Where the Best of the Best Call Home

Americans love to celebrate the best when it comes to people, places, and things. That's especially true when it comes to various halls of fame situated across the country, where the best of the best call home. Here are some top halls of fame well worth a visit for both diehards and casual fans.

New York: National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
25 Main St.
Cooperstown, NY 13326
Typically drawing around 300,000 visitors each year, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has more than 40,000 artifacts related to the game's past, including one of Babe Ruth's lockers, hate mail sent to Jackie Robinson, a glove worn by Willie Mays, and much, much more.

A typical Hall of Fame experience begins with the multimedia presentation called "The Baseball Experience" in the Grandstand Theater. Next, visitors enter the "Baseball Time Line," which details players, legendary teams, and historic moments through the turn-of-the-century.

Other exhibits of note include: "Diamond Dreams: Women in Baseball;" "Pride and Passion: the African-American Baseball Experience;" "Viva Baseball!" (dedicated to baseball in Caribbean Basin countries); "The Babe Ruth Gallery;" and "Today's Game," which captures memories and milestones from the last several years, as well as 'lockers' for each of the 30 major league clubs in a clubhouse setting.

"Baseball at the Movies" explores the long-standing relationship between baseball and the movies, including the likes of "Field of Dreams", "Bull Durham", "Eight Men Out", "A League of Their Own", "The Natural," and many more. Housing the award winners of the Ford C. Frick Award for Broadcasting Excellence and the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing, "Scribes and Mikemen" honors the greatest journalists to broadcast and write about the national pastime.

"Sacred Ground" examines ballparks of the past and present with more than 200 artifacts in numerous displays in a 1,800-square-foot exhibit space. Displays include: a ticket booth from Yankee Stadium; a turnstile from the Polo Grounds; a cornerstone from Ebbets Field; and the on-deck circle from Forbes Field.

There's also a special interactive section dedicated to the music of the ballpark, where visitors can hear the distinctive sounds from various ballparks and learn the history of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and much more. A unique computer interactive experience also guides visitors on a walk through Boston's old South End Grounds Grand Pavilion, which hosted baseball from 1888 to 1894.

"One for the Books: Baseball Records and the Stories Behind Them" tracks the active and all-time leaders in virtually every statistical category, while also featuring award winner lists and selected awards from the Hall of Fame collection. This area also includes "Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream," an exhibit that chronicles Aaron's life from childhood through his big-league career and post-baseball work, including his philanthropic efforts.

"Autumn Glory: 100 Years of the Postseason" spotlights moments from every memorable World Series. Artifacts range from the baseball used for the final out of the inaugural fall classic in 1903 to the bats used by Bobby Thomson, and Joe Carter when they hit their dramatic World Series home runs.

The "Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery" on the first floor serves as the centerpiece of the historic institution, where the plaques of 300-plus Hall of Fame members are displayed. It's here that the likes of Williams, Clemente, Berra, DiMaggio, Ripken, Mantle and many more are honored for eternity.

The Museum Store is where visitors will find unique gifts and keepsakes, including apparel for themselves and other baseball fans.

Ohio: Pro Football Hall of Fame
2121 George Halas Dr. NW
Canton, Ohio 44708
(330) 456-8207
Drawing more than 200,000 pro football fans last year, Canton's Pro Football Hall of Fame has been around since 1963-welcoming more than 10 million visitors from more than 60 countries around the world. There have been four expansions (including one completed in 2013), which saw the facility grow from its original size of 19,000 square feet to 118,000 square feet today.

Visitors enter the museum through a grand new lobby, which features ever-changing themed displays and the story of why the Hall of Fame is in Canton. There were three reasons: the American Football League (later named the National Football League) was founded in Canton in 1920; the Canton Bulldogs were an early football power, with Jim Thorpe as a star; and Canton citizens launched a successful campaign to have the Hall of Fame located in their city.

"The NFL's First Century" gallery opened in 2013 and features: a towering bronze statue of Jim Thorpe; high-tech interactive displays; one-of-a-kind artifacts; and historical information through several themes that document the game's great pioneers, players, coaches, and events. Pro football's impact on society is explored in "Road to Equality" and "Pop Culture."

