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Road-trip Attraction Ideas

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Navel Air Museum

Pensacola, FL

I have been to many wonderful air museums over the years but in my opinion, this one is the best. There are some real historical aircraft wonderfully displayed, one is a PBY Catalina that is opened up so you can see most all of the crew positions. This museum is a must see if you are in the area.


Fort Jefferson

Dry Tortuga Islands, FL

This is one of the most amazing places I have ever seen. It is a huge Civil War era fort, 2 hours by boat west from Key West. Not only was the only part of Florida that didn't surrender to the Confederates during the civil War, it was completed with bricks from the north. This is also the place where Samuel Mudd, the doctor that tended to John Wilkes Booth's injuries after killing President Lincoln, did his time. Just take a look at this sat view from Google Maps.


Underground Salt Mine Museum

Hutchinson KS

This museum tour starts with a decent to 650 feet below the ground where the vast caverns of the salt mine are. The tour is guided with a ride on a tram, then you are left to peruse the rest of the museum at your leisure. If you're in Kansas, this attraction is very unusual and worthwhile.


The Battleship Alabama
Mobile, AL

The Alabama WWII battleship tour is an interesting adventure. Such a massive scale, it is just hard to believe that something this big could float. From the firing positions of the huge guns to the ammo magazines, you can see it all. One thing that I found intriguing, was the "battle helms" encased in heavy armor with just little slits to look out of that were used during combat operations.


Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum

Maggie Valley, NC

At this world class motorcycle museum, vintage motorcycles are kept in running condition and they routinely "fire em up" and ride them around the shop to the delight of the visitors.


Mariners Museum

Newport News, VA

Since I was a young man, I was fascinated but the story of the Civil War ironclad ship, the Monitor. You can see many items including cannon lifted from her final resting place. There are several interesting exhibits here in this "world class" museum.


Gettysburg Battleground
Gettysburg, PA

It is an amazing thing to walk the grounds of this sacred place where so many Americans died, it is a sobering experience. Gettysburg was the war's bloodiest battle with 51,000 casualties.This was as far north as the Confederate forces got on their quest for victory.


Bay of Fundy, NS

Halls Harbour, NS

The effect of the tidal change on the Bay of Fundy simply has to be seen to be believed. The "world record" tidal difference maximum is 53.5 ft. Up some of the waterways, a visible tidal wave or "bore" can be seen when the tide comes in, a weird and amazing thing to see.


Mt. Washington Cog Railway

Bretton Woods, NH

Since 1869, this railway has been hauling adventurous people up to the top of Mt. Washington which is the location of some of the highest wind speeds ever observed. This is the little train that could as it ascends the steepest tracks in North America.


Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, NY

Long a destination for lovers, the falls are just something amazing to see. The ride on the "Maid of the Mist" was simply wet, wild and wonderful, a scream for kids and adults of any age and again, a "must do." The spectacle of the falls are really something to see especially considering those brave, some would say foolhardy souls that went over the falls in various contraptions.


Drake Well Museum

Titusville, PA

This is the location of America's first oil strike. The original Drake's well is still pumping today, in the same way as when the first sip of oil was taken. Many one of a kind items on display here including, a working "hit n miss" engine that powers several remote oil wills in a real Rube Goldberg manner.


Greenfield Village
Dearborn, MI

Henry Ford not only was a visionary auto maker, he collected historical buildings. In his collection, you can see many historical buildings including Thomas Edison's workshop and the Wright Brothers family home and shop and many many more. The Henry Ford Museum is also here and it is a "must see."


Windmill Island Gardens

Holland, MI

This is the location of the only operating Holland mill in the USA. This nearly 250 year old mill, is massive and viewing the huge turning wood gears is amazing. If you are lucky, perhaps they will be grinding flour as the whole mill shakes while harnessing the power of the wind.


The House on the Rock

Spring Green, WI

My mother said I needed to see this place. I asked her to describe it and she struggled, trying to come up with a description and ending up saying that "I just had to see it." After visiting, I see why she had a hard time but it is really a mind boggling collection of collections.


EAA AirVenture Museum

Oshkosh, WI

A great and vast collection of both vintage aircraft and ones built by some amazing and talented people. Plan on spending most of the day to see it all. Rides in some really old aircraft, like a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor, are also available when the weather is good.


