Military museums are places where history and imagination come together; they provide a narrative of the contributions our service branches have made to the country.
The actor Brad Pitt had a point when he once noted, “It’s a lovely experience walking around a museum by yourself.”
What follows is a list of the 12 best military museums.
Coast Guard Museums
Coast Guard Heritage Museum – Barnstable, Massachusetts
The history of the United State Coast Guard is on display here, and it sails from the days of the Revenue Cutter Service and the United States Life Saving Service to the United States Lighthouse Service. Over 100 models of vessels and aircraft are on display.
Coast Guard Museum Northwest – Seattle, Washington
Thousands of Coast Guard related items ranging from art of the USS Constitution and the rudder of the HMS Bounty to lighthouse and buoy lenses, old and new uniforms, ship’s wheels, binnacles, a Coast Guard Flag from the first Space Shuttle flight.
National Infantry Museum – Fort Benning, Georgia
The “Last 100 Yards” exhibit gives visitors a sense of the formidable challenge infantry soldiers face in battle. From the Siege of Yorktown to the War in Iraq, the infantry leads the way.
US Army Aviation Museum – Fort Rucker, Alabama
Rather than static displays aircraft parked wingtip to wingtip , visitors step into life-size dioramas to experience the drama of army aviation from a variety of exhibits conveying the experience of flying.
Fort Sill National Historic Landmark and Museum and the US Army Field Artillery Museum – Fort Sill, Oklahoma
This Army post stands on what was once the American frontier, and as such it houses the largest collection of Native American history. Nearby, the artillery museum hosts big guns from 1775 to the present, as well as artifacts from hear gear and ammunition to small arms and uniforms.
Air Force Museums
The National Museum of the United States Air Force – Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio
From the infantry’s point of view to the pilot’s perspective, this museum focus on military aircraft equals that of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
The Pima Air & Space Museum – Tucson, Arizona
One of the largest non-government funded aviation and space museums with over 350 historical aircraft, it features three hangers dedicated to World War II aircraft and a bus tour of the military’s 2600-acre “Aircraft Boneyard.”
The National Naval Aviation Museum – Pensacola, Florida
The museum offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves through simulators and virtual reality programs. Home to the Blue Angels, the history of the squadron is celebrated in exhibits and films.
US Naval Academy Museum – Annapolis, Maryland
Located in Preble Hall, over 100,000 visitors witness the Navy’s history of sea power through video and audio technology.
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park – Honolulu, Hawaii
Moored near the Arizona Memorial, this maritime museum lets guests experience the entire submarine from the control room and officers’ quarters to the galley and engine room.
The National Museum of the Marine Corps – Triangle, Virginia
This tribute to the Corps is a modern immersive museum where visitors can shoulder a backpack and experience a drill sergeant yelling in their ears. When first entering the structure, guests experience an elaborate vignette scene in which they land on Tarawa in a helicopter.
The Flying Leathernecks Marine Corps Museum – San Diego, California
The only museum dedicated to the Corps in the western part of the United States, it displays a number of fighter planes as well as artifacts from World War II, the Korean War, and the War in Vietnam.
These museums and others across the nation offer the experience of walking through and learning about our nation’s military history.