These top sports museums charm even non-fans (like me)

Basketball Hall of Fame

As the mother of three little jocks and wife to one big sports fan, I’ve visited many a sports museum and stadium.  Before I met Wilson, I was as likely to spend an afternoon at the Hockey Hall of Fame as I was to perform a triple axel in the Olympics.

But we do crazy things for the people we love, so I’ve actually been the one to plan trips to several sports museums.  I recently wrote a travel piece about the best ones which ran on You can read the full story here.

The story will give you the facts on the Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, and Football Halls of Fame, but this post offers my opinion.

My boys love anything sports-related but they generally resent museums. Each of these Halls has the requisite history of the sport, the evolution of uniforms and equipment, and tributes to the best players. But modern facilities have wised up and added lots of interactive exhibits to engage kids.  Here’s the inside scoop:

Kids at baseball hall of fame

baseball hall of fame kids

Baseball Hall of Fame  (Cooperstown, New York)  is Wilson’s and my favorite of the four. The history of baseball is really the history of America, and I enjoyed learning about its role in pop culture. There are also great tributes to women and minorities in the sport. A letter from an angry bigot to Hank Aaron when Aaron was poised to break Babe Ruth’s home run record and his brave response brought me to tears. I also loved the art gallery on the first floor with works by some huge names, all focused on baseball.

basketball hall of fame with kids

basketball hall of fame with kids

Basketball Hall of Fame  (Springfield, Massachusetts)  is the most modern, high-tech museum and my kids’ favorite. The structure looks like the Guggenheim in New York, with a winding ramp taking you up the three floors of exhibits, overlooking a full basketball court on the ground floor.  There are tons of games and interactive displays, plus a media center where kids can record their own sportscast.

hockey hall of fame with kids

hockey hall of fame with kids

Hockey Hall of Fame (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) We’re not huge hockey fans but while in Toronto, why not, eh? You can take a picture with the Stanley Cup, see the first skates ever worn in the game, and hockey uniforms from countries all over the world. Highlights for the kids were the replica of the Canadiens locker room and the interactive shooting games.

football hall of fame with kids

football hall of fame with kids

Football Hall of Fame  (Canton, Ohio) We visited this one on a Midwest road trip. While it’s mecca for football fans, it’s extremely out of the way. Wilson liked the historical exhibits and I liked the bling on the Super Bowl rings. The kids loved running around on the Pro Football Hall of Fame field across the street from the museum.

If you find yourself in one of these cities, these sports museums are worth a stop.  The Baseball Hall in Cooperstown is definitely one of those places you should see before you die, even if you can’t appreciate a double play or a perfect game.

Would I still rather look at Monet’s “Water Lilies” than Shaq’s old shoe?    You bet. But if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

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