The famed "Hall of Fame Gallery" houses the bronze busts of each Hall of Fame enshrinee (now at 275-plus). Visitors can learn about each member through touch screen kiosks that display biographies, photos, videos, and more.

The "Moments, Memories & Mementos Gallery" uses high-tech video, audio, and lighting to focus on the achievements of inductees, including artifacts from their careers. "The Pro Football Today Gallery" examines contemporary themes in the NFL, including mementos from recent big games. The "Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery" chronicles the game from Super Bowl I to the present, including artifacts, game footage, and interactive kiosks.

There's also the Super Bowl Theater, with highlights from the most recent season and Super Bowl using the latest technology and creative works from NFL Films. Finally, leaving the exhibit spaces, there's an interactive area that features many hands-on experiences-including a Madden EA Sports video game suite.

The brand-new Hall of Fame Store was part of the museum's massive renovation and includes a broad selection of merchandise from all 32 NFL teams. There's also a wide variety of specially-designed Hall of Fame merchandise, including collectibles and more.

Football fans may want to know that the new College Football Hall of Fame ( will be opening in downtown Atlanta in the fall of 2014. It's moving from South Bend, Indiana. The new facility will be adjacent to the Georgia Dome and steps from Centennial Olympic Park, the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium, the CNN Center, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and much more. It will feature contemporary artifacts, interactive multimedia displays, children's activities, a theater featuring ultra-HD films on the history and excitement of college football, and much more-including a 45-yard indoor turf field.

Massachusetts: Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
1000 Hall of Fame Ave.
Springfield, MA 01105
(413) 781-6500
Opened in 2002 to rave reviews, the then-new Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame nearly doubled the size of the former building, including the new trademark 15-story-high spire with an illuminated basketball on top.

Dr. James Naismith "invented" basketball in 1891 when he was a physical education instructor at Springfield College, thanks to the desire of the schools administration to have a new indoor recreational game for the winter months. Before he died in 1939, Naismith would see basketball included in the Olympic family of sports (the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin). He actually threw out the "first ball" in the inaugural game and later commented it was the highlight of his career.

More than 20 new entertaining exhibits containing objects, photos, and graphics are complemented by 40-plus video programs, including a new state-of-the-art theater that tells the story of basketball. It features the sport's great teams, players, and contributors from 1891 to present-day. Visitors are able to look up facts on Hall of Famers and other players, championship teams, and leagues. There's also video trivia, coach's play telestration, and many memorable game highlights. More than a dozen hands-on interactive displays--including activities designed for younger fans--complement the extensive museum exhibits and video programs, allowing roundballers of all skill levels the ability to compare themselves to basketball greats. This includes shooting hoops, rebounding, and "playing" against virtual superstars.

The new Jerry Colangelo Court of Dreams includes a high school regulation-sized court and offers continuous programming. Contests, pick-up games, skill challenges, demonstrations, and clinics are all part of the mix.

The Hall of Fame Theater features basketball videos and television shows with state-of-the-art surround sound and lighting. Of course, there's also the busy Hall of Fame Store with all the latest merchandise, plus exclusive items.

Ohio: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum
1100 E. 9th St.
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 781-7625
Located on the shores of Lake Erie, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum plays tribute to the groundbreaking genre with a fast-paced journey through the history of rock and roll music. The museum offers a comprehensive retrospective on rock and roll's origins, development, legends, and its immense impact on global culture.

From one-hit wonders to legendary inductees and from its roots in gospel, country, and blues to the important music scenes in Memphis, Detroit, and Chicago, the museum's exhibits are designed to provide the visitor with a unique and interactive experience. The collection of artifacts and costumes is enhanced by a combination of state-of-the-art technology and innovative film and video. Other exhibits are devoted to the pioneering rock and roll artists of the Fifties, the soul artists of the Sixties, the political protests against rock and roll, and the interplay between the music, the artists, and fashion. Plus, of course, there's the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum Store for music shopping and much more.

