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7 Best Museums in North Carolina (2024)

Which are the must-visit Museums in North Carolina? Well, quite a lot of them. Although known for its lush mountain scenery and beaches, these huge perks aren’t the only attraction of this Southern U.S. State. Thanks to the region’s cultural roots, rich heritage, science, art, and technology, North Carolina is blessed with several visit-worthy museums. Museums serve as outlets that take individuals to the past, present, and future simultaneously.

The State of North Carolina is blessed with museums that can inspire, educate and entertain people altogether. There’s no better way to immerse yourself in State’s basics than exploring every small and big museum facility. However, since visiting them all isn’t likely a very easy task for one single trip, it’s always better to shortlist the best. With that said, we have here compiled a list of the Best Museums to explore when in North Carolina.

7 Best Museums in North Carolina

These landmarks will import you into a timeless exploration and help to learn more about the State. So, let’s go.

1. Asheville Museum of Science (Asheville)

Asheville Museum of Science is within Western North Carolina offering free admissions to the public. It is popular for being home to experiential science learning, discovery, and exploration and is quite a fun place to explore with kids. Operating since 2016, the AMoS facility is home to a personal mineral collection full-scale science museum, a Teratophoneus dinosaur skeleton, natural science, and much more. Every single element inside the museum aims to spark imaginations and ideas and maintain an unending curiosity. Upon walking inside the museum, one can find multiple exciting features, including the STEM lab, an interactive panorama screen, Terrabox elevation simulator, Teratophoneus dinosaur skeleton, Colburn Hall of Minerals fossil dig, Southern Appalachian Forest tree climb, Toddler Nest, and many other permanent and rotating displays. AMoS also hosts multiple interactive displays for kids of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers. The museum, though, is small but excellently amazing for a one-time visit.

2. North Carolina Museum of History (Raleigh)

One of the best museums in North Carolina, the NC Museum of History, is located in downtown Raleigh. This history museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Affiliations program and a part of the Division of State History Museums. The museum focuses on collecting, preserving, and presenting artifacts and other historical materials. The museum collection is a mix of North Carolina’s local history along with regional, national and international contexts. As you walk inside the museum, you will come across over 150,000 artifacts in the collection for over 600 years. Besides the permanent display, the museum also hosts rotating and temporary exhibits showcasing the works of local and national artists’ utmost visit engagement; the NC Museum of History also offers events, programs, and interactive activities for families. The museum operates throughout the year except on National and Festive Holidays.

3. Henderson Heritage Museum (Hendersonville)

Henderson Heritage Museum is a must-visit museum in North Carolina. Within a short drive away from the Orchard Inn, the museum sits inside the Historic Henderson County Courthouse on Main Street of the town. Operating from Wednesday through Sunday, it hosts public displays, artifacts, collections, archives, demonstrations, lectures, libraries, and much more. The facility, though, is small but ideal for learning about Western North Carolina history and culture. The exhibits here are constantly on rotation, so every next time you visit the museum, there’s something new to see and observe. The Henderson Heritage Museum celebrates veterans of all wars and thus also features a Civil War Display. And for all of that, the museum offers free admission across the year.

4. Museum of Life and Science (Durham)

Formerly known as the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science, the Museum of Life and Science in Durham is a one-of-a-kind educational center. The museum occupies 84 acres in the midst of the Northgate Park neighborhood and is quite a fun place to visit. Featuring both indoor and outdoor learning environments, it has multiple buildings, trails, and open-air spaces featuring both materialistic things and a display of life. The 2-story main museum building features weather, sound, math, health, building, and engineering exhibits. Further, the museum has a farmyard that houses domestic animals, and some alpacas are its recent addition. Other exhibits of the museum include Hideaway Woods, Aerospace, BioQuest, Explore the Wild, Magic Wings Butterfly House, Dinasour Trail, Catch the Wind, and Earth Moves. No matter what age you are or what interest you seek, the Museum of Life and Science has something for everyone.

5. Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

Located in the heart of Chapel Hill in North Carolina, the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is another must-visit. Operating since1949, it has hosted over 10 million regional, National, and International visitors by now. The Planetarium is home to a variety of exhibits focusing on science and astronomy. It covers some fun topics, including Human Brain, Black Holes, Galaxy, etc. Some of it includes Biomedical Engineering through Prosthetics, Natural Navigators, research by UNC scientists including Wearable Robotics, and more. The Planetarium was once home to a training center for astronauts (1959 to 1975). During its operational years, it has successfully trained over 60 astronauts about celestial navigation. Individuals who are interested in astronomy should not miss a chance to visit Morehead Planetarium.

6. Battleship North Carolina

The Battleship North Carolina isn’t dedicatedly a museum, but you can’t miss it when in the State. It is the USS North Carolina (BB-55), the first of those 10 battleships that joined the American fleet in WWII. It is one of its kind and the very first vessel that was built for the United States Navy. Once the world’s greatest seas weapons, USS North Carolina (BB-55) today is quiet and serves for tourist exploration. The ship is well armed with 20 five-inch, 38-caliber guns in ten twin mounts along with nine 16-inch, 45-caliber guns in three turrets, all of which are still to be seen. Individuals can walk upon and inside the ship and observe all of these guns from close. Some of its open areas include the huge deck, the mess hall, and the sailors’ and officers’ quarters. Located on the Cape Fear River across from historic downtown Wilmington, the historic battleship operates every day, inviting millions of guests year-round.

7. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

The NC Museum of Natural Sciences is the oldest in North Carolina. The museum is located in downtown Raleigh featuring two structures, the Nature Exploration Center and the Nature Research Center. The former is home to several permanent exhibits spread well across all four floors of the building. Their collection focuses on topics like the history of gemstones, habitats of the tropics and rainforest, dinosaurs, finds from coastal regions of North Carolina, and more. Right next is the 80,000 sq ft Nature Research Center building that focuses on science and exploration. Its four-story wing covers everything from the Study of weather, and DNA, to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, galaxy, space, and much more. The NC Museum of Natural Sciences operates Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. However, since the facility is too huge, it would easily take at least 2 days to explore it well.

Other Places of Interest in North Carolina:

North Carolina Aquarium: The North Carolina Aquarium is a combination of three separate aquariums that offers an ideal blend of the coastal lifestyle. The three aquariums are to be found in coastal locations, including Roanoke Island, Pine Knoll Shores, and Fort Fisher. Roanoke Island aquarium features the largest collection of sharks in North Carolina inside a 285,000-gallon exhibit. Further, the Pine Knoll Shores aquarium is home to varied marine life from entire North Carolina, especially the ones that are only found in rivers and coasts of this region. Similarly, the Fort Fisher aquarium features freshwater streams, swamps, and other exciting aquatic life. Though all three aquariums operate year-round, it is better to check online for their schedule.

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