Although John Adams wanted Independence Day to be celebrated on July 2 because that’s when Congress approved independence from Britain and the majority of delegates signed the Declaration of Independence on August 2, today is America’s birthday. The dates are all screwed up, but everything’s fine as long as you shoot some guns and fireworks between now and the beginning of August. And even if the following places are closed today, it doesn’t get more American than this, well, except for eating 150 million hot dogs…
1 Miracle of America Museum
Apparently the birth of America is a miracle, kind of like when the U.S. Hockey team beat the Russians in 1980. Founded by Gil and Joanne Mangles over thirty years ago, this museum in Montana displays everything Americana from the last 150 years. So basically this place is required to visit if you have an America id card and believe in miracles.
2 Dorothy Molter Museum
Root beer is a beverage almost exclusive to North America. A woman who sold homemade root beer to the people who visited the Isle of Pines on Knife Lake in Minnesota has her own museum. The “Nightingale of the Wilderness,” Dorothy Molter, was the only resident in a canoe wilderness area 3 times the size of Rhode Island. Only in America. After her death, the two cabins she called home were dismantled and restored and are now museums dedicated to her legacy.
3 Superman Museum
The ultimate in American superheroes, I bet you didn’t know Superman is from Metropolis in downstate Illinois. Well, now you know. And what a surprise there is a super museum there with over 100,000 Superman-related items. And the best part? Tourists can pose next to a Superman statue and attend the annual “Superman Celebration“ (sorry you just missed it, but mark your calendars for June 2017!).
4 Dollywood’s Chasing Rainbows Museum
Today (and every single day) you should listen to Dolly Parton’s “Color Me America” but in you should probably also visit the museum devoted to her life, where there are replicas of her childhood cabin full of dolls that her father made for her as a little girl, her one-room schoolhouse, her love notes, etc. Yes, replicas, but it’s not surprising America would have a Dolly Parton Museum full of fakes. But she’s the real thing (well, at least most of her is real…I think).
5 Hobo Museum
It doesn’t get more American than riding the rails like a hobo. In the middle of Iowa in a one-stoplight town that’s seen better days, the museum, located in a former theater, has books, music, and crafts all created by hobos. There’s also an explanation (as well as a neat-looking “quilt”) all about the history and meaning behind the infamous Hobo Code. Besides the museum one can also visit the National Hobo Cemetery and the Annual Hobo Convention. Did you hear that, Don Draper?
6 American Freedom Museum
This Texas museum begins with the Battle of Lexington and ends during the War on Terror. Along the way visitors can admire a lock of George Washington’s hair, read a poem written by John Quincy Adams and check out the Hall of Presidents, which features documents signed by every President from George Washington to Barack Obama. As the museum says on its website – “This is America’s story. This is your story.”
7 Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia
As we all know from the news of the last few years, there is an ugly part of American history that tends to be ignored. But Ferris State University has it all out in the open with a collection dubbed “racist garbage”. The museum has a wide variety of artifacts, including cartoons, figurines and advertising, that depict the history of racist portrayals of African Americans in everyday American popular culture.
8 Liberty Bell of the West
Older than the famous Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, this sound maker of freedom was a present from King Louis XV of France in 1741. Nobody really cared about it, probably because at the time, Illinois was America’s western frontier, and not a U.S. state currently falling apart. But good news! You can visit it today, though from a distance through a barred doorway. AMERICA! MIDWEST! AMERICA!
9 Asphalt Museum
When I think of America, the open and empty road comes to mind. This is one of the few countries where you can drive 1,000 miles and literally see nothing, well, except billboards because, you know, capitalism. Speaking of roads, there’s an actual museum in Sacramento, California dedicated to everyone’s favorite road surface. The collection consists of asphalt “samples” from Route 66, Highway 1 and the ancient Roman road Appian Way as well as not-so-famous roads. See…there’s a museum for everything!
10 One and Only Presidential Museum
I love this museum because it’s so ridiculous and sometimes America is just that. Freakin’ ridiculous. Nick Pahys believes George Washington wasn’t the first U.S. President and opened a museum in Ohio to prove his point. Before the U.S. Constitution there was this thing called the Articles of Confederation, so actually John Hanson deserves the title (even though he had no real executive power but whatever). Adorning the 2-story wood frame museum are portraits and hand-painted signs with such exclamations as “George W. Bush is not the 43rd President of the United States…he will never be…whether you like it or not.” AWESOME!