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5 Hall of Fame museums worth a visit

July 24, 2014 at 3:01 PM ET

Image: The National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame is housed inside a giant steel, concrete and fiberglass fish.
Courtesy The National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame
The National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame is housed inside a giant steel, concrete and fiberglass fish.

Whether you’re a sports fan, a music lover or an aficionado of toys, towing, skiing or fishing, there’s a hall of fame somewhere honoring that industry’s heroes.

“The best halls of fame also offer a museum experience,” said Doug Kirby, publisher of RoadsideAmerica.com. “That helps provide context about the history, industry and achievements of those enshrined on plaques.”

Among his favorites are the US National Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum in Ishpeming, Michigan, which honors the sport’s best athletes and its history, and the International Towing and Recovery Museum, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which has a Hall of Fame saluting “the movers and shakers of an industry dedicated to hauling broken-down vehicles safely off America’s highways.” 

Here are a few other halls of fame you won’t want to miss:

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Image: The baseball Babe Ruth hit for his final career big league home run in 1935 is on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.
Milo Stewart Jr. / National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
The baseball Babe Ruth hit for his final career big league home run in 1935 is on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.

As many as 300,000 visitors make the trek to Cooperstown, New York, each year to visit and pay respects to the heroes of the game called “America’s pastime.”

Three floors of artifact-filled exhibits document baseball history, and bronze plaques honor each Hall of Famer. During this summer’s Hall of Fame Weekend (July 25-28) more than 50 Hall of Fame legends, including Hank Aaron, Cal Ripken and Sandy Koufax will be on hand to help celebrate the Class of 2014 inductees Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Tony La Russa, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Joe Torre.

If you go: Open daily (except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). Admission: $19.50 for adults; Children 7-12: $7.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

This museum in Cleveland, Ohio, holds a star-studded ceremony each spring for its newest inductees. Performers inducted this year included Kiss, Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt and the E Street Band.

The museum displays iconic rock 'n' roll artifacts year-round, including the most comprehensive exhibit of Beatles’ items, and offers special exhibits, such as “Right Here, Right Now,” which invites visitors of different generations to learn “how the roots and pivotal moments in rock and roll influenced current artists and the future of music,” said museum spokesman Todd Mesek.

If you go: Open daily. Adults: $22; Kids 9-12: $13.

The Strong 

At this Rochester, New York, museum devoted to the history of play, a new batch of popular and well-loved toys is inducted in the National Toy Hall of Fame each November.

“The types of toys people have played with over time tells us a great deal about our cultural history,” said Shane Rhinewald, spokesman for The Strong. “Because of this, the National Toy Hall of Fame recognizes toys that have inspired creative play and enjoyed popularity over multiple generations."

Past winners have included Barbie (1998), the cardboard box (2005) and dominoes (2012).

In addition to a gallery celebrating the more than 50 toys that have been inducted into the hall of fame so far, the museum offers a plethora of interactive play areas and exhibits filled with historic toys and games.

If you go: Open 362 days a year. Age 2 and older: $13.50.

Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum 

Part museum, part hall of fame, this Hayward, Wisconsin, attraction is a shrine to anglers built inside the “Big Musky,” a 143-foot-long, 41-foot-tall concrete, steel and fiberglass fish. 

In addition to mounted specimens, fishing gear and more than 50,000 vintage and historical fishing artifacts, the hall tracks freshwater fishing world records and honors legendary anglers, fishing guides and artists who have tackled fishing themes.

If you go: Open daily, April 15 through October. Admission: $7 adults; $5 kids 10-17.

RV/MH Hall of Fame

This Elkhart, Indiana, attraction not only honors the leaders of the recreational vehicle and motor home industry, it documents the history of the vehicles and displays a treasure-trove of trailers reaching back to the 1920s and 1930s. Included along a winding "highway" that runs through the building are Mae West’s 1931 Chevrolet Housecar and a 1954 Yellowstone, an unusual 18-foot-long trailer that was equipped with residential-type appliances and two doors.

If you go: Open daily. Admission: $10 adults; $7 youth 6-18.

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