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FREE local Blue Star Museums to visit

Plan to visit these museums before Labor Day

Visit the Washington State History Museum for free this summer. Photo credit: Stock photo

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The national 2021 Blue Star Museums program  began on Armed Forces Day and will continue to honor military families through Labor Day. This program offers free admission at participating museums for active-duty military personnel, National Guard, Reserves and up to five of their family members. If you're traveling far and wide this summer we encourage you to visit their website for a full list of participating museums as over 2,000 across the nation participate. We've compiled the local museums you will want to include on your 2021 summer bucket list. 

Located five miles down the road from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Lakewood is Lakewold Gardens. Open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. this former Gravelly Lake estate allows visitors the opportunity to stroll the paths through a period of garden history where classic European design meets American landscape masters. Lakewold Gardens' usual admission is $10 for adults, $8 for youth and $5 for children, so now is the perfect time to visit. Check out to plan your visit to the gardens. 

Next up on the list is the Tacoma Art Museum. Located about 16 minutes from JBLM in downtown Tacoma, the museum's  operating hours are Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum's goal is to share art that inspires broader perspectives and cultivates a compassionate future. Current exhibits include Dale Chihuly, Animals: Wild and Captured in Bronze, Outdoor Sculptures at TAM and many more, including local community art installations. For more information, visit

Museum of Glass located about 15 minutes from JBLM in downtown Tacoma is another great museum to plan a visit to. Offering an extensive look into Dale Chihuly and his beautiful glass artwork, along with installments and exhibits from various other artists. One of the best parts about visiting is their hot shop which allows visitors to watch live demonstrations of glass blowing. Regular admission is $17 for adults, $14 for seniors 62+, $5 children six-12 years old and free for children younger than six, so visiting for free now is a deal too good to pass up. Learn more here,

Located less than a mile down the road from the art museum is the Washington State History Museum. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The goal of the museum is to collect, preserve and present Washington's rich history. Current exhibits include Great Hall of Washington History, Crossing Boundaries, Washington: My Home, 360 and more. After Labor Day admission will increase to $11 for active duty, $14 for adults,  $11 65+ and children five and younger are free. Find out more here,

Located farther from base on the  University of Washington Campus in Seattle is the Burke Museum. Open Tuesday- Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with pre-purchased and timed tickets required. The goal of the museum is to share their collections with the public so that all can learn, be inspired, generate knowledge, feel joy and heal. Current exhibits include Fossils Uncovered, Northwest Native Art, Our Material World, Culture is Living and more. Regular admission to the museum is $22 for adults, $20 for 62+, $14 for youth and free for three and younger. For more information,  

Many other local Blue Star Museums will offer free admission through Labor Day as well. For a full list of museums offering FREE admission nationwide visit

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