Best Museums in Every State
So many museums, so little time.
In a country with more than 35,000 active museums, choosing the most valuable to visit can feel like an impossible task. Fortunately, 24/7 Wall Street recently compiled data on attendance, visitor comments and rankings from outside sources to make the choice a little easier, by determining the best museum in every U.S. state.
The list showcases the incredible diversity of museums in America, with collections exploring everything from classic art and sculpture to potatoes and pop culture.
See if your favorite spots made the cut...
Alabama: U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center — as well as Space Camp — this museum is a science-nerd's dream. Visit the Rocket Park, Shuttle Park and Planetarium, and catch exhibits like "Apollo: When We Went to the Moon."
Must-See: One of only three Saturn V rockets in the world
Admission: $25 adults; $17 ages 5-12; free for children under 4
Alaska: Anchorage Museum
The largest museum in Alaska showcases the state's Native culture at its Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, where the fascinating exhibition "Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska" features 600 objects selected with the help of Alaska native advisers. Also on tap: a science discovery center and a planetarium.
Must-See: An 1893 Tlingit war helmet from the southeast Alaska village of Taku
Admission: $18 adult; $9 ages 3-12; free for children 2 and under
Arizona: Musical Instrument Museum
One of the top museums in the country is geared toward music-lovers, showcasing more than 7,000 instruments from around the world. Special exhibits include an electrifying exploration of the electric guitar, while a slate of live performances show the instruments in action.
Must-See: Items owned by the biggest chart-topping musicians of all time, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Leonard Bernstein
Admission: $20 adult; $15 ages 13-19; $10 ages 4-12; free for children 3 and under
Arkansas: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
The Crystal Bridges Museum highlights five decades of American artwork and masters, including Andy Warhol and Georgia O'Keeffe. Equally dazzling is its natural setting — 120 acres of Ozark forest that visitors can explore after taking in the art.
Must-See: Norman Rockwell's "Rosie the Riveter" painting
California: The Getty Center
Considered one of the best art museums in the country, as well as one of the most beautiful works of architecture, the Getty features European paintings, sculpture, drawings and more from the 17th century through the modern day. Its gardens — replete with more than 500 varieties of plants, plus waterfalls and streams — are equally artistic and worth a visit.
Location: Los Angeles
Must-See: Vincent Van Gogh's "Irises," completed in the last year before the artist's death
Colorado: Denver Museum of Nature & Science
This museum touting a collection that began in 1868 is wonderfully diverse and eclectic; exhibits focus on archaeological treasures from around the world, space exploration, prehistoric findings and the animal kingdom, with 89 fascinating wildlife dioramas on display.
Must-See: The "Folsom points," two stone projectile points discovered alongside the bones of an extinct bison species that prove humans walked North America more than 10,000 years ago
Admission: $19.95 for adults, $14.95 ages 3-18
Connecticut: Yale University Art Gallery
One of the most renowned universities in the world also provides the best museum in its home state of Connecticut. Using art to teach and help visitors learn, its permanent collection includes works from ancient times through today. Exhibitions include "Works by Female Artists Highlighted in Contemporary Art Galleries" and "Places Nations, Generations, Beings: 200 Years of Indigenous North American Art."
Location: New Haven
Must-See: Numerous works by Picasso, including his important "First Steps" painting
Delaware: Delaware Air Mobility Command Museum
Check out more than 30 airplanes, ranging in size from large cargo planes to open-air biplanes, at this soaring museum. Exhibits focus on how aircraft is used for humanitarian needs around the world, as well as military engagements. You can even test your skills on flight simulators and visit a control tower.
Must-See: The VC-9C, which served as Air Force Two for Vice Presidents Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Al Gore and Dick Cheney between 1975 and 2011
Florida: Ernest Hemingway Museum
In the 1930s, one of America's most famous writers lived and wrote from this home at the southernmost tip of the United States. (Key West is one of the best spots in the country for deep-sea fishing, which made it ideally suited to the fisherman author.)
The home itself is fascinating to tour, but the real standout is the gardens, where you can meet the legendary six-toed cats, direct descendants of Hemingway's unusual pet.
Location: Key West
Must-See: Hemingway's lavish Spanish furniture dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries
Admission: $14 adults; $6 ages 6-12; free 5 and under
Georgia: National Center for Civil and Human Rights
As the Capital of the South, Atlanta played a pivotal role in the American Civil Rights Movement; Martin Luther King, Jr. himself lived and worked in the city. This center aiming to "explore the fundamental rights of all human beings" features not just important historic items, but interactive workshops and talks with artists and authors.
