Explore the Best United States Museums: Top 7 Picks

Explore the Best United States Museums: Top 7 Picks

Key Highlights

  • The US is home to some of the best museums in the world, offering a diverse range of art, history, and culture.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York the largest art museum in the US and houses a vast collection of fine art.
  • The National WWII Museum in New Orleans provides comprehensive look into the history of World War II.
  • The Getty Center in Los Angeles is known its stunning architecture and contemporary art collection.
  • The Museum of Modern Art (Mo) in New York the best of modern and contemporary art.
  • The Museum in Chicago is a must-visit for those interested in natural history and cultural heritage.
  • The National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York pays tribute to the victims of the September 11 attacks.


The United States is a treasure trove of art, history, and culture, and its museums are a testament to this rich heritage. Whether you're a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply curious about the world around you, the US offers a wide range of museums to explore. From the iconic Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., to the renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, as well as the Guggenheim Museum, these museums provide a unique opportunity to delve into the fascinating stories and artifacts that shape our past and present.

7 Top Museums You Need to Visit in the US

The United States is home to some of the best museums in the world. If you're planning a trip to the US and want to make the most of your visit, here are seven top museums you should add to your itinerary. These museums offer a diverse range of art, history, and culture, including the iconic Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and are sure to leave a lasting impression on any visitor.

1. The Smithsonian Institution – Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., is a must-visit for any museum enthusiast. As the world's largest museum and research complex, it offers a wide array of exhibits and collections that span a variety of disciplines. From the National Museum of American History to the National Museum of Natural History, there is something for everyone at the Smithsonian, including the famous Air and Space Museum. Whether you're interested in American history, natural history, or art, you'll find it all here. The Smithsonian is a truly immersive experience that allows visitors to explore and learn about the diverse cultures and stories that have shaped the United States.

2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York

Located on the eastern side of Central Park in Manhattan, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also known as The Met, is the largest art museum in the United States. With over two million works of art spanning five thousand years of history, The Met is a treasure trove for art enthusiasts. From ancient Egyptian artifacts to European masterpieces and contemporary art, the museum offers a diverse collection that caters to a wide range of interests. The Met is not only a place to appreciate art but also a space for cultural exchange and education. With its stunning architecture and world-class exhibits, The Met is a must-visit for anyone visiting New York City.

3. The National WWII Museum – New Orleans

The National WWII Museum in New Orleans is a must-visit for history buffs and those interested in learning about the events and impact of World War II. This immersive museum offers a comprehensive look into the war, from the causes and consequences to the personal stories of those who lived through it. With interactive exhibits, artifacts, and firsthand accounts, the museum brings history to life. Visitors can explore the exhibits at their own pace, taking in the sights and sounds of the war era. The National WWII Museum is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by millions and the enduring legacy of the greatest conflict in military history.

4. The Getty Center – Los Angeles

Perched atop a hill in Los Angeles, the Getty Center is not only a museum but also an architectural masterpiece. Designed by renowned architect Richard Meier, the Getty Center is as much a work of art as the pieces it houses. The museum's collection includes European paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and photography from the Middle Ages to the present. With its panoramic views of the surrounding city and stunning gardens, including a picturesque sculpture garden, the Getty Center offers a unique and immersive experience for visitors. Whether you're an art enthusiast or simply looking to enjoy the beauty of the museum's surroundings, a visit to the Getty Center is a must when in Los Angeles.

5. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) – New York

Located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, the Museum of Modern Art, also known as MoMA, is a mecca for modern and contemporary art lovers. With its extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, photographs, films, and design objects, MoMA offers a comprehensive overview of the art movements that have shaped the 20th and 21st centuries. From the iconic works of Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso to contemporary pieces by emerging artists, the museum showcases the diversity and innovation of modern art. With its central location and world-class exhibits, MoMA is a must-visit for art enthusiasts visiting New York City.

Another must-visit museum in the US is the Whitney Museum of American Art, located in the Meatpacking District of New York City. This unique museum focuses exclusively on American art and artists from the 20th and 21st centuries, offering a slower pace and fewer crowds than other popular museums in the city. With its diverse collection and stunning location, the Whitney Museum is a must-see for any art lover.

