65ºF

Check out unique Central Florida museums you didn't know existed

Garbage, speed, police, fire and more featured in Orlando area

ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Florida is known for its theme parks and beaches, but the Orlando area is also home to several museums, many of which you've probably never heard of.

From railroads and garbage trucks to treasures, police and fire, there are many unique museums across the region.

Check out the list of museums and let us know in the comments below if we've missed any others.

Drag racing museum – Ocala

https://garlits.com/

Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Opened in 1976, the museum chronicles the history of the sport of drag racing. Some 90 racing cars can be seen in the drag race building and an additional 50 vehicles are in the antique car building. Many of the Garlits “Swamp Rat” cars are here, but he also turns out to be a pack rat with an accumulation of cars and memorabilia from other top names in the sport. 

Mount Dora Museum of Speed

http://classicdreamcars.com/

Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Please call ahead on Saturdays.) 

A 40-plus-year collection of classic cars and other “automobilia,” including road signs, guitars, vintage jukeboxes and a variety of other items from the '50s and '60s. 

Florida Carriage & Car Museum – Weirsdale (Note: Under renovation)

https://home.thegrandoaks.com/museum

Currently closed due to renovations.

The Florida Carriage & Car Museum will have consignment, collectible carriages and cars illustrating the impact on transportation as well as the trend in investment and collectible vehicles.

Police Museum – Titusville 

https://www.aphf.org/

Open every day from 10 to 6 p.m.

The American Police Hall of Fame and Museum, founded in 1960, is the nation’s first national law enforcement museum and memorial dedicated to officers killed in the line of duty.

The museum, through interactive displays, simulators and nearly 11,000 artifacts, educates the public about the history and current trends in American law enforcement.  

Treasure Museum- Sebastian

https://www.melfisher.com/Sebastian/Sebastian_Museum.asp

Open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

In December of 1992, world famous treasure hunter, Mel Fisher, opened a permanent museum in Sebastian, Florida. The museum displays items found on Florida’s Treasure Coast, including the 1715 Fleet and Nuestra Senora de Atocha, the largest underwater treasure find in history.  

Mulberry Phosphate Museum

http://www.mulberryphosphatemuseum.org/

Open Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Mulberry Phosphate Museum’s mission is to promote and interpret the local history of Mulberry, Florida, from the prehistoric to the contemporary and to examine the impact of the phosphate industry on that history. Through exhibits, programming, and personalized service, the Mulberry Phosphate Museum strives to reach audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

As you walk through the museum, you will experience the Earth’s past, viewing the remains of various types of marine life as well as reptiles and mammals dating back millions of years.  Your visit will be an introduction to the relationship of animal remains with the modern phosphate industry.

Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures - Cocoa

http://www.dinosaurstore.com/MuseumofDinosaursandAncientCultures.html

Open Mondays and Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

A community-based nonprofit organization that expands the awareness and appreciation of prehistoric life and the accomplishments of ancient peoples. 

Orlando Fire Museum

https://www.orlandofiremuseum.org/

Open Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Randall R. Tuten Orlando Fire Museum, formerly Station 3, reopened in 2002 after the Orlando Fire Department assumed ownership from the Historical Society of Central Florida. 

The two-story, red brick firehouse was initially located on Orlando Avenue, near Dade Street, in College Park from 1926 to 1978.  The museum houses memorabilia from Central Florida’s firefighting history including a 1926 American LaFrance fire engine.

Randal Knife Museum

https://www.randallknives.com/

Open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Please stop in the Knife Shop Showroom first and staff will direct you to the museum.

The Knife Collection is displayed in the Randall estate home on the knife shop property. Many other knife artisans are represented in the collection, along with articles of interest.  A collection of Folders is also on display.

Skeletons – I-Drive

https://skeletonmuseum.com/

Open seven days of week (check website for hours)

Skeletons: Museum of Osteology celebrates vertebrate life by providing guests with an engaging adventure full of discovery with the hopes that through education, we will help cultivate an appreciation of the natural world and ultimately lead to conservation for the future.

This is a family-owned museum, and one of only two skeleton museums in America. Both museums feature the inner framework of hundreds of animals from all over the world.

War Bird Museum - Titusville

https://www.valiantaircommand.com/

Open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Founded in 1977, The Valiant Air Command, Inc. has a continually growing collection of over 45 historic warbirds from the beginning of aviation to the present day. The VAC is a 501c(3) educational organization dedicated to the preservation of, education about and commemoration of Warbirds from all eras and the men and women who flew, maintained and fought in them.

Tractor museum – Leesburg

https://www.stewsihstuff.com/

Open Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Dedicated to the preservation of International Harvester Farming and Construction equipment. Displays include toys and peddle tractors. 

Carpentry Shop Museum- Maitland

https://artandhistory.org/carpentry-shop-museum

Galleries open Thursday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Grounds are free and open daily 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., except major holidays

The A&H’s Carpentry Shop Museum was constructed around 1883 and served as the site of William Waterhouse’s woodworking and construction business. The Carpentry Shop Museum was where he, along with the help of his 14-year-old son Charles, built much of his family’s home (now known as the A&H’s Waterhouse Residence Museum). The Carpentry Shop Museum was restored through collaborative efforts between the Art & History Museums Maitland, the city of Maitland and the state of Florida. This working museum offers a permanent collection of woodworking tools and materials commonly used at the turn-of-the twentieth century – including some tools owned by Mr. Waterhouse himself.

Garbage Truck Museum – Sanford

https://www.wasteprousa.com/truck-museum/

Contact Waste Pro for a tour

The Waste Pro Garbage Truck Museum, an extension of the Waste Pro regional office in Sanford, Florida, boasts a collection of original and restored antique waste collection trucks that showcase the company’s rich history of innovation. Displays include a 1926 GMC flatbed representing the collection truck that Michael Jennings (CEO John Jenning’s father) worked on when he came over as a 17-year old from Ireland in 1930.

Museum of Military History - Kissimmee

https://museumofmilitaryhistory.com/

Open Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The mission at The Museum of Military History is to educate, increase awareness, build knowledge and understanding of the American military experience through interactive, interpretive exhibits designed for visitors of all ages. 

Bunker Florida -- Orlando

https://originalbunker.org/

Open Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

The goal of the Vietnam War Museum is to educate the public about the Vietnam War and to not forget the Veterans that served and the sacrifices made by many.

Modernism Museum – Mt. Dora

https://www.modernismmuseum.org/

Open Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This museum explores the work of artists who found new expressive possibilities in the field of functional objects. It follows these progressive figures – the evolving DNA of their ideas – beginning with Wharton Esherick, the “Dean of American Craftsmen,” whose work has inspired several generations of designers and makers. Of particular prominence within the collection are the American artists George Nakashima and Wendell Castle, and the work of the radical group Memphis, which was based in Milan, Italy.

Central Florida Railroad Museum 

https://www.cfrhs.org/museum

Open daily 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

Memorabilia on display in the Central Florida Railroad Museum includes historic photographs (including an extensive collection of Tavares & Gulf Railroad photographs from its early steam era until its last run), lanterns, locks and keys, telephones, telegraphs, signs, stoves, tools, furniture, timetables, dining car china and silver, tinware, marker lights, ticket punches, lamps, uniforms, locomotive bells and whistles, a 1938 Fairmont motorcar, and a velocipede hand car. Outside, the former Clinchfield caboose #1073, a three-head interlocking signal from the former ACL-SAL junction in Plant City, a set of narrow-gauge wheels and several switch stands and crossing signals are displayed.
 


About the Author: