10 Quirky Museums Worth Re-routing the RV For


Mike Wendland

Favorite Trip

Re-tracing the Lewis & Clark Trail from Pennylvania to Oregon

Home Base

Western Michigan

Favorite RV

Keystone Arcadia Fifth Wheel (bought at Camping World!)

About Contributor

Mike started RVLifestyle.com with his wife in 2012 after deciding to spend their retirement traveling throughout the U.S. Mike also runs the popular podcast called “The RV Podcast.”

Part of the joy of RV travel is the wonderful places we discover by serendipity. Over the years, we have found a lot of them, almost always by following our curiosity and getting off the main roads. Here are 10 quirky museums that are worth re-routing the RV for:

1. The Tupperware Museum, Kissimmee, FL

Vintage Tupperware
Image: Vince360 / Shutterstock

The Tupperware Confidence Center,  located just behind the main lobby at the Tupperware Brands Global Headquarters in Kissimmee just south of Orlando, is one of those quirky little looks at American culture sure to fascinate. There you can see the lettuce keeper and the celery keeper and the snap-top salt and pepper shakers you remember, as well as all the new Tupperware products.

Yes, Tupperware is still very much in business. You can watch demonstrations in the on-site kitchen and visit the gift shop for an eye-popping array of colors and uses. Earl Tupper was a prolific inventor, and received hundreds of patents, but will always be remembered for Tupperware, which had sales of nearly three billion dollars last year.  Women around the world are still selling Tupperware and attending jubilees.

A new look at old ideas, some historical tidbits you never knew (but probably should), and just the right thing to solve that storage problem in your RV—they’re all waiting for you, out in Kissimmee.

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2. The Castle Dome Mining Museum, near Yuma, AZ

Castle Dome Mining Museum
Image: T-I / Shutterstock

When we find something that catches our eye, we’re more than willing to change directions and check it out. That’s what happened in Arizona when we saw a small, dusty sign for the Castle Dome Mining Museum. We were on our way somewhere else but, hey, what’s a detour? It had to be close, right? Wrong.

We started on a nicely paved desert road off US 95 S. But three miles out, the pavement turned to a dusty, washboard dirt road. But we persevered. For seven more miles. But it turned out to be well worth it.

We toured the museum, located in a ghost town that has been restored and stocked with artifacts found scattered in the nearby desert. We got a very interesting tour of one of the nearby abandoned mines, where we saw a rock wall made of incandescent minerals that, under a black light, emitted colors, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

And the museum owner showed us numerous pairs of old Levis and other jeans from the late 1890s that he claimed are worth many tens of thousands of dollars. This is best seen in the late fall and winter months when the museum is open 7 days a week. In the summer when it is very hot, you better call for hours.

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3. National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center, Columbus, GA

US Flag on RV
Image: Shutterstock

From the dramatic, life-sized displays to the memorials dedicated to thousands of soldiers, The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center in Columbus, GA offers a captivating look into our nation’s military past. It’s been voted by USA Today as the best free museum in all of America and we agree. It’s located on the grounds of Fort Benning and occupies 190,000 square feet.

First opened in 2009, this world-class museum has one purpose: To honor the legacy and valor of the U.S. Infantryman by telling their stories through immersive technology, from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror. Budget half a day to fully explore this inspiring museum. There is food available on the premises, a great gift shop, and lots and lots of parking for all sizes of RVs.

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4. National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL

National Museum of Naval Aviation
Image: William Howard / Shutterstock

Sometimes, the most amazing museums and attractions are in places you’d never expect. Such it is with the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL, ranked one of the top 25 museums in the world, and in the top 12 in the U.S. We came to spend half a day there but learned the hard way when a “Now Hear This” announcement told visitors it was closing at 5 PM that a whole day should be devoted to seeing this fascinating attraction.

More than 150 beautifully restored aircraft representing the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aviation are on display inside the Museum’s nearly 350,000 square feet of exhibit space and outside on its 37-acre grounds. There are even World War II fighter airplanes from Japan and the very first jet fighter ever flown – an amazing machine built by the Nazis and captured by the U.S. so as to be reverse-engineered.

