Usually, when we think about museums, it is boring stuff that our wives drag us to but that doesn't have to be the way it is. Automobile museums make for a great excuse for a road trip and can be fun for an easy guys weekend or even a family getaway. Here's some of our favorite destinations around the United States as well as internationally.
We're going to start this list off with one of the more interesting auto museums out there because it's more than just a showcase of cool cars. In fact it's designed as a haven for scholars, preservationists, and connoisseurs of automotive history and it was just as enjoyable walking around and talking with the volunteers as it was getting close and personal with some of the most historically significant automobiles built between 1896 and 1995.
Located in Naples, Florida the core collection at Revs Institute draws from the Miles Collier Collection and includes more than 100 vehicles include a 1939 Mercedes W154 Grand Prix (Silver Arrows), a Panhard et Levassor Wagonette, the collection’s oldest vehicle, and the very first Porsche 550-01.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
Even if you cannot make it to the Indy 500, a trip to the Indianapolis Speedway Museum is a great way to spend a day. Located right on the grounds of the famous raceway, this museum offers visitors the opportunity to see several Indy 500 winning racecars that rotate on a regular basis. Visitors can also explore other paraphernalia from winning racers such as racing helmets and gloves. Additionally, visitors can often see a Richard Petty’s Winston Cup-winning car and the Sonic 1 Land Speed Record car. The museum is also the permanent home for the Borg-Warner Trophy that is presented to the winner of the Indianapolis 500 each year.
Petersen Automotive Museum
Visitors to the main display area at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Las Angeles, California, can view over 100 different automobiles divided among 25 different galleries. The first floor of the public area features beautiful automobiles including Elvis Presley’s De Tomaso Pantera while the second floor of the museum is dedicated to the engineers that have made automobiles. Pay the extra to go into The Vault where you can see an additional 150 automobiles including Saddam Hussein's Mercedes and Steve McQueen’s Jaguar XKSS.
Before you enter the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, take a minute to enjoy the architectural beauty of the building built to resemble a Wankel engine which is the engine found in every Mercedes-Benz car. Start at the top of the 178,00 square foot display space to view the vehicles in chronological order, then return to the top again to view the legendary people who built these vehicles. Opt for the optional tour that allows you to see the Mercedes Benz engine built in the nearby factory.
National Corvette Museum
Explore the history of the Corvette at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This museum features over 80 Corvettes all set in period settings, so it is easy to follow the history of this marvelous car from its beginning. The museum even has some special one of a kind Corvettes that you cannot see anywhere else. Visitors can also test their Corvette knowledge at kiosks located throughout the exhibit area. Opt to take the optional plant tour where you can even pick up a new Corvette if that is in your budget. If you already have a souped-up Corvette, then put it to the test at the NCM Motorsports Park or just choose to go along for a ride.
National Automobile Museum
Stepping along the faux streets of the four galleries at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada, one encounters over 200 vehicles giving the visitor a chance to see how autos have developed over time since their earliest invention. This museum features some very famous cars including President Kennedy’s Lincoln Continental, John Wayne's 1953 Chevrolet Corvette and a 1932 Rambler used in the movie Titanic. This collection is often referred to as the Harrah Collection because at one time all the cars belonged to William F. Harrah. This museum has been named as one of top 10 auto museums by Car Collector Magazine.
International Motorsports Hall of Fame
Visitors can stroll through the International Motorsports Hall of Fame located next to the Talladega Speedway in Lincoln, Alabama. Highlights of taking the museum’s self-guided tour is learning a little about each person inducted into the International Motorsport Hall of Fame. Visitors can also see the 14,000 volume McCaig-Wellborn Motorsports Research Library which may be the largest collection of written materials on racing on earth. After visiting the museum, visitors can step onto the tram where they can tour the famous Talladega Speedway.
NASCAR Hall Of Fame
While NASCAR is often dismissed as a bunch of hillbillies turning left, the reality is that NASCAR's evolution and traditional of pushing boundaries that included limits on human ingenuity and engineering have created the safe, fast, and efficient modern auto industry that we enjoy today. Being able to walk through exhibits that trace the history of the sport from North Carolina Moonshiners and Florida Playboys to the concept of "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday" is a privilege that most guys will never have the chance to partake in.
However, if you find yourself in Charlotte, NC it is an absolute "must do".