(That You May Never Have Heard Of)
By Kate Silver
Winter is here and, for many of us, the warmth and comfort of the indoors is calling. If you’re the type who’d rather watch skiers from the lodge with a cup of hot chocolate than tear down the slopes, then now is the time to visit some offbeat museums. Kids and parents alike will get a kick out of these diverse cultural destinations, whether they’re aspiring cowgirls, urban archeologists, pinball wizards, scientists of play-ology or just plain clowns.
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
Fort Worth, Texas
Cowboys weren’t the only ones to make their home on the range. Cowgirls did a lot of the work, too, from the ropin’ to the ridin’—and so much more. The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is the only museum in the world dedicated to honoring the pioneer women and cowgirls of the West. Don your 10-gallon hat and giddy up to this one-of-a-kind museum, where you can ride a mechanical bull, explore cowgirl fashion and lasso a piece of American history.
St. Louis, Missouri
This funhouse of found objects is as enchanting for kids as it is for adults. You’ll likely hear the laughter long before you see the museum, located in a 600,000-square-foot building that was once the International Shoe Factory. The roof is topped with tunnels and slides, brimming with gleeful kids (and more than a few kids at heart). Inside, you can spend hours exploring two abandoned planes, old chimneys, salvaged bridges and construction cranes in what feels like the world’s most amazing playground.
Circus World Museum
Step right up to this year-round big-top museum. Throughout the winter, visitors can explore highlights from the set of “Water for Elephants,” view the world’s largest circus wagon and check out a mini circus. Come back in the summer (May–September), and you’ll find 10 performances a day, with clowns, jugglers, magic, performing pets and more.
The Pinball Hall of Fame
Las Vegas, Nevada
Whirs, bleeps and clicks galore fill the Pinball Hall of Fame, home to the world’s largest pinball collection. The 10,000-foot storefront is a walk through arcade history, with nearly 400 games from the 1950s to the 1990s, all of which you’re welcome to play. And the best part? You can feel good about your game-playing here: The pinball emporium is a nonprofit that donates your quarters to charity.
Rochester, New York
When you hear the word “museum,” you don’t usually think of exploring a butterfly garden, meeting 15,000 dolls and playing with LEGOS, Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys and Atari. Unless you’re at The Strong. This educational institution, which Forbes named “one of the most unique and impressive children’s museums on Earth,” includes the National Museum of Play, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, and the American Journal of Play. With so many unique facilities, the goal is to show visitors a good time, but it doesn’t stop there. The Strong’s researchers actually study fun in hopes of delivering even more of it.
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This is the fifth in a series of Winter Getaways stories on Chevy Culture.
Kate Silver is an award-winning journalist and editor based in Chicago. Her work appears regularly in Spirit Magazine, Men’s Health, the Chicago Tribune and Midwest Living, as well as on Parents.com.