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15 Best Military Museums In The US

Did you know that the doors to the finest military museums in the United States are open to anyone?

It’s true, these historical centers are designed to inform civilians as well as honor the service of veterans.

Accordingly, visiting a military museum is a terrific way to spend a day with family and friends.

The visit is especially memorable for veterans that can share their own personal experiences with loved ones.

Here are the 15 Best Military Museums in the U.S. worth visiting.

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15 Best Military Museums in United States

There is so much to take away from visiting a military museum.

For starters, the opportunity allows a veteran or military retiree to share with family and friends their personal experiences.

Additionally, visiting a military museum is highly recommended for civilians, too.

Here, military dependents and others can gain a newfound appreciation for military service.

Thus, make sure to set time aside on a calendar to pay one of the 15 best military museums in the U.S. a visit.

You’ll discover that all these sites feature rare artifacts and other information regarding the decorated history of the U.S. military.

Furthermore, admission to many of these herald military museums are free of charge.

Thus, it’s hard to find a better way to spend a day or vacation with loved ones.

Here are the 15 best military museums based on reputation, exhibits and artifacts, as well as cost of admission:

#1. National Aviation Museum

the national aviation museum is one of the best military museums in the US
Image: Wikipedia.org
  • Location: Pensacola, FL (1750 Radford Blvd, Naval Air Station, 32508)
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Mon-Sun (9am – 4pm)
  • Website: NavalAviationMuseum.org

The National Naval Aviation Museum ranks among the best military museums in the U.S.

It’s the largest museum of its kind featuring more than 150 restored aircraft.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and U.S. Navy are all recognized for their aviation achievements.

The 350,000 square foot space includes full-motion flight simulators along with a massive theater.

Inside, visitors are treated to an incredible 4D flying experience cruising alongside the legendary Blue Angels.

Lastly, the National Aviation Museum includes thousands and thousands of aviation items, including pilot clothing and historic flight logs.

#2. National Infantry Museum

National Infantry Museum
Image: Army.mil
  • Location: Columbus, GA (1775 Legacy Way, 31903)
  • Admission: Free ($5 Suggested Donation)
  • Hours: Tues-Sat (9am – 5pm) / Sundays (11am – 5pm)
  • Website: NationalInfantryMuseum.org

The National Infantry Museum is located on property adjacent to the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE) at historic Fort Benning.

Here, visitors are treated to a fantastic museum including an impressive collection of military artifacts.

The National Infantry Museum recognizes troops who battled the enemy “bayonet to bayonet”.

Accordingly, the signature exhibit of the military museum is found at “The Last 100 Yards”.

The gallery presents life-sized dioramas that depict some of the most famous infantry battles in U.S. history.

Outside, visitors enter World War II Company Street which features a preserved barracks and mess hall from the era.

There, the former headquarters of General George S. Patton are also on display.

#3. The National WWI Museum and Memorial

The National WWI Museum and Memorial is one of the best military museums
Image: TheWorldWar.org
  • Location: Kansas City, MO (2 Memorial Dr, 64108)
  • Admission: $18 Adults / $14 Veterans / $10 Youth
  • Hours: Tues-Sun (10am – 5pm) / Mondays (Closed)
  • Website: TheWorldWar.org

It doesn’t take long for visitors to feel the sheer magnitude of World War I.

The first display at the memorial is a field of more than 9,000 red poppies, representing the lost American lives of WWI.

Furthermore, the military museum takes people into the history and battles that shape the Great War.

It’s the only military museum in the United States purely dedicated to WWI history.

As a result, visitors get a one-of-a-kind experience as they examine a diverse range of artifacts along with interactive exhibits.

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#4. The National WWII Museum

The National WWII Museum
Image: NationalWW2Museum.org
  • Location: New Orleans, LA (945 Magazine Street, 70130)
  • Admission: Adults $31.50 / Military $19 / Youth $19
  • Hours: Mon-Sun (9am – 5pm)
  • Website: NationalWW2Museum.org

Meanwhile, the National WWII Museum is dedicated to preserving the history from the Second World War.

It’s one of the more modern of the military museums after opening its doors in 2000.