Wright Brothers National Memorial

Kitty Hawk, NC

I found the "birthplace of aviation" to be a special historical place. The Wright Brothers didn't fall into their dream of flight, they doggedly pursued it. There is a replica of Wright's first aircraft and after looking at the fragility of the replica, I conclude that they surely were flying on a "wing and a prayer."


Big Brutus Mining Machine

West Mineral, KS

Big Brutus is a great attraction find in an out of the way place. It was a colossal machine for a colossal job, removing the overburden from a coal strip mine. The mine is closed but the machine is open for touring. Very interesting and big enough that you can see it on a satellite photo!


Cumbres and Toltec Railroad

Chama, NM

I've ridden many steam railroads in my day but to me, this is the best one. This is the little train that can, climbing to over 10,000 feet up a substantial grade working its little heart out along some really scenic landscapes. In addition to a memorable ride, a great lunch is available at the turn around point.


The National Cathedral

Washington, DC

I've been interested in cathedrals ever since I read he book, The Pillers of the Earth. I read about half the book and lost interest. Anyway, there is so much to see here that you won't be loosing interest in this wonderful cathedral. Be sure to check out the lower areas because there are some wonderful small chapels down there.


The Golden Spike Tower

North Platte, NE

The view from the tower is a great place to see and appreciate the complexity and enormity of the Union Pacific Railroad. The visitors center also has a lot of things of historical nature about the railroad.


The Corn Palace

Mitchell, SD

I reluctantly stopped at the Corn Palace thinking it was just another tourist trap like Wall Drug. I was wrong, it is much more if you are one who appreciates history. There is a short video that you can see that does a good job in telling the story of the Corn Palace. Also, you can purchase nearly everything made either from corn, or, for corn.


The Lorretto Chapel

Santa Fe, NM

My interest in the chapel centers around the simply amazing stairway. The way it is constructed simply defies one's construction sense. While the banisters which were added later seem to provide the mass to support the stairway, the original didn't have Banisters.


"Longmire" Filmimg Location

Las Vegas, NM

My wife and I have enjoyed the Netflix series: Longmire, and so I planned my route to see the place where they filmed many of the episodes. Sure enough, the door still said:"Absaroka County - Durant, Wyoming. It was fun to spend some time in the park visible out the sheriff's office windows."


Beechcraft Heritage Museum
Tullahoma, TN

This museum contains an amazing collections of Beechcraft airplanes, some of which have a manufacturing number of "1." Several of the beautiful Beech Staggerwing are there as well as a very rare, Beech Starship. This museum is a "must see," for those appreciative of aviation.


Lookout Mtn. Incline Railway

Chattanooga, TN

Opening in 1895, this incline railway is truly a mechanical marvel. The cars are moved by cables powered by large motors at the top station. The steepest part of the incline reached 72.7%, making it one of the steepest railway in the world. I found the ride to be well worth the stop.


Lookout Mtn. Park
Chattanooga, TN

Not only does this park provide spectacular views of Chattanooga and the surrounding area, it is also a very historical area because it was the site of the Civil War "Battle Above the Clouds. This is a place you will want to spend some time taking in the views. There is also a NPS visitor center here where you can learn a lot about the battle."


American Museum of Science and Energy

Oak Ridge, TN

Oak Ridge was the secret city formed for one thing, to refine the materials for the first atomic bombs. The story of Oak Ridge and its success is interesting. The museum provides adequate displays, so the visitor can understand what happened in this "secret city." Before touring the museum, I spent some time looking over the area where it all happened. The tired old locomotive, stands as a mute witness to all the area's drama.


Mingus Mill
Cherokee, TN

This flour and corn mill, was operating in the late 1800’s. and utilized a turbine to turn the grinding stones, rather than a wheel. The mill race was bordered by oak planks, two layers thick and standing on end. I followed the mill race to its origin at the diversion dam, which was about two city blocks away from the mill. The mill itself was quite interesting with all the machinery, and ways to transport the flower and grain to different levels for storage, or further processing.


