The 11 Florida Museums You Must See
A trip to the museum is the perfect way to escape the heat and noise of Florida, and it’s a city that has plenty of great ones to choose from.
Whether you want agricultural, art, military, or children’s themed museums, Florida has them in spades, and you can spend a day in the air conditioning exploring history.
What are the best museums in Florida?
Some of Florida’s best museums include the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Florida Museum of Natural History, Great Expectations Children’s Museum, and the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.
They have a diverse range of museums covering many subjects and time periods, so it all depends on what you’re interested in.
While a visit to the museum might not be the drawcard that brings people to Florida, you’ll soon find out that it could be.
We’ve reviewed some of their coolest and most fascinating museums and the standout exhibits, so you can add a few to your bucket list when traveling to this state.
The 10 Must-Visit Florida Museums
Florida is one of the best states in the US for museum buffs and these renowned institutions cover everything from military to art.
If you’re headed there and want to spend some time exploring the fascinating history that they have to offer, these are consistently rated as the best Florida museums.
#1 Florida Museum of Natural History
Arguably one of Florida’s most famous sights, the Museum of Natural History is a must for museum lovers.
Situated in Gainesville, the museum covers everything from American history to prehistoric times, and even has a magnified estuary where you can learn about the animals that are native to Florida, now and in the past.
Depending on your taste, your favorite exhibit could be the prehistoric animals or a look back at the lives of Native Americans and how they used to live, with real artifacts and native art that is fascinating to explore.
This museum is dedicated to the natural history of Florida and it’s a great way to honor the ancestors of our nation and the flora and fauna of the state, making it one of their top attractions.
#2 Air Force Armament Museum
If you’ve tried to enter a military museum before and be turned off to find that their costs are through the roof for civilians, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find the Air Force Armament Museum in the Florida Panhandle costs nothing to enter.
This museum covers all aspects of military history and you can easily spend the day there checking out historical weapons, aircraft, and artifacts.
History and war buffs will be in heaven with all of the details on the United State’s biggest wars and how they were fought.
Many of the artifacts here date back to the 1940s and beyond, with loads of information for eager minds to find out more.
It’s not only for adults though, as there are plenty of interactive and hands-on experiences for everyone to enjoy, and with new features being added all the time, like the Eglin Air Force Base exhibit coming in 2022, you’ll never get bored.
#3 John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
As the official state museum of Florida, there’s no way we wouldn’t include the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.
Based in Sarasota, the art museum was established in 1927 thanks to Mable and John Ringling as a gift for the people of Florida, and the visitors to the state who also shared their keen interest in art.
Today, it’s one of the most visited museums in the state and an abundant and creative place for adults and children to explore.
A trip to this museum doesn’t disappoint, even if you know nothing about art, and they offer so much more than other museums, including live performances of music and theatre, as well as a touring circus act, talks, and lectures.
There are historic works of art on show and the exhibits are always changing, and at last count, they had over 70,000 items displayed.
The personal library of John and Mable Ringling can be found here, as well as Renaissance and Baroque art, juvenile literature about art, and16th century books to peruse.
#4 Ernest Hemmingway Home and Museum
The official 1930s home of Ernest Hemmingway is today a museum and on our list for the best ones to visit.
The famous writer spent his days here at his Key West home, and you can witness the house that’s been kept in its original condition, and even walk through some of its rooms, like the Living Room which holds many of his personal photos on the wall.
The Ernest Hemmingway Home and Museum has expansive grounds that guests are welcome to explore, with the most fascinating part being the in-ground swimming pool.
When it was built, it was considered an extravagant luxury and is still an amazing feat to see today.
There are guided tours to teach you more about his work, as well as a gift shop on-site where you can buy all kinds of Hemmingway literature and memorabilia.
#5 IMAG History and Science Center
The IMAG is the perfect combination of a museum and an aquarium, which are both popular spots for tourists to visit in Florida.
While here, you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about the earth and the waters that surround it, with hands-on exhibits, touch tanks, and guided tours.
This is a great choice for kids and adults alike, and while you’re learning you’ll be having fun.
The Fort Mayers museum has loads of exhibits that look at things like fossils and dinosaurs or cover in-depth subjects on the weather, and there’s a huge focus on things that are native to the state.
You could spend a whole day here without ever wanting to stop, and it’s a must for those with a quest for knowledge.