North Carolina: NASCAR Hall of Fame
400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 654-4400
The NASCAR Hall of Fame is an interactive entertainment attraction honoring the history and heritage of NASCAR. More than 50 interactive exhibits, like the Pit Crew Challenge and racing simulators, invite guests to engage with the sights and sounds of the sport, while unexpected memorabilia and stock cars on display chronicle NASCAR's beginnings to present day.

One-of-a-kind memorabilia include everything from Junior Johnson's moonshine still to Bobby Allison's band uniform and Richard Petty's Medal of Freedom. NASCAR's roots run deep in Charlotte, the birthplace of motorsports more than six decades ago. NASCAR was founded by fearless bootleggers looking to enhance their cars so they could outrun the law. NASCAR now boasts more than 75 million loyal fans worldwide, and undoubtedly reigns supreme in North Carolina with nearly 90% of teams based in the region.

Downtown Charlotte's massive 150,000-square-foot NASCAR Hall of Fame features more than 1,000 artifacts to complement the interactive exhibits. The high-tech venue is designed to educate and entertain both rabid race fans and non-fans alike.

"The Great Hall" is just inside the entrance and this open-air area includes rotating exhibits and a signature "Fan Billboard" featuring large screens, lively graphics, and interactive video content. Next, signature "Glory Road 2.0" features a banked ramp leading to the second floor and showcasing 18 historic cars, 40 current and historic tracks, and two opportunities for fans to walk up and experience racetrack inclines of 14 and 33 steep degrees.

The "Hall of Honor" is sacred NASCAR ground and it's where NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees are enshrined each year. There have been five induction ceremonies since it's opening in 2010, including Dale Earnhardt, Junior Johnson, Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett, and many more.

"Race Week" provides a behind-the-scenes look at what each member of a NASCAR team experiences to prepare for race day, while the "Transporter Simulator" is a full-size team transporter within Race Week that provides a first-hand look at the team's trackside nerve center. The "Racing Simulator" (also in Race Week) provides a state-of-the-art experience and perspective and was the first iRacing simulator.

"Heritage Speedway" is where individual galleries tell the story of more than 60 years of NASCAR history, while "Honoring Our Legacy Theater" in Heritage Speedway honors NASCAR legends no longer with us. "Memorable Moments" in the Theater Lobby highlights artifacts and other items that celebrate NASCAR history from the most recent season. Last, but not least, "Gear Shop" is the place to head for everything NASCAR.

Texas: International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame
621 Six Flags Dr.
Arlington, TX 76011
(817) 385-8215
The International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame preserves and records bowling's 5000-year history. The Museum also recognizes the sport's greats with the United States Bowling Congress (USBC), Professional Bowlers Association (PBA), the Bowling Proprietor's Association of America (BPAA), and the World Bowling Writers Hall of Fame. Open in Arlington since 2010, the Museum features 18,000 square feet of history, exhibits and memorabilia. It was originally opened in 1984 in St. Louis, Missouri.

One hundred million people in more than ninety countries are bowlers, making bowling one of the largest participatory sports in the world. Bowling has a long and storied history, from ancient Egypt to modern times.

The Museum tour opens with a dedication to some of the greats of bowling, including exhibits devoted to Joe Norris, Walter Ray Williams, Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, Paeng Nepomuceno, and Marion Ladewig. An original LeRoy Neiman oil painting of Earl Anthony is prominently featured. Visitors then move into a replica of a stone bowling game found in a child's grave in northern Egypt. The game has been dated to 3200 BC. One exhibit features "pin boys," who set pins by hand in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Exhibits follow the formation of major bowling organizations across the nation and around the world. The "TV Goes Bowling" exhibit shows the sports foray into television and the bowling boom that followed.

"Hometown Heroics" is a hands-on exhibit built around two computer terminals. Visitors can look up names of local/state Hall of Famers, as well as those who have bowled 300 games or 800 series. Additionally, visitors can look up biographies of Hall of Famers at dedicated kiosks that feature bowlers' biographies and more. Plus, the Spare Partz store offers a variety of striking bowling souvenirs.

