Gilmore Car Museum: An incredible collection of vintage cars is hiding right here in Michigan, just waiting for you to discover it
Plan your visit to the Gilmore Car Museum
The Gilmore Car Museum is the largest automobile museum in North America and attracts visitors from around the world. The 90-acre campus has over 400 cars, motorcycles, and automotive 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.
Put on your comfy shoes and load up those cameras. You’ll need both for a day full of adventures. Read on for must-sees and insider tips and tricks for your visit to the Gilmore Car Museum.
Where is the Gilmore Automotive Museum?
The ideal location makes this museum a top destination.
It is located 20 miles from I-94 and US-131 in Hickory Corners, MI and is centrally located between Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Lansing.
Times and admission
The museum is open year-round but has reduced hours in the winter. The outdoor galleries are closed during the winter season.
Summer (April 1 – November 30): Weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Winter (December 1 – March 31): Every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
|Youth (11-17 years old)||$11|
|Children (10 and under)||FREE|
|Active military (must show ID)||FREE|
|Two consecutive day pass||$26|
What you’ll find at the Gilmore Car Museum
Make no mistake, the museum is not just for car enthusiasts.
With hundreds of automobiles, motorcycles and replicas taking you back in time, everyone in your party will find something exciting. Photo ops abound, so bring your camera or charged smartphone.
Cars and motorcycles from all eras
Gilmore Car Museum houses cars and motorcycles from all eras for your viewing pleasure.
The main museum houses the 1920s/30s, 1950s/60s and muscle car galleries. The Steam Barn features cars from the pioneer era, or the cars that started it all for non-car enthusiasts.
The outdoor galleries are closed during the winter season and include the Carriage House, Shell Station, Train Depot and Train Switch Tower. The Carriage House was the first show gallery and the beginning of the Gilmore Car Museum.
Antique car dealers
If you’ve wondered what car dealerships looked like decades ago, you’ll find replicas out there. Explore 1928 Ford Model A, 1930s Lincoln, 1948 Cadillac, and 1918 Franklin dealerships. Each location is complete with cars buyers would have purchased from that dealership.
Fill your stomach at the on-site restaurant
Having two restaurants on site is perfect for families with children and you will find plenty of options on the menus.
The Blue Moon Diner is a blast from the past. This 1941 Diner is open from April to November and offers Chicago and Coney style hot dogs, soups and sandwiches.
The Heritage Cafe is open from December to March and occasionally during car shows and events during the summer season. This place has an extensive menu of bespoke options.
Although there is no specific menu for children, there are options that will please even the pickiest of eaters. Menus include hot dogs, pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, and frozen custard, to name a few.
Visiting the Gilmore Car Museum with kids
Visiting a museum with children can sometimes be a gamble. Will there be enough to keep our kids engaged? Will there be on-site catering options? Is it open enough to let the kids roam around a bit?
Good news! The Gilmore Car Museum offers activities and exhibits to engage children. And there is food. Win-win.
Complete a Treasure Hunt
Do you have little explorers in your hands? Are they still looking for clues and treasures?
There’s 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 children’s kiosk at the main entrance. You will also find coloring pages and pencils 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. It’s a fun new fact that you can share with someone.
In this experience, you’ll learn what it takes to start a Model A and then try it out for yourself. It’s something you’ll want to document, so get those cameras ready.
Build and race toy cars
Kids can use their imagination and creativity to build and race toy cars on the car test bench. It’s a great choice, especially for the lego fans 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 member of staff if you need help finding it.
Combine your visit with another local attraction
If you’re looking to make it a full day of fun, combine your visit to the Gilmore Car Museum with a visit to the Kellogg’s Bird Sanctuary. Located just ten minutes apart, this would be a great pair.
Kellogg’s Bird Sanctuary is home to three miles of trails and plenty of bird habitat. This is a great place to search and learn about birds and wildlife; stop at the visitor center to buy corn to feed the waterfowl.
Discover the perfect event for your group – children included
From Princess Days to Classic Car Cruise-Ins and the Summer Concert Series, you’ll find an event to excite everyone in your group.
Held throughout the year, these events include a meal and encounters with princesses and photo ops. Check the calendar for the next event.
Every Wednesday evening in summer, display your classic car at the Museum. You don’t have a car? No problem! Walk around in cars and ooh and aah on it. Food is available and this event is free.
Gilmore’s Haunted Hunt (Falls)
A fun Halloween-themed scavenger hunt through the museum campus. Each correctly answered clue is rewarded with a BOO bag full of candy or trinkets. Costumes are strongly encouraged.
Kalamazoo Tractor Show (Summer)
This two-day event features vintage tractors, tractor parades and farm machinery exhibits. Held in the summer every year.
The SWMI Cultural Exchange (Falls)
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 adherents to visit the other five cultural institutions for free.
The other five participating sites include: Air Zoo, Binder Park Zoo, WK Kellogg Bird Sanctuary and WK Kellogg Mansion, Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts, and Kalamazoo Nature Center.
In 2021, the Gilmore Car Museum held its inaugural Winter Wonderland event, featuring driving through the lights, digital reindeer, food, visits from Santa and other seasonal entertainment.
Evening (or day) outings for adults
Concert series (Summer)
An outdoor summer event featuring musical acts and artists.
Ride the classics
Here’s your chance to take a spin in a classic car. On certain days, cars from the museum’s collection will be available for visitors to enjoy a chauffeured ride. On a donation basis and weather permitting.
Model T driving experience
Learn to drive an authentic Model T with an experienced instructor. This would make the perfect gift for the car lover in your life. The Gilmore Car Museum has already created a certificate that you can use to make it easier for yourself. Registration for 2022 is available here.
Lecture Series (Winter)
This annual series is offered at the end of winter each year and features different automotive topics. Previous lectures have highlighted the Mackinac Bridge and the Wright Brothers. Look for the schedule that will be announced here.
Gilmore Garage Works
This after-school program introduces students to automotive technology, including welding, painting, and fabrication. Click here if you want to know more or register your student.
Free field trips
The Gilmore Car Museum offers free excursions for K-12 school groups. Staff members can also introduce your students directly to your school. All lessons meet Michigan K-12 benchmarks. Contact museum staff to arrange your trip or presentation.
Tips and tricks for visitors
- With such a large area to explore, wear comfortable shoes.
- Photos are encouraged, so bring a camera or your smartphone.
- Parking for large vehicles (RVs, motorhomes, coaches) is located in front of the Automotive Heritage Center.
- Museum staff recommend setting aside 4-6 hours to see everything in the museum.
- The museum is handicap accessible and has free wheelchairs and mobility scooters (small rental fee) available.
Make it a getaway with local accommodations and attractions
Family getaways are the perfect opportunity to create unforgettable memories. With its close location to Kalamazoo, there are a plethora of accommodation options and attractions to suit every family’s interests and budget.
Camp at the Gilmore Car Museum
If you are a camping family, you are in luck. Gilmore Car Museum has 100 campsites; ten with power and 90 without. Rates start at just $25/night. To find out more or to book, look here.
Hotels near Gilmore Automobile Museum
Does your group prefer accommodation with four walls and a real bathroom? Good news – there are plenty of local hotels to choose from. The museum has made it easy to find your ideal hotel with this search tool.
Other local attractions to explore
Kalamazoo and its surroundings are full of attractions to explore. With all the options, it might be a challenge to choose, but our list of 100+ fun things to do in Kalamazoo will help you decide.