Today, Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad and Museum stands as a bridge to the past, whisking passengers through timbered foothills, alongside mountain streams, and across wooden trestles aboard trains led by restored locomotives. But roughly 34 years ago, the company was just an idea bouncing around the head of Tom Murray Jr., who made it his mission to preserve the sights, sounds, and experiences of a bygone era.
With the help of a friend, and later, many volunteers, Tom established MRSR as a tourist train service, a title the company retains to this day. As a result, the last three decades have been filled with seasonal weekly excursions that send customers chugging around the forestry that unfurls in the shadows of Mt. Rainier. Volunteers still maintain the majority of the organization, and with every ride, passengers are reminded that railroads have linked the United States in a manner that airplanes, cars, and gas-powered pogo sticks never could. The museum's new expansion includes larger exhibits where visitors can experience the Railroad Logging Camp; a section of exhibits that highlight past life on the railroad logging camp in the early to mid 1900s. The museum also features exhibits such as the House of Gears and the Rod House where trains are on display. Visitors can also revel in in the restoration shop where they can witness a steam engine being built from the ground up.
Four Things to Know About Northwest Trek Wildlife Park
Northwest Trek Wildlife Park opened in 1975 after David “Doc” Hellyer and his wife, Connie, donated a huge plot of land that would eventually become the park’s foundation. Today, it sprawls across more than 700 acres, inviting visitors to get up close and personal with the region’s native animal species. Here are a few tips to keep in mind for your next visit:
The park’s signature activity is a tram ride. It’s free with admission, and it’s narrated by a friendly naturalist who doles out animal facts and fun stories.
Join the photo tour for a truly intimate experience. Unfolding before the park even opens, this tour grants guests the opportunity to spy free-roaming animals as they look for food and pose for photo ops on the red carpet.
You can stay on foot, too. There’s a paved path through the park’s forest that passes grizzly bears, wolves, and cougars, as well as smaller critters such as beavers, otters, and wolverines.
Food is available onsite. The Forest Cafe serves burgers, salads, and other healthy lunch options. You can also bring your own refreshments and picnic in one of the park’s numerous pavilions.
Six Things to Know About Washington State History Museum
In 1891, the Washington State Historical Society was established with a noble and rather lofty mission: to collect, preserve, and later present the state's vast history. Today, there is perhaps no better proof of the society’s original concept than the Washington State History Museum. Here are a few things to know before stepping back in time:
It takes approximately two hours to time travel. That’s the suggested allotment for the signature Hall of Washington History exhibit, which consists of interactive elements and walk-through dioramas that chart different eras in the state’s past.
The museum is overrun with ghosts. Well, not quite. They’re actually actors participating in the museum’s Ghosts of the Great Hall program, which brings real characters to life from defining moments in the state’s past.
Students can solve a mystery. The onsite History Lab
challenges teams to think like historians and solve a riddle from the past.
Some things don’t last forever. Check to see which exhibits end soon, and which ones will soon arrive.
Visitors can grab a bite between exhibits. Located right next to the museum, Anthem Coffee & Tea keeps visitors fueled for learning with pastries, sandwiches, and plenty of espresso.
On certain days, your money is no good here. Admission is zero dollars from 2–8 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month.
The Museum of Glass is the only museum west of the Mississippi to exclusively showcase one of art's most delicate media: glass. The museum provides a dynamic learning environment to appreciate the medium of glass through creative experiences, collections, and exhibitions. Stop by the Hot Shop, housed in the museum's 90-foot-tall stainless-steel dome, to watch professional artists as they blow and shape molten glass into artistic sculptures or thought bubbles. Be sure to examine the museum's outdoor installations, including Martin Blank's Fluent Steps, the colorful Chihluly Bridge of Glass, and the Water Forest, a series of towering acrylic tubes filled with rising and falling water.
Teri and Greg Harris draw on artistic eyes honed in careers as an award-winning former photojournalist and a high-profile web designer, respectively, to capture memories at Ladybug Photography. The couple memorializes blissful weddings, cozy family scenes, and grads-to-be in black-and-white, sepia, or color portraits. Lighthearted shoots may make use of props, pets, and outfit and personality changes as subjects let their inner glow shine in-studio or at lush area parks, gardens, and beachfronts.
The handsome, 12,000-square-foot museum is home to four exhibition galleries and a permanent collection that focuses on the wealth of regional talent in the Northwest, in addition to housing Japanese woodblock prints and European paintings. Tacoma's own Dale Chihuly fills a gallery space with his permanent installation of playful and fantastical glasswork, much of it inspired by his love for the sea. Brush up on your goose-whispering skills at the Secret Language of Animals exhibit, a family-friendly flock of approximately 40 paintings, sculptures, and videos depicting rodents, birds, horses, dogs, crazy uncles, and more.