1. The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The largest museum dedicated to a single artist in the United States, the Andy Warhol museum features works from throughout the career of the king of pop art. The museum is located in the North Side of Pittsburgh, which was Warhol’s hometown.
Closest Airport: Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
Other Nearby Activities: While in Pittsburgh, you could catch a Pittsburgh Pirates game at PNC Park, which is just a couple blocks from the Warhol, visit the nearby Mattress Factory museum or take the streetcar to visit Warhol’s grave south of the city.
2. Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, California
San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum features one of the largest and most comprehensive collection of art and handicrafts from throughout the Asian continent.
Closest Airports: San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Oakland International Airport (OAK)
Other Nearby Activities: You are in San Francisco, figure it out as your ride a cable car. That being said, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the California Academy of Sciences are pretty cool.
3. The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawai’i
While Honolulu’s Bishop museum features several different exhibits ranging from Earth science to art, what really makes this museum unique is its collection of items of importance from the Hawai’ian people and their culture, which is unparalleled, and visiting the Bishop Museum means you are in Hawai’i, which is pretty excellent.
Closest Airport: Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
Other Nearby Activities: If you’ve grown tired of Oahu’s beaches, why not take a hike to the top of Diamond Head or take a day trip to the North Shore hamlet of Haleiwa.
4. Chasing Rainbows Museum, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Yes, that’s right, there is a museum that’s all about Dolly Parton, and, yes, you have to visit this all Dolly Parton museum that’s a featured attraction in Dollywood, the all Dolly Parton theme park located in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains.
Closest Airport: McGhee Tyson Airport, Knoxville (TYS)
Other Nearby Activities: If you manage to overdose on Dolly, head over to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for something a bit more serene.
5. Clinton Presidential Center, Little Rock, Arkansas
If you are in the mood for some 90s nostalgia, there’s really no better place on this planet today than Little Rock, the home of Bill Clinton’s presidential library and museum, which does a pretty nice job of breaking down the state of the world during the Clinton presidency.
Closest Airport: Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport Little Rock (LIT)
Other Nearby Activities: About an hour’s drive outside of the city is the town of Hot Springs and the small, but pretty cool Hot Springs National Park waiting for you.
Similar Museums Worth Visiting: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston, Massachusetts; Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Center for Public Affairs, Simi Valley, California
6. Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York
Located in the small Upstate New York town of Corning, which is also the home of the Corning Glass Works that founded this museum in the 1950s, the Corning Museum of Glass is part hands on science museum and part art/history museum focusing on the development of glass as a material and it’s many uses.
7. Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, Staten Island, New York
Tucked in a suburban neighborhood on New York’s remote Staten Island is one of the world’s best collection of Tibetan and Himalayan art and artifacts. It’s a pretty interesting and quiet oasis in the middle of one of the world’s biggest cities.
Closest Airports: Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
Other Nearby Activities: Take a scenic cruise on the free Staten Island Ferry or catch a Staten Island Yankees game in Richmond County Bank Ballpark overlooking lower Manhattan. Also, you are in the city so nice they named it twice.
8. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown, New York
While certainly an important stop for any fan of America’s Pastime, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum presents a succinct telling of American history through the lens of one of this nation’s most popular sports. It seems like today there is a hall of fame for just about everything, but Cooperstown is no doubt the best of the bunch.
Closest Airports: Albany International Airport (ALB), Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR), Greater Binghamton Airport (BGM)
Other Nearby Activities: If art is more of your scene, Cooperstown is also home to the Fenimore Art Museum and you have to grab lunch and a beer at the famous Brewery Ommegang just south of the village.
9. National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, Tennessee
Hosed in the former Lorraine Motel in Memphis, infamous as the place where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in April, 1968, the National Civil Rights Museum takes a poignant look at America’s Civil Rights Movement from the 1600s through today.
Closest Airport: Memphis International Airport (MEM)
Other Nearby Activities: Memphis in one of the United States’ most important centers of music and catching some Delta Blues (with a side of barbecue) is a must. Additionally, there is a wonderful Zoo or the interminably touristy Graceland if you are a fan of Elvis.
10. National Cryptologic Museum, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
If you can believe it, the National Cryptologic Museum is a pet project of controversial National Security Agency (NSA). The museum is perfect if you are a fan of looking at the actual objects that inspired your favorite Bond gadgets, this museum is perfect for you. It’s perhaps best to turn off your phone before you enter though… just in case.
Closest Airports: Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI), Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA)
Other Nearby Activities: This museum is located between Baltimore and Washington and not far from the Chesapeake Bay. If you can’t find entertainment between the Smithsonian and other attractions in Washington or the National Aquarium and Inner Harbor in Baltimore then maybe you should just get crabs.
11. New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, Massachusetts
Before we discovered fossil fuels were capable of helping us generate energy while destroying the environment, people actually loaded up on sailing vessels and went out to harpoon whales to process their blubber as oil. The New Bedford Whaling Museum, located in what was once one of the biggest whaling ports in the world, looks at the history and culture of the whale fishing era, whale biology as well as the fight to help save these incredible creatures.
Closest Airports: New Bedford Regional Airport (EWB), T. F. Green Airport, Providence (PVD)
Other Nearby Activities: The museum is part of the larger New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park and, once you are in New Bedford, you are practically in Cape Cod and it takes just a short ferry ride to get to either Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket.
12. Seashore Trolley Museum, Kennebunkport, Maine
Located in the small coastal Maine village of Kennebunkport, the Seashore Trolley Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of mass transit vehicles from street cars dating to the 1800s to busses and subway trains just decommissioned from their respective cities. Be sure to take a ride on one of their functioning cars for a bit of transit nostalgia.
Closest Airport: Portland International Jetport (PWM)
Other Nearby Activities: The Pine Tree State offers just about every kind of outdoor activity that you can imagine, which should keep you busy, but, if you are more of an indoor kid, head up the Maine Turnpike and eat your way through Maine’s largest city and one of America’s best food towns, Portland.
13. Totem Heritage Center, Ketchikan, Alaska
Tucked at the end of the scenic Alaskan Peninsula, Ketchikan hosts the worlds largest single collection of authentic totem poles in the Totem Heritage Center along with the Totem Bight State Historic Park and other nearby facilities.
Closest Airport: Ketchikan International Airport (KTN)
Other Nearby Activities: Ketchikan is a pretty small town of just over 8,000 people, but it’s one of the world’s most important centers of Salmon fishing, so go load up on some omega-3s after taking a hike through the Alaskan countryside.