Looking to visit a museum in Florida but not sure which one to choose? Florida is home to many great museums and attractions dedicated to everything from art to history to science so it can definitely be hard to pick one to visit. Fortunately, we have compiled a list of what are considered the best museums in the state.
The following is a list of the best museums in Florida:
1. St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum:
Address: 12 South Castillo Drive, St. Augustine, FL
Established in 1995, the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum is a history and maritime museum in St. Augustine that is dedicated to pirates. It offers an immersive and interactive experience centered around the history and legends of piracy.
The museum contains the most extensive collection of authentic pirate artifacts in the world. The collection features over 800 artifacts which includes an authentic jolly roger flag, an old “wanted” poster from the 1696 search for Captain Henry Every, Thomas Tew’s pirate chest and Blackbeard’s original blunderbuss among others.
Here are some of the highlights and exhibits you can find at the museum:
Pirate History: The museum provides a comprehensive overview of pirate history, with a focus on the Golden Age of Piracy in the 17th and 18th centuries. You can learn about famous pirates such as Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, and Anne Bonny, and their exploits in the Caribbean and beyond.
Authentic Pirate Artifacts: The museum houses an extensive collection of genuine pirate artifacts, including weapons, treasure chests, navigational tools, and personal items recovered from shipwrecks and archaeological excavations.
Shipwreck Exhibits: Explore displays featuring artifacts from actual shipwrecks, showcasing the challenges and dangers faced by sailors and pirates alike. These exhibits highlight the importance of maritime archaeology and the preservation of underwater cultural heritage.
Pirate Legends and Lore: Discover the myths, legends, and folklore surrounding pirates through interactive exhibits and storytelling. Learn about hidden treasure maps, pirate codes, and the legends of ghostly pirate ships.
Interactive Exhibits: The museum offers interactive displays and experiences, allowing visitors to test their skills as pirates. You can try your hand at knot tying, steer a pirate ship, fire cannons, and even experience a simulated pirate battle.
The Treasure Shop: Before leaving the museum, you can browse through the Treasure Shop, which offers a variety of pirate-themed merchandise, including books, maps, pirate flags, costumes, and unique souvenirs.
The St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum provides an engaging and educational experience for all ages, bringing the fascinating world of pirates to life. It’s a must-visit attraction for history enthusiasts, pirate fans, and families looking for a fun and immersive adventure.
If you would like to visit the museum and want to save money on tickets, check out this article on St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum discount tickets.
2. The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg:
Address: 1 Dali Blvd, St. Petersburg, FL
Established in 1982, the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg is an art museum dedicated to the works of Salvador Dali.
The collection is housed in a surrealism-inspired building that features a large glass entryway and skylight and a spiral staircase.
The collection includes 96 oil paintings, over 100 watercolors, 1,300 photographs, graphics and sculptures. The museum is home to more Dali works of art than any other museum in the world.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect to see and experience at the Dali Museum:
Dalí’s Artwork: The museum houses the largest collection of Dalí’s works outside of Europe. It features over 2,400 pieces, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, and prints that span Dalí’s entire career. Visitors can explore his iconic and thought-provoking artworks that showcase his unique style and imaginative vision.
The Dalí’s Building: The museum’s building itself is a work of art. Designed by architect Yann Weymouth, it features a distinctive geodesic glass structure known as “The Enigma.” The design is inspired by Dalí’s fascination with the dome and his belief that it represented a “maternal embrace” of his artwork.
The Dalí Universe: The museum takes visitors on a journey through Dalí’s life and artistic evolution. The exhibits provide insight into his influences, artistic techniques, and his contributions to the surrealist movement. From his early works to his exploration of dreamlike landscapes and melting watches, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of Dalí’s artistic genius.
Dalí’s Masterpieces: The Dali Museum showcases several of Dalí’s most famous and iconic works. Among them, you can see “The Persistence of Memory,” which features the melting pocket watches, and “The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus,” a large-scale painting with intricate details and symbolism.
Special Exhibitions: The museum often hosts temporary exhibitions that explore various aspects of Dalí’s art, life, and influences. These exhibitions may focus on specific themes, collaborations, or lesser-known aspects of Dalí’s career, providing visitors with fresh perspectives on his work.
Education and Events: The Dali Museum offers educational programs, workshops, lectures, and interactive activities for all ages. It provides opportunities for visitors to engage with the art and learn about Dalí’s creative process and techniques.
