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5 Museums to Visit in the South

The South is known for a lot of things: history, music, hospitality. A great way for visitors to experience all these things and more is through the region’s wealth of outstanding museums.

Here are five unique, fun, educational and awe-inspiring museums every Southbound tourist should visit at least once.

Birmingham Museum of Art

The Birmingham Museum of Art is considered to be one of the best art museums in Southeastern America. Here, you can find thousands of pieces of art ranging across dozens of different time periods. Art featured at the Birmingham Museum of Art includes paintings, sculptures and decorative arts from countries all over the globe. There’s something for everyone here, whether your interest lies with B.C. artifacts, Baroque paintings or contemporary art. An added bonus to taking a trip to the Birmingham Museum of Art is that admission is free, so you can go as often as you’d like.

Hidden River Cave & American Cave Museum

Mammoth Cave courtesy of www.kentuckytourism.com.

For those less interested in looking at exhibits and more interested in going on a bonafide adventure, Hidden River Cave & American Cave Museum in Horse Cave Kentucky has much to offer.

Visitors can take a Discovery Channel-featured tour over 100 feet below ground, examine the remnants of a turn-of-the-century hydroelectric generating system, get an up-close look at a thriving rarely-seen ecosystem, zipline across the region’s largest cave entrance, rappel down its limestone face, and venture across the world’s longest underground swinging bridge, which overlooks one of the site’s two subterranean rivers.

American Banjo Museum

Credit: Travel Oklahoma

In the mood for something a little unusual? Well, Oklahoma City’s American Banjo Museum is the only museum of its kind in the world.

With more than 400 banjos on display, anyone who’s seen “Deliverance” may want to steer clear, lest they get scared so far away from the South they end up looking at Bellevue houses for sale. For everyone else, this quirky attraction is a charming celebration of Americana that traces the roots of folk and bluegrass music all the way back to their pre-Civil War origins.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

The closest many of us will likely ever get to a trip to the moon is a trip to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, located just outside Orlando, Florida. Here you’ll be able to see up-close the Saturn V—the rocket that propelled NASA’s first manned spacecrafts—along with one of those very crafts, the retired, 26-year-veteran space shuttle Atlantis.

More than 60 hands-on attractions fill this 90,000 square foot museum, most notably a realistic shuttle-launch simulator. Appropriately, it’s an experience that can only be described as “out of this world.”

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Credit: U.S. Civil Rights Trail

Banjos and space shuttles are fun, but when it comes to serious issues, the South has long been a hotbed for controversy and social progress.

Presenting an enlightening, emotionally charged, warts-and-all chronicle of what is arguably the most important period in American history, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, located in the heart of its namesake Alabama city, is surrounded by real-world monuments that stand as testaments to the ideals of justice and equality.

An engrossing array of multimedia exhibits depict the harsh realities of African-American life under the Jim Crow laws and follow on through every struggle, loss and victory on the path to desegregation.

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