Free museums in Seattle: Bill and Melinda Gates Discovery Center

With more than 40 museums around, Seattle is one of the most interesting cultural cities in America, and the good thing about it is that most of them offer free entrance day.  The museums of the area cover a wide variety of topics to explore such as pop culture, marine, aviation, contemporary art, and cultural heritage history, to name a few.

One thing for sure is that in Seattle you won’t leave museums only for rainy days, in fact, it is probably that museums are going to be the main part of your itinerary in the city, even when you just come to the Seattle for 3 days.

If you want to explore as many exhibitions as you can and save some bucks while you are doing it, there are many free museums in Seattle that you can visit during your visit. Also, most of the museums are part of the First Thursday Program in Seattle that allows you to visit them for free during the first Thursday of every month. Below you will find the list of all the Seattle’s museums that offers free visits so you can choose your favorite one:

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at the Discovery Center

Voted as the best free museum in Seattle by 3DaysAbroad visitors!

440 5th Avenue N.Seattle, WA 98109

Free museums in Seattle: Bill and Melinda Gates Discovery Center
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at the Discovery Center is one of the best free museum in Seattle

Under the motto of “all lives have equal value”, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at the Discovery Center takes the visitor to explore the power of optimism by showcasing the innovations that helped to improve vulnerable communities, and showing to its visitors how everybody can take action to solve the world’s problems and make it a better place.  

  • The museum is always free to the public
  • From Tuesdays to Saturdays there are free public tours at 2 pm offered by the staff of the foundation. There is no need to book in advance.


Center on Contemporary Arts

114 Third Ave S. Seattle, WA 98104

The Center on Contemporary Arts is a non-profit gallery that has been a part of the contemporary art community in Seattle for the past 35. Besides presenting the latest works of established artists, such as Gary Hill and Peter Bagge, the center provides a space for emerging leaders to showcase their creations.


  • The gallery is always free to the public
  • One of the things that make this center so interesting is its wide variety of public events that are held during the year. If contemporary arts amaze you, check the calendar of events before heading there.


Coast Guard Museum Northwest

Pier 36, Base Seattle, 1519 Alaskan Way South, WA

Managed by volunteers, the Coast Guard Museum Northwest is dedicated to preserving the heritage of the Coast Guard in the area by displaying the history of America’s marine. The largest public collection of Coast Guard patches is displayed at the museum


  • The museum is always free to the public
  • You must show your ID in order to enter so don’t leave it at your room


Duwamish Tribe Longhouse & Cultural Center

 4705 W Marginal Way SW, Seattle, WA 98106

The Duwamish people are a Native American tribe located in the west part of Washington state and the metropolitan area of Seattle, that have been living in the region since the glacial period (remember Ice Age?). Nowadays, the tribe is the only indigenous group of the area.

The Duwamish Longhouse & Cultural Center explores the life and culture of this tribe and often organizes events put by its members and allied groups for the benefit of the public. While this is probably not the first thing that you put on your list when planning your Seattle itinerary, we recommend you take the time to visit it since it showcases the true culture of the city.

  • The cultural center is always free to the public


Frye Art Museum

704 Terry Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104

The art museum located in the First Hill neighborhood displays the collection of Charles and Emma Frye, a marriage of business leaders devoted to art that back in the early-twentieth century displayed their paintings in a public exhibition space that they opened to the public.

Because of Charles Frye’s German roots, the museum is primarily devoted to the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century German Art 

  • The museum is always free to the public


Henry Art Gallery

University of Washington 15th Ave NE and NE 41st St Seattle, WA 98105

The Henry, as locals call it, is part of the University of Washington in Seattle. The museum is recognized for its innovative exhibitions of contemporary art and culture, and for giving space to the emerging artists to showcase their works.

  • The museum entrance is free to the public every Sunday and the first Thursday of the month


Imagine Children’s Museum

1502 Wall St, Everett, WA 98201 

While is not actually in Seattle, the Imagine Children’s Museum is a great option to visit if you are coming to the city with your little ones. From Downtown Seattle, it takes half an hour by car or an hour by public transport to reach this non-profit museum located in Everett.


  • The museum is free to the public on the 3rd Friday of every month from 5:30 to 9 pm
  • Every Thursday the entrance is half price from 3 pm to 5 pm


Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

319 Second Ave S., Seattle, WA 98104

Operated by the National Park Service, the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park commemorates the famous Gold Rush that took place back in 1896 and changed the economy of Seattle. The park has a two-floor exhibition designed to be self-guided and you can choose to watch three different films in order to complement the information. 

During Summer, park rangers lead visitors to a free walking tour of Pioneer Square, Seattle’s historic district.

  • The park is always free to the public


Last Resort Fire Department Museum

Seattle Fire Department Headquarters, corner of 2nd Ave South & South Main Street

A great thing to do in Seattle with kids is to visit the Last Resort Fire Department Museum in Pioneer Square. Besides learning from the honorable work of firemen in the city, visitors can see more than two dozen vintage antique motorized fire apparatus.



Living Computers Museum

245 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98134

If you consider that Seattle is the home of the most important leaders in the tech industry, take Paul Allen from Microsoft and Jeff Bezos from Amazon, then no visit to the city is complete without taking a visit to the Living Computers Museum, a space created to preserve the history of the computers from 1960 till today. 

  • The first Thursday of every month the museum is free from 5:00-8:00pm


Museum of Flight

9404 E. Marginal Way South, Seattle, WA 98108

Whether you are an aircraft enthusiastic or not, the Museum of Flight is one of the best experiences that you can have during your trip to Seattle.  From a full scale of the NASA Space Shuttle Trainer to the original Boeing Aircraft factory, there are many exciting things to check at the museum, and the best part is that, if you want to feel like a true pilot, there are numerous planes that you can walk through.

  • The Museum of Flight is free to the public the first Thursday of each month from 5:00 to 9:00 pm


Museum of History and Industry

Within its 6 main galleries, the museum presents a collection of almost four million of artifacts that preserves the diverse history of the Puget Sound’s region. From historic displays of early Seattle to interactive displays and a movie theater, it is an excellent place to learn more about the development of the city and learn how it became one of the largest technology and industry hubs in America

  • The permanent exhibits are free to visit during the first Thursday of each month

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