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Seattle - Aviation Themed Attractions

There's Plenty for the Plane Buff in the Seattle Area

There's a huge amount to see and do for the aviation enthusiast when in the Puget Sound area.

Read through this eleven part series for full information on the attractions, exhibits and rides you can expect to enjoy.

NOTE :  Click on map image to open up a Google Maps page with all these locations explained.



Many people understand Seattle is the original home to Boeing, and remains its major production location.

There are tours of the Boeing facility up in Everett.  Also in Everett are three fine collections, primarily of World War 2 era 'warbirds' but with various other planes dating much earlier and some more modern jets as well.

In addition, there are many other activities to enjoy around the Seattle region if you're fascinated by planes and aviation; activities both on the ground and also potentially up in the air, too.

Seattle - a Mecca for Aviation Enthusiasts

The presence of Boeing has almost certainly caused the Seattle area to be more aviation-aware than would normally be the case for other cities its size.  There's a huge number of former Boeing employees and retirees who seek ways to continue to enjoy their interest in aviation.

The presence of Boeing, plus both Navy and Air Force air bases in the region adds to the overall level of awareness of the importance of aviation to the local area.

In addition, the presence of Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft, and these days a generous supporter of all sorts of different activities that catch his interest, ranging from Rock music and Science Fiction through to warbirds and aviation in general has further added to the region's ability to collect and present historic airplanes.

As a result, there's a lot to see and experience around the Seattle region, and when you tire of looking at planes, the chances are you'll find an opportunity to take to the air as well; possibly in a vintage plane, maybe even a 'war bird'; or if you prefer the ultimate safety of not needing to worry about engine failure, you can go fly in a sailplane (glider) instead.

Please click through the successive pages in this series for information on the aviation related places you can go and the things you can see in the greater Seattle and Puget Sound area, and read the additional material below about how best to plan your aviation themed activities in the greater Puget Sound area.

0.  Aviation Themed Attractions in the Seattle Area - intro/overview

1.  Museum of Flight, Seattle

2.  Boeing Factory Tour & Future of Flight, Everett

3.  Flying Heritage Collection, Everett

4.  Historic Flight Foundation, Everett

5.  Museum of Flight Restoration Center, Everett

6.  Heritage Flight Museum, Bellingham

7.  Fly in a glider/sailplane/balloon

8.  Special Events

9.  Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, McMinnville, OR

10.  Other Regional Aviation Museums

A Full Day - or Two or even Three - of Aviation Related Touring

If you wished to see all six 'main' attractions, we'd recommend you spend one day to go first to Bellingham for the Heritage Flight Museum (because it closes earlier) and perhaps enjoy a nice lunch in Bellingham (one of the two Anthony's Restaurants would be a great choice) then turn around and stop in Everett on the way back to see the Historic Flight Foundation and the Flying Heritage Collection (probably in that order).

On the second day, you could do the Boeing factory tour and follow up with a visit to the Museum of Flight Restoration Center.  There are a couple of Anthony's restaurants in Everett too (as well as plenty of other fine places to enjoy a lunch).

The third day could be devoted almost entirely to the Museum of Flight.

There's a reason for this suggested sequence in addition to the geographical considerations.  If you follow through the locations in this order, you'll be going, more or less, from 'least' to 'most'.  When it is the first thing you see, you'll be impressed by the Heritage Flight Museum in Bellingham, and then each successive stop will be better than the last.

But if you were to start off with the Museum of Flight, everything subsequently would risk being anti-climatic.

If you have only one day, the problem becomes whether you 'just' do the Museum of Flight, or if you try and squeeze something else in as well.  If you wanted to do two things, probably the logical choice would be to go up to Boeing for their first tour of the day (9am, finishing about 10.30am) then spend the afternoon at the Museum of Flight.

If you wanted to, you could add a quick stop at one of the three other aviation museums around Paine Field in Everett too - the Museum of Flight Restoration Center is certainly very different to the other two, but the other two have complete aircraft in 'as new' condition rather than work in progress planes in various stages of repair.

If you have two days, we'd recommend spending one in Everett and the other one at the Museum of Flight.

This list of recommendations also needs to be considered in light of the opening days of the various museums and whether any of them have any special events that might influence your choice of places to go and times to visit.

Sightseeing Without a Car

If you are not renting a car, you can take a bus to the Museum of Flight and there are daily tours that pick up from Seattle area hotels and take you to the Boeing Factory tour.

But getting to the other attractions around the area becomes successively harder without a car; and both time consuming and possibly costly too.  You'd be well advised to rent a car, even if only for a day or two.

Paine Field Passport

This is a new product that is expected to be released some time in the next month or two (ie probably May or later, 2011).

It will be a booklet sort of thing which you can buy from the Future of Flight, the Flying Heritage Collection, the Historic Flight Foundation, or the Museum of Flight Restoration Center (all clustered around Paine Field in Everett).

As you visit each of the four participating locations, you will get a special large ceremonial stamp in your 'passport', and the passport document will get you discounts off the admissions at each location.

If you are planning on visiting more than one or two of these attractions, it is possible the passport could save you some money on the overall admission costs, so ask about it when arriving at your first stop.

Legend Fliers - New Me 262 Jets

If you are visiting Paine Field, there is one other place you might choose to visit.  This is Legend Fliers - a group of people who are painstakingly building new fully functional and flyable WW2 era Messerschmitt Me 262 jets from the original plans as best they can (but with modern jet engines).

This does beg the question 'why' - it started off as one person's dream and has continued on since then.

Their website is very out of date, and it is unclear what the status is of their planes - several have been completed, and after they have built and sold a maximum of no more than five, they plan to destroy all the tooling and close down (which begs another 'why' question - why five?  Why not four, or six, or any other number?).

But if a chance to see a partially or newly built Me 262 is of interest to you, it would be worth contacting them to see what their current policy is on allowing visits.

Read More about Aviation Themed Attractions in the Seattle Region

Click the links above to read through the descriptions and reviews of the various different aviation themed attractions in the greater Seattle region, and use the information contained therein to decide which places you'll visit.

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Originally published 25 March 2011, last update 30 May 2021

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

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