No Visit to a California destination would be complete without visiting one of the many museums. California has a reputation as a haven for people with creative minds, and you can see this in its multifaceted cultural offerings. Arts abound here in four main formats: large-scale, world-class organizations; smaller, quirkier museums, often showcasing the Golden State’s history and its abundant idiosyncratic subcultures (think surfers, Silicon Valley techno-wizards, and Peanuts aficionados).
When the weather hinders traditional camping activities (or not) stretch your mind with a visit to one of California’s museums. Need more encouragement? Check out 10 reasons to visit a museum!
National Yo-Yo Museum – Chico is located west of Highway 99 from 8th or 9th Streets. Situated in downtown Chico, the National Yo-Yo Museum houses the world’s largest working wood yo-yo at 265 pounds as well as some of the earliest yo-yos from the 1920’s to present day. Yo-yos can also be purchased from Bird in Hand. Read more
Gateway Science Museum – Chico is located west of Highway 99 from E. 1st Avenue. Situated on the Cal State University Chico campus, the Gateway Science Museum features exhibits on local ecoregions, ice age skeletons and photography of the Sacramento River. Ice age skeletons on display were recovered in local caves near present day Lake Shasta and include the short-faced bear and saber-tooth cat. Past exhibits included Backyard Monsters, Life in Boiling Acid, A Big Look at Tiny Things and Endangered Species of Northern California. Visit www.csuchico.edu/gateway
Bolt’s Antique Tool Museum – Oroville is located east of Highway 70 from Montgomery Street. Situated in downtown Oroville, Bolt’s Antique Tool Museum features tools from multiple industries and products. Exhibits include tools for blacksmith, farming, railroad, motorcycles, trucks, gas stations and more. Visit www.boltsantiquetools.com
California Automobile Museum – Sacramento is located off Interstate 5 from the Q Street exit. Situated just south of Old Sacramento State Historic Park, the museum features hundreds of automobiles and artifacts on display from an 1885 High-Wheeler bicycle to a modern day hydrogen-powered BMW. Vehicles include classics, muscle cars, exotics, Shelbys, Indy Cars, NASCARs, hotrods, European sports cars and more. Banquet facilities are available, including a 1950’s-style ice cream parlor. Visit calautomuseum.org
The California Museum – Sacramento is located of Interstate 5 from the Q Street exit. Situated one block from the State Capitol, the museum focuses on the unique events and inspirational people that have contributed to California’s legacy. Learn more about Ronald Reagan, Rita Moreno, Jackie Robinson, the Gold Rush, birth of Hollywood, 1906 San Francisco earthquake and more. Exhibits include a California Wall of Fame, Constitution Wall and the works of California artists. Visit www.californiamuseum.org
California State Railroad Museum – The Railroad museum houses historic trains and railroad industry artifacts. Train rides follow the beautiful Sacramento River. Read More>
Crocker Art Museum – Sacramento is located of Interstate 5 from the Q Street exit. This art museum features several floors of artwork comprised of African and oceanic art, Asian art, Californian and American art, European art, international ceramics, prints and drawings and photography. Read more>
Explorit Science Center – Davis is located off Interstate 80 from Mace Boulevard. This is a hands-on science museum that engages children and adults in scientific discovery. Read more>
U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame – Davis is located off Interstate 80 from Richards Boulevard. Situated in the heart of downtown Davis, the museum recognizes American cyclists and their contributions and significant achievements to the sport of cycling. The collection includes bicycles, photographs, awards, posters, racing apparel and more from the past three centuries. All cycling types are included from road and cyclocross to BMX and mountain biking. Davis is renowned as a cycle friendly town. Visit www.usbhof.org
Fossil Discovery Center – Chowchilla is located off Highway 99 from the Avenue 21 1/2 exit. Situated across the street from the largest deposit of fossils on the west coast, this natural history museum showcases fossils found under a landfill in Madera County including the saber-tooth cat, mammoth, sloth, short faced bear, dire wolf and more. Over 15,000 fossils have been recovered from the site to date. Visit
Castle Air Museum – Atwater is located off Highway 99 from Buhach Road. Situated near Castle Airport, the museum features over fifty restored aircraft and other aviation artifacts. A few of these planes include a B-52, B-25 and B-29. Visit www.castleairmuseum.org
Arte Americas Casa de la Cultura – Fresno is located east of Highway 99 from Stanislaus Street. Arte Americas features cultural arts, concerts, gallery displays and an education center for Latino Americans. They have featured the works of poets, filmmakers, photographers and artists for over 25 years. Visit www.arteamericas.org
Minter Field Air Museum – Bakersfield is located off Highway 99 from Lerdo Highway. Situated at the Shafter-Minter Airfield, the air museum features many warbirds including the P-51 Mustang, AT-6, P-38 and B-25. The museum exhibits include military photographs, uniforms, equipment, medals & patches, models and more. Visit minterfieldairmuseum.com
Buena Vista Museum of Natural History – Bakersfield is located off Highway 99 from Rosedale Highway. Situated in the heart of Downtown Bakersfield, the natural history museum promotes paleontology, geology, anthropology, archeology and biology of the area. Museum exhibits include the marine fossils of sharks, whales, sea lions, rays, turtles and more from when Bakersfield was the shore of the Pacific Ocean. Join an actual archeological dig at Shark Tooth Hill. Visit www.sharktoothhill.org
West Kern Oil Museum – Taft is located off West Side Highway (Hwy 33). The museum is dedicated to preserving the story of oil in West Kern County. The museum exhibits include oil derricks, working pumps & drilling equipment, a saber-tooth cat and lots of pictures and other paraphernalia related to the oil industry. Visit www.westkern-oilmuseum.org
Editorial information provided in part by CaliforniaRevealed.com, a collection of native Californians and travelers who spend their time exploring California and sharing their discoveries.
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