Unique Pacific Northwest Museums in the Long Beach Peninsula

Mar 26, 2023 | Family Fun, History

The Long Beach Peninsula’s museums have long been treasures that have brought joy to locals and delighted visiting guests. Quaint and lovingly curated, our museums celebrate local culture and defining characteristics of this special region. Scattered like jewels over 70+ miles, a menagerie of museums open their doors to guests for education and enjoyment. Tucked into historic building replicas or on the top of a 200-foot seaside cliff, these institutions contain cultural riches. With Museum Month rapidly approaching, we made a list of a few of our favorite museums on the Peninsula. Here is a look at some of the Pacific Northwest museums waiting to be discovered.

Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum (CPHM), Ilwaco

Tucked at the intersection of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, the CPHM spotlights the culture and history of this unique part of the world. Their mission is to preserve the heritage of the Columbia Pacific region.

It’s hard to imagine, but this Pacific Northwest museum was born from a brainstorming session over breakfast. Noreen Robinson, a feisty City Council member, knew the significance of the project. Her commitment resulted in unwavering calls to the Smithsonian Institution, who helped craft the museum management to success. She fundraised via profits from a hot dog cart and laid the foundation for the current museum. Her work is now a thriving museum with more than 23,000 artifacts, freight depot, and Discovery Garden.

The education flows back to the Chinookan culture, who harvested the land and waters first. Unveil how the story unfolded over generations. Understand how trading and fishing developed into the logging, commercial fishing, and tourism industries of today.

With more than 7,300 square feet of space, they host both permanent and special exhibits. Their commitment to community can be felt even here. Upcoming exhibits often feature the artwork of burgeoning student artist, who capture the land through their developing eyes.

Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, Ilwaco

Perched high on the wind-swept cliffs of Cape Disappointment State Park sits the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center . Hovering 200-feet above the raging Pacific Surf, this beautiful building encompasses breathtaking views and historical treasures. It’s hard to find a more captivating Pacific Northwest museum backdrop.

Here you’ll find storytelling of the journey of Lewis & Clark. You’ll see patinaed sketches, photographs, and letters from long gone journeymen. A section devoted to water-logged artifacts fished from the sea, will spin a story of shipwrecks. Known as the Graveyard of the Pacific, these merciless shores have taken more than 200 ships to a watery grave. The center displays these remnants of thwarted missions alongside a replica of a massive lighthouse tower bulb.

Take in the views of moody ocean, the gentle river, and headlands that this dramatic intersection possesses.

Northwest Carriage Museum, Raymond

It would be difficult to find a more charming museum in the Pacific Northwest. The Northwest Carriage Museum rolls back to the time of carriages and buggies. One of America’s best collections of 19th century horse-drawn vehicles, this center boasts more than 60 special vehicles. Here you will see incredible curations from some memorable celluloid culture. See Belle Watling’s carriage from “Gone With the Wind”. Gaze on Shirley Temple’s carriage from “The Little Princess”. Or imagine yourself as a traveler with Errol Flynn and Humphrey Bogart on the infamous stagecoach used in “Virginia City”.

In addition to the buggy cameos noted above, see important examples of work wagons, sleighs, and common day buggies. Peruse period artifacts and clothing. Or stroll through their one-room school room, a wheelwright/blacksmith shop, and gift shop.

World Kite Museum, Long Beach

Imagination takes flight in the World Kite Museum! The wind-swept shores of Long Beach Peninsula aren’t only reserved for massive waves and King tides. Gusty conditions make this the ideal location for a museum that celebrates the inventive and colorful art of kites.

Featuring more than 1,500 kites from over 26 countries, this Pacific Northwest museum’s collection is astounding. Peek at postage-sized kites and be dwarfed by a three-headed dragon kite that’s over 200-feet long. Spend time in the War Room and learn how kites were used during World War II as target practice or weapons. You’ll see the Damsel, a weathered kit flown as a communication beacon, allowing connection with ships during wartime.

You can pick up your own kite in the gift shop of this Pacific Northwest museum. With a little practice, you can join the Annual Kite Festival. Every year the sky above the beach of Long Beach Peninsula becomes a confetti of kites harnessing the wind.

