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Four Must-See U.S. Open-Air Museums

Posted on Tuesday, May 16, 2023
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by AMAC, D.J. Wilson
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Visiting museums is a worthwhile experience. Not only are these educational facilities full of fascinating objects to see and learn about, but going there is an adventure. Among the most interesting are open-air museums, which essentially offer outdoor experiences for museum-goers. While these types of museums are found worldwide, here are three of our favorites that are right here in the great USA.

1. Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, Massachusetts: This Worcester County gem is a living history museum that recreates life in rural New England from the 1790s through the 1830s. Composed of 200 acres and featuring 59 antique buildings, three water-powered mills, and a working farm, it is the largest living museum in New England. Visitors can see costumed interpreters demonstrating and interpreting 19th-century arts and agricultural work. It is a deeply educational experience guaranteed to transport visitors back in time. For information, visit: www.osv.org

2. Travel Town Museum, Los Angeles, California: This city attraction, created in 1952, is dedicated to the history of railroad transportation in the western United States from 1800 to the 1930s and emphasizes railroading in Southern California and the city’s neighboring surroundings. Railroad enthusiasts will enjoy the mix of 43 full-scale locomotives, freight cars, passenger cars, interurbans, and more on display. There is no admission to this museum, however, donations are accepted.  For information, visit traveltown.org

3. Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum, Ashland, Nebraska: This Saunders County attraction is focused on air travel and the history of aviation. Visitors can enjoy seeing historic airplanes, such as the strategic bomber Avro Hawker Vulcan and the B-47E “Stratojet.” Another star of the collection is the F-105 “Thunderchief,” the first supersonic tactical fighter-bomber developed from scratch. There are also interactive exhibits such as Above and Beyond, where visitors can “Dream Big” and spread their wings and fly.  For information, visit www.sacmuseum.org

4. Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, Charleston, South Carolina: On Charleston Harbor sits one of the state’s most popular tourist attractions. Patriots Point Development Authority was established in the 1970s for the development of a museum featuring the World War II aircraft carrier USS YORKTOWN as its centerpiece. The harbor is also home to the Patriots Point Museum and a fleet of National Historic Landmark ships, plus the Cold War Memorial and the Vietnam Experience Exhibit. It is also home of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and the agency’s official Medal of Honor Museum. For more information, visit www.patriotspoint.org

These four museums serve as a mini sampling of the many great open-air museums located in the U.S.A. Spring and summertime are ideal times to take advantage of attractions offering outdoor experiences. Not only do they provide entertainment and educational enrichment, but the outdoor space allows them to maximize visitors’ interactive opportunities, making them ideal for those seeking well-rounded museum experiences.

Tips: When visiting museums, do inquire whether senior, military, student, or youth discounts apply. Note that some valid IDs may be necessary to demonstrate eligibility, such as a valid driver’s license or military or college ID. Additionally, check your AMAC member benefits to see if attractions you wish to visit honor membership discounts. Note that AMAC membership allows members to also enjoy discounted tickets to numerous Broadway shows, theme parks, hotel stays, and more.

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