North Carolina Transportation Museum
Spencer, NC

On the museum property, is a huge shop where they used to build steam locomotives, it was a huge building and at one time, it was the largest building in NC. They also had a round house with a turntable, and for a buck, one could ride the turntable, this is probably the only one in America where they will let you do that, it was fun. They had a great assortment of steam engines including one built with extra traction wheels for Russia, but, before it was shipped, there was a change of heart and the Russians canceled the order.


AAF Tank Museum
Danville, VA

This museum contained a great collection with many of my favorite kinds of tanks and self propelled guns for example, the self propelled guns, M-37 and M-44. Along with the armored vehicles, they had extensive collections of machine guns and other weapons, helmets and uniforms, wow, those WWII German officers were sure snappy looking in their dress uniforms.


Tredegar Iron Works
Richmond, VA

This foundry was started in 1800, and was quite prosperous, making rails for the railroads. When the Civil War started, production was changed to weapons of war, cannon (more than 1,100 of them) cannon balls, mines and such. They were the major producer of arms for the Confederacy.


White House of the Confederacy
Richmond, VA

The Southern White House, home for a while for Jefferson Davis and his family. This old stately, kind of plain looking home, sits surrounded by modern high rises, which seems like an abomination to me. It is pretty remarkable when you think of it that this icon of Southern rebellion even survived. The guided tour was fascinating.


National Museum of the Marine Corps

Triangle, VA

The museum experience takes one through the birth of the Marines, with sections for just about everywhere they have fought. Everything displayed here is done in a first class manner. They have many important artifacts including the flag that was in the famous photo.


The International Spy Museum
Washington, DC

This Spy Museum cost a spendy, $21.00 to enter. They had examples of every spy gadget you could think of, (and, one, you probably wouldn't think of) and I spent nearly 2 hours looking around. It was an interesting place to visit, and overall, I thought it was worth the money.


Air and Space - Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Chantilly, VA

This was just an aviation lovers paradise and I think I saw it all, in my nearly 7 hour stay.The building itself is simply amazing, and the aircraft displayed are equally amazing. Many aircraft that are “the only one left” grace the floor of this collection. The space shuttle, Discovery, is here, now resting after completing 39 missions.


The Cornwall Iron Furnace
Cornwall, PA

This iron furnace operated between 1742 and 1883. It is the best surviving example of an early Pennsylvania ironworks. Amazingly, it is pretty much all left as it was, a great historical treasure. If you like technological history, you will love this.


Eastern State Penitentiary

Philadelphia, PA

The idea of this prison was that if occupants were kept in complete solitary conditions, that they would be penitent. It didn't work, the inmates started developing insanity. The place morphed into more of a regular prison housing most notably, the infamous: Al Capone. The tour is self guided and very interesting or, perhaps the term: "scared straight" applies here.


Cruiser Olympia

Philadelphia, PA

Launched in 1892, the Olympia is an excellent example of state of the art shipbuilding at that time. I found it interesting that the men slept in the same rooms, as the large guns. The tour is self guided and definitely worth it. Be sure to pay for your parking in the little kiosks, I didn't see them and it cost me plenty $$.   Map

Nantucket Island

Nantucket, MA

After reading the book: In the Heart of the Sea, I decided that I wanted to visit Nantucket, whaling capitol starting in about 1835. Whaling is despicable in my view, but those who chased the giant whales, did so to provide better lives for their families. I especially enjoyed the architecture of area which was mainly salt boxes and be sure to visit the Whaling Museum if you go.


Lackawanna Coal Mine

Scranton, PA

We entered a squarish mine car and soon, we were lowered by cable, down a fairly steep slope to a point about, 250' below the surface. Anthracite, was the kind of coal taken out of this mine, it is more rock like, and harder, than bituminous, or “soft coal.” Our tour guide was quite knowledgeable and interesting. I was fascinated with how many layers of coal there was in our mine, seven, to be exact.


Norman Rockwell Museum

Stockbridge, MA

I have enjoyed Rockwell's work for many years, so it was exciting to be able to see the originals of the art that graced so many covers of the Saturday Evening Post. Rockwell's painstaking process; leading to the final painting, hit "a home run"every time. Be sure to visit the town of Stockbridge where you can see Rockwell's original studio above the General Store behind the really large window.


