5 Free Museums You Haven’t Visited in Tacoma

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Sure you know about the Glass Museum and Tacoma Art Museum, but did you know that Tacoma has other museums? And, depending on when you visit – you just might be able to go for free. If you’re looking for more frugal family fun in 2019, consider adding one (or all!) of these to your “must visit” list.

#1: Tacoma Telephone Pioneer Museum. The Tacoma Telephone Pioneer takes you through the history of switchboards, phone booths, and early communication technology. The museum is free to visit and located at 757 Fawcett Avenue. It’s only open on Thursdays from 8am to 12pm and they don’t have a website. (But I did locate a phone number – 253.627.2996.) According to TripAdvisor reviews, the tour lasts about an hour and is very informative.

#2: Buffalo Soldiers Museum. Opened in 2005, the Buffalo Soldiers Museum is only one of two like it in the country! The Buffalo Soldiers were African American troops who served during the Civil War. Later, they became the first National Park Service rangers. This museum is located at 1940 S. Wilkeson Street and open Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 11am to 3pm, or by appointment. 

#3: Karpeles Manuscript Library. Did you know that this free library houses one of the largest collections of historical documents in the world?! Yes – right here in Tacoma! There are exhibits that rotate every three months, so it’s a place you can return to. Some of the documents you’ll find here include the first Gutenberg Bible, the original draft of the Bill or Rights and George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation. The museum is located at 407 S “G” Street and you can contact them at 253.383.2575 for more information. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday, 10am to 4pm. While I could not locate an active website, this is another museum that got very strong ratings on TripAdvisor!

#4: LeMay Collections at Marymount. While you’ve likely heard about the LeMay museum in Tacoma, chances are you might not know about the LeMay Collections at Marymount, out in Spanaway. Here you’ll find LeMay’s personal collection of almost 2,000 vintage cars! In addition, you’ll find other vintage collections such as radios, dolls, piggy banks, and more. Located at 325 152nd Street E, Tacoma. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Unfortunately, this museum is not free to attend, but students (6-17) are just $5 and children under 5 are free. There are also discounts for groups of 10 or more. Groupon currently has a deal for 2 adult admission for $16 (normal admission is $15, so this is definitely a deal!)

#5: Job Carr Cabin Museum. Tucked in Tacoma’s Old Town, the Job Carr Cabin museum is a replica of Tacoma’s first permanent, non-Native American residence. The cabin provides visitors with a look at what life was like for our area’s earliest pioneers. The museum is located at 2350 N. 30th Street and is open Wednesday through Saturday, 1-4 p.m., (11 a.m.-4 p.m. June-Sept.), closed in January, except by appointment. To learn more or plan your trip, visit the Job Carr Cabin website.

I’d like to offer sincere thanks to the folks at TravelTacoma.com for reaching out to me to share information about these museums as well as the images. Make sure to check out TravelTacoma.com for trip-planning inspiration, hotels, an events calendar, and much more.  

Looking to attend more museums this year? Make sure to see our post: