FarmBoat drop-offs, to toy sailing races, to the carving of a traditional Native American canoe (check out the plans for a new Northwest Native Canoe Center at Lake Union Park!).
Once you head into the museum you'll be in a giant great room. This building used to be a Naval Reserve Armory back in the day. The museum has a open layout in the middle with exhibits on multiple floors in the rooms along all sides of the building.
One of the highlights of the great room is John Grade's massive wooden sculpture "Wawona". It was made from old planks salvaged from the hull of a ship (named Wawona). It actually extends below the floor into the lake and above the ceiling/on the roof…it's amazing.
There's lots of hands on stuff (a.k.a. great for kids). Touch screens galore, a periscope on the top floor with views of lake and city, railroads to pound on, things to turn, pull, push, & move. Make sure to try the educational old-school slot machine!
The exhibits are nicely organized, not too cramped (with artifacts), and there is a nice flow. Lots of cool stuff. Definitely worth the visit!
~Paul & Amber ETC
P.S. The food at the cafe is good and reasonably priced - you could museum it up, have lunch, then go back for more...
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