The Pacific Northwet’s cold-weather months are museum season. When cold or rain put the chill on your weekend getaway, step inside to a warm world of interest and information. Here are five great little museums worth a stop on a Western Washington road trip:
Suquamish Museum, Suquamish, Kitsap County
This sparkling museum opened in 2012 in the hometown of Chief Seattle, for whom the big city was named. Learn about his people in an easy-to-navigate display that includes a poignant film documenting the tribe’s happy times — old-time salmon bakes — and tragedies, such as tribal children’s forced attendance of English-speaking, military-type schools. See a dress made of woven cedar fibers alongside a championship jacket from the 1984 national Indian Slo-Pitch Tournament. $3-$5. More about the museum here.
World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame, Long Beach, Pacific County
Tour the collection of more than 1,500 kites from 26 countries. They range from colorful butterflies, to fierce faces of Japanese warrior kites, to an Indonesian horse kite that looks like it would never get off the ground. (“Will it fly?” “Neighh!”) Learn how kites have been used through history, such as for aerial photography of damage after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. $3-$5. More about Long Beach kites here.
Northwest Carriage Museum, Raymond, Pacific County
Step into this cozy refuge from coastal deluges and it’s like you’ve time-traveled back a century. Where you might least expect it — in a, uh, one-horse timber town — here’s a gem of a museum full of impeccably restored horse-drawn conveyances of all kinds, drawn from a local collector’s trove. See Belle Watling’s Shelburne Landau carriage from “Gone With the Wind,” among a couple dozen other marvels of spoked wheel, gleaming paint and leather rein. $2-$4. More about the museum here.
USS Turner Joy Museum Ship, Bremerton
Nothing gives a better idea of what it would be like to serve on a Navy ship than spending an hour or so at your own pace exploring the bowels of an old Vietnam-era destroyer. That’s the Turner Joy experience. This old ship, named for a 20th-century admiral and one-time superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, is anchored on the Bremerton waterfront and open for tours. Twiddle wheels and read gauges in the engine room. Stand in the wheelhouse and peer out the portholes. Compare the captain’s cabin to the three-tiered sailor’s bunks. $7-$12.
Spark Museum of Electrical Invention, Bellingham
Your kids will never again scoff at “visiting another museum.” Not after they’ve watched Dad volunteer to sit inside the 9-foot-tall “Lightning Cage” while a Tesla coil called the MegaZapper jolts it with blue sparks carrying 4 million volts. (What’s cooler than that?) This museum is chock full of neato gizmoes and gadgets from previous centuries, along with 2,000 radios, 30,000 early phonograph records and 30,000 vacuum tubes. $3-$6, plus $5 for MegaZapper show. More about the museum here.