Part of the fun of a Route 66 road trip vacation is the freedom to explore interesting attractions found along the way. Because my husband is a museum exhibits designer, we spend a lot of time visiting museums and gosh, there are certainly a lot of them along old Route 66.
A lot of small towns have capitalized on a renewed interest in Route 66 which is why you’ll find several Route 66-themed museums in every state. While all of them are interesting and offer rather different perspectives, the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma was our favorite. It’s bright and colorful with lots of interactive exhibits, all while telling the story of Route 66 in a way that’s interesting for kids and adults alike.
Here are 9 other great museums to see while on your Route 66 adventure.
The Chicago History Museum in Chicago is a great place to start your Route 66 adventure by learning about Chicago’s interesting history. (Plan for a minimum of 2 hours)
Located in the heart of Springfield, Illinois, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum combines historical artifacts with state of the art technology that immerses visitors in “you are there” exhibits. (Plan for 2-4 hours)
General Sweeny Museum in Springfield Missouri is regarded as one of the best privately owned Civil War artifact collections in the United States. For Civil War enthusiasts, this is a wonderful opportunity to view an amazing collection of Civil War artifacts that relate to Wilson’s Creek and the Trans-Mississippi theater. (Plan a minimum of 1 hour).
For cowboy lovers everywhere, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma celebrates the American West. Visitors will see all kinds of historical cowboy gear plus fine art, firearms and Native American objects. Kids will especial love playing in the “Cowboy Corral” where they can pretend to be cowboys on the trail. (Plan for a minimum of 3 hours)
The Devil’s Rope Museum in the tiny town of McLean, Texas has one of the world’s finest collection of barb wire along with wire tools, ranch gear, and historical photographs. (Plan for a minimum of 1 hour)
The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History in Albuquerque, New Mexico explores the history of nuclear development from its early inception, through WW2, the Cold War, and the present. There are lots of great artifacts to see, plus interactive displays, movies, and more. Kids will especially like the pop culture exhibits and a special area to play in. (Plan a minimum of 2 hours).
Just outside of Albuquerque is the amazing Tinkertown Museum. More folk art collection than actual museum, Tinkertown is one man’s amazing collection of hand carved figures, miniatures, Americana, and more all assembled around a twisty warren of rooms. (Plan for a minimum of 1-2 hours)
If you enjoyed watching the 2002 movie, the WIndtalkers, then you must see The Navaho Code Talkers Room in Gallup, New Mexico where visitors will learn the fascinating history of how the Navaho language was used as a code during World War 2. (Plan for one hour)
Wrapping up our list of interesting museums is the museum found at Meteor Crater in Winslow, Arizona. While the star of this attraction is the meteor, admission prices includes a short movie and entry into a nice little museum where science nerds (like my teen) will enjoy learning about meteors and space. (Plan for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.)
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9 fun gift shops to visit on Route 66
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