Is your weekend agenda filled with visits to galleries? Would you prefer a long walk through historical archives to a long walk on the beach? Would you rather see a building designed by a famous architect than a restaurant where famous people hang out? If you love museums so much that they’re the first thing you look for when visiting somewhere new, they should also be at the top of your list when moving somewhere new.
From the heavy hitters that house the world’s best museums to neighborhoods where you’ll find lesser-known gems, these cities are perfect for museum lovers.
Why does Washington DC score major points with museum lovers? One word: Smithsonian. The Smithsonian includes 17 museums which house over 150 million artifacts. Best of all, these museums, galleries (and one zoo!) are totally free. Museums include the Portrait Gallery, which houses portraits of each president, the Air and Space Museum, which is home to a planetarium, a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and a Hubble space telescope, and the Postal Museum, which contains the world’s largest stamp gallery. In addition to the Smithsonian, you’ll love the way DC itself feels like a museum. From strolling the National Mall to marveling at the White House, every day in Washington feels like art and history combined.
New York City
If you love museums, New York City is synonymous with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This iconic museum gives you access to Da Vinci, photography from the moon, fashion exhibitions, British firearms and more. When visiting, do stay for afternoon tea and a view of Central Park. Another noteworthy museum is the Guggenheim. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the building itself is worth seeing—and the art inside, which is meant to be viewed from the top floor down, isn’t bad either. Film buffs will want to see the Museum of the Moving Image, nature lovers will want to pop into the American Museum of Natural History and say hi to the resident 91-foot long blue whale model, T-Rex fossils and hall of mammals which includes monkeys, tigers, bison and yes, even humans.
There’s more to LA than plastic surgery and celebrities (though, fair warning, this section does include a mention of a selfie museum). You’ll also find tons of museums, such as the Getty, which is filled with paintings, sculpture, photography, and antiquities. If you love music, head to the Grammy Museum, where you can experience everything from rare photographs of Bob Dylan to Backstreet Boys memorabilia. If you are intrigued by the macabre side of life, swing through Hollywood and explore the Museum of Death where you’ll be greeted by Manson murder photographs, serial killer artwork and Jayne Mansfield’s taxidermied chihuahua. For something less highbrow, there’s always the Museum of Selfies. Bring your smartphone and get ready to pose in a bathtub full of money, a glammed-out bathroom and a pool of emojis.
One of America’s most walkable cities is also home to a slew of great museums, so visit a few on foot or take the T and hit them all. Start with the New England Aquarium and see seals, sharks, ancient sea turtles and eerie moray eels, and then be classy at the Museum of Fine Arts where you’ll see Pollock and Monet plus ancient coins, Greek masks and a Japanese garden. Next, make your way to Cambridge and explore the Harvard Museum of Natural History where you’ll see fossils, studies on plants, mastodon bones, geodes and well, other smart Harvard things. While you’re touring museums, take time to soak in the history of Boston by following the Freedom Trail past sites such as the oldest surviving public building in the city, the Massachusetts state house and a cemetery built in 1660.
Did you know that Atlanta is home to the third-largest number of Fortune 500 companies? That’s why it comes as no surprise that one of the coolest museums in town is the World of Coca Cola. Here, you’ll see the vault housing the soda’s secret recipe. You can also see approximately 200 artifacts that tell the brand’s history, including an 1896 syrup container and advertisements from around the world. Once you’re hopped up on sugar and caffeine, take flight—literally—at the Delta Flight Museum. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest in the world, so air travel is big in this city. Celebrate it at this unique museum inside Delta’s headquarters, where you can experience a flight simulation, see a restored 1940 Douglas DC-3 passenger plane and tour the first 747 ever built. Other awesome Atlanta museums include the Center for Puppetry Arts, which has more than 500 Jim Henson puppets, the Atlanta History Museum, which houses an expansive Civil War exhibit, the College Football Hall of Fame and the locally-loved High Museum of Art.