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Discover California’s Rich Culture and Heritage at Area Museums

Southern California is blessed with several museums and cultural attractions that tell the story of California’s cultural heritage and rich history. From the Naval Museum of Armament and Technology to the International Surfing Museum, you can discover California through a multitude of lenses and learn about legendary people and events that have shaped California history.

Spend an afternoon admiring the aircraft at the Burbank Aviation Museum or see boards of surf legends at the California Surf Museum. Many offer docent-led tours and audio ours while others are easy to explore with a self-guided tour. Check in at the visitor’s center about educational activities and special events at the venue.

Other museums to keep on your radar during your trip include:

  • Paley Center for Media
  • Leonis Adobe Museum
  • Museum of Tolerance
  • Pacific Asia Museum
  • Page Museum La Brea Tar Pits
  • Redondo Beach Historical Museum
  • Palo Verde Historical Museum
  • Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum
  • McDonalds and Route 66 Museum
  • Route 66 Territory Museum


Naval Museum of Armament & Technology

California features a rich and diverse landscape of museums. The Naval Museum of Armament and Technology, located on the US Naval Air Weapons Station, near Barstow. Tour the museum to learn about the air and surface weapon systems development. Walk around and view US Navy aircraft and weapons up close. Exhibits include the AIM-54, Laser-Guided Bomb, Fuel Air Explosive Weapons and the Mark 80.

Visit the Gift Store to browse the selection of clothing, books, videos and gift items. The museum's free admission is convenient for visiting more than once. Enjoy your tour of the Naval Museum of Armament and Technology while traveling through the Desert Region of California. It's a premier NAVY-based attraction in Barstow.

Paley Center for Media

California offers a diverse landscape of attractions. Visit the Los Angeles area soon and check out the Paley Center for Media. You'll find it in the Beverley Hills area, not far from downtown Los Angeles. You'll have an opportunity to view footage and listen to recordings of more than 75,000 programs.

Choose from a catalog of programs to select four audio or visual recordings to listen to and watch, all at the same time. The Museum of Television & Radio was founded in 1975, and in 2007 was re-named to the Paley Center for Media in an effort to include emerging forms of digital media. There is also a location in New York City.

Burbank Aviation Museum

It's easy to stumble upon any number of unique and interesting museums across California. When you're in the Los Angeles area, be sure to visit and explore the Burbank Aviation Museum. It's a short drive from downtown Burbank, and North Hollywood. Found within Valhalla Memorial Park, the Burbank Aviation Museum highlights the aviation heritage of Burbank.

The museum is the result of volunteer community collaboration to honor local aviation production and influential people. Burbank is currently home to a variety of aviation related companies. Currently located in the Portal of the Folded Wings south of Burbank's Bob Hope Airport, make a visit and support the history of aviation in Burbank.

Leonis Adobe Museum

Indulge in a small piece of Los Angeles history. The Leonis Adobe Museum, located near Thousand Oaks, was the home of "the King of Calabasas," Leonis Adobe. Tour this 150-year-old home, with its original buildings, to see what life on the ranch was like in the late 1800s. In 1962, the ranch was saved from demolition and declared the first Historic Cultural Monument in Los Angeles.

The museum's artifacts include laundry washboards, the horno oven, wagons and several pieces of farm equipment. While visiting the ranch, also tour the historic Plummer House. It was moved from Plummer Park in West Hollywood, to the ranch property in 1983. The house was restored and is now a Visitor Center and Gift Shop for the Museum.

Museum of Tolerance

Plan your next visit to Los Angeles and check out the Museum of Tolerance. It's a one-of-a-kind museum, located on the west side of Los Angeles. The Museum strives to educate the public on respecting each other, while engaging their hearts and minds through its interactive exhibits. Current exhibits include the Holocaust Section, Tolerancenter, Finding Our Families, Finding Ourselves and Special Exhibitions.

Visitors view historical artifacts and explore bigotry and discrimination while strolling through the Museum. Partake in the special events or customized programs hosted at the Museum. Browse through the Museum Gift Shop to shop for books, clothing and decorative accessories. Make the most of your time in Los Angeles.

Pacific Asia Museum

Be sure to visit one of the most unique historical preservation sites in the Los Angeles area. The Pacific Asia Museum is housed in a historic 1924 building, in central Pasadena. Visitors to the museum stroll through classic and contemporary arts of the Pacific Islands and Asia.

The museum strives to educate the public and preserves the cultural heritage through its collection of over 15,000 artifacts. Browse the collection of unique Asian inspired clothing and jewelry, books and decorative accessories in the Museum Gift Store.

Page Museum La Brea Tar Pits

See one of the most iconic sites in Los Angeles. The Page Museum La Brea Tar Pits is a site located in one of the world's most famous fossil locations. The museum features one of the most diverse exhibits of Ice Age animals and plants.

