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Gilmore Car Museum

Nothing says Americana quite like classic cars, and west Michigan’s Gilmore Car Museum has one of the country’s finest car collections.

Located in Hickory Corners, a small rural community outside of Kalamazoo, the Gilmore Car Museum was founded by Donald Gilmore, a former executive at the former pharmaceutical giant Upjohn.

“When he retired, his wife encouraged him to go to some old-car shows,” said Jay Follis, the museum’s marketing director. “Within months, he started buying dozens of cars. By the time the museum opened, he had 65 cars on the property, so he started collecting barns to showcase them in.”

Today, the Gilmore Car Museum fills more than two dozen buildings, some historic and others modern, spread out across a 90-acre campus. There are more than 530 cars in the collection, with more than 400 on display at any given time.

Lovers of Americana, classic cars, history and pop culture will all find something to enjoy at the museum complex. Highlights include the first car built in Kalamazoo in 1889, a first-year Ford from 1903 and numerous historic luxury autos including Duesenbergs and a Rolls-Royce.

In various buildings around the property, visitors will see collections of historic motorcycles, pedal cars and even a larger-than-life car interior used as a set piece in a Disney movie. The complex is also home to the collections of numerous other organizations such as Lincoln, Ford and Cadillac clubs that have constructed their own “showrooms” filled with historic vehicles.

Groups that visit the museum can have lunch in an authentic 1941 diner.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.