Must-See: A reconstruction of the Greyhound bus the Freedom Riders rode in Alabama in 1961
Admission: $19.99 adults; $15.99 children; free for children 6 and under
Hawaii: USS Arizona Memorial
On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. The "USS Arizona" sank in the harbor, killing 1,102 Marines. The memorial, built above the ship, commemorates what took place on that day and honors the sailors lost in the depths.
Must-See: The sunken "USS Arizona" ship itself
Idaho: Idaho Potato Museum
Learn all about Idaho's famous potatoes, as well as the history of the potato industry in America, at this truly one-of-a-kind institution. If you get hungry, the cafe offers (but of course) french fries, baked potatoes, potato salad and other spuds-based favorites.
Must-See: How can anyone skip a photo-op with the giant potato outside? Totally Instagram-worthy!
Admission: $6 adults, $3 ages 6-12; free for children 5 and under
Illinois: The Art Institute of Chicago
One of the oldest art museums in the country is also one of the most extensive; outside the Louvre, it houses the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in the world. Its impressive collection includes works by art-world A-listers like Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Matisse, O'Keefe, Pollock and Warhol.
Must-See: "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat, famously featured in the film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
Admission: $25 general, $19 for teens; free for children under 14
Indiana: The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Ranked the best children's museum in the country by numerous outlets, this museum also offers plenty for adults to love. Indoor and outdoor hands-on experiences focus on scientific exploration — "Beyond Spaceship Earth," an astronaut-themed program created in conjunction with NASA, is particularly revelatory.
Must-See: The new Riley Children's Health Sports Legends Experience, where exhibits spotlight Indy sports teams inside and sports events are hosted outside
Iowa: The Union Pacific Railroad Museum
The first transcontinental railroad uniting the east and west coasts of America before the advent of planes, the Union Pacific Railroad was an important part of U.S. history. Telling the story of the railroad's creation, completion and impact, this museum offers visitors the chance to explore train cars and imagine life more than 150 years ago.
Location: Council Bluffs
Must-See: The Lincoln Collection, celebrating Abraham Lincoln as the founding father of the Union Pacific
Kansas: Museum of World Treasures
As its name implies, this museum holds unique and exotic treasures from around the world, including artifacts from wars and ancient countries. One of the oddest and most delightful exhibits is "Sea Creatures of the Plains," showcasing the fossils of prehistoric creatures like the Xiphactinus fish, which weighed up to 1,000 pounds.
Must-See: Portions of the Berlin Wall
Admission: $9.95 adults; $7.95 ages 4-12; free for children 3 and under
Kentucky: Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
Baseball's greatest players, including Babe Ruth, swung for the outfield with Louisville Slugger bats, and the company continues to provide the MLB with bats today. At this home-run museum, you can learn how a bat is made during a factory tour, then explore exhibits exploring the history of bat-making in America.
Must-See: The Bat Vault, where 3,000 original bat models — including some that are a century old! — are on display
Admission: $15 adults; $8 ages 6-12; free for children under 5
Louisiana: National World War II Museum
The heroism of Americans during World War II is revealed through first-person accounts and a collection of artifacts at this educational museum. Exhibits include "Bayou to Battlefield," showcasing Louisiana's shipbuilding for the troops.
Location: New Orleans
Must-See: Climb aboard the "USS Tang" to experience a submarine "in action."
Admission: $28 for adults; $18 ages K-12 and college; free for children under 5
Maine: Maine Maritime Museum
The waterfront Maritime Museum, located in the "City of Ships" on a historic shipyard, features attractions both indoors and out. The best way to take it all in is via a cruise that sails past the shipyard, plus a pair of historic lighthouses.
Must-See: A 1906 schooner that's been fully restored
Admission: $17.50 adults; $10.50 ages 6-12; free for children under 6
Maryland: The American Visionary Art Museum
This art museum displays unique art created by even more unique artists — mental-health patients, hitchhikers and youth at risk. The annual Kinetic Sculpture Race, during which visitors whiz around on contraptions crafted out of used bicycles, gears and parts, is not to be missed.
