A Little Time and a Keyboard: Admiring Automotive History at LeMay America's Car Museum {Tacoma, Washington}

Admiring Automotive History at LeMay America's Car Museum {Tacoma, Washington}

Friday, July 1, 2016

LeMay America's Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington

You do not have to be a bona fide car lover to fall in love with LeMay America's Car Museum, our next destination on our tour of Tacoma. I am not normally the car attraction type, but I thoroughly enjoyed our visit and was surprised by how much we learned.One of LeMay's missions is to preserve American automotive history and the museum truly unfolds the history in an engaging yet not too cumbersome fashion. The museum presents history in galleries that flow together bringing the history of the automobile to you through the vehicles themselves.

BMW Collection at LeMay America's Car Museum
BMW Collection at LeMay
Each gallery is well laid out. Some of the galleries use multimedia screens which help highlight interesting info about each car. Many cars have open elements so you can take a peek inside. Pretty cool!

Coachbuilt Car at LeMay America's Car Museum
One of LeMay's extraordinary Coachbuilt cars!

Close up of mirror on wheel of coachbuilt car
Cool detail on coachbuilt car--a mirror on the wheel!
The collection of early cars--coachbuilt cars---is amazing. Initially, cars were built individually by hand in the same workshops that built horse-drawn coaches. The craftsmanship on these automobiles is quite a treasure to look at. Even after the assembly line was developed, wealthier owners still purchased stunning, handcrafted and unique coachbuilt cars. Coachbuilding cars would decline during the Great Depression but the preserved cars that remain are truly a sight to behold!

1923 Lincoln Touring Car at LeMay America's Car Museum
The 1923 Lincoln Touring Car at LeMay provided a vehicle for dignitaries!
Cars at LeMay not only shed light on automotive history and innovation but on American history as well. The above 1923 Lincoln Touring Car was the first car to cross the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940---the bridge would collapse a few months later. The car later became the first to cross the new Narrows Bridge in 2007. Additionally, the Lincoln Touring Car chauffeured dignitaries including President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Queen Elizabeth. The stories a car holds!

Lucky's Garage at LeMay
Lucky's Garage
An inside peek of Lucky's Garage at LeMay America's Car Museum
A peek inside Lucky's Garage/
The Lucky's Garage section of the museum is quite fun--holding not only amazing cars but also other automotive memorabilia. This particular exhibit has been put together in honor of the museum's founder, Harold LeMay. Harold collected cars in a way to preserve automotive history. Earning a spot in the 1997 Guinness Book of World Records, Harold's private collection once totaled more than 3,000 cars and memorabilia items. Wow!

Route 66 collection at LeMay
Take a drive down Route 66! Image courtesy of LeMay America's Car Museum.
Another favorite section provides an homage to Route 66 not only highlighting the cars of the famous drive but also the diners, motels and roadside attractions that still hold a nostalgic place in American culture. A fun exhibit to travel through!

NASCAR Exhibit at LeMay America's Car Museum
NASCAR Muscle!

The NASCAR exhibit is another highlight. Who can resist getting a close up peek at the cars driven by our favorite race car drivers. Some of the cars even allow views of the engines!


Enjoy slot car racing or a spin in the simulator during your visit for a minimal additional fee. As part of your visit, enjoy movies in the State Farm Theatre. Additionally, the museum provides a complimentary picture taken in a 1923 Buick Touring Car.

A race around the slot car track at LeMay America's Car Museum
Race around the track!

Family Zone Fun!

It is so hard to look and not touch! Good thing the Family Zone has hands-on experiences! The pinewood car races are particularly fun, You can even add design elements to your car to see how it will affect speed. Other portions of the exhibit allow families to sit in a Mustang and even peek inside a car to see how it works.

Family Zone at LeMay

Things to know:
  • Don't forget to take in the view of Tacoma from the terrace. Amazing!
  • I did spot some made in the U.S.A. items at the gift shop including items made with actual license plates and safety belts. Definitely worth a look!
  • The museum's Pacific Grill Cafe serves up burgers, sandwiches, salads and more!
  • There is a section of the museum where you can see a mechanic working on a car. Pretty cool!
View of Tacoma from LeMay America's Car Museum

Summer Events:
  • This summer enjoy a Drive-In Movie Series where you can watch a movie from your car. You can set up a blanket and watch from the lawn as well. Movies are running July 16, August 6 and August 27.
  • Take a Spin riding in vehicles from the collection July 21, August 4, August 23 and September 24.

We had such a wonderful time at LeMay America's Car Museum! The museum is quite inviting and the way automotive history is presented speaks to everyone. Overall, I feel that the museum was particularly engaging for children--more so than other car museums that I have been to. Opportunities to see inside of cars and the hands-on Family Zone really ignite interest in children. Truly a great adventure for families!

**Thank you to Travel Tacoma for hosting our visit! Complimentary admission was provided to bring you this review!

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