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12 Incredible Destination Libraries Around Seattle and Beyond

Build an outing — and a love of books — around these Puget Sound-area libraries

Published on: September 05, 2023

12 Incredible Destination Libraries Around Seattle and Beyond

Hogwarts-style Suzzallo Library on the University of Washington campus
Suzzallo Library. Photo credit: JiaYing Grygiel

3. Suzzallo Library

Find it: University of Washington, 4000 15th Ave. N.E., Seattle

Everyone calls this library the “Harry Potter room.” With its Gothic details, vaulted ceilings, stained-glass windows and ornate bookcases lined with 16,000 books, the Reading Room at the University of Washington’s Suzzallo Library does look like the stuff of fiction.

At the entrance to the Reading Room, you’re greeted by a giant purple sign reading “Entering Silent Zone.”

It’s quiet enough to hear a pin drop. Tour groups and selfie-taking visitors stream in and out of the Reading Room, but if your child doesn’t have a mute button, expect to incur the fury of Reading Room users. On the day we visited, however, library staffers were friendly and welcoming. Stroller? Here’s the elevator. First visit? Here’s a brochure.

Just outside the Reading Room is one of the world’s biggest books, a photo book about Bhutan. The pages are the size of a dining table and are turned about once a month.

Tip: The University of Washington is public, so anyone can visit the library and use the materials on site. You can also get a free temporary UW NetID to use the wireless network.

Day trip: The UW’s cherry trees typically bloom in mid-March through April in The Quad behind the library (on X — formally Twitter — follow @uwcherryblossom for blossom status). The campus is also home to two museums that are terrific for kids: The Henry Art Gallery, free on Sundays; and the completely revamped and amazing Burke Museum, which covers natural history and culture. The latter lets visitors get up close and eye-to-eye with scientists and curators at work.

Up next: Ballard Branch, Seattle Public Library

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