PNW museums: a road trip

Looking to get out of the house? Why not explore a road trip through the Pacific Northwest to some of our state’s many interesting museums?

Below is a sample trip. There are many museums that wouldn’t fit into this list, so feel free to replace any of them or create your own list from scratch!

Before you visit any of these museums, be sure to check their opening status on the date you’d like to visit.

Electric trolleys: We’re a museum dedicated to electrical history, so we had to include a nod to the Yakima Valley Trolleys — the last intact interurban electric railroad from the early 20th century in the United States. The collection includes beautiful (and still functioning) electric trolleys, including a line car in continuous operation since 1910 and two street cars that once trundled along in Oporto, Portugal. Check the website ahead of time to ensure the trolleys are running. If not, you might stop by Heritage Park in Lynwood to see Interurban Car No. 55, part of a PNW electric trolley system from the early 1900s.

Electric vehicles: If you skip the trolleys of Yakima, our road trip starts in Tacoma, at America’s Car Museum, where you can see a 1902 Studebaker electric truck, which features electric sidelights and headlights. The batteries produced 48 volts, and the truck had a top speed of 12 miles per hour with a 40-mile range.

Old puppets: From Tacoma, head across the Narrows Bridge to the Valentinetti Puppet Museum. Located in downtown Bremerton, the museum is an ode to puppet craftsmanship from years gone by. Affiliated with the Evergreen Children’s Theatre, the museum features a variety of puppets from generations of artists.

Military history: From Bremerton, drive up to Port Townsend to Fort Worden Historical State Park, home to an 1883 brick residence nicknamed “Alexander’s Castle.” Of course, the fort is more famous for its old military installations. Construction began in 1897, and in 1904 the fort was made the headquarters of the Harbor Defense Command of Puget Sound.

Living before electricity: While in PT, visit the well-preserved Rothschild House and observe how people lived in the 1860s, long before electricity was a household convenience. What kind of lighting do you think they had in the house? NOTE: The Rothschild House is closed until spring 2021, but in the meantime the Jefferson Museum of Art & History is open.

Whales: Hop a ferry to Whidbey Island, cruise up to Anacortes and take another ferry to Friday Harbor, home of the Whale Museum, the first of its kind in the country. Among other things, you’ll find the skeleton of Sooke, a 3-year-old orca from the L Pod, and an explanation of how scientists have wrestled for years with measuring animal intelligence. (You won’t find a phrenology helmet in sight!)

Electrical invention: And that brings us to SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention! From Anacortes, drive across Highway 20 and up Interstate 5 to downtown Bellingham, where you’ll encounter one of the largest displays of electrical artifacts and memorabilia in the entire country.