We’ve visited the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. several times in the past and found the Naval museum in Pensacola to be every bit as fascinating. From vintage uniforms and historic documents displayed in brilliant mahogany display cases to dioramas that transport visitors to the World War I Western Front, Main Street U.S.A. in 1943, and the depths of Lake Michigan, the exhibits seek to capture the human element of the enduring history of Naval air power.

As of this writing, the museum is not open to civilians, only Department of Defense cardholders. Before visiting check the information hotline at 850-452-8450 or their website.

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5. The RV/MH Hall of Fame, Elkhart, IN

RV Hall of Fame
Image: Mike Wendland

Would you believe that RVs have been around for over 100 years? That’s just one of the many fascinating things you’ll learn as you tour the RV/MH of Fame. This is a modern museum, filled with beautifully restored RVs and related displays. RV/MH stands for Recreational Vehicle and Manufactured Housing. Many people think the “MH” stands for motorhomes.

In the 1940s when soldiers were coming home from WWII, they were in need of immediate housing. The RV industry saw this as a business opportunity and started building larger units that were to be used as stationary housing rather than travel trailers. Mobile home parks and campgrounds were soon set up to accommodate the permanent/semipermanent housing needs.

After that, the RV industry advanced in two directions – one branching into fancier RVs for travel such as units with an interior kitchen and restroom, and the other becoming the manufactured housing industry we know today. Located in the RV Capital of the World – The Elkhart region is where 90% of all the RVs sold in America are made – this world-class museum encompasses over 100,000 square feet of displays and perfectly preserved/restored RV models going back over a century.

If you love the RV Lifestyle, this is truly a bucket-list attraction. The museum is part of the Harvest Host program and allows members to overnight in their self-contained RVs in the parking lot.

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6. The Enchanted Highway, Regent, ND

The Enchanted Highway
Image: Mike Wendland

The Enchanted Highway is a collection of the world’s largest scrap metal sculptures constructed at intervals along a 32-mile stretch of two-lane highway that cuts south across the prairie off I-94 in western North Dakota. The road is so rural and remote, that it doesn’t even have a real name. Because of the amazing sculptures, locals started calling it “The Enchanted Highway.”

A local artist named Gary Greff started building towering sculptures in 1990. His goal is to draw people off the interstate and to small towns like Regent, to keep the towns from drying up. But the stunning beauty of the prairie is just as much a draw as Greff’s amazing sculptures, which he continues to erect each year.

Yeah, it’s a 64-mile detour. But take it slow. Get out and take lots of photos. Breathe in that clean prairie air.  It will be one of the most enjoyable driving breaks you ever had. Figure an hour and a half to two hours to see all the sculptures.

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7. The Jell-o Museum, LeRoy, NY

Jell-O Museum
Image: Mike Wendland

Here’s a place we found totally by serendipity. Jennifer spotted a small sign about 45 miles south of the Lake Ontario shoreline saying “Jell-o Museum” and pointing the way to LeRoy, NY was irresistible. Could there really be a Jell-o Museum, we wondered?

Indeed, there is an absolutely fascinating place that chronicles the amazing success of the gelatinous concoction from its invention in 1845 by a local carpenter, who sold rights to it for $450, to its iconic status today as America’s most famous dessert. Located right in LeRoy south of Waterport on Highway 237, the museum chronicles and celebrates the popular dessert.

In 1897, Pearle Wait, a carpenter in Le Roy, NY, experimented and invented a fruit-flavored dessert that his wife, May, named Jell-O. He then tried to market his product but lacking the capital to do so, he eventually sold his formula in 1899 for the whopping sum of $450. Not bad money back then! The museum shows how the product was promoted and built up by the new owners into one of the most recognized words in the English language. It became a billion-dollar business! Bought for $450.

Alas, there was no Jell-o to sample at the museum. But enjoyable nostalgia was generously available.

