Your Road Trip Across The Midwest Isn’t Complete Without Stopping At These Eccentric Museums
Everyone visits the local zoo or art museum when traveling, but when was the last time you checked out your local saxophone museum or toured the town whiskey museum? Exactly. You’re missing out.
Below, we’ve curated five wonderfully curious museums across the middle of America for your next road trip.
1/ Saxquest Museum — St. Louis, Missouri
This museum covers the entire gambit of saxophone history, from original saxophones invented by Adolphe Sax in 1846 to a ridiculously huge contra bass saxophone to beautiful vintage sheet music. Plus, you can head right next door to the Saxquest store for any of your big-band needs, including a selection of beautiful for-sale vintage saxophones.
2/ Museum of Quackery — St. Paul, Minnesota
Remember the Shake Weight and its purported health benefits? The Museum of Quackery collection (now a large part of the “Weighing the Evidence” exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota) delves into the storied history of such completely useless “health” devices throughout the ages. Weight loss soap, a machine that delivers electric shocks to boost virility, an iron lung-shaped device that emits ultraviolet rays to reverse aging — the oddities are endless.
3/ American Sign Museum — Cincinnati, Ohio
Take a walk down a literal memory lane at Cincinnati’s American Sign Museum, which displays the bright, creative neon signs of centuries past. Owner Tod Swormstedt has been growing his collection since 1999, which now occupies over 19,000-square feet in an old parachute factory and has been re-tooled to look like an old-time Main Street. Each storefront is filled with the glow and hum of several corresponding neon signs, some dating as far back as the 1800s. You can also watch the creation of neon signs in an attached working sign shop.
4/ Arabia Steamboat Museum — Kansas City, Missouri
Back in the mid-1800s, the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers were veritable super highways for steamboats transporting people and goods through the region. In 1856, however, one such steamboat—the Steamboat Arabia—struck a fallen tree and sank into the Missouri River near Kansas City. In 1988, the boat was rediscovered and unearthed, its recovery “like finding the King Tut’s Tomb of the Missouri River,” according to the museum’s website. The remarkably preserved contents — such as clothing, guns, and eyeglasses — are on display at the museum, along with part of the deck of the ship.
5/ Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History — Bardstown, Kentucky
Few places take their alcohol quite as seriously as Kentucky takes its whiskey, and the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History is a true testament to that passion. Visitors can peruse whiskey’s history as pre-colonial moonshine, prescription medication and Prohibition contraband, as well as its dichotomous nature as belonging both in crystal decanters in fancy homes and brown paper bags on street corners. Vintage whiskeys and stills are on display, and some of those vintage bottles are even for sale.
Featured photo courtesy of the Arabia Steamboat Museum via Facebook.