Planning a travel itinerary can be a tricky balance of time for free-wheeling exploration and regimented booking of tourist ‘must-see’s.
While the former turns up some unexpected surprises – and often the things you’ll talk about for years to come – the latter often gives you the satisfaction of ticking off bucket list experiences related to the location you’re visiting.
But what if there was a way to combine the two?
Visiting the world’s lesser-known, but often highly-educational and inspiring cultural havens is one way to try. Of course iconic institutions should remain on your list, but it’s the left-of-center museums that offer fascinating insight and drilled-down detail you never knew you needed to know.
This interactive museum (there are two locations) is dedicated to the history of instant ramen noodles and Cup Noodles, as well as its creator and founder, Momofuku Ando. Making a personalised cup of instant noodles is a popular and quick activity at the museum that doesn’t require advance reservations.
Part crowd-sourced art project, part museum, this location was created with the sole purpose of treasuring and sharing stories and symbolic possessions related to the human experience of heartbreak. The sometimes funny, often desperately sad items on show have been contributed with the idea of healing and moving through such challenging experiences.
Displaying over 250 retired signs of casinos and businesses from all over Las Vegas, the Neon Museum is a celebration neon signs big and small. Take a guided walking tour of the ‘Neon Boneyard,’ wandering through the glitzy collection learning more about the history of the signs and the area’s past. Tours are most often during the day but offer a spectacular sight at night.
“Sort of a pop art, museum-sized photo booth,” as one reviewer described it, this is less a museum and more an interactive experience that particularly delights children and Instagram-obsessed teens, but you do get ice cream to eat, so there’s that. The Museum of Ice Cream has locations in New York, Chicago and Austin in the USA as well as Singapore.
You don’t have to put on your swimsuit to explore this museum, but if you do you’ll get a better view, as you explore 500 life-size sculptures used to promote coral life at the bottom of the ocean in the Cancun National Marine Park. The museum may be viewed by diving, snorkeling, or glass bottom boat via guided tours.
Fascinated by the world of James Bond, secret agents and unique technology? This one is for you. You adopt your own own spy identity and take on an undercover mission before getting into the exhibits that examine the history and tools of spy craft.
Comic-Con Museum, San Diego, USA
An extension of the annual Comic-Con International convention, this is is the ultimate fan destination for comics, movies, sci-fi, fantasy and popular culture as well as comic book art and animation.
The Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin (International City of Gastronomy and Wine), Dijon, France
Become immersed in the world and history of of French food and wine. Expect a delightful variety of cooking classes, wine tastings, hands-on interactive displays, a book shop and several restaurants to get an immersive experience into the gastronomical delights of the region.