The Sunshine State has dozens of fantastic museums for you to explore. Whether you’re a history buff, love artwork, or are interested in more unique museums, Florida has something for everyone. We’ll cover all your options in our complete guide below.
15 of the Best Museums in Florida
Although Florida is well known for its beautiful beaches and excellent warm weather, you’ll surely want a few days to escape from the sunlight. Here’s where museums more than come in hand, but offer a completely different experience.
No matter what area of Florida you’re heading to, you’ll find some fantastic museums. Check out 15 of the best museums Florida has to offer.
The Museum of Science and Industry, affectionately known as MOSI, is famous in Tampa, Florida. Since the early 1980s, MOSI has been a destination where people of all ages can learn about different technologies, science, etc.
The museum features various exhibits, an outdoor sky ropes course, and a planetarium. This non-profit museum also features traveling exhibits often like the Titanic, the Human Body, and more.
Some of their most popular permanent exhibits include the “dinovations lab,” where you can learn about dinosaurs and see fossils, the mission moonbase where you can pretend to explore space, and the virtual reality simulator.
Before you leave, you have to check out their gift shop for memorable souvenirs. There are an ample amount of STEM-themed toys and puzzles to help engage the next generation of engineers and scientists!
A unique museum in Florida is the Air Force Armament Museum. You’ll find the museum on the Eglin Air Force Base, just a few miles north of Fort Walton Beach.
The museum opened in 1975 and is the only museum in the country fully dedicated to the Air Force armament. As you walk through the converted gymnasium, you’ll see over 29 aircraft. The aircraft you’ll see are as old as WWII, and some are more recent.
Some of the planes you can view include P-51, A-10, AC-130, and B-17. One of the best things about visiting this museum is that admission is free! So, if you’re in the area, you should try stopping by.
If you’re planning a visit to Gainesville or are passing through and need a great activity to do, the Florida Museum of Natural History is one of the best. The museum is near the University of Florida and is the state’s official state-sponsored museum.
The collections at the museum are stunning. You can learn about Caribbean archaeology, Florida archaeology, North American ethnography, etc.
The best thing about natural history museums is that they’re fun and educational for adults and kids. Admission to the museum is free for everyone, but donations are always welcome if you’re feeling generous.
A tremendous and unique museum in Florida is in St. Augustine. The St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum showcases artifacts and history about the ocean’s pirates. The museum was originally in Key West but moved to St. Augustine in 2010.
As you walk throughout the exhibits, you’ll be transported back in time, over 300 years, to Port Royal, Jamaica. This was the height of piracy, and many of the artifacts within the museum are from this time.
Many of the artifacts are factual, but there are some fictional ones too. You’ll walk through a reconstructed pirate ship, look at the artifacts, read about them, and watch videos about piracy.
Orlando is the most visited city in Florida, with more than enough to do during your stay. If you need a break from visiting the theme parks, the Orlando Science Center needs to be on your list.
This science museum is filled with exhibits where you can learn about the different ecosystems in Florida, where our food comes from, dinosaurs, our solar system, and more. People love this museum because they have a theater when you need a break from wandering through the exhibits!
The theater has live and recorded films that showcase the history, geography, science, and other topics. Another popular area of the museum is the STEM discovery center. Kids interested in science will be amazed, but adults can enjoy it too.
Even if art museums aren’t your cup of tea, the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg is one you won’t want to miss if you’re in Florida. Before you step inside, the exterior of the building is stunning and near the water.
The entire museum is dedicated to the works of Salvador Dali, although they do host temporary exhibits every so often, like one with works by Picasso. You can spend hours wandering through the museum taking in the artwork’s beauty.
While you can walk around looking at the artwork alone, you can download the museum’s app if you have a smartphone. With headphones, you can listen to the history and interesting facts about the artwork you’re viewing.
Miami has tons of museums for you to visit, and a great one is the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. One of the main things people love about this museum is that many of the exhibits are hands-on.
This massive museum features exhibits on the weather, technology, feathered dinosaurs, a planetarium, and even an aquarium. If you are fascinated with the ice age, you can head to their exhibit to learn all about the mammoths that roamed the land back then.
Another great exhibit at the museum is the MeLab. Here you can learn how your mind and body work together and how your daily choices affect your overall well-being.
On Florida’s Atlantic Coast, the Indian Temple Mound Museum is a fascinating place to visit. Located in Fort Walton Beach, the museum is technically on an archeological site. The museum sits on the mound that was built by the Pensacola culture in 850 CE.
The museum opened in 1962 and featured exhibits showcasing over 12,000 years of Native American culture and occupation. There are over 1,000 artifacts made of clay, bone, stone, and seashells.
You’ll also find one of the best collections of prehistoric ceramics in the southern United States. While the museum mostly features artifacts from Native Americans, it has a few from European settlers from the same timeframe.
