Memorial Day may have passed, but it is always a good time to catch up on American history. Fully stocked with original artifacts, museums that focus on U.S. history also provide unique hands-on experiences that truly immerse you in historical events. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the seven best American history museums for the whole family to help you decide where to visit this summer.
The National Museum of American History
The largest museum solely devoted to the history of our country, the National Museum of American History provides an educational yet fun-filled experience for people of every age. Located in Washington D.C, admission is free, making it an economical day out.
Special zones for children
Children will be entertained in specially designed zones, such as the Draper Spark! Lab, which allows them to follow in the footsteps of great American inventors.
Interactive carts along the museum’s path allow children to participate in historically relevant skill-based activities, such as learning to use a stereoscope or using a press to create a card. A historic theater with prominent figures from American history provides entertaining history lessons for both young and old.
The Texas Ranger Museum
Located on the banks of the Brazos River, the Texas Ranger Museum is the ideal place for American history lovers to get a closer look at the legends of Texas. Through detailed exhibits, artifacts and activities, the entire family can discover the interesting history of America’s first law enforcement center.
Meet the rangers
Children and adults will be pleased to get up close and personal with current and retired Texas Rangers. Still wearing the symbolic boots, white hats and pistol belts they’ve become so well known for, you can discover for yourself what it takes to be a ranger in today’s modern world.
Become a ranger
If that’s not enough, there is the option for your child or grandchild to become a registered Junior Texas Ranger. They’ll receive their own badge, a listing on the museum internet site, a complimentary family pass to the museum and an Honorary Junior Ranger certificate signed by a current Texas Ranger. For the American history-loving family, there could be no greater outing than that.
National Museum of the American Indian
One of the greatest comprehensive displays of American Indian history is housed in the Smithsonian and is a must-do item on the perfect American history family bucket list. With two convenient locations, Washington D.C and New York City, this museum is educational and fun for the entire family.
Family-friendly activity center
The interactive imagiNATIONS activity center is the perfect way to immerse children of all ages in the learning experience. Hands-on activities keep family members busy, such as basket weaving, transportation, a tipi experience and tribal seal stamping.
Participate in the journey
The most interesting part of the interactive experience is a series of dwellings that allow visitors to experience how Native people truly lived. Take a stroll through an Amazonian stilt house, a Pueblo adobe house and a Comanche tipi — which style would your family prefer? Could you imagine living in a stilt house?
The Boston Tea Party Museum and Ships
Everyone can recall the story of the Boston Tea Party from their American History classes, but how does that compare to actually going there in person? The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is an award-winning history museum that truly takes visitors straight back to the colonial era to teach them about the issues of the past.
Who doesn’t love boarding a boat? With the full-scale restored 18th-century sailing vessels, you and your family can participate in your own tea dump. And when you’re done, why not sample the tea yourself in the tea room?
Up close with important artifacts
Most of you should be able to recall the famous Robinson Tea Chest, the only surviving artifact from the Boston Tea Party over 200 years ago. This patriotic piece is on display in the Boston Tea Party Museum. Children will love seeing something so significant — and so old — right before their very eyes.
The American Writers Museum
While you’re exploring American history, incorporate an activity that celebrates the literary greats. Based in Chicago, The American Writers Museum is packed full of interesting, historically-relevant exhibits to please all fans, regardless of genre.
Special preschool program
The museum provides a designated program each Saturday to give preschoolers the opportunity to engage with literature. At Little Squirrels Storytime, children can look at books together, play with each other or listen as museum staff read an age-appropriate story to them.
Children’s Literature Gallery
At the specially formed Negaunee Foundation Children’s Literature Gallery, children can discover or rediscover favorite works from American authors. Historically relevant and widely shaped by evolving society and trends, the exhibition is heavily focused on illustration, providing visual delight for all.
The Mystic Seaport Museum
American history is intertwined closely with the maritime tradition, making the Mystic Seaport Museum based in Connecticut a must-visit place for the history-loving family. Unlike other museums, this museum takes participation to the next level, with exclusive participation-based activities unseen elsewhere.
A true hands-on experience
If you have a family that is into action or you have a few sailing enthusiasts among you, then the boat building or sailing course is a fantastic experience. If your child really loves it, you’re in luck because the museum hosts summer camps, overnight school and youth programs.
Suitable for even younger kids
If the more intensive choices are just a little too much for your family, there are other options for engagement. In addition to educating and informing through a variety of age-appropriate exhibits, the museum offers a range of fun activities, such as learning to tie maritime knots and building miniature boats. And if it’s raining, no problem — there are plenty of indoor activities to keep the whole family occupied.
The Museum of the American Revolution
With a few thousand objects showcasing pivotal moments in American history, The Museum of the American Revolution is the place to visit for a family-friendly look into the event that shaped our nation.
An astounding collection
Your family is sure to be amazed by the breadth and depth of objects on display in this amazing facility. From Washington’s tent headquarters to the first newspaper printing of the declaration to a variety of original muskets and pistols from the era, you simply can’t get closer to history than this.
From time to time, the museum provides special events that allow you to take part in historical occasions or rituals, such as learning to paint a camp scene, having breakfast with George Washington and an annual Independence Day celebration. Most events are seasonal, so check before you go!
An Inspirational History
Regardless of the museum you choose to visit, you are sure to learn a lot about our wonderful nation. While you’re inspired, why not get your very own heritage antiqued outdoor American flag? Designed to look just like the ones you see in the best museums but with greater longevity, these signature flags will be a continued source of patriotic pride for years to come.