LeMay America’s Car Museum is fun for families and auto enthusiasts alike! Below, you’ll read about my experience and get all the info you’ll need before you go.
This post was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
If you’re going to be in Tacoma, WA, don’t pass up a chance to visit the LeMay America’s Car Museum!
It’s considered the best museum in western Washington, with exhibits that will interest both families and auto enthusiasts like.
Located in Tacoma, the LeMay Museum is about 30 minutes south of Seattle. And visiting is just one of the many kid-friendly activities in Tacoma!
I took my son, though I definitely wouldn’t classify myself as a “car person.” But I really enjoyed our visit and highly recommend you check it out.
Are you interested in visiting America’s Car Museum LeMay? Below you’ll get my personal review, as well as all the real-life info you’ll need to plan your trip.
What to Know Before Visiting LeMay America’s Car Museum
LeMay is the largest car museum in the US. It boasts a stunning 165,000 sq ft facility, a permanent collection of 250 cars, plus 100 more cars on loan from across the world!
Part of the non-profit, America’s Automotive Trust, LeMay works preserve the prestigious heritage of the US as a forerunner in automotive innovation.
It’s a popular international destination for automotive enthusiasts. In fact, MSN named America’s Car Museum one of the 10 Best Automotive Museums worldwide.
Besides being a fun museum for all ages, LeMay also include an educational center for students and professionals to come learn and do research.
The 165,000 sq ft facility features 12 rotating exhibits spanning 4 floors. Plus, the ramps between the floors also have exhibits.
The way the museum is designed, you see half the museum on your way down to the bottom level. Then, you see the other half as you work your way back to the top.
And don’t worry! It’s easy to navigate your way through. It’s kind of like IKEA, with arrows on the ground, so you know where to go!
But What If I Don’t Like Cars?
Even if you aren’t a serious car enthusiast, the LeMay Car Museum does an awesome job of keeping you interested! Exhibits are entertaining and really set the scene.
One of my favorite exhibits at the time was all about Route 66. It featured the iconic “See the USA in Your Chevrolet” advertising campaign.
I had fun reading about why people get such warm, fuzzy feelings when they think of road tripping on Route 66.
Plus, my son thought it was a lot like Disneyland’s Cars Land!
I also have a current obsession with British shows set in the 1950s and 1960s, so I geeked out over their “British Invasion” exhibit. This one was that was all about when British culture (like The Beatles) hit America.
And I got a kick out of seeing a replica of the car from The Flintstones!
Getting to LeMay America’s Car Museum
The LeMay museum is that it’s right next to the Tacoma Dome. You can see it from the freeway, so it’s hard to miss!
From I-5 South (Seattle)
- Use the right lane to take exit 133 for I-705 N
- Keep right, follow signs for Tacoma Dome
- Use the right lane to turn right onto E 26th St
- Turn right at the 2nd cross street onto E D St
From I-5 North (Olympia)
- Take exit 133 toward City Center
- Keep right, follow signs for East 26 Street/Tacoma Dome
- Use the right lane to turn right onto E 26th St
- Turn right at the 2nd cross street onto E D St
There is plentiful parking at the museum. Onsite parking is included with the price of your admission.
Just check the Tacoma Dome event schedule before going because event parking rates may apply.
Additional on-street parking is available, on a first come first served basis.
LeMay America’s Car Museum is open 7 days a week from 10 AM -5 PM, with last entries at 4:30 PM.
It’s closed on Christmas Day and closes early (last entry at 2:30 PM on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Tickets are available online and at the door. You can’t call to reserve tickets at this time.
- Adults: $22
- Seniors (Age 65+): $20
- Active-Duty Military and Veterans: $20
- Youth (Ages 6-12): $16
- Child (4 and under): Free
If you think you’ll want to visit a few times, consider getting an America’s Automotive Trust (AAT) membership. Family AAT memberships start at $95 and gets you free admission for a year plus discounts and other perks.