For this reason, the National WWII Museum offers a unique and personal experience into the lives that shaped the costly conflict.

The experience takes visitors through both theaters of WWII along with an epic film narrated by Tom Hanks (“Beyond All Boundaries”).

WWII veterans receive free access to a museum that is open 7 days a week.

#5. National Museum of the Marine Corps

National Museum of the Marine Corps is a great museum dedicated to the marine corps
Image: VisitPWC.com
  • Location: Triangle, VA (18900 Jefferson Davis Hwy, 22172)
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Mon-Sun (9am – 5pm)
  • Website: USMCMuseum.org

The National Museum of the Marine Corps exists near a military base in Quantico, Virginia.

Therefore, it exists under the radar yet is one of the best military museums dedicated to a service branch.

The museum features interactive exhibits along with an extraordinary catalog of artifacts, like the U.S. flag raised over Iwo Jima.

Meanwhile, “Legacy Walk” is designed to provide visitors with an example of what it takes to become a Marine.

It’s one of the more interactive military museums in the U.S.

#6. National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
Image: AF.mil
  • Location: Wright-Patterson AFB (1100 Spaatz St, Ohio, 45433)
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Mon-Sun (9am – 5pm)
  • Website: NationalMuseum.AF.mil

The U.S. Air Force also has a terrific military museum dedicated to the service branch.

It’s located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, east of Dayton, Ohio.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is actually the oldest and largest aviation museum of its kind.

Accordingly, the diverse exhibits include artifacts along with aircraft used throughout the history of the branch.

Even better, admission to the National Museum of the Air Force is free, like most military branch museums.

Related ArticleBest Air Force Bases

#7. National Museum of the U.S. Army

National Museum of the U.S. Army
Image: Army.mil
  • Location: Fort Belvoir (1775 Liberty Drive, Virginia, 22060)
  • Admission: Free (Reserve in Advance)
  • Hours: Mon-Sun (9am – 5pm)
  • Website: theNMusa.org

The National Museum of the U.S. Army recently opened in 2020 after being under construction for years.

The wait was worth it as the museum provides a comprehensive history of the U.S. Army.

It exists at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, not far from Washington, D.C. (where many of the best military museums are located).

As a result, if you are in the area, make sure you visit this incredible, brand new military museum.

The exhibits highlight the past, present, and future of the U.S. military branch.

#8. National Museum of the U.S. Navy

National Museum of the U.S. Navy is one of the best military museums in the country
Image: Wikipedia.org
  • Location: Washington, D.C. (Washington Navy Yard, 805 Kidder Breese SE, 20374)
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Saturdays (10am – 4pm)
  • Website: historyNavy.mil

The military museum dedicated to the U.S. Navy is also located in Washington, D.C.

The museum includes exhibits and artwork which depict the unique culture and lifestyle of a U.S. sailor.

Exhibits take visitors through Navy influences during the American Revolution, Civil War, World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam.

It’s often overlooked compared to the Naval Aviation Museum yet definitely worth a visit for veterans of the service branch.

#9. The Smithsonian – National Museum of American History

The Smithsonian is one of the most well known military museums in the world
Image: Wikipedia.org
  • Location: Washington, D.C. (1300 Constitution Ave, NW,
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Mon-Sun (10am – 5:30pm)
  • Website: AmericanHistory.si.edu

The Smithsonian is technically not a military museum yet still features an extensive collection of military artifacts.

After all, you would expect as much considering The Smithsonian is the largest museum in the world.

Therefore, the section dedicated to U.S. military history and artifacts is impressive in its own regard.

The exhibits range from swords and firearms to uniforms and ordnance.

Best of all, the museum (like everything at the Smithsonian) is completely free to visit.

#10. Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center

Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center
Image: NPS.gov
  • Location: Gettysburg, PA (1195 Baltimore Pike, 17325)
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Mon-Sun (8am – 5pm)
  • Website: NPS.gov/Gettysburg

Unfortunately, the American Civil War doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.

Consequently, the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center was created to remember the soldiers that fought on both sides of the gruesome conflict.

Those that are visiting Pennsylvania would be foolish not to make a stop at the famous battlefield which now includes an indoor museum.

