Top 10 Motorcycle Museums

Consider stopping by these motorcycle museums during your next road trip

Trying to go for a theme while you're planning your road trip this season? Here's one: Think about hitting up these shrines to two-wheel culture along the way, especially if you're doing a multiday marathon tour-it'll be more interesting for you and your riding buddies (and your significant other, if you've managed to convince 'em to come with).

AMA Motorcycle Hall Of Fame Museum
Pickerington, Ohio

As you'd guess, the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum is all about the history of motorcycling, but those who built the sport-folks like Dick Mann and Craig Vetter-get their due, too. You'll find a wealth of bikes inside and more than 200 motorcyclists enshrined in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Opening this summer is an exhibit honoring motorcycle designer Arlen Ness. There's some good riding in the area, too (no, really-check out Mad Maps' Get Outta Town: Columbus).
motorcyclemuseum.org
madmaps.com

The Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum
Solvang, California

This hidden gem near Santa Barbara shelters a nice assortment of vintage and rare bikes. The broad collection offers something for everyone, but the emphasis is really on racing motorcycles. You'll find names like BMW, Ducati, Moto Guzzi, Norton, Triumph and Vincent represented within. The museum rotates some of the bikes each month so that the displays are constantly changing and expanding. For an après-viewing adrenaline rush, continue along the high-flying San Marcos Pass just east of the museum.
motosolvang.com or 805.686.9522

The Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum
Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame houses more than 70 restored vintage and antique Indians, Harley-Davidsons, Excelsiors, Hondas and Triumphs. Unlike most "halls of fame," though, the Rocky Mountain outfit focuses on everyday people-indi-viduals who have dedicated their lives to motorcycling. As its brochure states, "The true pioneers of motorcycling heritage are often times the common man." If you're feeling more than common, you can ride up to Pikes Peak just outside of town via Highway 24.
719.487.8005

Wheels Through Time
Maggie Valley, North Carolina

A must-have experience if you're anywhere on the central East Coast. Dale Walksler's shrine to vintage transportation includes more than 250 rare antique motorcycles exhibited in fascinating period displays, and if you're lucky you might catch Walksler firing one up for a sprint down the road. The museum is open 360 days a year, and best of all, it's located right in the middle of a series of winding mountain roads in western North Carolina.
wheelsthroughtime.com

Kersting's Cycle Center
North Judson, Indiana

The cigar-store Indian that greets you outside the main entrance of Jim Kersting's collection is a clue that you're in America's heartland. As such, this grass-roots shrine provides not just a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the big city but also a surprisingly vast array of classic two-wheelers. Kersting has more than 60 antique bikes on display, and with a fresh battery and a couple of kicks, most of his bikes will still run.
kerstingscycle.com
574.896.3172

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
Birmingham, Alabama

George Barber wanted to preserve motorcycle history in the United States, but his focus was on rigs that actually run. First, racebikes were hauled in (and routinely campaigned around the U.S. so they could be enjoyed) and restored in-house, then Barber expanded to production streetbikes as well, and now the collection boasts more than 900 motorcycles and a substantial number of race cars in vintages ranging from 1904 to current-year production.
barbermuseum.org
205.699.7275

The Shop
Ventura, California

If you're into American bikes, The Shop's your place. The joint stocks Indian, Harley-Davidson, Crocker and Henderson Motorcycle parts and can also get parts for many other American-made motorcycles. Naturally the décor is funky-it's been described as an odd blend of industrial carpet, art deco and redwood latticework filled with motorcycle esoterica. There's even a museum with vintage U.S. metal inside. After a visit to the shop, treat yourself to a sweet ride up Highway 33 to Ojai for lunch.
cycleshop.com

National Motorcycle Museum
Anamosa, Iowa

You'll roll through acres of undulating cornfields to get to this extensive collection of vintage motorcycles, photographs, posters, postcards and all manner of motorcycle memorabilia (plus a cool stash of antique toys). While you're in the neighborhood, be sure to swing by J&P; Cycle's massive warehouse and retail complex just up the road (its annual open house is June 28) or jump on the Grant Wood Scenic Byway for a blast to the Mississippi River, just 60 miles to the east.
nationalmcmuseum.com
jpcycles.com

Owls Head Transportation Museum
Owl's Head, Maine

This operation says it celebrates transportation history-but you don't have to be a car buff or plane nut to enjoy its charms. It has an extraordinary collection of cars, motorcycles, bikes and planes, displayed in a hangarlike building at the edge of the Knox County Airport. Look for the early Harley-Davidson and the sleek '29 Rolls-Royce Phantom. Best of all the museum is situated just a stone's throw from the creaky lighthouses and hidden bays of scenic U.S. Route 1. Cup of chowder, anyone?
ohtm.org

Harley-Davidson Museum
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

It's not open just yet, but the Harley-Davidson Museum promises to be the Biggest Daddy of them all. The press release reads predictably enough-the H-D Museum will "celebrate the rich history of the Company, the passion of its riders, the stories of the employees and much more," but on paper, the 130,000-square-foot space next to the Menomonee River sure seems well thought out. The 20-acre complex is scheduled to open its doors this summer; see more details at h-d.com.