Save Money on More Top Tacoma Attractions
If you’re planning on doing several fun things in Tacoma, WA, consider getting the Mountain City Sea Attraction Pass!
It’s definitely the best way for visitors to get access to the best attractions in Tacoma and Pierce County at a huge discount, including:
- Crystal Mountain
- Fort Nisqually
- Foss Waterway Seaport Museum
- LeMay Family Collection
- Museum of Glass
- Tacoma Art Museum
- Washington State History Museum
What to Do with Kids at LeMay America’s Car Museum
So, you might be wondering if America’s Car Museum is geared more for adults or families. Well, I’d say they cater to both audiences.
Since I like to focus on fun things to do with kids, I’m going to highlight their kid-friendly areas.
This is the first area that really caught my 5-year old’s eye. It’s nestled in the corner and there’s room for about 4 people to sit and race the cars on the little track.
In case you’re wondering, a slot car is a powered miniature auto or other vehicle that’s guided by a groove or slot in the track on which it runs.
You’ll need to get a ticket to participate. It’s $5 per race for non-members and $4 for members.
We didn’t participate because I wasn’t sure how it worked and didn’t want my son to be frustrated while I messed around with it. We’ll definitely do it next time when my husband is with us.
The Speed Zone: VR Racecar Driving
Right next to the slot cars is an area with CXC racing simulators. They looked like what you’d see at an arcade, only supped up a bit!
You’ll also need a ticket for this. It’s $10 for non-members and $5 for members.
My son and I watched for a while and it was fun to see the seats shake as the drivers raced! There’s even stands so friends and family can watch!
This definitely looked geared for teens and adults. My husband would get a kick out of it!
State Farm Theatre
As a mom, I love when museums have a spot to sit down and watch films. It’s a great area to nurse a baby or sit with a napping child.
This one is pretty nice, and they played several films on a loop.
This one is really cool and it’s FREE! You can choose a vintage hat and then climb inside a huge 1923 Buick touring car.
Volunteers will take your photo. They will print you a copy and you can also have it sent to you via email (which will sign you up for their email list).
They encouraged my son to drive the car and he thought that was amazing!
The Family Zone
If you are visiting LeMay America’s Car Museum with kids, you’ll want to block off a lot of time to hang out in the Family Zone.
It’s located on the bottom level of the museum and features tons of super cool, hands-on activities for kids.
My son’s favorite area was where he got to build his own pinewood car using weighted pieces. He probably spent a 30 minutes racing with other kids and adults!
There’s also an area where kids can create their own postcard and draw their version of the perfect car. This is perfect for budding artists.
And it wouldn’t be an awesome car museum for kids if they didn’t have an area where kids could actually climb inside one!
My favorite areas were all about road trips! They have a big, wooden map of the United States where kids can “drive” cars on their ultimate road trip.
The cars are in grooves, so you don’t have to worry about them accidentally taking them home!
Plus, there’s a Road Trip Challenge exhibit created by Renton Technical College students. It’s all about teaching kids how to cut down on their energy use and it features a Ford Mustang.
Heads up: The cell reception isn’t very good, so don’t plan on scrolling Instagram while you’re down here!
There are a handful of exhibits where kids are encouraged to touch things. We found a few areas with little doors kids can pull to read facts.
There’s also a new Learning Lab where kids can learn about the future of automotives. My son liked exploring the Fueling Stations and designing his own car for the future.
I know NASCAR is a very popular sport across the country, but I didn’t know much about it. So, I enjoyed learning more about it at the museum!
It always helps me when I find some sort of connection to an athlete or player. So, I was stoked to find out that Kasey Kahne is from Enumclaw, WA!
They do a nice job of highlighting some of the most famous racers and if you kids have seen a few races, they will love seeing the race cars close up!
Family Programs at LeMay ACM
The America Car Museum also does a nice job providing community programs for families throughout the year.
Family STEAM Days
These days are held the third Saturday of each month, from 11 AM to 3 PM. Access to the event is free with admission to the museum.
