Chihuly Garden and Glass is a popular Seattle attraction that has likely graced your Instagram feed. The museum exclusively features the work of Dale Chihuly, an American blown glass sculptor. His blown glass sculptures are shown in exhibits across the world, and you may have seen an installation in your local art museum or botanical garden.
His most recognizable sculptures are characteristically massive, often weighing thousands of pounds and standing more than 15 feet tall. These installations remind me a lot of sea anemones or thousands of octopus legs, as they’re made of up of wavy blown glass tubes (probably not the most refined art commentary you could get haha, but you have to admit they look oceanic…).
I had the chance to visit Chihuly Garden and Glass on a trip to Seattle, and while I initially balked at the $22 entrance fee, I’m glad I got to visit. I’d especially recommend going at night, as I did, and here’s why.
The museum is currently closed due to coronavirus, and I’m absolutely not encouraging you to go travel and explore at this time. Consider this just some wanderlust inspiration in the meantime 🙂
the Turkish ceiling installation—one of my favorites
Why You Should Visit Chihuly Garden and Glass at Night
1. You save money on admission.
If you visit after 4 p.m., you get a $10 discount on ticket prices for adults, and a $5-8 discount for kids and seniors. Here are the Chihuly Garden and Glass prices:
|Adults (13-64)||Seniors (65+)||Youth (5-12)|
|After 4 p.m.||$22||$19||$14|
Kids under 4 are free, and King County residents get Senior prices with valid ID.
This is pretty hefty discount, and can make the experience hurt your wallet a little less. To save money, there’s also package admission with the iconic Space Needle, which is right next door. Tickets for that cost $59 for adults, $49 for seniors, and $36 for kids. You might also consider a CityPASS if you’re planning to do other touristy things, like visit the Aquarium and Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). Just know that none of these packages account for the nighttime discount at Chihuly Garden and Glass, but you will be able to visit the museum any time of day.
2. Most of the installations are indoors anyways.
Almost all of the famous installations are indoors and have no natural light, so your experience doesn’t change whether you visit during the day or at night. Of course, the garden and insta-famous Glasshouse installations do offer different experiences based on the sunlight, but they’re incredibly beautiful regardless.
3. The colors really pop in the Glasshouse at night.
The Glasshouse is home to the iconic glass flower installation (first photo in post), which looks bright and cheerful during the day (based on photos), and very dramatic at night. Since the Glasshouse lets in so much natural light, the flower installation really pops against the dark evening sky. The only downside of going at night is that you won’t be able to get as clear a shot of the Space Needle through the Glasshouse windows—the illuminated flower installation in the foreground will make the Space Needle look dimly-lit in contrast. If you go earlier in the evening though, you can catch this installation while it’s still light outside, and also get to see it after sunset.
4. If you already bought a day ticket, you can go back at night for free.
I didn’t try this since I bought the discounted night ticket, but several TripAdvisor reviews mention that tickets are valid all day. So, if you buy a ticket at regular price and visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass during the day, you should be able to come back at night and experience the installations again, at no extra cost.
Is Chihuly Garden and Glass Worth it?
With the hefty sticker price, you might be wondering if the Chihuly Garden and Glass is worth seeing. I cringe if I have to spend more than $15 on a museum (I’m pretty cheap haha), but I really enjoyed this one. And I don’t say that for every museum (I’m also picky about museums)—I didn’t think MoPOP was worth the $30 price tag, even though it’s a tourist favorite.
I just found the art really impressive and fun to see in-person. I especially liked the Turkish ceiling installation, and I also liked being able to learn more about the process of making these sculptures, as the museum had a space where they showed some short documentaries. Chihuly himself actually doesn’t do most of the glassblowing anymore, as he suffers from old injuries. He has entire teams of people help him blow the glass and physically put the sculptures together while he directs the process.
Since I didn’t visit during the day, I can’t say if that’s worth it (the extra $10 in price might also make me rethink my response). But, as a solo traveler, I personally think that visiting the Chihuly Garden and Glass at night is worth it. The installations are really-eyecatching, and the documentaries are interesting. The museum is pretty small for the price, but I actually didn’t mind since I got to see everything and didn’t feel overwhelmed (in larger museums, I usually get bored after a while and don’t get to enjoy everything anyways).
If you’re going with kids, I might not recommend the museum since there aren’t really any interactive exhibits. If you get tired easily, I would also plan ahead since there’s not a whole lot of seating within the installations, outside of the one bench in the Turkish ceiling exhibit and the documentary viewing area. In terms of accessibility, the museum is all on one floor and doesn’t have stairs, so that’s a plus if you have mobility issues.
Let me know if you end up visiting (at night or during the day) and what you thought of the Chihuly Garden and Glass. If you’re looking for other things to do in Seattle and like outdoor adventures, check out my guide to hiking around Seattle without a car. There are some seriously gorgeous hikes in the area!