All Ages

9 Wacky Museums for Families

See recent posts by Amanda Geronikos

Sure, you’ll have a good time at the National Air and Space Museum or American Museum of Natural History, but the kids won’t soon forget these delightful (and inexpensive) oddities either.

Written by Amanda Geronikos


The Umbrella and Parasol Museum

We bet you didn"t know there"s an Umbrella and Parasol Museum in Italy. Located in Gignese -- about an hour from Milan -- this museum showcases more than 150 parasols and umbrellas from the 1800"s to present day. It also focuses on the history of umbrella making in Gignese, explaining the business"s growth to other parts of Italy, Europe and South America. Admission is €2.50.

Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum

This glorified, though kitschy, arcade features thousands of coin-operated machines and games from around the world. You won"t find many of them anywhere else. Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum, located in Farmington Hills, Michigan, is free of charge, too (but you have to get some coins and play). Bonus: If your name happens to be listed on a special board at the snack counter (names are rotated weekly), you"ll win a free slushie and popcorn!

Mercer Museum

Located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the Mercer Museum is something of a labyrinth, full of eclectic artifacts from Henry Mercer. Many items hang from the ceilings and walls to create a fantastical display. Notable artifacts include a Conestoga wagon and real gallows -- teens will totally be impressed. Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for kids 6 to 17; children under 5 get in free.

Mister Ed's Elephant Museum

Just outside of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, you"ll find a unique collection of all things elephant, plus a colorful candy store at Mister Ed's Elephant Museum. Take a peek inside the small, free “museum” (it"s really just a small room) -- you"ll see everything from ceramic elephants to talking elephants -- before ordering a slice of watermelon fudge. Afterward, stroll the gardens outside.

Lunch Box Museum

Just $5 gets you into this quirky museum, located in Columbus, Georgia. Families will find thousands of metal lunchboxes, many of which look familiar to parents and grandparents. The owner, Allen Woodall Jr., also has a collection of model airplanes and classic cars in the same building, along with other vintage items for sale.

Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia

See the “World"s Largest Pez Dispensing Machine” (it"s 7 feet, 10 inches), along with more than 900 unique dispensers at the famous Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia, including the first one ever made. Bonus: The museum also features classic and banned toys, and is located just five minutes from San Francisco International Airport in Burlingame, California. Admission is $3 for adults, $1 for kids 4 to 12 and free for children under 4.

Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum

Located in Barney Smith"s garage, Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum in San Antonio pays homage to the “Porcelain Goddess.” Each toilet seat tells a story via intricate creations; these include a toilet seat full of troll dolls and another with actual parts of the Berlin Wall embedded. Admission is free.

Giant Shoe Museum

At Seattle"s Pike Place Market, you"ll find a Giant Shoe Museum. The museum, which looks like it could belong to a traveling circus, is essentially an exhibit wall of gargantuan shoes, each of which can be seen for just a quarter. One of them belonged to Robert Wadlow, once known as the world"s tallest man -- he was 8 feet, 11 inches.

Spinning Top & Yo-Yo Museum

More than 2,000 tops, yo-yos and gyroscopes are on display in Burlington, Wisconsin, near Lake Geneva, but Judith Schulz"s Spinning Top & Yo-Yo Museum is less of a museum and more of an experience. Families get a chance to play with a few of the gadgets and participate in games with other attendees. Tickets are $15 per person, and must be ordered in advance of a visit.

Our team of parents and travel experts chooses each product and service we recommend. Anything you purchase through links on our site may earn us a commission.