There are more than 35,000 museums across the U.S., from the world-renowned to the wild and wacky, and it can be pretty difficult to decide which ones are worth checking out. We’ve rounded up seven incredibly interesting museums that stand out from the rest, perfect for your next big road trip.
International UFO Museum and Research Center, Roswell, New Mexico
Have you heard of the 1947 Roswell incident? Many claim that, in 1947, a UFO crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, and the U.S. government recovered the extraterrestrial beings and staged an elaborate cover-up. Whether or not aliens exist, the International UFO Museum and Research Center is a fascinating look into UFOs and possible extraterrestrial life. The Roswell museum endeavors to be the leading source for history, science and research about UFO events in the world.
New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana
This unique, small museum delves deep into the history and culture of voodoo in New Orleans and beyond. The Historic Voodoo Museum was founded in 1972 and concentrates on what is known as Louisiana voodoo, which was brought to New Orleans in the 1700s through the African slave trade. Offerings at the museum include psychic readings, cemetery walking tours and research assistance. The museum is located in the heart of the French Quarter and is a must-visit for tourists to the city.
International Spy Museum, Washington, D.C.
In the museum capital of the U.S., the International Spy Museum really stands out from the rest. It is the only public museum in the United States that specializes in espionage and features the largest collection of spy artifacts on public display. Artifacts trace the history of espionage from the Greek and Roman Empires to the present day. Family-friendly interactive exhibits allow visitors to assume the role of secret agents, making this a great destination for anyone passing through D.C.
New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, Massachusetts
The New Bedford Whaling Museum opened in 1907 and educates the public about the international whaling industry and the history of humans interacting with whales. Collections at the museum include more than 3,000 pieces of scrimshaw, many fine-art pieces and a half-scale model of the Lagoda, a whaling ship that was commissioned in 1916. It is the world’s largest model whaling ship. The New Bedford Whaling Museum takes up most of a city block in downtown New Bedford.
La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Lost Angeles, California
For tens of thousands of years, natural asphalt has been seeping out of the ground in what is now urban Los Angeles. Many animals have died in the La Brea Tar Pits, and the Page Museum, on the site of the tar pits, is dedicated to researching and displaying them. Specimens include a saber-toothed cat, a giant sloth, dire wolves, a mammoth skeleton and an American lion. The La Brea Tar Pits is a National Natural Landmark, and a great destination for families.
Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York
This outdoor museum and sculpture park spans 500 acres in New York’s Hudson Valley and includes more than 100 large-scale contemporary art sculptures and earthworks that are built to compliment the landscape. Artists represented at Storm King Art Center include Andy Goldsworthy, Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero and Zhang Huan. In addition to the outdoor sculpture park, you will find nine galleries in the museum with a fabulous variety of visual art pieces.
Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia
Welcome to the world’s largest living history museum, where you can head back in time to the 18th century and the beginning of the United States of America. At Colonial Williamsburg, you’ll discover 301 acres of historic buildings and landscaped grounds, with dozens of restored or recreated storefronts. Live actors and interpreters demonstrate aspects of daily life, and outdoor programs reenact the founding of Williamsburg, the occupation of British forces, the conviction of Benedict Arnold and more. Hands-on demonstrations, carriage rides and tours are offered daily.