Stroll the museum to learn about the Los Angeles Basin 10,000 - 40,000 years ago, when mammoths and saber-toothed cats roamed the area. Approximately 10,000 animals became entrapped in the tar pits, during 30,000 years. Take your time viewing the museum's collection of over one million recovered bones and over three million items, in total.

Visitors are welcome to view current work in progress, through the Page Museum Laboratory windows. Life-size replicas of extinct mammals are located outside in Hancock Park, for viewing. Los Angeles travelers can rest comfortably at one of the several area hotels. Dig into the area's history, while in town.

Redondo Beach Historical Museum

Located in the 1904 Queen Anne House, the Redondo Beach Historical Museum showcases a wonderful collection of Redondo Beach artifacts and memorabilia. Stroll through the exhibits to view the photographs, historic documents and school annuals and learn about the area's history.

Browse through the gift shop for a unique gift – all sales support the museum. Have fun in Redondo Beach, the South Bay region of Los Angeles. Ride the surf, relax on the beach, start a game of beach volleyball or have fun shopping at the South Bay Galleria Shopping Center.

International Surfing Museum

Wether you enjoy hitting the waves when they break just right, or if simply prefer to watch from the shore, surfing is fast-growing sport in the US. The International Surfing Museum is a top destination in Orange County. It houses an expansive collection of classic surfboards, Duke Kahanamoku artifacts, surf music, surf films and Endless Summer movie memorabilia.

The Toys in Surfland, A Collection of Unique and Rare Toys is a wonderful exhibit to browse through. Take your time through this wonderful Huntington Beach museum. Stroll the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame to see the honored individuals who have helped define the surfing culture in five categories: Surf Culture, Surf Champion, Surf Pioneer, Local Hero and Women of the Year.

Palo Verde Historical Museum

Across California, you're likely to find a wealth of quaint and unique museums. On your next visit to Blythe, this holds true. The Palo Verde Historical Museum is located along the Colorado River in the Desert Region of CA. Visitors to the museum enjoy strolling through the wonderful collection of artifacts, gems and minerals and the cactus garden.

The museum's genealogical information can also be helpful for those researching their family history. While in Blythe, enjoy fishing and boating on the Colorado River in this California desert region. Schedule time during your visit to see the Blythe Intaglios, large geoglyphs of light rocks against dark rocks in the shape of human figures and a labyrinth.

Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum

Learn a bit about steam engines in California. The Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum is found near Oceanside and Escondido in the San Diego metro area. The mission of the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum is to provide educational and recreational facilities to North San Diego County.

The wide range of equipment exhibits span the time period from the mid 1800s to early 1960s – featuring horse drawn and multiple era’s of mechanized equipment primarily used for farming. The Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum offers demonstrations of the equipment, which is maintained in working order along with static exhibits. An ideal family adventure, there is a working Blacksmith shop, Wheelwright shop and Farmhouse showcasing the work and lifestyle or earlier days.

California Surf Museum

Trace the roots of California's passion for surfing at the California Surf Museum. In downtown Oceanside the museum archives and exhibits all things surfing related from photos to the popular time-line of surfboards from current back to the early 1900s.

Check the calendar for special museum events including surf swap meets, film screenings and the popular California Surf Festival. Immerse yourself in authentic Southern California culture with a visit to the California Surf Museum. Any visit to the San Diego Metro Area should yield a day-trip to the California Surf Museum.

McDonald's & Route 66 Museum

See a bit of unique California history with a tour of the McDonald's & Route 66 Museum. Found in San Bernardino, this is the site of the first McDonald's ever restaurant. Brothers Dick and Maurice McDonald first opened the restaurant in 1948, selling hamburgers for 15 cents and french fries for 10 cents. Enjoy a tour on your next stay in the LA area.

Ray Kroc was successful in franchising the McDonald's restaurants and bought out the McDonald brothers in 1961. In 1962, Ray Kroc opened a McDonald's restaurant a block from the original restaurant, which forced the McDonald brother's restaurant to close. Visitors to the original restaurant today will see a Route 66 Museum with a variety of Route 66 memorabilia and historical McDonald's items.

Route 66 Territory Museum

Don't miss some classic history in California. Stop by the Route 66 Territory Museum to see a wonderful collection of artifacts and photographs showcasing the history of Route 66, the old Mother Road. Learn about the development of the highway and the economic impact of the road. It's a landmark attraction in the Desert Region, and a short drive from Barstow.

Enjoy strolling through the gallery to view the contemporary Route 66 artwork. The museum is located in Victorville and housed in a Route 66 road house – the Red Rooster Cafe. View the collection of magazines and books in the museum library and browse the gift shop for a unique remembrance of your visit.