Best Car Museums
Gilmore Car Museum/facebook.com

21 Great Car Museums and Car Shows Worth The Drive

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Best Car Museums
Gilmore Car Museum/facebook.com
Petersen Automotive Museum
Petersen Automotive Museum/facebook.com

Petersen Automotive Museum

Los Angeles
Any survey of classic museums should begin with the Petersen, which has a mission to explore automotive history and its global impact on life and culture using its home city as a prime example. It got a $90 million renovation in 2015 and how hosts exhibitions exploring “Hollywood Dream Machines: Vehicles of Science Fiction and Fantasy” and a “Winning Numbers” display of competition vehicles. Don't miss The Vault, a docent-led, behind-the-scenes look at some gems not on display.

Larz Anderson Auto Museum
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Larz Anderson Auto Museum

Brookline, Massachusetts
Billed as America's oldest car collection, this spot 10 minutes from downtown Boston began as a Sunday tradition. In the early 1900s, wealthy socialites Larz and Isabel Anderson would open the doors to their home's carriage house, sharing their collection of American and European autos with the public. Today, a gallery shows off some of the collection, while popular weekend lawn events include museum-sponsored shows and those conducted by local car clubs.

The Henry Ford
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The Henry Ford

Dearborn, Michigan
The Henry Ford is the largest indoor-outdoor museum complex in the U.S., spread across 250 acres. Find exhibits celebrating American history and industry at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation; visit its Greenfield Village to ride a real Model T; and take the Ford Rouge Factory Tour.

Gilmore Car Museum
Gilmore Car Museum/facebook.com

Gilmore Car Museum

Hickory Corners, Michigan
It's no surprise that Michigan, the nation's car capital, has a few auto museums of note. At the Gilmore, some 400 vehicles fill more than 190,000 feet of display space. Diverse exhibits touch on topics ranging from the creation of the 1929 Duesenberg J-111 to the muscle car era and “Hidden Treasures: Barn Finds and Their Stories.” You'll also find a restored 1930s gas station and a collection of motorcycles that spans 100 years.

National Auto Museum
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National Automobile Museum

Reno, Nevada
This car museum features selections from The Harrah Collection, amassed by gaming pioneer and noted collector William Fisk "Bill" Harrah. Maybe some of Hollywood's glamor will rub off on you in the National Automobile Museum's celebrity car section, which includes cars owned by Lana Turner (a 1941 Chrysler Newport Dual Cowl Phaeton) and Elvis Presley (a 1973 Cadillac Eldorado Custom Coupe).

Newport Car Museum
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Newport Car Museum

Portsmouth, Rhode Island
Find out why Yankee Travel magazine named this institution the best special-collections museum in New England. The newly renovated and expanded Newport Car Museum is guaranteed to thrill car buffs with galleries dedicated to Fords and Shelbys, Corvettes, tailfins, and more.

Coach Barn at Kykuit
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Coach Barn at Kykuit

Pocantico Hills, New York
Kykuit was the palatial hilltop home of four generations of the Rockefeller family, built by oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller in the suburbs of New York City. The mansion and grounds are now open to the public, and the Coach Barn contains a wonderful collection of antique carriages and classic automobiles.

Studebaker National Museum
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Studebaker National Museum

South Bend, Indiana
In 1966, the bankrupt Studebaker Corporation donated its 33-vehicle collection to the city it had called home since being founded in the 1850s. The collection has since grown to include several U.S. presidential carriages plus the Studebaker family's Conestoga wagon. "Streamlined: Style in Motion," which looks at the design innovations of Depression-era auto design, stays up through late August.

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Auto Museum
Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum/facebook.com

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum

Auburn, Indiana
Interactive exhibits abound at the museum that replaced the international headquarters administration building of Auburn Automobile, where visitors can explore the mechanics of a V8 engine or draw their own model in the Design Studio. Displays include looks at “Supercars of the Golden Age,” “John Dillinger, Hoosier Hoodlum,” and a special “Cars of the Stars” exhibit. Special events are held throughout the year.