USS Slater DE766
Albany, NY

My interest in this destroyer is that my father in law was on a similar, but a bit larger, destroyer for four years during WWII. I enjoyed what ended up being a personal tour in which I learn a lot that I didn't know about shipboard life and especially about some of the munitions. My father in law really enjoyed seeing my photos also.


America's First Railroad Tunnel

Mineral Point, PA

The Staple Bend Tunnel, at 901 feet long, was the first railroad tunnel built in the United States. Construction began on April 12, 1831. The tunnel is rock bored, and stone lined and accessed by a easy bicycle trail two miles long. Be sure to go to the far end of the tunnel because on that end, the portal is wonderfully faced with limestone.


Johnstown Flood Museum

Johnstown, PA

On May 31, 1889, there was a catastrophic failure of a dam on the Little Conemaugh River 14 miles upstream from the town of Johnstown. When the water was done raging, 2,209 people were dead and hundreds of homes were destroyed. The reasons for the dam failure were unconscionable and the story interesting. If you go, be sure to visit the scene of the crime at the NPS Memorial.


Johnstown Inclined Plane

Johnstown, PA

In walking distance from the Flood Museum, this Inclined Plane was built in 1891 and it is a bit different, in that can accommodate 2 cars for the ride up the steep hill. I enjoyed riding on such a steep, and, old contraption, and really enjoyed the splendid views of Johnstown from the top.


A Christmas Story - Filming Location
Cleveland, OH

I have loved this movie for several years, and when I learned that the actual house was available to tour through, I had to go. I must report that as far as tours go, it was the one that was most fun. It was a "hands on" tour, un-rushed, with a great tour guide and lots of antidotes and artifacts from the movie. I you liked the movie, you will love the tour. The gift store is a marvel of all things Christmas Story, from bb guns, to bunny suites, it's kind of a monument to the American entrepreneurial spirit.


RV Hall of Fame and Museum

This is a great stop for anyone interested in the evolution of RV's. The large collection contains such interesting RV's as Mae West's 1931, Chevrolet housecar, and the futuristic looking 1937 Hunt Housecar. I found the collection, more than interesting and a great stop if you are traversing I-80.


Peterborough Lift Lock

Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

If you are an adult, you probably know how a regular lock on a river works. This one is really different, the lift mechanically lifts both the boat, and the water the boat floats upon. Built in 1904, this piece of living history is still working. And you can be a passenger and sail the lift after passing a more traditional, hand operated canal lock.


SS William A. Irvin bulk carrier Ship

Duluth, MN

Built in 1938 and with a length of 611 feet, this ship plied the Great Lakes waters until 1978 capable of hauling nearly 14 thousand tons of iron ore. Now this ship is open for touring and the tour is guided and you visit most all the areas of the ship.


Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Munising, MI

I kind of stumbled onto this area while road-tripping. I didn't have time to get to the water but I can certainly understand why people like to come here. From their website: "Sandstone cliffs, beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls, lakes, forest, and shoreline beckon you to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Hiking, camping, sightseeing, and four season outdoor opportunities abound. The picturesque lakeshore hugs the Lake Superior shoreline for more than 40 miles."


Iron Ore Pocket Dock

Marquette, MI

While I was looking at an abandoned pocket dock just around the point at the Marquette waterfront, a vendor told me about this one that was still working. I was lucky enough to be able to see a ship loading and spent a couple of hours watching and understanding the process.


Adventure Copper Mine
Greenland, MI

Not all copper mines are created equal. Instead of the copper being in ore form, it was in nearly pure, large nugget form. I had never heard of such a thing. I enjoyed my personal tour very much, the guide was enthusiastic about mines in general and especially the mine he guided.


Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
Paradise, MI

This museum is located at Whitefish Point and the old lighthouse and lifesaving station, are really picturesque. The museum tells the sad story of sinking ships and is complete with artifacts. One of the most interesting artifacts on display is the bell from the Edmond Fitzgerald, the ore carrier made famous by the Gorden Lightfoot song: The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald. Don't miss the lifesaving station which is in an easy to miss building.


Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum

This mine operated from 1891 to 1967. This ended the longest operation of an underground iron mine in the world. Although the guided tour was informative and interesting, the vertical shaft of the mine, which reached a depth of 1,357 feet has been capped. Still, there is much to see here since many areas like the dry room and the machine shop were left pretty much as they were.


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