Top 10 Museums Run by the National Park Service

Some National Park Service units stick with the “go outside and play” philosophy, but these selected parks do a great job of interpreting human and natural history inside a museum.  You might recognize some names from our Top 10 National Historical Parks, National Monuments, and National Historic Sites.  We previously created a Top 10 list of our favorite museums at the 62 National Parks.

10. Colonial National Historical Park (Virginia)

An indoor French frigate makes Yorktown a must-visit museum

9. Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park (Ohio)

Follow the Aviation Trail to the Wright Brothers cycle shop and National Parachute Museum

8. Fort Necessity National Battlefield (Pennsylvania)

An excellent museum interprets the start of the global French and Indian War in 1754

7. Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site (Missouri)

A balanced look at a controversial U.S. President housed in his former barn

6. Statue of Liberty National Monument (New York-New Jersey)

Ellis Island and Lady Liberty (new museum opened in 2019) make an unforgettable day trip

5. Gettysburg National Military Park (Pennsylvania)

The museum opened in 2008, and pay extra for the excellent film and the Cyclorama painting

4. Fort Stanwix National Monument (New York)

A superb use of videos and kiosks to provide four different characters’ perspectives on the events of the American Revolution in Upstate New York

3. Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site (Alabama)

Two entire airplane hangars full of aircraft and displays about these Civil Rights pioneers

2. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (Oregon)

The best natural history museum in the entire National Park Service system

…and finally our #1 museum at a National Park Service site:

1. Andersonville National Historic Site (Georgia)

Visiting the National Prisoner of War Museum is a powerful experience

Honorable Mentions

Dinosaur National Monument (Colorado-Utah)

An indoor mountainside full of dinosaur fossils makes this place special

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park (Maryland)

This museum operated by Maryland State Parks opened in 2017 to explain this incredible woman’s life

Hopewell Culture National Monument (Ohio)

A small museum, but the artifacts are wonderfully displayed (and it has a great film)

Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument (District of Columbia)

Like New York’s Women’s Rights NHP, this museum makes you think about modern issues

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site (North Carolina)

This museum will help you solve the mystery of the “Lost Colony” of 1590

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