Tennessee: Country Music Hall of Fame
222 Fifth Ave. South
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 416-2001
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum adds a strikingly modern touch to the Nashville skyline and is situated at the epicenter of the city's rapidly growing core, a block from the popular honky-tonks of Broadway and across the street from Bridgestone Arena and Music City Center. The museum, called the "Smithsonian of country music" because of its unrivaled collection, recently unveiled a $100 million expansion, doubling its size to 350,000 square feet of dynamic state-of-the-art galleries, archival storage, education classrooms, retail stores, and special event space boasting stunning downtown views.

In the museum's core exhibition, "Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music," visitors are immersed in the history and sounds of country music, its origins and traditions, and the stories and voices of many of its honored architects. The story is revealed through artifacts, photographs and text panels, with a rich overlay of recorded sound, vintage video and interactive touchscreens.

The new "ACM Gallery" and the "Dinah & Fred Gretsch Family Gallery" offer visitors a hands-on immersion into today's country music with artifacts from today's hottest country stars and a series of technology-enhanced activities that will allow guests to become 'Certified Country.'

In addition to world class galleries, the museum also boasts the 800-seat CMA Theater; the Taylor Swift Education Center; and multi-purpose event rental spaces already in high demand. Other historic properties of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum include the legendary letterpress operation Hatch Show Print (expanded and relocated inside the museum) and Historic RCA Studio B (located on famed Music Row), Nashville's oldest surviving recording studio where magical recordings by Elvis, Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, and countless others were made. > Michigan: Automotive Hall of Fame
21400 Oakwood Blvd.
Dearborn, MI 48124
(313) 240-4000
The Automotive Hall of Fame is located on Oakwood Boulevard across the parking lot from The Henry Ford (a great car-driven museum in its own right). It celebrates cars and the people who drove them to their important status in the world today.

Opened at its current location in 1997, various possibilities for auto buffs here include: the Soichiro Honda Atrium (changing car displays and special exhibits); the William Maybach Hall of Recognition (recent Hall of Fame inductees and more); the Fred Mancheski Theater (media showcasing the history of the industry and Hall of Fame honorees); the Hall of Honor, including a large John Gable "History of the Auto" mural depicting the history of cars on world culture; and lots of permanent and changing exhibits ranging from the automobile's early days to today. The Hall of Fame's 1948 Chrysler Convertible is certainly a highlight for car aficionados.

Nevada: Pinball Hall of Fame
1610 E. Tropicana Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 5y97-7627
Pinball wizards and wanna' be wizards will love the new and expanded location of the Pinball Hall of Fame. Twice the size of the original location and much closer to the famed Strip, the Pinball Hall of Fame makes pinball machines hall of famers.

Thanks to the collection and dedication of founder Tim Arnold and the Las Vegas Pinball Collectors Club, this amazing place features hundreds of playable pinball machines dating from the 1950s to the 1990s. All of them work and are kept in immaculate condition by volunteers roaming the floor clad in carpenter's aprons.

Older pinballs are set at 25 cents and the more recent models run 50 cents. The Pinball Hall of Fame is a non-profit and everything after expenses goes to the Salvation Army. This quirky place also features scrap royal-blue carpet from a Convention Center show, a change machine from the Golden Nugget's trash dock, and a candy machine where the entire quarter purchase price goes to the Salvation Army. Pinheads unite!

Washington: Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame 325 5th Ave. North
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 770-2700
Located within the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum at the Seattle Center, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame honors the works, lives, and ongoing legacies of science fiction's and fantasy's greatest creators. Founded in 1996, the Hall of Fame was relocated from the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas to its permanent home in 2004.

Hall of Fame nominations are submitted by EMP members and final inductees are chosen by a panel of award-winning science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, editors, publishers, and film professionals. Past inductees have included: J.R.R. Tolkien; Ray Bradbury; Isaac Asimov; Sir Arthur C. Clarke; George Lucas; Stephen Spielberg; Rod Serling; and even David Bowie.