National World War II Museum
From Spitfires and Sherman tanks to shelters and sonnets, the National World War II Museum in New Orleans tells both the stories of those who fought and those who were left behind.
At the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the United States army was smaller than those of Germany, Japan and Italy. Yet by the time the U.S. entered the war in 1941 the country had managed to assemble a vast military machine, which to this day remains one of the world’s largest.
This is just one of the stories told in the National World War II Museum, which opened in the center of New Orleans, on Magazine Street, in June 2000. New Orleans was chosen from a selection of candidates because it’s where the Higgins Industries' amphibious boats, which were vital to the D-Day success, were designed and built. Today, the museum is regarded as one of the most important war repositories in America.
Enter the vast lobby, where dozens of aircraft are suspended from the rafters, and you'll get a feel for the size of the rare collection contained here. Permanent exhibits include an array of military vehicles, photographic galleries on the D-Day Landings, a section on the Home Front effort and fitting memorials to fallen soldiers. View original film footage and listen to recordings from the men who fought on the beaches and in the trenches.
A recent addition to the museum is the Soda Shop by chef John Besh, a southern Louisianan famed in New Orleans for his culinary creations. Enjoy a snack in this quirky café, which features 1940s-style décor and a range of interesting soda flavors served in traditional quart-sized bottles.
Allow at least three to four hours to see the National World War II Museum. It’s open every day, except Mardi Gras, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Free parking is available. It’s also accessible by public bus.