National Corvette Museum
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National Corvette Museum

Bowling Green, Kentucky
Dedicated to Chevrolet's classic American sports car, still in production at the adjacent General Motors Corvette Assembly Plant, the National Corvette Museum is about to pack up its “From Gas Station to Space Station” exhibit that connects astronauts’ need for speed as well as height (it ends June 30). Ongoing exhibits show the evolution of the legendary car and tell of the 2014 sinkhole in the museum's Skydome that swallowed eight Corvettes.

Greenwich Concours D'Elegance
Greenwich Concours d'Elegance/facebook.com

Greenwich Concours D'elegance

Greenwich, Connecticut
Every June since 1996, the tony village of Greenwich has set aside two days to celebrate the automobile. The first day is dedicated to classic domestic cars, while the second day spotlights European sports, touring, and competition cars.

Sarasota Classic Car Museum
Dirty White Boy Picture Cars/facebook.com

Sarasota Classic Car Museum

Sarasota, Florida
Billed as the second-oldest continuously operating antique car museum in America, this destination celebrates all things automotive from antiques and exotics to European and one-of-a-kind models. What began as in 1953 as a private car collection now contains the Rolls-Royce collection of the Ringling circus family and John Lennon's 1965 Mercedes Benz, along with classic muscle cars and more.

Boardwalk Classic Car Show
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Boardwalk Classic Car Shows

Wildwood, New Jersey
Nothing beats a classic car cruise to the Jersey shore, and this one's a double delight. Two shows are held every year in this beach town, one on Mother's Day weekend and another the weekend of Sept. 19. Come for the classic cars, stay to stroll the boardwalk.

Mullin Auto Museum
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Mullin Automotive Museum

Oxnard, California
This car museum was established in 2010 to showcase the personal car collection of Peter W. Mullin, a businessman and philanthropist. Open only on select Saturdays, the Mullin feels more like a private showroom than a museum. Not too surprising, considering that the building used to house the auto collection of newspaper publisher Otis Chandler.

Simeone Foundation Auto Museum
Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum/facebook.com

Simeone Foundation Auto Museum

Philadelphia
From Le Mans to Watkins Glen, the history of racing is celebrated at this collection of racing sports cars. Assembled over 50 years, the collection includes more than 65 historically significant cars. Check out the history of Le Mans or time your visit to see one of the many special events held year-round, including classic car shows.

Lane Motor Museum
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Lane Motor Museum

Nashville
Founded in 2002 by car collector Jeff Lane, this museum is housed in a former commercial bakery. Dedicated to "unique cars from A to Z," this collection focuses on the quirky. Check out displays on car makes then and now and a look at folding scooters dating back to the 1950s.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum/facebook.com

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

Speedway, Indiana
It's no surprise the home of the Indy 500 has a museum dedicated to its own rich history and the history of auto racing. Expect race cars of all kinds, from Indy cars to NASCAR to Formula One, Sprint, Midget, and more along with plenty of memorabilia. You can even take a lap on the track when it's not being used for events or testing.

America's Car Museum
LeMay - America's Car Museum/facebook.com
Monterey Classic Car Week
Monterey Car Week/facebok.com

Monterey Classic Car Week

Monterey, California
If one day or even a weekend of classic cars isn't enough to satisfy you, head to California. Every August, the Monterey area becomes the biggest auto show in the world for a whole week. Find car parts and collectibles at the Automobilia expo, plus auto shows, rallies, and car auctions, all culminating in the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

Blackhawk Museum
Blackhawk Museum/facebook.com

Blackhawk Museum

Danville, California
Blackhawk, affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, is dedicated to stimulating an interest and understanding of art, culture, and history. Inside the elaborate Automotive Gallery, you'll find traveling exhibitions and a collection of 50 historically significant automobiles, such as the 1970 Dodge Challenger convertible.

Nethercutt Collection
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The Nethercutt Collection

Sylmar, California
Founded in 1971 by collectors J.B. and Dorothy Nethercutt, this museum is dedicated to the couple's collection of Americana. At its heart are more than 250 rare American and European automobiles dating from the end of the 19th century through the late 1990s. You'll also find exhibits on musical instruments and a collection of antique furniture.