There are tens of thousands of museums in the United States, many of which are either free or incredibly affordable to visit. If you're a history buff, that means you have plenty of options to choose from. Here are some of the must-see U.S. museums we think any history lover should visit.
Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois
Since its opening in 1894, the Field Museum in Chicago has expanded to house 40 million artifacts and specimens, allowing visitors to learn more about nature and how to help our planet thrive. This museum is most famous for SUE, the most complete fossil model of a T. rex to date. The museum isn’t exclusively about dinosaurs; in fact, it boasts a wide range of exhibits, from Audubon's Birds of America to a memorial honoring American Indians’ involvement in World War II. Children will love the Grainger Science Hub, featuring hands-on interaction with a variety of rotating artifacts.
National 9/11 Memorial & Museum, New York, New York
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is in remembrance of the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history. The beautifully constructed museum walks visitors through the harrowing timeline, separated into three categories — events of the day, events before 9/11 and events after 9/11. These segments provide insight into the historical context leading up to 9/11, in-depth details of the day and how the world looks now after the events that transpired.
Don’t forget to visit the outdoor Memorial Plaza where you can find the twin memorial pools surrounded by the names of the victims. Anyone who has visited this memorial and museum will vouch that it is both difficult to handle yet unforgettably moving.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
A list of must-see U.S. museums would be incomplete without at least one Smithsonian museum. The National Museum of Natural History, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is probably the most popular of the Smithsonian museum family. The Smithsonian has a collection of 145 million specimens and artifacts to help tell the tale of Earth’s history and how human interaction has altered it. Learn about the animals of today, like elephants, butterflies and narwhals, or take a journey back in time with various fossil displays, including “The Last American Dinosaurs.”
The entire family will learn something new during this trip and despite its popularity, museum admission is free.
National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, Florida
The National Naval Aviation Museum, located on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida, is the largest Naval Aviation museum in the world, housing more than 150 restored aircraft from the Navy, Marines and U.S. Coast Guard. The museum is family friendly and interactive — you can even sit in some of the planes.
The history of U.S. fought wars is the common theme in the museum, with World War II and the Vietnam War planes being some of the highlights. Try your hand at a flight simulator, catch a movie in the theater or see the famous Blue Angels practice overhead. You can easily spend a full day or two in this massive museum.
National WWII Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana
The National World War II Museum in New Orleans strives to provide visitors with a better sense of the lasting impacts of this devastating war, while inspiring future generations to learn from this monumental tragedy. See artifacts, images and videos from America’s involvement with key locations during the war in the European Theater Galleries. The Road to Tokyo in the Pacific Theater Galleries highlights Japan’s involvement in the war.
This museum gives visitors a better grasp on the massive impact WWII had on the world, but it also serves as a way to honor and respect those who lost their lives fighting.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is profoundly moving. The displays do a great job of providing thorough timelines and motives of key factors and countries involved in this unimaginable disaster, including the United States, that any history buff would appreciate. Learn about personal experiences from one of the Holocaust survivors who work there as a tour guide and greeter.