Planning to head out on vacation with the family in the coming months? If so, and your destination takes you anywhere close, we’ve got five car museums to visit on summer road trips. If nothing else, they’re a great way to pass a few hours and stretch your legs. Who knows, you might even learn something.
America’s Car Museum, Tacoma, Wash. – One of the newest (opened June 2) and the largest (165,000 square feet) car museums in the country, America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington has to be penciled in on any West Coast trip to the Pacific Northwest. On display are 350 autos from the Harold and Nancy LeMay collection, including a 1906 Cadillac Model M, a 1930 Duesenberg Model J, a 1963 Sting Ray, and a 1994 Flintmobile (a George Barris Kustom, featured in the 1994 film, “The Flintstones”). Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., 2701 E. D Street, Tacoma (253) 779-8490
Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, Calif. – Along with scheduled trips to visit Disneyland and Hollywood and checking out the beaches, any Los Angeles family vacation should include a few hours to bask in the unique offerings of the three-story Petersen Automotive Museum. What’s to see? On the first floor are fascinating “Streetscape” walk-through dioramas, while the second floor houses displays of alternative-fuel vehicles, and there’s always a special featured exhibit going on. Open Tuesday through Sunday (closed Mondays) 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., 6060 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles (323) 930-2277
National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection), Reno, Nev. – Voted one of the top 10 automobile museums in the U.S. (and one of the 16 best worldwide), the National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection) gives visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with cars once owned by the rich and famous, to stroll down period-style streets and explore literally decades of intriguing cars. Open 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Mon-Sat) and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Sun), 10 South Lake St., Reno (775) 333-9300
Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Mich. – Located on 10 acres in suburban Dearborn, Michigan, the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village is a must-stop on any trip to the Motor City. See the history of the Ford automobile come to life in the interactive exhibits, check out the more than 140 automobiles on display and view the billboards, gas stations and other memorabilia of the era – along with simulations of the farm where Henry Ford grew up and the factory where the Model T was first assembled. The Henry Ford Museum is open daily, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., while Greenfield Village is closed during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn (800) 835-5237
National Corvette Museum, Bowling Green, Kentucky – Any sports car fan will appreciate the display of more than 80 Chevrolet Corvette models from the first year of production to-date at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Not only can the entire family stroll through the museum to their hearts content, there’s also memorabilia to buy and a place to grab a bite at the Corvette Café. And, it’s also easy to arrange a tour of the nearby Corvette Assembly Plant. Open daily 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (closed holidays), take I-65 to Bowling Green, exit 28. Turn left at the first stop light and enter at Gate A or B. (800) 538-3883