It was once said by Robert Heinlein that, “Those who forget their past are destined to repeat it.” Understanding our past is incredibly important for our future. And fortunately, the nation is full of museums that help us do just that. One of our favorite types of museums are military museums, so we did a little research and found 10 of the most interesting military museums in the nation. Whether you’re planning a family vacation around one of these sites, or you want to stop by and learn a little while you’re making your next move across the country, don’t miss these educational and entertaining museums!
- Veterans Memorial Museum in Branson, MO
While you’re in Branson (otherwise known as the Live Show Capitol of the World), dont’ miss this military museum! It houses 10 great halls with exhibits honoring veterans from every conflict ranging from WWI to the War on Terror. The museum is also home to the largest war memorial bronze sculpture; it features 50 life-size combat soldiers depicted storming a beach. The sculpture is a sight to see measuring 70 feet long and weighing over 15 tons!
- The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA
This museum houses over 4,000 artifacts and 21,000 archival pieces. It incorporates video, sound and light shows, along with life size dioramas to tell the story of the war that divided our country.
- The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, LA
This museum features a 4D film, large artifacts, open restorations, and live shows (including a 1945 radio broadcast and a big band performance). Here you’ll find a mixture of history and entertainment – perfectly matching its host town of New Orleans.
- The Armed Forces Museum in Tampa Bay, FL
This is a military museum your kids will love! Along with traditional exhibits, there are interactive exhibits such as a motion simulator. And you can also take a ride in an M8 tank!
- Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, VA
If you love planes, this is the museum for you! Here you can view both WWI and WWII planes, ranging from bombers to liaisons. You can also watch the aircraft restoration process in their maintenance hangar.
- African American Civil War Memorial & Museum in Washington, D.C.
This museum preserves stories of African Americans involved in the Civil War. Using various means of photographs, documents, artifacts, seminars, reenactments and more, they tell the unique stories of soldiers who fought for freedom from slavery. They also have a neat genealogy program where you can research your ancestors with Civil War involvement.
- Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
While this museum houses much more than just military memorabilia, it is a “don’t miss” spot! Not only can you see interesting Americana here (Dorothy’s slippers from the Wizard of Oz!) but they have superb military collections. They also house an impressive collection of firearms and weapons including 2,400 civilian firearms and 4,000 swords and knives. If you’re interested in early technology, this is where you’ll also find technological equipment that was central to the military, like a Civil War telegraph and early computers.
- Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles in Lexington, NE
If you’re interested in military vehicles, you’ll enjoy this place. It started as a group of four friends who took their restored vehicles to Veterans’ Day celebrations and let veterans ride and/or drive the vehicles. Now it is a full-blown museum, housing over 100 restored military vehicles, including a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, “Huey” Helicopters, M-60 tanks, a snow tractor, and a jeep from each branch of the service. But that’s not all; you can also find things like cooking gear, medical supplies, uniforms, flags, photos, and much, much more. And this museum is very hand-on. You can touch and even sit in the vehicles.
- National Medal of Honor Museum of Military History in Chattanooga, TN
This museum was created to honor those who went “above and beyond the call of duty to preserve the cause of freedom.” It’s located inside the Northgate Mall in Chattanooga, TN. Here you’ll find stories of military heroes from the Revolutionary War through the War on Terror – all told through pictures, artifacts, uniforms, narratives, etc.
- Fort Chafee Barbershop Museum in Fort Smith, AR
We had to throw in our hometown military attraction (U-Pack is based out of Fort Smith, AR). This is the exact spot where Elvis Presley got his famous G.I. haircut. The barbershop has been restored to its condition in 1958. But Elvis isn’t all you’ll see there. The museum also holds memorabilia from when the U.S. Army housed German prisoners of war, Cuban refugees, and relocated Vietnamese there; memorabilia from the movies “Biloxi Blues,” “The Tuskegee Airmen,” and “A Soldier’s Story,” all movies filed at Fort Chafee.