Appelo Archives Center, Museum and Café, Naselle

This specialty organization was the dream of Carlton Appelo, who coincidentally celebrates his birthday during Museum month. The Appelo Archives Center dedicates their exhibits and time to preserving the history of the Naselle-Grays River Valley. With an Archive Center’s room, Genealogy corner, and two libraries, the content is significant.

There is a unique emphasis on Finnish-American heritage and you’ll find fascinating artifacts in this vein. Their Finnish library contains over 600 books, including the Socialist “Red Books”. Amongst the myriad of items, you’ll see authentic Finnish costumes in display cases.

Cranberry Museum and Gift Shop, Long Beach 

Many don’t realize but cranberries are big business in the Long Beach Peninsula. Cranberry farming is over 100 years old in this area. In fact, over two centuries ago, before Lewis & Clark landed, cranberries were used by Native Americans. They would crush them into dried meat and fat to make pemmican, which helped sustain them. This stubborn and determined berry, transplanted from Cape Cod, rides America’s seasonal love affair with the tart, red fruit. At the Cranberry Museum & Gift Shop you’ll have a chance to celebrate the berry year round!

When you come to this Pacific Northwest museum, you’ll learn the history and process of all things cranberry. You can take a walking tour around the ruby bogs, which glow against the contrasting greenery of the surrounding land. Or stroll through the gift shop to stock up on cranberry-rich products.

NamsChohts Heritage Museum & Library, Tokeland 

Located on the Shoalwater Bay Indian Reservation in Tokeland, this Pacific Northwest museum focuses on tribal history. Featuring exhibits with tribal art and artifacts, visiting guests can take in significant culture of the area. The museum also features tribal history and a library, providing even more detail and research opportunities.

Willapa Bay Interpretive Center, Port of Peninsula, Nahcotta

This Pacific Northwest center is tucked like a pearl in a replica of an oyster station house. Sitting on the banks of Willapa Bay, the original wooden property was once a home to an oyster grower. The Willapa Bay Interpretive Center traces the families of the oyster industry. Quotes and old photographs cover the walls, along with a 20-foot mural of the bay. You’ll find an array of oystering tools, like baskets, tongs, and rakes. Included in the displays is a 14-foot double-ended dinghy built in the late 1920s. It also has access to the shores of the bay. Considering that one-in-four oysters comes from the bay’s cool waters, this is the epicenter of oyster love!

Knappton Cove Heritage Museum, Naselle

Casually known as “the Columbia River’s Ellis Island”, the Knappton Cove Heritage Museum is where history occurred. Logging and fishing industries created a boom. Thousands of people came through inspection at this location to begin a new life. This Pacific Northwest museum’s mission is to preserve, interpret and promote history of the US Columbia River Quarantine Station.

Pacific County Historical Society and Museum, South Bend 

Step back into history at the Pacific County Historical Society and Museum. Guests will be treated to a collection of over 10,000 photographs, 1,500 historical artifacts, and stacks of archival records. Featuring Chinook crafts, artwork, and relics relating to the lumber, oyster, and fishing industries of the area.

Willapa Seaport Museum, Raymond

It’s full steam ahead at the Willapa Seaport Museum! This Pacific Northwest museum follows the nautical history of Willapa Bay throughout the numerous displays. Paraphernalia includes replicas of the Willapa Transportation ticket offices, wheelhouses, and a pirate’s loft!

Pacific Maritime Heritage Center, Newport

Both museum and interactive center, the center showcases maritime exhibits and arts. With a working wharf, educational programs, and restaurant, the museum is diverse. Featuring temporary exhibits like Portraits in Red: Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Painting projects, it draws locals and visitors alike.

More than twelve of the Pacific Northwest’s museums can be found in the Long Beach Peninsula. Embrace the past, present, and future at one of our beloved treasuries on your next visit.

By: Danelle Dodds

Danelle is an international traveler, road tripper, writer, and artist. She firmly believes in testing the limits of word count, mileage, and AYCE sushi.



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