Here in Northern California, you definitely have a lot of choices when you feel like spending the day at the museum. There are tons of them! Art museums, history museums, nature museums…the list goes on and on. Although plenty of these museums charge a fee for admission, there are also plenty that does not. Below are ten free museums in Northern California that won’t cost you a thing to see. Check one out the next time you feel like a fun (and free) family outing!
1. Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum, Nevada City
Lauded as "one of the finest museums in the Sierra Nevada", the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum is dedicated to preserving the history and artifacts from the county's railroad era. Open year-round, visitors can take advantage of a docent-led tour, tour the rail yard, and even check out the restoration shop. It's a must-see for train enthusiasts of all ages!
2. Fort Crook Museum, Fall River Mills
Originally known as Camp Hollenbush, Fort Crook was a U.S. Army post established in 1857. Today, visitors can relive its history at the Fort Crook Museum. No original structures from the fort have survived over the past 150 years, but a reconstructed round barn makes for an interesting jaunt back in time.
3. Placer County Museum, Auburn
Located inside of a historic courthouse, the Placer County Museum exudes history both inside and out. The museum gives a general overview of Placer County history stretching back to the early Nisenan inhabitants. It also contains a large gold collection which pays tribute to the region's rich gold mining history.
5. Sea Glass Museum, Fort Bragg
This quaint museum may not look like much on the outside, but inside it's home to a stunning collection of sea glass. In fact, it's considered the world's largest permanent sea glass exhibit. With over 3,000 pieces on display, it's most definitely worth checking out when in the Fort Bragg area.
5. Lake Tahoe Historical Society Museum, South Lake Tahoe
When exploring Lake Tahoe, take some time to learn about the region's fascinating history with a visit to this humble museum. Featuring exhibits dedicated to the area's first inhabitants, the Washoe, along with the mining, railroad, and gaming industries, this museum offers a little bit of everything. It will definitely give you a newfound appreciation for the Tahoe region as a whole!
6. Museum of the American Indian, Novato
This little museum in Novato is a real hidden gem of Marin County. It's situated on an actual site of an old Miwok village and provides an amazing insight into the Native American cultures that have permeated Northern California for thousands of years.
7. Roseville Telephone Museum, Roseville
A museum dedicated entirely to the telephone may sound strange at first, but we guarantee your visit will be a memorable one! Containing one of the most extensive collections of antique telephones and memorabilia in the nation, a trip to this fun little museum makes for an outing that's as educational as it is entertaining.
8. Old Timers Museum, Murphys
It may be called the Old Timers Museum, but don't worry, visitors of ALL ages are welcome to stop by this historic gem in the old mining town of Murphys. The town's colorful past comes alive in this tiny but mighty museum. Boasting a plethora of historic artifacts, you'll feel transported back to the days of the Gold Rush as you peruse this charming museum.
9. Guest House Museum, Fort Bragg
Built primarily of coast redwood in 1892, this old mansion overlooks downtown Fort Bragg from the top of a hill. Inside of it is a museum that tells the story of the house and the thriving lumber industry in the area.
10. Museum of Medical History, Sacramento
Exploring the evolution of medicine from the Gold Rush up to today, the Museum of Medical History is a must for science nerds. Inside you'll find an array of antique instruments, artifacts, and a library dedicated to medicine and medical advances.
How many of these little-known museums have you visited before? Did we miss any of your favorites? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
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