Gilmore Car Museum: An Unbelievable Vintage Car Collection is Hiding Right Here in Michigan, Just Waiting for You to Discover
Plan Your Visit to Gilmore Car Museum
The Gilmore Car Museum is North America’s largest auto museum and draws visitors from across the world. The 90-acre campus boasts over 400 autos, motorcycles and auto memorabilia. How cool that something so special is just a short drive away.
From the 1930s Shell Gas Station with retro gas pumps to the 1941 Diner, the Gilmore Car Museum is full of fun for your whole group.
Lace up your comfy shoes and charge those cameras. You’ll need both for a day full of adventure. Read on for must sees and insider tips and tricks for your visit to the Gilmore Car Museum.
Where is the Gilmore Car Museum?
The convenient location makes this museum a top destination.
It’s located 20 miles off I-94 and US-131 in Hickory Corners, MI and is centrally located between Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Lansing.
Hours and Admission
The museum is open year-round but has reduced hours in winter. The outer galleries are closed during the winter season.
Summer (Apr 1 – Nov 30): Weekdays 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Weekends 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Winter (Dec 1 – Mar 31): Daily 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
|Youth (ages 11-17)||$11|
|Kids (10 and under)||FREE|
|Active Military (must present ID)||FREE|
|Consecutive Two-Day Passes||$26|
What You’ll Find at the Gilmore Car Museum
Don’t be fooled – the museum isn’t just for car fanatics.
With hundreds of automobiles, motorcycles and replicas that take you back in time, every person in your group will find something exciting. Photo ops abound so bring your charged camera or smartphone.
Autos and Motorcycles from Every Era
Gilmore Car Museum is home to cars and motorcycles from every era for your viewing pleasure.
The main museum houses the 1920s/30s, 1950s/60s, and the muscle car galleries. The Steam Barn features Pioneer Era Cars, or the cars that started it all for the non-car buffs.
The outer galleries are closed during the Winter season and include the Carriage House, the Shell Station, the Train Depot, and the Train Switch Tower. The Carriage House was the first display gallery and the beginning of the Gilmore Car Museum.
Vintage Car Dealerships
If you’ve wondered what car dealerships look like from decades ago, you’ll find replicas on the grounds. Explore 1928 Model A Ford, 1930s Lincoln, 1948 Cadillac, and 1918 Franklin dealerships. Each spot is complete with cars shoppers would’ve bought from that dealership.
Fill Up Bellies at On-Site Dining
Having two restaurants on site is perfect for families with kids and you’ll find plenty of options on the menus.
The Blue Moon Diner is a blast from the past. This 1941 Diner is open April – November and offers Chicago and Coney style hot-dogs, soups and sandwiches.
The Heritage Cafe is open December – March and sometimes during car shows and events during the Summer season. This spot features a full menu of made to order options.
While there isn’t a specific kid’s menu, there are options that will please even the pickiest of eaters. The menus feature hot dogs, pulled pork, mac and cheese, and frozen custard just to name a few.
Visiting Gilmore Car Museum with Kids
Visiting a museum with kids can sometimes be a bit of a gamble. Will there be enough to keep our kids engaged? Will there be food options on site? Is it open enough to let the kids roam a bit?
Good news! The Gilmore Car Museum has activities and exhibits to peak kids’ interests. And there’s food. Win-win.
Complete a Scavenger Hunt
Do you have little explorers on your hands? Are they always searching for clues and treasures?
There is a scavenger hunt throughout the museum that these explorers will love. Add to it and take pictures to make it a photo scavenger hunt.
Pick it up at the kids kiosk at the main entrance. You’ll also find coloring pages and crayons at the kiosk.
Learn How to Start a Model-A
Walk away from your visit to the Gilmore Car Museum saying you know how to start a Model-A car. That’s a new fun fact you’ll be able to share with someone.
At this experience you learn what it takes to start a Model-A and then get to try it for yourself. This is something you’ll want to document, so get those cameras ready.
Build and Race Toy Cars
Kids can use their imaginations and creativity to build and race toy cars at the Car Test Stand. This is a top pick, especially for the lego fan in your family.
The Car Test Stand is located in the front part of the museum near the Delorean. It’s easy to miss, so ask a staff member if you need help finding it.