Must-See: The 55-foot-tall, wind-powered outdoor sculpture "Giant WhirliGig"
Admission: $15.95 adults; $9.95 children; free for children 6 and under
Massachusetts: Museum of Fine Arts
More than 500,000 pieces can be found at Boston's premier art museum, where American art, ancient Egyptian pieces, European classics, and modern and contemporary collections are all on display.
Must-See: William Turner's iconic "The Slave Ship" painting
Admission: $25 adults; free ages 7-17 weekdays after 3 p.m., otherwise $10; free for children 6 and under
Michigan: The Henry Ford Museum
When Henry Ford began mass production of automobiles in Michigan, he changed America and became a fixture in our history. This museum is dedicated to the man and the cars he created.
The 250-acre complex features the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, the Ford Rouge Factory Tour and Greenfield Village, which highlights the spirit of American inventors like Thomas Edison.
Must-See: The bus Rosa Parks sat in when she became a legend of the Civil Rights Movement
Admission: $24 adults; $18 ages 5-11; free for children under 5
Minnesota: Minneapolis Institute of Art
You'll find more than 89,000 works of art, spanning 20,000 years, at this esteemed art museum. Six continents are represented through paintings, photography, drawings, sculpture, woodwork and decor.
Must-See: Rembrandt's "Lucretia" from 1666
Mississippi: Mississippi Museum of Art
Originally committed to collecting, preserving and exhibiting art, the Mississippi Museum of Art now strives to engage visitors in its brand-new facility. In addition to displaying more than 5,000 objects dedicated to American artists, especially those native to the state, you'll also find a roster of interactive classes and special events.
Must-See: Robert Henri's stunning painting "Young Woman in Yellow Satin"
Missouri: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
More than 40,000 works of art are available to view for free at this expansive museum. Modern, contemporary and ancient works span myriad different countries and cultures, and the museum hosts festivals, classes and tours to make interactivity easy.
Location: Kansas City
Must-See: The 22-acre Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park, which includes the iconic "Shuttlecocks," a giant recreation of the badminton fixture
Montana: Museum of the Rockies
The home to many fossil discoveries, Montana is a hotbed for archaeological research. The Museum of the Rockies not only displays the findings, but supports continual research into fossils, as well as other scientific discoveries in the Rocky Mountains.
The Siebel Dinosaur Complex, one of the largest dinosaur collections in the world, is particularly impressive.
Must-See: The Tyrant Kings Exhibit, featuring some of the largest and smallest T. rex skulls ever found and a 12-foot-tall, 40-foot-long T. rex fossil
Admission: $14.50 adults, $9.50 ages 5-17, free for children 4 and under
Nebraska: Omaha Children's Museum
This family paradise features interactive exhibits that engage children in art and science. Kids can experiment in the science and technology lab, create masterpieces in the art studio, and role play in the pint-sized grocery store and auto service center.
Must-See: Tinker Lab, where kids use various tools and materials to create whatever their imagination dreams up
Admission: $13; free for children under 2.
Nevada: The Mob Museum
One of the most distinctive museums in the world, the Mob Museum hones in on the dark underbelly of Las Vegas' — and the country's — history. The Mob Museum details the real stories of American gangsters through interactive exhibits and artifacts, all housed in a former Las Vegas courthouse where said mobsters went on trial for their crimes.
Location: Las Vegas
Must-See: "The Underground," an immersive Prohibition-history exhibit space featuring a distillery available to tour and a speakeasy where you can (legally) drink
Admission: $23.95 adults; $20.95 ages 11-17; free for children under 10
New Hampshire: Mount Washington Weather Discovery Center
Climb to the top of Mount Washington, one of the coldest places on earth, to explore a weather observatory 6,288 feet above ground and learn about the science of weather and climate. Visit in the winter when temperatures rival the polar ice caps, and take a snow cat ride.
Location: North Conway
Must-See: A tornado machine that allows guests to see the natural disaster up close
Admission: $2 adults; $1 ages 7-17; free for children ages 6 and under
New Jersey: Ellis Island Immigration Museum
Between 1892 and 1954, the first federal immigration station at Ellis Island welcomed more than 12 million immigrants to America after they crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Now a museum, the station attracts visitors who want to discover their own immigrant history, searching for family members who came through these doors. Photographs and nearly 400,000 historic artifacts from the station are on display across three floors.
