* Chihuly Garden and Glass: Tacoma-born Dale Chihuly is the best-known glass artist in the world, and this exciting museum, beside the Space Needle, presents an outstanding retrospective of his work, from early pieces inspired by Indian baskets and pottery to the writhing, fluorescent colors of his famous chandeliers and marine environments. The virtuosity and vibrancy of the work will amaze.
* Seattle Art Museum (SAM): Considered the best art museum north of San Francisco, SAM is particularly noteworthy for its outstanding collection of Northwest Native American art and artifacts. Another fascinating gallery is devoted to the history of Pacific Northwest painting, crafts, and sculpture. In addition, the museum has some intriguing contemporary pieces and often hosts major traveling exhibits.
* Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI): Set in the former Naval Reserve building on Lake Union, MOHAI is a must for anyone interested in the story of Seattle and how it grew. The exhibits here are fun and fascinating, and they span the city’s history from the Great Fire and Yukon Gold Rush to the founding of Microsoft, plus everything in between. Historic photographs and artifacts provide vivid glimpses into the city’s boom-or-bust past.
* Museum of Flight: Seattle’s aircraft industry began in 1916 and has grown over the years to become one of the largest in the world. The Museum of Flight at Boeing Field is dedicated to airplanes and spacecraft, from early biplanes to satellites and space stations launched by Russia and NASA. Out on the field you can walk through a Concorde (remember sonic booms?) and the first Air Force One. Along the way, there are lots of hands-on exhibits and info about the of the aircraft industry in Seattle.
* Olympic Sculpture Park: An outstanding collection of outdoor sculpture has been assembled in this park at the north end of the waterfront overlooking Elliott Bay. Monumental pieces by Richard Serra, Alexander Calder, and Claes Oldenburg are interspersed with sculptures by lesser-known artists. Admission is free to this offshoot of the Seattle Art Museum, and there’s a pavilion where you can sit with a coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy the view.