Museum Store and Café: The museum has a well-curated store offering a range of Dalí-inspired merchandise, including books, prints, clothing, and unique gifts. Additionally, the museum’s café provides a pleasant setting to enjoy a meal or refreshments amidst the artistic ambiance.
The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg provides a captivating experience for art enthusiasts, offering an immersive journey into the surreal world of Salvador Dalí.
3. John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art:
Address: 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, FL
Established in 1927, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is an art museum is Sarasota, Florida.
The museum has 21 galleries of European paintings, Mediterranean antiquities and Asian and American contemporary art. The collection includes more than 10,000 pieces of art such as paintings, sculptures, prints, photos and drawings.
The museum is located on the Ringling Estate which is also home to the Ringling’s mansion, Mable Ringling’s rose garden, the Circus Museum and Tibbals Learning Center, the historic Asolo Theater, the Ringling Art Library, the Secret Garden, the grave site of John and Mable Ringling and the FSU Center for the Performing Arts.
Here’s an overview of what you can explore at the Ringling Museum:
The Museum of Art: The main building of the Ringling Museum is the Museum of Art. It houses a diverse collection of European, American, and Asian art spanning various periods and styles. The collection includes works by renowned artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Diego Velázquez, Frans Hals, Thomas Gainsborough, and Marcel Duchamp, among others.
Circus Museum: The Ringling Museum also features a Circus Museum dedicated to the history and legacy of the circus. It showcases an extensive collection of circus memorabilia, including costumes, posters, wagons, and other artifacts. Visitors can learn about the rich history of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which was once owned by John Ringling.
Ca’ d’Zan: This mansion, also known as the Ringling’s residence, is a beautiful example of Venetian Gothic architecture. Visitors can tour the interior and explore the stunning rooms, which are filled with decorative arts, furnishings, and art pieces. The mansion offers breathtaking views of Sarasota Bay.
Historic Asolo Theater: Originally built in 1798 in Asolo, Italy, the historic Asolo Theater was dismantled, brought to the Ringling Museum, and reassembled. Today, it hosts a variety of performances, including plays, musicals, and opera.
Bayfront Gardens: The Ringling Museum boasts magnificent bayfront gardens, which span approximately 66 acres. Visitors can stroll through various themed gardens, including the Mable Ringling Rose Garden, the Dwarf Garden, and the Secret Garden. The gardens feature sculptures, fountains, and lush greenery, creating a serene and picturesque setting.
Art Library and Archives: The museum’s library and archives house an extensive collection of art-related books, periodicals, manuscripts, and archival materials.
The Ringling Museum offers a rich cultural experience, combining art, history, and beautiful surroundings. It provides an opportunity to explore diverse art collections, learn about the rich circus heritage, and appreciate the beauty of the Ca’ d’Zan mansion and bayfront gardens.
In 2015, Buzzfeed ranked the Ringling Museum number six on its list of the best 39 museums in the world.
4. WonderWorks in Orlando:
Address: 9067 International Dr, Orlando, FL
The Wonderworks is an interactive science museum in Orlando. The museum is housed in a unique building that is constructed upside down and is designed to look as if it had been uprooted by a tornado and dropped upside down on its roof. The museum features interactive exhibits on the themes of space, physics and math.
Here are some of the attractions and features you can expect to find at WonderWorks:
Upside-Down Building: WonderWorks is housed in an upside-down building, which is immediately noticeable and adds to the park’s distinctive appearance.
Exhibits and Interactive Zones: WonderWorks features over 100 interactive exhibits and hands-on activities spread across various themed zones. These zones cover a wide range of topics, including physics, space, light and sound, natural disasters, art, and more. Visitors can engage with exhibits such as a hurricane simulator, a bubble lab, a giant piano, a virtual roller coaster, and a 6D motion ride.
Indoor Ropes Course: The park includes an indoor ropes course where visitors can test their balance, agility, and strength while navigating through suspended obstacles and challenges.
Laser Tag: WonderWorks offers an exciting laser tag arena where participants can engage in competitive and team-based laser tag battles.
XD Theater: Visitors can experience immersive entertainment in the XD Theater, which combines 3D visuals with motion seats, special effects, and surround sound for an exhilarating cinematic experience.