Location: Ellis Island
Must-See: The Bob Hope Memorial Research Library, where you can search your family's history
Admission: $25.50 ages 13 and up; $16.00 ages 4-12; free for children under 4
New Mexico: Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
Georgia O'Keeffe, one of America's most celebrated artists, spent two decades working and living in New Mexico. So it makes sense that the state houses the seminal museum honoring her legacy. Some 3,000 of the artist's works are on display here, including iconic oil paintings and drawings.
Location: Santa Fe
Must-See: The New Mexico exhibit in Gallery 7, where you can see O'Keeffe's pieces depicting the state's spectacular landscapes
Admission: $13; free for children under 18
New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art
This staple of Manhattan that's been featured in countless movies — from "The Thomas Crown Affair" to "When Harry Met Sally" — is iconic for a reason. Artworks spanning more than 5,000 years of history are on display here, including famous pieces from the Renaissance and Impressionism movement, as well as sculptures and ancient artifacts. Only three museums on earth are more extensive.
Location: New York
Must-See: The Temple of Dendur, an Egyptian temple dating back to the 1st century B.C.
Admission: $25 adults; $12 for children; free for children under 12
North Carolina: North Carolina Museum of Art
You'll find everything from Picasso to Rembrandt at this museum spanning 164 acres. Much of the collection focuses on European and American art, including one of only two permanent Jewish art displays in the country.
Must-See: Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park, which features dozens of monumental sculptures
North Dakota: National Buffalo Museum
North Dakota pays homage to its native wildlife at this special museum dedicated to the American buffalo. Housed in a rustic log cabin, the museum actually began as a foundation aiming to repopulate the land with buffalo and bison. While still committed to this original goal, the museum now also features memorabilia, artifacts and artwork related to buffalo.
Must-See: A 10,000-year-old buffalo skull
Admission: $8 adults; $6 ages 5-14; free for children under 5
Ohio: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
For 36 years, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has celebrated the musicians and songwriters who've shaped America's — and the world's — music. Every year, the HoF inducts new honorees into its special club that currently includes 330 members.
Artifacts and photographs highlight music throughout history; interactive exhibits include the Garage, where you can play instruments like your favorite stars.
Must-See: The "British Invasion" exhibit, showcasing a rocking collection of Beatlemania memorabilia
Admission: $26 adults; $16 ages 6-12; free for children 5 and under
Oklahoma: American Banjo Museum
Housing the largest collection of banjos in the country, the American Banjo Museum examines how the musical instrument came to the U.S. with African slaves and eventually found its way into songs heard across the country, becoming an integral part of folk, bluegrass and sometimes jazz. The museum also hosts live performances during which the instrument is prominently featured.
Location: Oklahoma City
Must-See: The "Jim Henson - Life and Legacy" exhibit, focused on Kermit the Frog and his beloved banjo
Admission: $8 adults; $6 ages 5-17; free for children 5 and under
Oregon: Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Fostering experimentation, this hands-on science museum touts more than 200 interactive exhibits in five different halls and six labs. A science playground is geared toward children 6 and younger, making this a great spot to bring the little ones.
Must-See: The "USS Blueback" submarine, famously used in the film "The Hunt for Red October," which you can climb aboard
Admission: $14.50 adults; $9.75 ages 3-13; free for children under 3
Pennsylvania: Philadelphia Museum of Art
An incredible 200 galleries show off art from around the world at this renowned museum. In addition to its main building, the museum encompasses a fantastic sculpture garden and a facility dedicated exclusively to the works of Rodin.
And yes, you can (and should) run up the steps from "Rocky," then pose for a picture with the iconic "Rocky" statue from the third film. Sly Stallone himself has been known to surprise fans by showing up here!
Must-See: The wonderfully strange mixed-media piece "Étant donnés" by Marcel Duchamp
Admission: $20 adults; $14 ages 13-18; free for children 12 and under
Rhode Island: National Museum of American Illustration
Initially a private collection focused of the "Golden Age" of American illustration art, the NMAI has evolved to include works by more than 150 artists, tucked into every nook and cranny of the stately home it occupies. Three acres of grounds provide further opportunities for exploration.
Must-See: Everything by Norman Rockwell; the museum boasts the world's second-largest collection of the artist's works
Admission: $20 adults; $14 students; $10 ages 5-12; free for children under 5
South Carolina: Gibbes Museum of Art
Telling the story of Charleston through art, the Gibbes Museum of Art combines the historic (18th to 20th century American paintings and sculpture) with the modern (a wonderful assortment of contemporary exhibits).
