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Ultimate Guide to Car Museums in the US and Around the World

Auto enthusiasts often can't get enough of the cars they enjoy. When you spot a vintage or classic car on the street, you might honk and gawk while it passes. Visiting car museums is a perfect way to see all of your favorite makes and models in their shining glory. Automobile museums are plentiful throughout America and across Europe. The next time you're near a car museum, make sure to add it to your list of must-see places to visit. The whole family can enjoy visiting a car museum, and many venues have created exhibits to appeal to guests of all ages. Visiting a car museum with children might help instill a love of classic cars.

Popular Museums

  • Many of the popular museums showcase vintage and antique cars of various makes and models. The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan, offers an intriguing collection of various examples of American innovation, including agricultural machinery, aviation, automobiles, and more.
  • Anyone who enjoys auto racing won't want to miss the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, which has been designated as a national historic landmark. Here, you can explore a breathtaking display of race vehicles and the assorted memorabilia that goes along with the Indianapolis 500 auto race.
  • The National Automobile Museum boasts a sizable automobile collection that includes vintage models as well as rare and one-of-a-kind cars.
  • In Los Angeles, the Petersen Automotive Museum features three different floors of exhibits, each with a different theme. Begin by exploring the history of the automotive industry, and then learn about the design, engineering, and artistry involved in this industry.
  • Drag racing enthusiasts won't want to miss the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing. The Swamp Rat Gallery promises to be an exhibit to remember.
  • With a focus on racing sports cars, the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum includes some of the finest racing sports cars that have earned places of honor in racing history.
  • The Mullin Automotive Museum in California displays a distinctive collection of autos from the late-19th century through mid-20th century.
  • At the Nethercutt Collection, you can explore autos from the antique era where inventors were just getting started with automotive innovation.
  • Anyone who enjoys Corvettes won't want to miss the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
  • As the home of the largest U.S. Presidential Carriage collection, the Studebaker National Museum has iconic displays, such as the Barouche that carried President Lincoln on the night he was assassinated and President Grant's pristine Brewster Landau.
  • Internationally, the Mercedes-Benz Museum, Toyota History Garage, and the Mille Miglia Museum are just a few venues to add to your museum list.

What to Expect

As you plan a visit to a car museum, it may help to know what to expect. Each museum is unique, so visit the museum's website before you visit in person to learn about specific exhibits available for viewing. Websites will also provide important details about rates, parking, hours, guided tours, and museum rules.

The actual exhibits can be enthralling, especially for a car enthusiast. Expect to be intrigued and allow enough time to see all the displays in detail. Most museums have strict rules about touching, so follow these guidelines carefully. Don't forget to pay close attention to the details of the automobiles on exhibit. Vintage speedometers and headlights are unique and vastly different from today's automotive features. Car buffs usually find these features fascinating. Be sure to visit special hands-on exhibits that allow you to touch the automobiles and fidget with the gadgetry. As long as photography is allowed, take lots of pictures!


Car museums are plentiful throughout America, largely due to America's love affair with automotive technology and history. Knowing where the museums are will enable you to add these excursions to your itinerary when you travel. Some museums are themed for specific eras or makes; whereas, others are built around specific types of autos such as concept models or race cars. Whatever your automotive passion, there's a museum that showcases it.

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