Magic Comedy Dinner Show: WonderWorks features a comedy magic dinner show that provides an evening of laughter, illusions, and interactive entertainment.
Wonder Zones: Each Wonder Zone within WonderWorks focuses on a different theme and provides a unique learning experience. Examples include the Natural Disasters Zone, Light & Sound Zone, and the Space Discovery Zone.
Indoor Amusement Park: WonderWorks offers various amusement park-style attractions, including a 4D motion ride, a virtual reality experience, and interactive games.
WonderWorks provides a fun and educational experience for visitors of all ages. It’s an excellent destination for families, school groups, and anyone looking for a unique and engaging amusement park adventure with an emphasis on hands-on learning.
5. Florida Museum of Natural History:
Address: University of Florida Cultural Plaza, 3215 Hull Road, Gainesville, FL
Established in 1891, the Florida Museum of Natural History is Florida’s official state-sponsored natural history museum. The museum features exhibits on the flora, fauna, fossils and historic figures of the state of Florida.
Here are some of the highlights and attractions you can explore at the Florida Museum of Natural History:
Permanent Exhibits: The museum houses numerous permanent exhibits that cover various aspects of natural history. These exhibits include displays on Florida’s ecosystems, fossils, prehistoric life, biodiversity, and cultural history. You can learn about the state’s diverse flora and fauna, explore ancient fossils, and discover the rich cultural heritage of Florida’s indigenous peoples.
Butterfly Rainforest: One of the museum’s most popular attractions is the Butterfly Rainforest, a screened-in tropical exhibit featuring hundreds of live butterflies. Visitors can walk through lush vegetation and observe butterflies of different species up close. It’s a serene and immersive experience in a vibrant and tropical setting.
Fossil Hall: The Fossil Hall showcases a range of prehistoric fossils, including those from Florida and around the world. You can explore ancient marine ecosystems, see dinosaur skeletons, and learn about the fascinating history of life on Earth.
Northwest Florida: Waterways & Wildlife: This exhibit focuses on the unique ecosystems found in the Northwest Florida region. It highlights the area’s diverse marine life, including manatees, sea turtles, and coastal habitats like dune systems and estuaries.
South Florida People & Environments: This exhibit explores the relationship between people and the environment in South Florida. It delves into the cultural history, archaeological sites, and conservation efforts in the region.
Discovery Zone: The Discovery Zone is a hands-on area specifically designed for children. It offers interactive exhibits and activities that engage young visitors in learning about natural history and science.
Special Exhibitions: The museum hosts temporary exhibitions that cover a wide range of topics related to natural history, conservation, and scientific research. These exhibitions change periodically, offering new and engaging experiences for visitors.
Educational Programs: The Florida Museum of Natural History offers educational programs for all ages, including school field trips, summer camps, workshops, and lectures. These programs provide opportunities for hands-on learning and further exploration of natural history topics.
The Florida Museum of Natural History is a valuable resource for learning about the natural world and the rich biodiversity of Florida. It offers a combination of informative exhibits, immersive experiences, and educational programs that cater to visitors of all ages.
6. Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum:
Address: 907 Whitehead Street, Key West, FL
Established as a museum in 1964, the Ernest Hemingway Museum is a historic house in Key West where Ernest Hemingway lived from 1931 to 1939.
Built in 1851, the house is a French Colonial-style house originally built for marine architect Asa Tift and features a pool, veranda and a garden.
The house is also home to dozens of cats, known as Hemingway Cats, many of which are six-toed cats that are rumored to be descended from Hemingway’s own cats.
The house features some of Hemingway’s original furniture and many of his personal possessions, such as his typewriter.
Here’s what you can expect to see and experience at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum:
Hemingway’s Home: The main attraction of the museum is the house itself, a beautiful Spanish Colonial-style mansion. Visitors can explore the rooms where Hemingway lived and worked, including his writing studio, library, bedrooms, and the famous penny-covered bathroom.
Guided Tours: Guided tours are available throughout the day, led by knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides who provide insights into Hemingway’s life, writing, and the historical context of the house. They share anecdotes, stories, and interesting facts about Hemingway’s time in Key West.
Hemingway’s Writing Studio: Hemingway’s writing studio, located above the property’s carriage house, remains largely untouched since his time. Visitors can see his writing desk, typewriter, books, and personal belongings, offering a glimpse into the environment where he created some of his iconic works.
