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5 Best Classic Car Museums in the U.S.

Courtesy of National Corvette Museum
By AAA Travel Editor Patricia Miller
July 24, 2019
Whether you’re a diehard classic car buff or you just think cars from the 1920s to the 1970s look cool, you can get a close look at these icons of American culture at museums across the country. Here we list some of the best; climb into the driver’s seat and get up to speed on the best places to see classic cars.
flickr / CC BY /zombieite

Antique Automobile Club of America Museum

Hershey, Pennsylvania
(717) 566-7100
When you’ve had your fill of chocolate-related activities in Hershey, make time for another treat with a pit stop at this museum, which reportedly has the largest collection of 1948 Tucker automobiles in the world. Only 36 models of this legendary car made it to final production before Preston Tucker shut down his company in 1949, and you can see three here. Visitors can also sit in the driver’s seat of a Tucker and ogle about 150 vehicles made from 1896 to 2000.
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flickr / CC BY SA/Joanna Poe

LeMay—America's Car Museum

Tacoma, Washington
(253) 779-8490
A AAA GEM attraction about 30 miles south of Seattle, this museum contains a collection of about 350 cars housed in a huge cave-like aluminum building and several galleries. Fans of NASCAR will enjoy the museum’s large treasure trove of racing memorabilia while Anglophiles will go mad over the British Invasion exhibit, which houses Jaguars, Mini Coopers and Austin-Healeys. The Route 66 exhibit has such beauties as a 1960 Chevrolet Bel Air Coupe and a 1969 Ford Thunderbird Landau sedan.
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Courtesy of National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection)

National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection)

Reno, Nevada
(775) 333-9300
About 200 cars once belonging to William Harrah, owner of Harrah’s hotels and casinos, are on display at this AAA GEM attraction. Highlights of the collection include vehicles owned by movie stars and famous musicians: Take a gander at Elvis Presley’s 1973 Cadillac Eldorado as well as Frank Sinatra’s 1961 Ghia L6.4, John Wayne’s 1953 Corvette and the 1949 Mercury Eight that James Dean drove in “Rebel Without a Cause.” Don’t miss the Dymaxion, made in the 1930s, and the Phantom Corsair, both the only surviving models of their kind.
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Courtesy of National Corvette Museum

National Corvette Museum

Bowling Green, Kentucky
(270) 781-7973
Stroll through a wonderland of about 70 curvaceous beauties at this AAA GEM attraction that pays tribute to one of America’s favorite sports cars. You’ll see some of the rarest Corvettes here, including one of the original models from 1953 (when the first one rolled off the assembly line) and the only 1983 Corvette that still exists. There are lots of activities here, too; for example, you can pilot a ‘Vette around a virtual racetrack (as long as you can reach the pedals).
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Petersen Automotive Museum

Petersen Automotive Museum

Los Angeles, California
(323) 930-2277
Encased in a building that resembles a zebra pattern in stainless steel, this AAA GEM attraction explores the artistry, industry and history of the automobile with its exhibits of Porsches, Ferraris, hot rods, customized cars and other high-styling vehicles. Many cars are set on pedestals and surrounded by Plexiglas, treated like the masterpieces they are. Car nerds will undoubtedly enjoy reading the highly detailed signs posted by each display. Horror movie fans will be thrilled to see the 1958 Plymouth Fury from the movie “Christine.”
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