Seattle Aviation Museums
Seattle is home to the largest aerospace manufacturer in the world, so it stands to reason it is also home to 2 separate aviation museums. See the main Seattle page here
Both are run by private companies but showcase a lot of Boeing's products and history. For a more Boeing centric experience, visit the Future of Flight which includes a tour through the Boeing factory. For a larger exhibit with international flavor and a section dedicated to space, go the Museum of Flight.
Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour
This museum is located in the city of Mukilteo (next to Everett) about 25 miles north of Seattle. Before the tour, you get to visit the main Gallery (Learning Center) with some informative exhibits and hands-on experiences.
You can get into the cockpit of a 727 plane, take a simulated flight, inspect GE and Rolls-Royce engines and many other exhibits. While visiting you can also design and print your own airplane image or visit the "How Planes are Made" family zone.
Interesting Facts: The Boeing assembly line at Everett is the largest building in the world by volume with 472 million cubic feet in volume.
After you have your fill of indoor activates and exhibits, take the elevator to the observation deck where you can view an active runway and Boeing factory buildings.
The tour is about 90 minutes and takes you through the Everett building and through the largest assembly building in the world. You get to see airplanes moving down the long assembly line in various stages of completion.
Tip: Photography and electronic devices are not permitted during the tour. Make sure to place your belongings in the free lockers before your start - and remember you code.
It is a brisk walk, so it is not recommended for people with mobility issues. But don't let that stop you from enjoying this tour. The museum offers 2 tours a day that meets ADA requirements. You just need to call 2 weeks ahead of time to reserve it.
Interesting Facts: According to the Guinness World Records, the mural on the six factory doors is considered the largest in the world.
During the tour, you also get to visit the airfield and watch planes taking off and landing. The tour was very informative and engaging even for children. The tour guides are Boeing employees and know their stuff. It was a nice touch when the guide pointed to his working place in the plant.
Interesting Facts: The Boeing Company, founded in the Seattle area by William Boeing, started as a boat company
The museum also has 2 gift shops and a café. One store is at the front of the tour and it carries Boeing items. Another store sells more traditional science gifts. For a free souvenir, go back to the gallery level. Take a free photo at the booth and come back later to select your background and email it to yourself. You can also purchase a hard-copy photo at the Boeing store.
Museum of Flight
One building is dedicated to Space exploration. Inside you can climb into a Space Shuttle model or browse through Apollo engines, Model Rockets or visit the Space Flight Academy. When you are done with the space exhibits, take a pedestrian bridge to the main building with a large aviation gallery. The gallery showcases airplanes through the ages from the historic flight of the Wright Brothers to recent advances in space flight and all the innovations in-between. For a better view of the whole gallery, take the elevators to a balcony overlooking the whole exhibit.
Another building tells the story of Boeing from 1916 to 1958. The first floor is dedicated to William Boeing and his pioneering decades building this company that became the dominant Aerospace manufacturer.
Interesting Facts: In 1915, William Boeing dropped cardboard "bombs" on a crowded California-Washington football game to wake up Americans to the danger of foreign attack.
Outdoors, you will find a large covered area with many aircraft from around the world. This exhibit has the only Concord plane in the US. You can climb in and experience the seating plan and the complex cockpit. Also outdoors you can find a Boeing 747, the first jet Airforce One, and many military jet fighters and bombers. The museum offers several tours and experiences.
You can go on a one-hour Boeing Field tour. The tour takes you both inside the historic airport and along the runway. You can also go on docent tours of the museum for a more in-depth experience of learning and entertainment. Finally, you can enjoy a 3D movie or take a simulator flight for an additional fee. During your visit, you can spend some time at one of two Cafés to relax and enjoy some snacks.