If you’re a history buff, New England is the place to be. The region is full of interesting and unique history museums where you can learn about the area’s rich culture and colorful past. Check out some of the best historical hot spots in New England, and plan an educational day trip for yourself or the entire family.
Maine Maritime Museum (Maine)
Bath’s Maine Maritime Museum is a representation of the long seafaring heritage of the New England coast, with fascinating interactive exhibits and artifacts geared toward children and adults. A two-day admission pass will give you access to the active waterfront, a Victorian shipyard owner’s home, as well as a scenic campus on the Kennebec River. You’ll also catch a glimpse of the largest sculpture in New England — a full-size replica of the large wooden sailing vessel Wyoming. For more information, visit mainemaritimemuseum.org/about/.
Harvard Museum of Natural History (Massachusetts)
From fossils and dinosaurs to sea life and climate change, the Harvard Museum of Natural History puts the history of our planet and all of its many inhabitants on display. Located in the midst of bustling Harvard Square in Cambridge, visitors will find a wide selection of exhibits suitable for all ages. In commemoration of Henry David Thoreau’s The Maine Woods, written 150 years ago, be sure to check out the “Thoreau’s Maine Woods” exhibit on display until Sept. 1. For more information, visit www.hmnh.harvard.edu.
Newport Historical Society Museum (Rhode Island)
What makes Newport one of the most important historical cities in the region? Visit the Historical Society Museum to find out, located in the 1762 Brick Market Building on Thames Street. Exhibits and artifacts explore the people and architecture that make this island town such a memorable place, including James Franklin’s printing press, daily life objects going back to the 17th century, and a reproduction 1890s omnibus featuring a video tour of Bellevue Avenue. For additional information, visit newporthistorical.org/index.php/museum-shop.
Salem Wax Museum (Massachusetts)
If you’re planning on visiting Salem, be sure to stop at the Wax Museum, located right near the fabled Old Burial Point. This unique way to experience Salem history features lifelike wax figures of many of the area’s most recognizable figures, including Judge Colonel John Hawthorne of the witch trials and accused “witch” Tituba. Featured exhibits range from Salem's founding in 1626 through the Witch Hysteria of 1692. To find out more, visit salemwaxmuseum.com.
Mark Twain House (Connecticut)
Mark Twain fans can get a taste of where the author and humorist spent many of his happiest and most productive years: his beloved Hartford home. In addition, the nearby Mark Twain Museum Center offers plenty of exhibits about his life and work, including a theater showing a mini-documentary, and many artifacts collected from his everyday life. Visit marktwainhouse.org for more information.
No matter what historical period you’re interested in, there’s sure to be a New England museum that fits the bill. So if you’re planning a day trip somewhere in the region, be sure to check out some of the top destinations for history buffs, from Maine to Connecticut.