SYNOPSIS: This museum is a hidden gem. It had been on my list of places to go for three years before I was able to get there, and I certainly was not disappointed. If you have been to one of Danbury’s Memorial Day Parades, you’ve probably seen a few of their military vehicles.
APPROXIMATE TIME: Two to three hours.
DIRECTIONS: To get there from Putnam County, head east on Route 84 into Connecticut and take exit 3. Stay to the right, following signs for Park Avenue and the mall. Turn right onto Park Avenue and go about ½ a mile. The museum is on the left – just look for the tanks!
THE VISIT: The U.S. Military Museum boasts an outdoor display of over 25 military vehicles. According to their literature, they have the largest private collection of military vehicles and tanks in the northeast.
The best time to visit this museum is during one of its “Open Turret Days” when they open up most of the vehicles and you get to climb around in them. Since you are outdoors and climbing around, make sure you wear sneakers and clothes that can get a little dirty. And watch your head – solid steel hurts!
We were even able to catch a ride on one of the tanks in an adjacent field. It must have been quite a site for my wife to watch her husband and two oldest kids sitting on the top of the tank as it rolled through the open field.
The inside of the museum has an impressive collection of military artifacts from 20th century conflicts including WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm.
The indoor area is probably better if you are with older children or adults. I found myself passing displays that I wanted to stay and read, but couldn’t due to the limited attention span of my younger kids. Even so, I think my young kids learned something about the sacrifice others have made for our country. This adventure kept the attention of a three and five year old for about two hours. I plan on going back at some point so I can take my time going through the indoor displays.
HISTORY: The museum opened in 1985 with the goal of preserving our military history. Today, its inventory has grown to over 10,000 artifacts. It is maintained mostly by unpaid volunteers. In the past, it was also know as the Military Museum of Southern New England.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Our last visit was in July 2017, but the photos on this page are from May 2009. The museum is open fewer days and hours during the winter months. “Open Turret Days” are in the warmer months, but don’t go when it’s too hot because those tanks get pretty warm. I took my son’s Cub Scout Den on a day when it was 100 degrees, and it was ridiculously hot inside the vehicles. Imagine what it must have been like for the military personnel in full combat gear!
Admission is very reasonable at $8 for adults, $5 for kids, and free for children under five. For more info visit the museum’s website at www.usmilitarymuseum.org or call them at 203/790-9277.