By McCool Travel

This article covers museums in western US, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. I know there are wonderful museums in the other states but I need your help. Please suggest fascinating museums to visit in Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Washington—or any of the states for which I have entries. Thank you!

Please also see: Fascinating Small Town Museums in Southeastern USFascinating Small Town Museums in Midwest US, and Fascinating Small Town Museums in Northeastern US.

There are over 35,000 museums in the United States but travel articles consistently cover the same 50 or so. I have been to many fascinating museums in countless small towns across the United States and believe lesser visited museums should be recognized and visited.

Along with my personal recommendations, I received dozens of suggestions from travel writer friends, tourist offices, PR representatives, and museums themselves.

In addition to highlighting relatively unknown museums, I also will include only museums located outside of major US cities. None of these museums are located in the 25 largest US cities.

The following fascinating small town museums in Western US are listed alphabetically by state, city, and museum name. Hours of operation or prices are not included, so please check the provided website link for further details.

Fascinating Small Town Museums in Western US


Hammer Museum, in Haines, is just what it sounds like, a museum dedicated to preserving the history of hammers. A collection of nearly 2,000 hammers on display at the museum with more than 7,000 total items takes visitors on a journey through the history behind man’s first tool.

Hammer Museum, Haines, Alaska

Hammer Museum, photo courtesy Hammer Museum

Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, in Anchorage, strives to connect people, expand perspectives and encourage global dialogue about the North and its distinct environment. The Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center houses an exhibition of 600 rare Alaska Native artifacts from the Smithsonian Institution. The exhibit is designed so visitors can easily compare and contrast different Alaska Native cultural groups. In the Discovery Center, visitors can explore earth, life, and physical science through 80 hands-on exhibits.
Museums in western US: Anchorage Museum

Anchorage Museum


Greenville Cy Hall Memorial Museum, in Greenville, housed in a restored historical building which once was a warehouse, features a timeline of history about Indian Valley with photographs by decade beginning in 1850. It has a current exhibit about Maidu Families of Indian Valley to celebrate the heritage, legacy, traditions, and lifetimes that walked this beautiful valley long before Europeans moved here.

International Surfing Museum, in Huntington Beach, visitors can explore the destination’s surf heritage, or just immerse in Huntington Beach’s laid-back surfing attitude. Newly installed outside the museum at 42 feet long is the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS Largest Surfboard. The International Surfing Museum is a must for surf buffs thanks to such sacred relics as a surfboard used by Duke Kahanamoku, a cornerstone from the 1914 Huntington Beach Pier, a guitar owned by surf instrumental king Dick Dale, and the Rolex camera used by Bruce Brown to film The Endless Summer.

International Surfing Museum, Huntington Beach, California

International Surfing Museum

Irvine Museum, in Irvine, is the only museum in the state dedicated to the preservation and display of California art of the Impressionist Period (1890-1930).

Irvine Museum, Irvine, California

Irvine Museum, photo courtesy Destination Irvine

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