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8. The Ice Cream Sundae Museum in Two Rivers, WI

Ice Cream Sundae Museum
Image: Mike Wendland

It seems a lot of the quirky museums we stumble upon involved food. But seriously, how could anyone resist the Ice Cream Sundae Museum? Located in the historic Washington House of this tiny lakefront community is Berners’ Ice Cream Parlor, commemorating what the Wisconsin Historical Society says in a marker out front was the invention of the ice cream sundae there in 1881.

Allegedly, it all came about when a customer asked Edward C. Berner, the owner of a soda fountain, to top a dish of ice cream with chocolate sauce, previously only used only for ice cream sodas. The concoction cost a nickel and soon became very popular but was sold only on Sundays. One day a ten-year-old girl insisted she have a dish of ice cream “with that stuff on top,” saying they could “pretend it was Sunday.”

After that, the confection was sold every day in many flavors. It lost its Sunday–only association, instead of being called “ice cream sundae” when a glassware salesman placed an order with his company for the long canoe-shaped dishes in which it was served, as “Sundae dishes.” Yes, you can order an ice cream sundae here, even with whipped cream and a cherry.

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9. 1880 Town, off I-90 exit 170 in South Dakota

1880s Town Saloon
Image: Mike Wendland

Stop at the 1880 Town right off I-90 and instantly you will be transported back to the frontier west. It has more than 30 buildings from the 1880s that are authentically furnished with thousands of relics from the era. They have a full range of costumes there and you, too, can dress like they did back in the 1880s, from boots to hats to a gunbelt. Jennifer dressed up as a saloon girl. I was a cowboy.

The saloon has a real bartender, but they only sell root beer and soft drinks, not the hard stuff. When the player piano isn’t doing its thing, they have live entertainment during the peak summer season. Outside, it’s a lot of fun wandering the main street and touring the old buildings. There’s a church, a museum with lots of props from the Dancing with Wolves movie, a railway station, and a frontier cabin where you can get an idea of what life was like way back then…right down to hanging out the wash.

Plan on two hours to take it all in. You’ll be glad you stopped.

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10. Steamboat Arabia Museum, Kansas City

Steamboat of Arabia
Image: Jenny Davis Bauman / Shutterstock

Sometimes, as we RV across North America, we run into stories that are so amazing that you don’t know how to categorize them. So it was with us in downtown Kansas City when we toured one of the most unusual museums we have ever seen. It’s a museum devoted to the Steamboat Arabia, which sunk after running into a tree snag in the muddy Missouri River on September 5, 1856. At the time it was carrying 200 tons of supplies destined for a string of frontier towns to the west.

The Arabia’s wreckage contained the largest single collection of pre-Civil War U.S. artifacts ever discovered – remarkably preserved clothing, tools, guns, dishware, window glass, candles, jewelry, wine, and other everyday items that serve as a time capsule of life on the American frontier. There are even bottles of still pleasantry fragrant 19th-century perfumes. But I don’t know if it’s the amazing items found in the wreckage or the actual discovery and retrieval of those artifacts that is the most interesting.

Because the Arabia was discovered not at the bottom of the Missouri, where she sank, but 45 feet down in the middle of a Kansas cornfield a half-mile from the current banks of the river. Over time, the river’s course has moved and what was once water, is now a cornfield. Over 400 steamboats have sunk in the Missouri over its 2,500-mile course. Most are undiscovered. The mud remarkably preserved the wreck. And what was aboard has fascinated visitors and students of the American West for more than two decades now.

Jennifer and I spent half a day at the museum, marveling at the displays. Only about half of what was discovered is shown. The museum is still cleaning, cataloging, and preserving the rest of the items. Visitors can actually observe the process, as it is all done in the open. The museum is open seven days a week, Admission is $14.50 for adults and worth every cent. Seniors get a $1 discount. There’s parking in the area in front of the museum suitable for a Class B RV. Anything bigger will have to park somewhere else in the congested downtown area.

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Coachland Village Photo by Good Sam

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What are some museums that have stopped you in your tracks? Tell us in the comments below.

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