Pair Your Visit With Another Local Attraction
If you’re looking to make it a full day of fun, pair your visit to the Gilmore Car Museum with a visit to the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. Located just ten minutes apart, this would be a great pair.
The Kellogg Bird Sanctuary is home to three miles of trails and many bird habitats. It’s a great spot to look for and learn about birds and wildlife; stop by the visitors center for corn to feed the waterfowl.
Discover the Perfect Event for Your Group – Kids Included
From Princess Days to Classic Car Cruise-Ins and the Summer Concert Series, you’ll find an event to excite every person in your group.
Family Friendly Events
Held throughout the year, these events feature a meal and mingling with Princesses and photo opportunities. Check the calendar for the next event.
Cruise Ins (Summer)
Every Summer Wednesday night show off your collector car at the Museum. Don’t have a car? No worries! Stroll through the cars and ooh and aah over them. Food is available and this event is free.
Gilmore’s Haunted Hunt (Fall)
A fun Halloween themed scavenger hunt event through the museum’s campus. With each correctly answered clue is rewarded with a BOO bag filled with candy or trinkets. Costumes are highly encouraged.
Kalamazoo Tractor Show (Summer)
This two-day event features vintage tractors, tractor parades and farm machinery displays. Held in the Summer each year.
The SWMI Cultural Exchange (Fall)
The Gilmore Car Museum is one of six participants in the annual Southwest Michigan Cultural Exchange. This event runs for an entire month (usually in October), inviting all membership holders to visit the other five cultural institutions for free.
The other five participating locations include: The Air Zoo, Binder Park Zoo, W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary & W.K. Kellogg Manor House, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Kalamazoo Nature Center.
In 2021, Gilmore Car Museum hosted their inaugural Winter Wonderland event, featuring drive through lights, digital reindeer, food, Santa visits, and other seasonal fun.
Adults Evening (or Day) Out Events
Concert Series (Summer)
An outdoor summertime event featuring musical acts and artists.
Ride the Classics
Here’s your chance to take a spin in a vintage car. On select days cars from the museum’s collection will be available for visitors to enjoy a chauffeured ride. Donation based and weather permitting.
Model T Driving Experience
Learn how to drive an authentic Model T from an experienced instructor. This would make the perfect gift for the car enthusiast in your life. The Gilmore Car Museum already created a certificate you can use making it simple for you. Registration for 2022 is available here.
Lecture Series (Winter)
This annual series is offered in the late Winter each year and features different automotive topics. Previous lectures have highlighted the Mackinac Bridge and the Wright Brothers. Look for the schedule to be announced here.
Gilmore Garage Works
This after school program introduces students to automotive technology including welding, painting and fabrication. Click here if you’re interested in learning more or enrolling your student.
Free Field Trips
The Gilmore Car Museum offers free field trips for preschool-12th grade school groups. Members of the staff can also present to your students right at your school. All lessons meet Michigan K-12 benchmarks. Contact the museum staff to arrange your trip or presentation.
Visitor Tips and Tricks
- With such a large area to explore, wear comfortable shoes.
- Pictures are encouraged, so bring a camera or your smartphone.
- Parking for larger vehicles (RVs, motorhomes, tour buses) is located in front of the Automotive Heritage Center.
- Museum staff recommend reserving 4-6 hours to be able to see everything at the museum.
- The museum is handicap accessible and has free wheelchairs and mobility scooters (small rental fee) available.
Make it a Getaway with Local Lodging and Attractions
Family getaways are the perfect chance to make life-long memories. With its close location to Kalamazoo, there is a plethora of lodging and attraction options to fit every family’s interest and budget.
Camp at Gilmore Car Museum
If you’re a camping family, you’re in luck. Gilmore Car Museum has 100 camping sites; ten with power and 90 without. Rates start at just $25/night. To find out more information or to make a reservation, look here.
Hotels Near Gilmore Car Museum
Does your group prefer lodging that has four walls and an actual bathroom? Good news – there are many local hotels to choose from. The museum has made it easy-peasy to find your ideal hotel through this search tool.
Other Local Attractions to Explore
Kalamazoo and its surrounding areas have lots of attractions to explore. With all the options you might have a challenge to pick and choose, but our list of 100+ Fun Things to Do in Kalamazoo will help you decide.