Gardens and Courtyard: The museum is surrounded by lush gardens and a peaceful courtyard. Visitors can wander through the tropical landscape, view the resident descendants of Hemingway’s six-toed cats (polydactyl cats), and enjoy the serene atmosphere.
Polydactyl Cats: The Hemingway Home is famous for its resident cats, many of which possess the genetic trait of polydactylism, resulting in extra toes. These cats, believed to be descendants of Hemingway’s original pets, freely roam the property and have become an integral part of the museum experience.
Hemingway Memorabilia and Artifacts: The museum displays a collection of Hemingway memorabilia, including personal belongings, photographs, letters, and original manuscripts. These artifacts provide further insight into Hemingway’s life, travels, and literary career.
Gift Shop: The museum features a gift shop where visitors can find books, souvenirs, and Hemingway-themed merchandise.
The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the life and work of one of America’s most celebrated writers. It provides an opportunity to explore Hemingway’s former residence, view his personal belongings, and learn about his enduring literary legacy.
In 2018, Bustle Magazine named the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum one of the 15 places that all cat lovers should visit.
In 2021 Southern Living Magazine named it one of the 20 best things to do in Key West and House Beautiful Magazine named the pool at the home one of the best historic house pools to visit.
7. The Tallahassee Museum:
Address: 3945 Museum Rd, Tallahassee, FL
Established in 1957, the Tallahassee Museum is a museum about Tallahassee’s natural and cultural history. It is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the natural and cultural history of the region. The museum offers a variety of exhibits, wildlife encounters, and educational programs.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect to see and experience at the Tallahassee Museum:
Nature Trails and Wildlife: The museum features a network of nature trails that wind through forests, wetlands, and meadows. Visitors can explore the trails, observe native plants, and encounter various wildlife species, including birds, reptiles, and mammals.
Historic Buildings: The Tallahassee Museum showcases a collection of historic buildings that have been relocated to the site. These buildings include a 19th-century farmhouse, a one-room schoolhouse, a turpentine still, a plantation house, and a blacksmith shop. Visitors can explore the interiors of these structures and learn about the history of the region.
Big Bend Farm: This exhibit replicates a working farm from the 1880s, complete with farm animals, crops, and traditional farming techniques. Visitors can experience life on a historic farm, learn about sustainable agriculture, and interact with farm animals.
Tallahassee Tree to Tree Adventures: This high ropes and zip line course provides an exhilarating and challenging outdoor adventure. Visitors can navigate through elevated obstacles and zip lines while enjoying panoramic views of the museum grounds.
Wildlife Florida: This exhibit focuses on the diverse ecosystems and wildlife found in Florida. It features interactive displays, live animal encounters, and educational programs that highlight the importance of conservation and the preservation of Florida’s natural habitats.
Discovery Center: The museum’s Discovery Center offers hands-on educational activities and exhibits suitable for children. It encourages interactive learning about nature, science, and local history through play and exploration.
Outdoor Concerts and Events: The Tallahassee Museum hosts a variety of outdoor concerts, festivals, and special events throughout the year. These events provide opportunities for community engagement and entertainment in a scenic outdoor setting.
Gift Shop and Café: The museum has a gift shop where visitors can find nature-themed merchandise, books, and unique souvenirs. Additionally, there is a café where visitors can grab a bite to eat and enjoy refreshments during their visit.
The Tallahassee Museum provides an immersive experience that combines natural beauty, cultural history, and educational opportunities. It is an ideal destination for individuals and families interested in learning about the region’s natural environment, wildlife, and local heritage.
8. Vizcaya Museum:
Address: 3251 S Miami Ave, Miami, FL
Established in 1953, the Vizcaya Museum is a historic house museum in Miami that once belonged to businessman James Deering and features a villa, open-air courtyard and formal gardens.
Built between 1914 and 1922, the house is an Italian Renaissance-style house designed by architect F. Burrall Hoffman.
The villa has around 70 rooms which are decorated with numerous antiques, art and furnishing dating from the 15th to the 19th century.
Here’s what you can expect to see and experience at the Vizcaya Museum:
Main House: The centerpiece of the museum is the Main House, a stunning Mediterranean Revival-style villa. Visitors can explore the mansion’s lavish interiors, including the grand rooms, galleries, and the breathtaking central courtyard.