Families can get a deeper look inside the automotive world through special activities at the Museum.
During the summer, check out LeMay’s Motors & Movies drive-in series on ACM’s Haub Family Field. You can watch from your car or spread out on a blanket to see classic movies like The Goonies and How to Train Your Dragon 3.
This event is free to all, but it’s first come, first served. The gate open at 6:30 PM and the movie starts at sunset.
And if you are part of the Scouts program, there are plenty of opportunities to earn badges as well as participate in their Pinewood Derby Races!
You can sign up your troop (of 10 or more scouts) up for workshops and guided tours. This is a very popular program, and your encouraged to book by contacting their education department at least 2 weeks in advance.
Top Questions About LeMay America’s Car Museum
How Much Is Parking at LeMay Car Museum?
Parking is now free with admission to the museum! But they share a parking lot with the Tacoma Dome.
If there’s a scheduled event, parking rates may apply. In that case, free street parking is available close by.
Can I Take Public Transit?
Definitely. There’s an Amtrak Station and Link Light Rail station within walking distance of ACM. You can also take the Sounder Train from Seattle, which drops you off just blocks away from the Museum.
For buses, you can easily walk from the Sound Transit Tacoma Dome station, Sound Transit Express Bus, Pierce Transit, and the Greyhound station.
Is There a Restaurant at LeMay America’s Car Museum?
Yes! The Full Throttle Cafe is open daily from 10 AM to 4 PM. Their menu focuses on cafe favorites, like pasta, burgers, and sandwiches.
They have a solid kids menu, too. Plus, you can eat at the restaurant without paying admission to see the Museum.
Can You Buy America’s Car Museum tickets online?
Yes, you can purchase tickets online here. Timed entry isn’t required here.
Can I Bring Pets to America’s Car Museum LeMay?
Unless you have an ADA trained service animal, you can’t bring any pets inside the Museum or on the ACM Campus.
Is the Museum Stroller-Friendly?
Most definitely! The wide exhibit space and long ramps makes pushing a stroller a breeze.
How About Wheelchairs?
For sure! America’s Car Museum is ADA-compliant. There’s handicap parking in the main parking lot and visitors can use the roundabout to drop guests off closer to the main entrance.
There’s also an elevator in case you need to quickly get up or down.
Note: you must bring your own wheelchair.
Is There a Gift Shop at America’s Car Museum LeMay?
Yes, and your kids will love it! My son immediately noticed all the Cars-themed stuff.
Plus, there are lots of cool little cars for kids as well as tons of things for adult collectors and car enthusiasts.
How Much Time Do You Need at LeMay?
This is a tough question to answer. We spent about 2 hours and cruised through a lot of the sections.
Most of our time was spent in the Family Zone, and we would have been there longer if we had time!
If you’re planning on eating there, it would be easy to spend a half day.
If You Go to Tacoma, Washington
Where to Stay in Tacoma
If you want to make a whole weekend out of it, I suggest staying at Hotel Murano. It’s located just steps away from the Link Light Rail station in the heart of Downtown Tacoma.
It’s a gorgeous hotel that even has a classic car in the lobby on loan from the LeMay Family Collection!
Another option (if you are going without kids) is the new McMenaman’s Elk Lodge. It’s a unique space with great food and lots of concerts.
Where to Eat in Tacoma
Tacoma’s food scene is booming right now!
More Thing to Do in Tacoma, WA
I’ve found so many cool things to do in Tacoma.
I suggest doing the Sweets Tour from Pretty Gritty Tours. It meets a few blocks away from the Museum and you could easily combine the 2 activities in one day.
If you don’t want to do the tour, stop by Brown & Haley, makers of the iconic Almond Roca candy and Mountain bars! Their factory is nearby, and they have lots of free samples and discounted items.
Ride the Link Light Rail to Downtown Tacoma. After spending time looking are cool cars, hop on the free Link Light Rail and grab food, check out the Museum of Glass, or shop at one of the boutiques.