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5 Must-Visit Auto Museums (& top 15 in the U.S.) to Put on Your Bucket List if You Are a Vehicle Enthusiast, Plus the Top 15 Outside of the United States

For a car junkie, a great auto museum is the closest thing you can get to heaven on Earth. Being surrounded by classic autos, famous race-cars, and crazy concept cars is as good as it gets for any gear-head.

List of Top 15 Car Museums in the United States

Car Museum
City, StateCollection Size (Vehicles)
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame MuseumIndianapolis, IN500+
Mullin Automobile MuseumOxnard, CA100+
National Automobile MuseumReno, NV200+
Nethercutt Collection at San SylmarSylmar, CA250+ automobiles
(about 50 on display at a time)
Petersen Automotive MuseumLos Angeles, CA300+
Cussler Museum Arvada, CO100+ mostly 1900 to 1965
Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile MuseumAuburn, IN100+ classic & antique vehicles
Volo Auto MuseumVolo, IL400+ Classic and Muscle vehicles
The Henry FordDearborn, MI300+
Blackhawk MuseumDanville, CA90+
The Auto CollectionsLas Vegas, NV300+ classic cars, racing cars, muscle cars,& roadsters
Museum of American SpeedLincoln, NE100+ show cars & race cars
Lane Motor MuseumNashville, TN170+ largest European collection in the U.S.
Harley-Davidson MuseumMilwaukee, WI450+
Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports MuseumPomona, CA150+

Of course, it can be hard to know which museums should sit at the top of your bucket list.

While it’s not like a day spent surrounded by incredible cars is a day wasted, we’ve put together a list of the 5 best auto museums in the world, so you never have to worry about missing out on the best of the best.

#1. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, Indianapolis, IN

Front Entrance of Innianapolis Motor Speedway

Front Entrance of Innianapolis Motor Speedway’Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. Credit: CZmarlin. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Gate

If you’re into racing, this is your mecca. Surround yourself with the history of America’s most famous race, including 30 Indy 500-winning cars.

Want to see the first car to ever take down Indy? Then check out the Marmon “Wasp,” which won in 1911 while being driven by Ray Harroun. Or sneak a peek at the Duesenberg #12 Murphy Special, which is the only car to ever win both Indy and the French Grand Prix.

You can also learn about the history of racing, or if you just want to see the trophy the winning driver takes home, the museum also hosts an extensive trophy collection.

Simply put, if you’re a racing fanatic, then the Hall of Fame Museum is where you need to be.

#2. Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, CA

New Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles

New Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles Image credit: Evolo.us

Set right in the heart of Tinseltown is one of the premier auto museums on the planet. Covering four massive floors, this museum charts the rise of the automobile, from its inception as an intriguing gadget to its current status as a necessary part of modern life.

It’s not just about your everyday automobile at the Petersen, however. Motorcycles, concept cars, and famous movie cars all get their due as well.

One of the great things about the Petersen is the layout of the museum encourages you to get up close and interact with each exhibit, making it a hands-on learning experience.

While it’s easy to lose yourself in this gigantic museum, at the end of the day you’ll wish it went on for four more floors.

#3. The Henry Ford, Dearborn, MI

1958 Edsel Citation from The Henry Ford Museum

1958 Edsel Citation from The Henry Ford Museum. Image credit: Michael Barera, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike

At the Henry Ford, you can see where it all started. If auto history is your thing, there’s no better spot to lose yourself.

Highlights of the Ford include the Quadricycle (the first auto he ever built), the original Weinermobile, and Mustang serial number 001. You can also witness how the automobile intersected with history, as the bus Rosa Parks rode on that fateful day is also on display.

If you want to get your hands dirty while you’re there, they also offer the opportunity to build your own Model T. While the car gets dis-assembled at the end of the day, you can at least enjoy a brief blast from the past.

#4. Lane Motor Museum, Nashville, TN

An old dashboard from a museum piece at the Lane Motor Museum

An old dashboard from a museum piece at the Lane Motor Museum. From Attic Picture Box, via retake.com

If European autos are more your speed, then the Lane Motor Museum is the place for you. With more than 300 foreign cars on display, it’s the largest collection of European automobiles in the United States.

Want to see a propeller-driven car, or one that folds in half? The Lane has them both, as well as the smallest street legal car in the world, the Peel P50.

The best part? Around 90% of these vehicles actually run, and thanks to the daily care and maintenance they receive, they’ll likely be around for a long time.

#5. Volkswagen Autostadt, Wolfsburg, Germany

Inside the Volkswagen Museum in Volkswagen Autostadt, Wolfsburg, Germany

This picture is from inside the building at the top of this page. Volkswagen Autostadt, Wolfsburg, Germany(It is the mast that holds up the roof). Image credit: http://www.fotothing.com user, karlbark

The sole European contribution to our list, the Volkswagen Autostadt is one of the most popular auto museums in the world, with over 2 million visitors each year.

While the cars are the main attraction here, the modern architecture is also a big draw. Making use of both water and vegetation, you’ll see breathtaking views before you even step foot inside.

Once you’re in the museum, however, you’ll find everything from cinematic displays to in-person exhibits, and it has one big advantage over many of the other museums on our list – you can actually do some driving here.

All you need is a driver’s license, and you can get out on a short track under the supervision of a guide. No, you won’t get behind the wheel of a 1934 Audi, but you do get the chance to take a spin in a Touareg SUV.

Top 15 Museums Outside of the United States

Click on any link for more information

MuseumCountryCollection Size Vehicles
Cité de l'Atomobile in FranceMulhouse, France500+
The Mercedes Museum in GermanyStuttgart, Germany160
The Porsche Museum in GermanyStuttgart, Germany300+
The Audi Museum in GermanyIngolstadt, Germany50+ vehicles, 30 motorcycles
Manitoba Antique Automobile MuseumElkhorn, Canada100+
The Nissan Heritage MuseumKanagawa Ward, Takaracho, Japan100+
Monaco Top Cars CollectionFontvieille, Monaco38
The Saab Museum, SwedenTrollhättan, Sweden120
Donington Grand Prix Collection, EnglandLeicestershire, England130
Volvo MuseumGothenburg, Sweden40
Mercedes-Benz World (Daimler AG)Weybridge, Surrey, UK100
Museo FerrariMaranello, near Modena, Italy100+
Museo Storico Alfa RomeoArese Milan, Italy69
Musée de l'Aventure PeugeotCarrefour de l'Europe, France130 on display, over 450+ vehicles, 300 motorcycles
August Horch Museum Zwickau (Audi)Zwickau, Saxony, Germany20

The Drives of a Lifetime

Any true car lover would jump at the chance to wander around these 5 museums. There’s a lifetime of history and craftsmanship here, enough to make any gearhead go crazy.

Of course, there’s more to life than just cars…but once you walk around these attractions… will you really need anything else?

Shaun Fyffe

Shaun Fyffe

Hi, I am Shaun Fyffe and writing is my passion. In my spare time I enjoy the outdoors, spending time with my family, sometimes I might go hiking or riding a bike, plus doing the regular hanging out - New York Style!

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