Where History Meets Innovation: Olympia’s Top 11 Museums to Visit

Museums in Olympia, Washington, offer visitors a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the region. From the state’s political hub to its role in shaping the Pacific Northwest, Olympia’s museums showcase a diverse range of exhibits and artifacts.

Whether you’re interested in exploring the natural world, learning about the area’s Indigenous peoples, or delving into the state’s maritime heritage, there’s something for everyone to discover in Olympia’s museums.

Join us on a journey through the past and present of this vibrant city as we explore the fascinating collections and stories that await in its museums.

1. Hands On Children’s Museum


The Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia, WA, USA is a center that focuses on offering participatory exhibits and programs on art and science for kids. Located in the heart of Olympia, this museum provides a hands-on learning experience for children of all ages.

Children can explore various exhibits that encourage creativity, critical thinking, and curiosity. From art galleries to science labs, there is something for every child to enjoy at the Hands On Children’s Museum.

The museum also offers educational programs and workshops that cater to different age groups and interests. Visitors can expect a fun and interactive experience that will inspire a love for learning and exploration in children.


Overall, the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia is a must-visit destination.

Rating: 9.6

Phone: +1 360-956-0818

Address: 414 Jefferson St NE, Olympia, WA 98501, United States

Website: hocm.org

2. Bigelow House Museum, a historic house museum of the Olympia Historical Society


The Bigelow House Museum in Olympia, WA, USA is a historic house museum operated by the Olympia Historical Society.

The museum is housed in a Carpenter Gothic-style home from the 1840s, which is a unique architectural style characterized by intricate woodwork and decorative details.

Visitors to the Bigelow House Museum can explore the beautifully preserved interior of the home, which features original furnishings from the 19th century.

The museum offers a glimpse into the daily lives of early settlers in Olympia and provides insight into the history of the region.


In addition to its original furnishings, the museum also houses a collection of historic artifacts that tell the story of the Bigelow family and their contributions to the community.

Rating: 9.2

Address: 918 Glass Ave NE, Olympia, WA 98506, United States

Website: olympiahistory.org

3. Olympic Flight Museum


The Olympic Flight Museum in Olympia, WA, USA is a must-visit destination for aviation enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Situated at the Olympia Regional Airport, this museum offers a unique opportunity to explore old-school aircraft and learn about the fascinating history of aviation.

As you step into the hangar at the Olympic Flight Museum, you will be greeted by an impressive collection of vintage aircraft that have been meticulously restored to their former glory.

From World War II-era planes to more modern aircraft, there is something for everyone to admire and appreciate. In addition to the aircraft on display, the museum also provides a wealth of historical aviation information for visitors to delve into.


Whether you are interested in the evolution of flight technology or the brave individuals who piloted these planes.

Rating: 9.2

Phone: +1 360-705-3925

Address: 7637 Old Hwy 99 SE, Tumwater, WA 98501, United States

Website: olympicflightmuseum.com

4. WET Science Center


The WET Science Center in Olympia, WA offers a unique and interactive experience for children to learn about the water cycle and its crucial role in sustaining life on Earth.

Through hands-on activities, kids are able to engage with the material in a fun and engaging way. One of the main highlights of the WET Science Center is its focus on providing a hands-on learning experience.

Children are encouraged to touch, explore, and experiment with various exhibits that demonstrate different aspects of the water cycle.

This interactive approach helps to solidify their understanding of the concept in a more tangible way. By allowing children to actively participate in their learning, the WET Science Center creates a more engaging and memorable experience.


Kids are able to see firsthand how water moves through different stages.

Rating: 9.2

Phone: +1 360-664-2333

Address: 500 Adams St NE, Olympia, WA 98501, United States

Website: wetsciencecenter.org

5. Lacey Museum


The Lacey Museum in Olympia, WA is a small but impactful institution that focuses on preserving and showcasing the local history of the area.

Visitors can expect to find a variety of artifacts and exhibits that offer a glimpse into the past of Lacey and the surrounding communities.

One of the highlights of the museum is its collection of artifacts, which includes items such as tools, clothing, and household items from different time periods.

These artifacts help to paint a picture of what life was like in Lacey in years past. In addition to the artifacts, the museum also features a number of exhibits that delve deeper into specific aspects of local history.

These exhibits cover a range of topics, from the early settlers of the area to more recent events that have shaped the community.

Rating: 9

Phone: +1 360-438-0209

Address: 829 Lacey St SE, Lacey, WA 98503, United States

Website: laceymuseum.org

6. Puget Sound Estuarium


Located in Olympia, WA, the Puget Sound Estuarium is an educational marine life center with saltwater aquariums and interactive learning exhibits. Visitors to the Estuarium can explore the diverse marine life of the Puget Sound region through hands-on exhibits and displays.

From colorful sea stars and playful sea otters to majestic orcas and mysterious octopuses, there is something for everyone to discover at the Estuarium.