6. The Field Museum – Chicago

The Field Museum in Chicago showcases a diverse range of exhibits, delving into natural history and cultural heritage. It offers a unique opportunity to explore topics like cultural history and scientific discoveries. The museum's collection includes exhibitions on topics such as botany, geology, and ancient civilizations, as well as a yellow plane called the Pitcairn Mailwing, making it a must-visit for aviation enthusiasts. The Field Museum is also home to the Museum of Science and Industry, which features a coal mine, an intact Nazi submarine, a grand model railroad, an amazing doll house, an old-time street, many old aircraft, a real vintage train, and a whole lot more for everyone to enjoy.

Home to Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton discovered to date, the Field Museum attracts visitors interested in paleontology and ancient life forms. Additionally, the museum houses artifacts from ancient Egypt and interactive displays on topics like evolution and biodiversity. For those with a curiosity about the world around us, the Field Museum in Chicago is a must-visit destination that offers an enriching and educational experience.

7. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum – New York

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York pays tribute to the victims the September 11th attacks and commemorates the events that shook the nation. The memorial features two reflecting pools set within the footprints of the Twin Towers, surrounded by bronze panels inscribed with the names of the nearly 3,000 individuals who lost their lives. The museum offers a deeply moving and educational experience, with exhibits that explore the events of 9/11 and their impact on the world. From personal artifacts to multimedia presentations, the museum provides a comprehensive look into the tragic events and the resilience of the human spirit.


Visiting museums can be a fascinating and enriching experience, offering a glimpse into history, art, and culture. The US boasts a diverse array of museums, each with its own unique treasures waiting to be explored. Whether you're in Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, or elsewhere, these top museums are sure to captivate your senses and ignite your curiosity. From the iconic Smithsonian Institution to the thought-provoking National September 11 Memorial & Museum, there's something for everyone. Plan your museum tours wisely, immerse yourself in the exhibits, and make unforgettable memories exploring the rich tapestry of American history and creativity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Largest Museum in the US?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is the largest art museum in the US. With over two million square feet of gallery space and a collection that spans five thousand years of history, the Met is a must-visit for art enthusiasts.

Can I Visit All These Museums in One Trip?

Visiting all these museums in one trip might be challenging, especially if you want to fully explore each museum. However, if you plan your itinerary carefully and allocate enough time for each museum, it is possible to visit a few of them depending on your interests and the duration of your trip.

Are There Special Exhibits at These Museums?

Yes, these museums often have special exhibitions that showcase specific artists, periods, or themes. These exhibitions provide a unique opportunity to see rare and extraordinary works of art or artifacts that are not part of the permanent collection.

What Are the Best Times to Visit These Museums?

When planning a visit to these museums, it's important to consider the best times to make the most of your experience. The Museum of Natural History and the Art Institute of Chicago are often busiest on weekends and during school holidays, so visiting on weekdays or during non-peak hours can help you avoid crowds and have a more enjoyable visit.

Do These Museums Offer Educational Programs?

Yes, these museums offer a range of educational programs for visitors of all ages. The Science Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago both offer workshops, lectures, and interactive exhibits that provide a deeper understanding of the subject matter. These programs are a great way to enhance your visit and learn more about the museum's collections.

Are There Virtual Tours Available for These Museums?

Yes, many of these museums offer virtual tours that allow you to explore their collections from the comfort of your own home. The Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Modern Art both provide online platforms where you can view their exhibits, learn about the artworks, and even take virtual guided tours. This is a fantastic option for those who are unable to visit the museums in person.