Another fabulous Tampa museum is the Tampa Museum of Art. Nestled downtown, the museum features artwork from various time periods. Even if you’re not a huge art museum fan, this museum is one you’ll want to see at some point.
This art museum exhibits modern artwork, contemporary artwork, and even antiquities. Some fascinating areas of the museum are where you can view the Roman, Etruscan, and Greek antiquities.
Like many other museums, there are several permanent exhibits at the Tampa Museum of Art and temporary ones. Tickets are required for the museum, and it’s best to purchase them online ahead of time.
Anyone who loves outer space knows that Florida has a space center where they send spaceships into space. If you want to visit a real space center, the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island is a great option.
You’ll learn how they send ships to space, astronauts, and more. There’s an area in the museum where you can feel the force of a rocket launch! The Space Shuttle Atlantis is here, and you can stand close enough to touch it.
Other notable areas to visit in the museum before you leave include the astronaut hall of fame, mission control, meeting an astronaut at their live shows, and their exhibit where you can explore the moon.
Ernest Hemingway was one of the most famous American writers, and his 1930s home is now a museum. If you travel to Key West, you can visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. It’s centrally located near many other attractions on the island.
As the house is now a museum, it’s maintained well, and much of the house is in original condition. You can see where Ernest Hemingway wrote some of his works and lived his life while in Key West.
A unique thing about this museum is that there are the Hemingway cats that roam the grounds. When Ernest lived here, he had a six-toed cat, and many of the cats who live here now are descendants of the original cat!
If you’re in Florida’s capital, the Tallahassee Automobile Museum is a great museum that features a collection of classic cars. It’s a locally owned museum that Tallahassee native DeVoe L. Moore owns.
Many of the automobiles you’ll see throughout the museum come straight from the owner’s collection. The museum has been open since 1996 and feels more like a walk-through vehicle history than a traditional museum.
Besides the classic cars that almost everyone comes to the museum to see, they have hundreds of other collectibles! You can see boats through history, fishing lures, sports memorabilia, and adding machines.
Previously named the Villa Vizcaya, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is an estate where businessman James Deering used to live. The museum sits on Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida.
Before you walk inside the villa, the exterior is stunning, and the gardens are immaculate. The museum and gardens are historical landmarks, so you’ll want to be as respectful as possible when visiting.
There are art collections in the main house, gardens, and property.Even the furniture in the main house is considered part of the art collections since they’re from the early 1900s. This museum has one of the largest Italian furniture collections in the country.
The John and Mable Ringling Museum is in Sarasota, about an hour south of Tampa. It’s a large art museum and is the official art museum of Florida. It’s one of the oldest in the state, opening in 1927 to showcase the legacy of John and Mable Ringling.
The Ringling Museum is one of the most culturally rich ones. It has the art museum on the property and the Circus Museum and Ca’ d’Zan. The art museum features collectibles that John and Mable acquired throughout their lives.
The Circus Museum needs to be on your list while on the property because it’s fascinating. You’ll see original clown cars and costumes. It’s a fun museum if you’re not afraid of clowns.
Last but not least is the Great Explorations Children’s Museum. If you’re traveling with kids, then this museum is one they’ll thank you for bringing them to. The museum combines various hands-on exhibits, a pre-school, and a program center.
Kids will love playing doctor, construction worker, and other professions that allow them to learn more about how the world works. Adults can still enjoy their time here too! It’s fun to watch the little ones learning, playing, and even making new friends.
Things to Consider
No matter which museum, or three, you plan on visiting during your time in Florida, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind to maximize your experience:
- Buy your tickets (if applicable) online before you arrive
- Avoid going when crowds are the largest if you can
- Read the museum rules to make sure you’re in compliance
- Consider taking a guided tour if they offer them
- Check the official website for any covid restrictions they may have
- Don’t hesitate to ask any questions if there’s something you find interesting
Frequently Asked Questions
If you find you still have questions surrounding the museums in Florida, here are some of the most frequently asked questions:
What is the Biggest Museum in Florida?
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami is the largest in the Sunshine State.
How Many Museums Are in Florida?
There are just over 500 fantastic museums to explore in Florida.
How Many Museums Are in Miami, Florida?
This South Florida city holds 29 museums. Most of them focus on art, but there are science, children’s, and other museums too.
Are Museums in Florida Free?
It depends on which museum you go to. Some museums have free admission, while others require you to purchase tickets. The cost will vary based on the museum.
When Did the Museum of Science and Industry Open?
This famous Tampa museum opened its doors in 1982.
So, What Are the Best Museums in Florida
Florida is a beautiful state with plenty of museums to occupy your time. Whether you’re more interested in history museums, art museums, or learning about pirates, there’s a museum in Florida for you.