The 1863 Battle of Gettysburg is often considered the turning point of the war despite the tremendous loss of life.

For this reason, make sure to take the time and honor these lives at the free military museum.

#11. United States Coast Guard Museum

United States Coast Guard Museum is one of the best military museums
Image: CoastGuardMuseum.org
  • Location: New London, CT (Coast Guard Academy, 31 Mohegan Avenue, 06320)
  • Admission: N/A
  • Hours: Coming Soon
  • Website: CoastGuardMuseum.org

The new U.S. Coast Guard Museum is currently under construction in D.C.

Until then, visitors can honor the military branch by visiting its current headquarters at the Coast Guard Academy.

The National Coast Guard Museum recognizes the heritage of the branch which is often overlooked.

Accordingly, the offerings include interactive exhibits, STEM activities, and other learning opportunities.

#12. National Guard Memorial Museum

National Guard Memorial Museum is one of the best military museums in the US
Image: Ngef.org
  • Location: Washington, D.C. (1 Massachusetts Ave NW, 20001)
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Mon-Fri (9am – 4pm)
  • Website: NGEF.org

The National Guard Memorial Museum is another overlooked historical center.

It’s another military museum located in Washington, D.C.

Even better, admission is free as visitors are granted access to the first and only national museum dedicated to the service branch.

The gallery first opened in 1976 and celebrates the long, ignored history of the U.S. National Guard.

As a result, visitors get to see uniforms, firearms, battle gear and equipment, and other military artifacts.

Related Article15 National Guard Benefits You Probably Didn’t Know About

#13. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex
Image: Wikipedia.org
  • Location: New York, NY (12th Avenue & 46th Street, 10036)
  • Admission: Adults $33 / Child $24 / Military $0
  • Hours: Mon-Sun (10am – 5pm)
  • Website: IntrepidMuseum.org

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum gets ignored as one of the better military museums.

The educational complex is highlighted by the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid along with submarine USS Growler.

Moreover, individuals can also see a British Airways Concorde and Space Shuttle Enterprise.

Thus, the collection of aircraft is noteworthy along with the fun, interactive flight simulators.

For this reason, everyone in the family will find something rewarding to do at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex.

#14. USS Midway Museum

USS Midway Museum
Image: Wikipedia.org
  • Location: San Diego, CA (910 N Harbor Drive, 92101)
  • Admission: Adults $26 / Veterans $18 / Youth $18
  • Hours: Mon-Sun (10am – 4pm)
  • Website: Midway.org

Unfortunately, most of the best military museums in the U.S. are on the East Coast.

However, the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, California is an exception.

The military museum provides a rare glimpse aboard an actual U.S. aircraft carrier.

Here, the permanent exhibits walk visitors through what life is like serving in the military in this capacity.

As a result, it’s hard not to feel like Goose or Maverick peering out from the top deck.

#15. Navy SEAL Museum

navy seal museum
Image: Wikipedia.org
  • Location: Fort Pierce, FL (3300 N Highway A1a, 34949)
  • Admission: Adults $15 / Veterans $12 / Children ($7)
  • Hours: Tues-Sat (10am – 4pm) / Sundays (12pm – 4pm) / Mondays (Closed)
  • Website: NavySEALmuseum.org

Finally, the Navy SEAL Museum in Florida ranks among the top military museums in the nation.

It’s the only education center in the world dedicated to preserving the special history of Navy SEALs.

Therefore, visitors get a unique introduction into the lives of Frogmen.

The informative displays include exhibits that range from World War II to Vietnam and present day.

Furthermore, special events offer the rare opportunity to partake in The SEAL Experience and other opportunities.

Related Article20 Most Famous Navy SEALS Of All Time

Wrapping Up

The best military museums in the country has so much to offer.

For veterans, it’s a look back in the past as it honors their military service.

Meanwhile, for civilians, it’s an opportunity to connect and learn about the experiences of veterans.

Furthermore, it develops appreciation and understanding of military service.

What’s more is these educational opportunities are affordable (if not free).

Rob V.
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There is so much to offer at one of the top military museums in the country. Learn about the top attractions in the United States.
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