Gardens: Vizcaya’s gardens are a major highlight of the museum. Designed in an Italian Renaissance style, the gardens feature beautifully manicured lawns, fountains, sculptures, and elaborate landscaping. Visitors can stroll through the formal gardens, including the Secret Garden, and enjoy the serene and picturesque setting.
Vizcaya Village: Adjacent to the main estate is the Vizcaya Village, which includes historical buildings and structures. The village showcases various facilities, such as the former dairy, greenhouse, staff quarters, and workshops. It provides insight into the daily operations and self-sustainability of the estate.
Art Collection: The museum houses an extensive collection of European and American art from the 15th to the 19th century. The collection includes paintings, sculptures, furniture, and decorative arts. Many of these works are displayed within the Main House, showcasing the integration of art and architecture.
Café and Shop: The museum features a café where visitors can enjoy refreshments and light meals. There is also a shop offering a range of unique gifts, books, and souvenirs inspired by Vizcaya’s art and gardens.
Educational Programs: The Vizcaya Museum offers various educational programs, workshops, and tours that delve into the history, art, and architecture of the estate. These programs provide deeper insights into the cultural significance and preservation efforts of Vizcaya.
Special Events: The museum occasionally hosts special events, including outdoor concerts, festivals, and cultural celebrations, which offer visitors an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful surroundings in a lively atmosphere.
The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a treasure of Miami’s history and architecture, offering a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the early 20th century. With its stunning architecture, magnificent gardens, and exceptional art collection, Vizcaya provides a memorable and enriching experience for visitors.
In 2018, the New York Times named the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens one of the six great gardens to visit in Florida.
In 2022, U.S. News Travel named the Vizcaya Museum one of the top 15 museums in Miami and Time Out magazine named it one of the best attractions in Miami and also named it one of the best things to do in Miami for locals and tourists in 2023.
9. History Miami Museum:
Address: 101 W Flagler St, Miami, FL
Established in 1940, the History Miami Museum is a history museum about Miami.
The museum is a 70,000 square foot facility that features more than one million historic images and 30,000 artifacts including a 1920s trolley car and silver recovered from historic shipwrecks.
The museum is the largest history museum in Florida and houses four permanent galleries and up to three traveling exhibits, Archives and Research Center, the South Florida Folklife Center, the Education Center, and City Tours program.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect to see and experience at the History Miami Museum:
Permanent Exhibits: The museum features a variety of permanent exhibits that explore the rich history of Miami and its diverse communities. These exhibits cover topics such as the indigenous peoples of Florida, early settlers, the influence of different immigrant groups, the city’s development, and its cultural heritage.
South Florida People & Environments: This exhibit focuses on the natural environment of South Florida, including the unique ecosystems, wildlife, and plants that inhabit the region. It also explores the interactions between humans and the environment, including topics such as conservation and sustainability.
Tropical Dreams: A People’s History of South Florida: This exhibit presents the cultural and social history of Miami and South Florida, highlighting the experiences and contributions of various communities. It delves into topics such as civil rights, immigration, labor movements, and the diverse cultural heritage that has shaped the region.
Miami Circle: The museum houses a replica of the Miami Circle, an archaeological site that contains a circular arrangement of holes carved into the limestone bedrock. This exhibit provides insights into the ancient Tequesta Native American culture that inhabited the area.
Special Exhibitions: History Miami Museum hosts a rotating schedule of temporary exhibitions that delve into specific aspects of Miami’s history, contemporary issues, and cultural topics. These exhibitions offer fresh perspectives and allow for ongoing exploration and discovery.
Educational Programs: The museum offers educational programs, workshops, lectures, and guided tours for visitors of all ages. These programs provide opportunities to learn about various historical and cultural topics, engage in hands-on activities, and gain a deeper understanding of the region’s heritage.
Museum Store: The History Miami Museum has a store where visitors can find books, educational materials, gifts, and souvenirs related to the history and culture of Miami and South Florida.
The History Miami Museum provides a comprehensive and immersive experience that celebrates the diverse stories, traditions, and heritage of Miami and South Florida. It serves as a valuable resource for learning, understanding, and appreciating the rich history and cultural fabric of the region.
In 2022, U.S. News Travel named History Miami Museum one of the top 15 museums in Miami and Time Out magazine named it one of the best cultural museums in Miami.
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