One of the highlights of the Estuarium is its saltwater aquariums, which showcase a variety of marine species native to the Puget Sound.


Visitors can observe fish, invertebrates, and other aquatic creatures up close and learn about their habitats and behaviors.

Rating: 9

Phone: +1 360-918-8412

Address: 309 State Ave NE, Olympia, WA 98501, United States

Website: pugetsoundestuarium.org

7. Henderson House Museum


The Henderson House Museum in Olympia, WA is a hidden gem in the city’s historic district. This charming Victorian-era home offers visitors a glimpse into the past, with carefully preserved rooms and exhibits showcasing life in the late 19th century.

As you step inside the Henderson House Museum, you are immediately transported back in time. The elegant furnishings, intricate woodwork, and period decor all contribute to the authentic feel of the house.

Visitors can explore the various rooms, each filled with artifacts and memorabilia from the era. One of the highlights of the museum is the beautifully landscaped gardens surrounding the house.

The meticulously maintained grounds provide a peaceful oasis in the bustling city, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a moment of reflection.

Rating: 6

Phone: +1 360-754-4217

Address: 602 Deschutes Way, Tumwater, WA 98501, United States

8. Nisqually Reach Nature Center


The Nisqually Reach Nature Center is a hidden gem located in Olympia, WA. It provides visitors with a unique opportunity to learn about the local ecosystem and wildlife in the area.

From interactive exhibits to guided tours, there is something for everyone to enjoy at this nature center. One of the highlights of the Nisqually Reach Nature Center is the stunning views of the Puget Sound.

Visitors can take in the beauty of the water and surrounding landscape while learning about the importance of protecting this delicate ecosystem.


The center also offers educational programs for all ages, making it a great destination for families and school groups. In addition to its educational offerings, the Nisqually Reach Nature Center is also committed to conservation efforts.

Rating: 9.4

Phone: +1 360-459-0387

Address: 4949 D Milluhr Rd NE, Olympia, WA 98516, United States

Website: nisquallyestuary.org

9. The State Capital Museum and Outreach Center


The State Capital Museum and Outreach Center in Olympia, WA, USA, offers visitors a unique look into the history of the city and the surrounding region.

Housed in a stunning 1923 mansion, this museum provides an immersive experience for those interested in learning about the area’s rich cultural heritage.

As you explore the museum, you’ll have the opportunity to delve into the history of Olympia and its significance as the state capital of Washington.

From early settlement to modern-day developments, the exhibits offer a comprehensive look at the city’s evolution over time. In addition to its focus on Olympia, the museum also highlights the history and culture of the region’s Native American communities.


Through artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays, visitors can gain a deeper understanding.

Rating: 8.8

Phone: +1 360-753-2580

Address: 211 21st Ave SW, Olympia, WA 98501, United States

10. Tugboat Sand Man


Located in Olympia, Washington, the Tugboat Sand Man is a unique museum that offers visitors a glimpse into maritime history.

The museum is set aboard a moored and restored 60-foot tugboat, providing an immersive experience for all who visit. As you step aboard the Tugboat Sand Man, you are transported back in time to an era when tugboats played a vital role in the maritime industry.

The museum showcases various artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays that highlight the history and significance of tugboats.


Visitors can explore the different areas of the tugboat, including the engine room, captain’s quarters, and deck, giving them a firsthand look at what life was like for those who worked on these vessels.

Rating: 9.2

Address: 217 Thurston Ave NW, Olympia, WA 98501, United States

Website: tugsandman.org

11. Crosby House Museum


The Crosby House Museum in Olympia, WA is a historic landmark that offers visitors a glimpse into the past.

Located in a beautiful Victorian-style home, the museum is filled with artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of Olympia’s rich history.

Visitors to the Crosby House Museum can explore rooms filled with antique furniture, artwork, and other items from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The museum offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience what life was like for the early settlers of Olympia. In addition to its permanent exhibits, the Crosby House Museum also hosts special events and programs throughout the year.

From educational workshops to guided tours, there is always something new and exciting happening at the museum.

Rating: 8.2

Phone: +1 360-943-9884

Address: 702 Deschutes Way SW, Tumwater, WA 98501, United States


Overall, museums in Olympia, WA offer a diverse range of exhibits and experiences that cater to a wide variety of interests. From history and culture to art and science, there is something for everyone to enjoy and learn from.

Visitors to Olympia’s museums can expect to be engaged and inspired by the fascinating collections and interactive displays that showcase the rich heritage of the region.

Whether you are a local resident or a visitor passing through, exploring the museums in Olympia is a rewarding and enriching experience that is not to be missed.

Photo of author

Tony Spadafora

Since 1983, I've been making DC and Philadelphia unforgettable for families and business visitors. Whether it's a family reunion or a corporate breakout seeking something unique, I tailor experiences to your personal perspective. From historical landmarks to hidden gems, I ensure your visit is extraordinary. Trust a professional tour guide with decades of expertise to transform your trip into a memorable adventure. LinkedIn

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