Rebels By Bus

Slow Travel With Low Carbon Footprint

Seattle History Museum and Aboretum Nature Walk

 The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) and the Washington Park Arboretum

The Museum of History & Industry is the quintessential walk through Seattle’s history.  Fun and interesting for all ages.  The Seattle Historical Society was formed in 1911 (on the 60th anniversary of the Alki landing of the Denny Party), officially founded three years later, and eventually known as the Seattle-King County Historical Society. The Museum of History & Industry, opened on February 15, 1952, has grown to become the largest private heritage organization in the State of Washington.  MOHAI collects, preserves and presents the rich history of the Pacific Northwest. Exhibits and programs change regularly, reflecting an appreciation for the Northwest’s diverse cultural, social and economic history.

Long-standing exhibits include a diorama of the landing of the Denny Party (Seattle Pioneers), the glue pot which started the great Seattle fire of 1888, and the Slo-mo-shun hydroplane from the 1950’s.   There are always new, temporary exhibits, such as in the summer and fall of 2009  the “Arts and Crafts movement of the Pacific Northwest” exhibit covered all aspects of this simplistic, yet lovely, art form, including architecture, furnishings, printing, crafts, and art. 

Be sure to pick up a map of the Arboretum trail as you leave the MOHAI building. 

The Washington Park Arboretum (via Marsh and Foster Islands, starting at the far west end of the MOHAI parking lot) is a 200 acre park haven, which is lovely any time of year. A leisurely stroll through the Arboretum (from the west end of the MOHAI parking lot) will take you to Marsh Island, at the edge of Lake Washington and the entrance to the Montlake “cut”, the manmade canal that connects Lake Washington to Lake Union.  Canoes and kayaks mingle with ducks and shorebirds.  Marsh Island is well named… parts of the trail can be very wet, muddy, and hard (or impossible) to navigate without getting mud on your shoes.  You cross over a foot bridge to Foster Island, a larger wooded island, before you walk through the echo-filled underpass of SR 520 and enter the north end of mainland and the arboretum.

The Graham visitor center is visible on your left, at 2300 Arboretum Drive East.  The center has maps and written information about the arboretum, as well as a large selection of books, cards, and gifts related to Pacific Northwest plants and wildlife. 

The Arboretum was designed by James Dawson of the Olmsted Brothers firm, and developed in the 1930’s with WPA funds and labor.  The Park is administered cooperatively by the University of Washington, the City of Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, and The Arboretum Foundation.  More than 700 Foundation volunteers provide 82,000 hours of service every year. 

40,000 trees, shrubs, and vines grow in the Arboretum, 10,000 which are catalogued in collections.  The Arboretum contains 5,500  different kinds of plants from around the world.  

During the spring, one of the most popular trails in the park is Azalea Way, a ¾ mile promenade through the center of the park, lined with flowering cherries, azaleas, and dogwoods.  It is easy to find the beginning of Azalea Way, across Arboretum Drive, from the Graham Visitor Center. 

The Joseph A. Witt garden is known for its winter foliage and fragrance.  The garden includes, but is not limited to witch hazels, daphne, camellias, hellebores, and sarococca.

Where:  MOHAI is located north of Lake Washington Blvd., at 24th Avenue East (2700 24th Avenue East, Seattle).   The Washington Park Arboretum extends from 40th Avenue East and East Madison on the South to Highway SR 520 and Lake Washington on the North. 

 How to get there:

From downtown Seattle, take Metro bus #43 from 4th Avenue and Pike Street, which departs every 15 minutes.  The 25-minute ride takes you up and over Capital Hill, and glides into the Montlake area.  Get off the bus at the Montlake Blvd and SR 520 stop. 

When you get off the bus, head east (to your right), walking two blocks through a lovely residential area, which takes you into the parking lot of MOHAI. 

Cost summary: 

Bus (without ORCA card) – $2.50 one-way from Olympia to Lakewood/SR 512 Park and Ride (via Intercity Transit); $3.00 Lakewood to Seattle (Sound Transit); $1.75 downtown Seattle to University District (Metro)

MOHAI admission – see detail section 

The Arboretum is free.

Details, details, details:

MOHAI Hours:
Daily 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
First Thursdays 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
Close early at 3:00 pm Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve
Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day

MOHAI Admission Cost:

Adult (ages 18-61) $8
Senior (ages 62+) $7
Student and Military with current ID $7
Youth (ages 5-17) $6
Pre-School (ages 4 & under) Free

 Arboretum Hours:

The grounds and trails are open 7 a.m. until dusk.  The Graham Visitor Center is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

There is no cost to go through the Arboretum, except to the Japanese Garden, at the southwest end of the Arboretum, which costs $5.00.   The Japanese Garden phone is:  (206) 684-4725.

What else is in the neighborhood?:

Hungry?  Catch bus 43 (back at the SR-520 and Montlake Blvd. bus stop), which will take you to the University District, via 15th Avenue.  Exit the bus at University Way and 45th Street, strolling south down University Way for a taste of the “U” district.  There are many small shops, places to eat, and the University Bookstore.  

If you STILL want to see more gardens? 

Visit the University of Washington Botanic Gardens (3501 NE 41st Street)

To walk…follow the Burke Gilman trail to the Gardens (take the pedestrian overpass that crosses Montlake Blvd, next to Hec Ed Pavillon, north of the Football stadium). 

Bus: Bus route 25 picks you up at Montlake Blvd and SR 520 (where you got off bus 43), stopping at NE 45th and Mary Gates Memorial Drive. 

 The Washington Botanic Gardens includes the 74 acre Union Bay Natural Area, with four miles of shoreline supporting diverse wildlife.  Two hundred species of birds have been spotted at this location.  The Union Bay Gardens (Center for Urban Horticulture) is the University’s first sustainable building on the Seattle campus.  This site has a display garden, and is home to the King County Master Gardener Foundation.  The Elisabeth C. Miller Library houses 15,000 volumes of horticultural material, most which can be borrowed.  The Center regularly hosts gardening programs and lectures which are open to the public.  Their website is:


MOHAI:         (206) 324-1126  or

Arboretum:    (206) 543-8800 or

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