This is a layered map of museums, battlefield sites, industrial heritage sites and other sites of interest, that I’m aware of in the USA & Canada (maybe Mexico to be added later), that I would definitely visit if I was in the neighbourhood!
The green ones I have been to. The occasional blue pin marks a new site, not yet open. The map is being updated continuously.
Click the layers menu icon (top left) to isolate individual countries.
Some of the sites on this map include…
In the USA…
Some are undoubtedly spectacular, like the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum or the Naval Aviation Museum others, like the Hickory Aviation Museum at the Hickory regional airport in north carolina, are small and quirky, with local aviation notables highlighted, bits of aviation memorabilia and a few notable aircraft scattered around the tarmac.
Of course, everyone should visit the Boeing – Future of Flight Museum and factory tour at Paine Field (WA), some time… but I haven’t yet!
Also in Washington State there’s the Historic Flight Foundation collection at Paine Field, and now (Dec 2019) they have added a sister museum at Felts Field, Spokane.
Former US Navy ships get saved as museum ships in the unlikeliest of places, especially the smaller ones, like submarines.
In a bend of the Arkansas river at Muskogee (Oklahoma) lies a historic US submarine, the USS Batfish – not in the water as you might suppose, like any other museum ship, but like a great stranded whale she sits on the grass in the middle of the Muskogee memorial park. What is a World War II Balao class submarine doing in the middle of Oklahoma and how did it get there? Good questions, answered here!
The USS Razorback, another World War II Balao class submarine, and the US Navy Tugboat Hoga, which played an important role during and after the attack on Pearl Harbor, are to be found tied up alongside, also on the Arkansas River, this time in Arkansas, at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in Little Rock.
USS Little Rock, on the other hand, is floating on the Buffalo River at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park. She had two lives. She started out in 1944 as a Cleveland class light cruiser, and then in 1960 was converted into a Galveston class guided missile cruiser.
And then there are the aircraft carriers! What’s not to like? Spectacular ships AND amazing aircraft in one place. Set aside a lot of time for these babies! On the west coast there’s USS Midway in San Diego, the USS Hornet in Almeda. On the East coast there’s the USS Intrepid in New York, and the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point, Charleston SC. And on the South Coast, the USS Lexington at Corpus Christi, Texas.
At Patriots Point, you don’t just get the USS Yorktown. Wet-berthed with her are the WW2 destroyer USS Laffey and – but not for much longer – the cold war sub USS Clamagore, built in 1945 but not operational by the time WW2 ended. She has been deteriorating so much, that despite campaigns to dry-berth and and restore her the costs have become too much and it is likely she will soon be taken out and scuttled at sea.
Commissioned in 1895, the cruiser USS Olympia served as the flagship during the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898 and carried the body of the Unknown Soldier of WWI from France to Arlington National Cemetery in 1921. Shortly after, she was docked in Philadelphia and became a museum ship in 1957. She is one of two museum ships belonging to the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. The other is the Balao-class submarine USS Becuna which served at the end of WW2 and in the Cold War.
Door County Maritime Museum with its collection of Great Lakes tugboats, is one of three sites operated by the Door County Maritime Museum & Lighthouse Preservation Society on the peninsula in Wisconsin that juts out into Lake Michigan, separating it from Green Bay. The other two are Death’s Door Maritime Museum in the fishing village at the tip of the peninsula, and Cana Island Lighthouse on the east coast.
Road Transport Museums
There are some pretty spectacular cars from the early 20th century to be found in the Auburn, Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn. This is the place for glamour in auto engineering.
And if you’re looking for the coolest ‘muscle car’, the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, will have it. A whole museum dedicated to the American classic car.
The Northlandz Model Railway Museum in New Jersey claims to be the largest in the world (It isn’t. It might have been once, but Hamburg’s Miniature Wunderland is the largest now.), and it is an extraordinary tale. It is the 18-year work of a model train enthusiast, which had fallen into decay and was rescued by a local businessman. It was renovated and opened to the public in Sep 2019.
The Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum (EMRCA) in North Adams, Massachusetts…. doesn’t exist yet! But it might in 2020.
Then there are the unexpected or unlikely museums and exhibits.
Like the Grumman Tracked Levitation Research Vehicle (TLRV), an experimental hovertrain from the 1970s, simply parked in a yard in a dry and dusty side street in Pueblo, Colorado.
Or, the Titan Missile Museum in a former nuclear missile silo south of Tucson (AR). And if you are into missile sites, there’s a new one that has opened for public tours recently in North Dakota. The RSL#3 (Remote Sprint Launcher No. 3) site was developed in the 1970s to launch Sprint and Spartan anti ballistic missile interceptor missiles.
Or, the Mitchell Monument out in the woods of southern Oregon – marking the site of the only deaths on the continental United States caused by enemy action in WW2.
Or, in Connecticut the American Clock & Watch Museum with its eight galleries of timepieces. I’m guessing there’s a real cacophony every hour, though maybe not in the sundial garden!