#7 Great Explorations Children’s Museum
If you’re looking for somewhere to take the kids in Florida that’s not centered around Mickey Mouse, the Great Explorations Children’s Museum in St. Petersburg is it.
While here, your kids will get to try hands-on activities and interactive learning, covering all subjects like architecture, space exploration, nutrition, and meteorology.
The coolest thing to do while you’re here is to check out the child-sized Publix Supermarket that lets your kids experience grocery shopping at their level.
There’s plenty of opportunities for learning and fun, including a ropes course, playground, and stations where they pretend to be an astronaut or firefighter.
You can easily spend a full day here with your kids and still feel like you didn’t get to do it all.
#8 St Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum
Ahoy, me hearties? If you or your children love all things to do with pirates, then what better place to spend the day than the St Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum.
The museum takes you back in time to Port Roya in the 1600s where pirates were well and truly alive, and if you’re after an interactive experience that makes you feel just like one of these old-timey pirates yourself, this is it.
There’s no chance of getting bored at the St Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum and every inch of it is covered with something to do and interactive elements.
You can learn to tie a knot, steer the captain’s wheel, and look at artifacts saved from wrecks beneath the seas.
It’s not just one for the kids either, as many adults find themselves having just as much fun pretending to be a pirate, and never want to leave.
#9 Modernism Museum
Art, interior design, and architecture lovers will be enthralled with a visit to the Modernism Museum.
Focused solely on the modernist movement, the museum is full of furniture and décor that could be described as modernist, and you don’t have to know anything about art to enjoy its bold colors and unique shapes.
The most fascinating part of this museum is the pieces that came directly from David Bowie’s estate, as you can imagine the star being right at home with them.
The museum explores the importance of the Memphis art movement in the 1980s and the guides there explain every single piece and what makes it so significant.
You’ll see everything from drink trolleys to bookshelves, and all with the modernist twist, and it’s a museum people can easily spend hours wasting the day away.
#10 Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition
The Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition is designed to make visitors feel as though they were stepping onto the original Titanic back in 1912 and it’s regarded as more of a once-in-a-lifetime experience than just a museum.
As you walk onboard, you’ll witness a full-scale recreation of its most exquisite areas, including the Grand Staircase and First Class Parlor, so you can fully immerse yourself in the fantasy.
While standing on the Promenade Deck, you get a nice reprieve from the Florida heat as the surrounding icebergs have been designed to feel the same as the real ones that sunk the ship over 100 years ago.
If you’re happy to pay more for the VIP experience, you can attend the Titanic Dinner Gala where actors recreate some of the ship’s more famous characters.
#11 Henry B. Plant Museum
Henry B. Plant was the original developer of the Tampa Bay Hotel, an affluent hotel built in 1891 by the railroad magnate. Located at the University of Tampa campus, the hotel is now a museum, and guests can explore the place where the very first elevator was ever installed in the state of Florida.
The hotel was mainly unused until the 1930s and then the college made use of some of its space, and today, it’s been lovingly restored and is open to visitors.
The whole of this museum is set out like the original hotel, and you can spend hours wandering the halls and thinking about the glamorous guests who once stayed there.
Inside, you’ll find 511 hotel rooms, a racetrack, a casino, and an indoor swimming pool, so it’s quite expansive.
Anyone who loves history or architecture will want to check this museum out and check out the historic railroad magnate’s vision in person.
Florida museums are plentiful with interests to suit just about anyone, even if you don’t usually consider yourself a history buff.
To see what else the state has to offer, we’ve answered some commonly asked questions about famous Florida sights that can give you a background on visiting here.
What is the Most Popular Attraction in Florida?
Walt Disney World is considered the most popular attraction in Florida, located near Orlando at Lake Buena Vista.
Each year, they have over 58 million visitors to the park, which makes it the most popular theme park in the world and the biggest tourist attraction in the state of Florida.
What Are the Best Beach Destinations in Florida?
Some of the most popular beaches to visit in Florida include Miami Beach, Destin, Clearwater Beach, Naples, Marco Island, and Sanibel Island.
As a coastal state, there are lots of beaches in Florida to suit every type of person and purpose, whether it’s relaxing, water sports, or partying.
What Are the Best Tourist Spots in Florida?
A trip to Florida wouldn’t be complete without visiting Bok Tower Gardens, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Vortex Springs, Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp, Butterfly World, or Disney World.
As a diverse state with lots of natural wonders, museums, and attractions, it’s easy to spend a couple of weeks in Florida exploring it all.