Seattle is the hometown of some of the best-known international brands and, together with a certain ubiquitous global coffee chain, Boeing is one of the city's biggest exports. Located 40km north of Seattle near Everett, Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour offers the only public tour of a commercial jet assembly plant in North America.
In 1916, Seattle local and pioneer aviator William Boeing built a pontoon biplane and a company but it was the construction demands of World War II that really put Seattle and Boeing on the map. Situated on a 39.6-hectare site, the Future of Flight Aviation Center is the world's largest building and so massive that rain clouds used to form inside the plant before a state-of-the-art circulation system was installed. The Boeing Tour is a 90-minute guided walk-through of the Boeing Everett line of jets (747, 777 and 787) in various stages of assembly imparting facts about the company and its planes. The 2,601sqm Aviation Center Gallery contains interactive displays and exhibits where you can digitally design your own airplane, view the inner workings of fuselages and navigation and hydraulic systems, check out the entertainment onboard the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, get behind the flight deck of a 727 and explore virtual worlds with the Innovator.
Boeing Tours are restricted to participants with a minimum height of 4ft (122cm) or taller. Admission varies according to peak and off-peak seasons and tickets are slightly cheaper online. Adult entry is from US$16 and entry for children aged 15 years and under is from US$9. It's an extra US$8 to ride the Innovator. Tours run from 9am to 3pm daily.
To drive from Seattle, take I-5 and then Exit 189 west. Pass the Boeing Assembly building, then turn left at the intersection of Highway 526 and 84th Street South West and Paine Field Boulevard to the Future of Flight Center entry. By bus from downtown Seattle, take the 255 to I-45 stop and change to the 952 Express towards Everett. Alight at the Boeing Access Road & Gate E-72 stop and walk 22 minutes to the Future of Flight Center.