Must-See: The Miniature Collection, featuring more than 600 miniature watercolor portraits painted in Charleston
Admission: $15 adults; $6 ages 4-17; free for children 3 and under
South Dakota: Mammoth Site & Museum
The largest collection of woolly-mammoth bones ever discovered was unearthed in South Dakota. The site of that discovery is now a National Landmark where visitors can go on a fascinating guided tour.
Location: Hot Springs
Must-See: The Ice Age exhibit, where hands-on learning activities make education fun
Admission: $10.14 adults; $7.37 ages 4-12; free for children 3 and under.
Tennessee: Tennessee State Museum
The state of Tennessee created this museum to house its World War I artifacts in 1937. Today, the full collection is much more than WWI memorabilia, with artifacts educating on natural history, the Civil War and more.
Must-See: The "Tennessee Transforms" exhibit, which traces the state's history after WWII
Texas: Space Center Houston
Space Center Houston is the official visitor center of the NASA Johnson Space Center, where space flights are manned from the ground. Visitors can take a tram tour past shuttle replicas, astronaut training facilities and even the Mission Control Center.
Must-See: The collection of spacesuits at the Astronaut Gallery
Admission: $29.95 adult; $24.95 ages 4-11; free for children 3 and under.
Utah: Natural History Museum of Utah
Showcasing the evolution of man and earth, this science museum focuses on anthropology, paleontology, entomology, botany, malacology and mineralogy. Get hands-on with bugs, dinosaurs and more through immersive exhibits and programs.
Location: Salt Lake City
Must-See: The "Native Voices" exhibit, where you can learn about Utah's eight native tribes
Admission: $29.95 adult; $24.95 ages 4-11; free for children 3 and under
Vermont: Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home
Illinois may be the Land of Lincoln, but Robert Todd Lincoln, Abe's eldest son, spent his summers in Vermont at this homestead. Lincoln's granddaughter used the home full-time until 1948, and until 1975, the former President's descendants continued to live there. Today, you can tour the home where much of the Lincoln family lived.
Must-See: Walk among 12 miles of hiking trails, created by the Lincolns
Admission: $23 adults; $6 children; free for children 6 and under
Virginia: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Operating since 1936, Virginia's museum has been ranked as the top attraction in Richmond, as well as one of the most comprehensive museums of art in the country. More than 40,000 pieces span upwards of 6,000 years.
Must-See: The museum's exhaustive collection of Chinese, South Asian and Himalayan art
Washington: Museum of Pop Culture
In 2000, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen established this Seattle museum as the Experience Music Project. Since then, the museum now known as MoPOP has expanded its offerings to encompass not just music, but movies, gaming and pop culture as well. Everything from horror films to indie games to fantasy movies all get their due.
Must-See: The exhibits "Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses" and "Pearl Jam Home and Away," both excellent explorations of Seattle's influential music scene
Admission: $28 adults; $19 ages 5-17; free for children 4 and under
West Virginia: Huntington Museum of Art
First established as the Huntington Galleries, this art museum and cultural center began as a private collection gifted to the state. Exhibits today encompass a wide variety of pieces, from paintings and prints to firearms and English silver.
Must-See: The Glass Gallery, which displays 1,000 pieces of striking glass art (glass manufacturing has long been a dominant industry in the state)
Admission: $5; free on Tuesdays
Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum
The Milwaukee Art Museum holds nearly 25,000 pieces, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, prints, drawings, decorative arts and video art. Just as impressive as its interior offerings is the structure it's housed in — an architectural marvel designed by three design greats, Eero Saarinen, David Kahler and Santiago Calatrava.
Must-See: More than 300 photographs by artists like Mapplethorpe in the Floyd and Josephine Segel Collection of Photography
Admission: $19 adults; free for children 12 and under
Wyoming: Buffalo Bill Center of the West
The American West takes center stage at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, where five separate museums — the Buffalo Bill Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, Draper Natural History Museum, Plains Indians Museum and Whitney Western Art Museum — are among the oldest in the West.
Must-See: The 7,000 firearms on display at the Cody Firearms Museum — the most comprehensive collection of American firearms on earth
Admission: $19.50 adults; $13 ages 6-17; free for children 5 and under