July 8th, 2016 is a holiday for those of us who love classic cars. To celebrate National Collector Car Appreciation Day, here are a few of the most wonderful car museums we’ve visited over the years…
Ok, so making a list of great car museums is nearly impossible. There are so many good ones. This list, of course, will leave off plenty that are truly incredible. Sorry. We just wanted to highlight some of the great ones we’ve personally visited in the past few years.
Some, we’re sure you, too, have visited. Others should be on your bucket list.
Either way, here are 7 of our favorites if you’re looking for somewhere to celebrate National Collector Car Appreciation Day…
Studebaker National Museum (South Bend, IN)
Tucked into a beautiful little stretch of South Bend, IN, the Studebaker Museum is an unexpected treasure and a no-brainer for anyone traveling to-or-from Chicago. We stopped by on the 2014 MINI Takes the States trip, and I’m bold enough to say it was the highlight of the day.
For starters, the museum is beautifully designed and tells the Studebaker story in an engaging and interesting manner. Two big surprises for the average Joe… 1) Studebaker has had a hand in so many brands other than just Studebaker cars. It’ll blow your mind. 2) They made some super famous carriages, hauling around big-time US presidents. You can see them in the museum.
Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum (Auburn, IN)
Do you love art deco? Of course you do. The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum may be the only car museum in the country that leaves both car fanatics and architecture & design buffs equally speechless. Over 120 of the most beautiful cars ever made in this country grace the floors of this truly remarkable building.
The Henry Ford (Dearborn, MI)
The Henry Ford is in an elite class of not only car museums, but just museums in general. Thanks to its remarkable collection of historically significant cars (like the Rosa Parks bus and the JFK limo) and its collection of non-automotive artifacts (like the chair Lincoln sat in at Ford Theatre), The Henry Ford isn’t just a car museum, it’s an American history museum right up there with the Smithsonian.
Add in Greenfield Village and the Ford Rouge Factory tour, and you’ll be saying what we always say, “I could spend days and days here.”
California Automobile Museum (Sacramento, CA)
We stopped at the California Automobile Museum on a road trip through Sacramento and were pleasantly surprised. A rotating main exhibit is surrounded by a walk through time filled with everything from early cars to racing machines to a bizarre collection of celebrity-owned vehicles. The staff is friendly and the admission is reasonable. It has a little something for everyone and should be on any car lover’s itinerary when near Sacramento. (See more photos from our stop.)
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum (Speedway, IN)
Open almost every day of the year, this museum is a must-visit for anyone who loves auto racing. Located in the infield of America’s most famous race course, the IMS Museum tells the story of the brave men and women who have taken to Indianapolis Motor Speedway over the years. From early roadsters to NASCAR, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is packed with history.
National Corvette Museum (Bowling Green, KY)
The NCM has been a first-class automotive museum for years, but the news coverage related to their massive sinkhole a few years ago put them on the radar for thousands of non-car people. If you’re a fan of anything Corvette, you’ll be a pig in mud here.
Even if you’re not a diehard Vette person, you’ll still appreciate the history of America’s favorite sports car. The “Corvette Cafe” and comfortable campus also makes it a wonderful pit stop for anyone traveling down I-65. Skip the rest stops and fast food joints and make this your road trip stop. (If you have the time, tack on the factory tour, too. You won’t regret it.)
Pontiac Oakland Museum (Pontiac, IL)
Smack-dab in the middle of the Route 66 town of Pontiac, IL, this museum is basically Mecca for anyone who loves Pontiacs. The building is gorgeous- plenty of rich wood and even a charming library for restorers to research their Pontiacs. Thanks to the curator’s expansive Pontiac collection, the cars on display often change so no visit here is the same. It’s one of our favorite stops on Route 66. (See more pictures from our visit here)
Whether you make a stop at one of these 7 or one of the hundreds of other great car museums across America, we hope you have one heck of a Collector Car Appreciation Day.