Tips for Visiting Museums with Children

Visiting museums with children can be a fun and educational experience for the whole family. Here are some tips to make the most of your visit:

  • Research family-friendly exhibits and programs: Many museums offer special exhibits and programs designed specifically for children. Look for interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, and educational workshops that will engage and entertain your little ones.
  • Plan your visit: Before you go, check the museum's website for information on tickets, hours, and any special guidelines or restrictions. It's also a good idea to map out your visit and prioritize the exhibits or activities you most want to see.
  • Bring snacks and water: Exploring a museum can be tiring, especially for young children. Pack some snacks and water to keep everyone energized and hydrated throughout the visit.
  • Take breaks: Museums can be overwhelming for young children, so be sure to take regular breaks to rest and recharge. Find a quiet spot to sit and relax, or take advantage of any outdoor spaces or cafes the museum may have.
  • Encourage curiosity and exploration: Museums are a great opportunity for children to ask questions and learn about new things. Encourage their curiosity by asking open-ended questions and allowing them to explore exhibits at their own pace.
  • Follow museum rules: Remind children of the importance of respecting museum exhibits and following any rules or guidelines. This will ensure a positive experience for everyone and help preserve the museum's artifacts for future visitors.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Museum Visit

To make the most out of your museum visit, follow these tips:

  • Research the museum beforehand: Familiarize yourself with the museum's layout, exhibits, and any special events or temporary exhibitions that may be taking place. This will help you plan your visit and prioritize the areas you most want to explore.
  • Take advantage of guided tours or audio guides: Many museums offer guided tours or audio guides that provide in-depth information about the exhibits. These can enhance your understanding and appreciation of the artworks or artifacts on display.
  • Allow enough time for your visit: Museums can be vast, and it's easy to underestimate the time it takes to explore all the exhibits. Allow yourself ample time to fully immerse yourself in the museum's offerings and avoid feeling rushed.
  • Take breaks and hydrate: Exploring a museum can be physically demanding, so be sure to take breaks and stay hydrated throughout your visit. Most museums have cafes or resting areas where you can relax and recharge.
  • Visit during non-peak hours: If possible, try to visit the museum during non-peak hours to avoid crowds and have a more peaceful experience. This will allow you to fully appreciate the artworks or artifacts without feeling rushed or crowded.
  • Engage with the museum staff: Don't hesitate to ask questions or seek assistance from the museum staff. They are there to help and can provide valuable insights and information about the exhibits.

Discounts and Membership Benefits at Museums

Many museums offer discounts and membership benefits that can help you save money and enhance your museum experience. Here are some common options:

  • Student discounts: Students with a valid ID often receive discounted admission to museums. Check with the museum to see if they offer student rates.
  • Senior discounts: Many museums offer discounted admission for seniors. This is a great option for older adults who want to enjoy the museum at a reduced price.
  • Membership benefits: Consider becoming a member of the museum you frequent the most. Memberships often include perks such as free or discounted admission, exclusive access to special events, and discounts at the museum store or cafe.
  • Corporate or group rates: Some museums offer discounted rates for corporate or group visits. If you're planning a visit with a large group, check with the museum to see if they offer any special rates or packages.
  • Reciprocal admissions: Some museums have partnerships with other museums, allowing members to enjoy free or discounted admission at participating institutions. This is a great option for avid museum-goers who enjoy visiting different museums.

Accessibility Features at Major US Museums

Major US museums strive to provide an inclusive and accessible experience for all visitors. Here are some common accessibility features you can expect to find:

  • Wheelchair accessibility: Most museums have ramps, elevators, and designated wheelchair-accessible entrances to ensure that visitors with mobility challenges can easily navigate the museum.
  • Audio tours and captioning: Many museums offer audio tours for visitors with visual impairments or who prefer an audio-based experience. They may also provide captioning for videos or multimedia exhibits.
  • Tactile exhibits: Some museums have tactile exhibits or replicas that allow visitors with visual impairments to experience the artworks or artifacts through touch.
  • Sign language interpreters: Some museums offer sign language interpreters for guided tours or special events to ensure that visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing can fully participate.
  • Sensory-friendly options: Some museums provide sensory-friendly hours or exhibits for visitors with autism or sensory sensitivities. These options often include reduced noise levels, dimmed lighting, and interactive exhibits.
  • Service animal-friendly: Museums typically welcome service animals and have designated areas for them.