Space Center Houston
Space Center Houston

The Engineer’s Travel Bucket List

March 3, 2022
Make time to check out these must-see destinations during your next road trip.

Updated March 3, 2022

Our editors love telling the stories of passionate engineers. And where there are passionate engineers, there are massive feats of engineering. We’ve compiled a list of places engineers should visit if given the chance. From the origin of the universe to modern manufacturing, logistics and computing, there’s something for every engineer—young and old—on this list.

Do you think we missed something? Let us know in the comments below!

The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments

A part of Harvard University, the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments features dozens of measurement instruments from the past—pressure, speed, length, name it. Here you’ll find more than 200 years’ worth of scientific instruments that were critical for measuring or discovering new (as well as age-old) characteristics and phenomenon. The precision mechanical instruments are a testament to human ingenuity and engineering. With an extensive online exhibit and YouTube channel, you don’t even have to leave your computer screen to see this collection.

The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

This museum in Albuquerque, right outside Sandia National Lab (once a hotbed of nuclear weapons development) places you right inside the beginning of the atomic age. This museum showcases a variety of historic items related to the birth nuclear development, as well as weapons and various weapon-delivery platforms (planes, rockets and even an incredibly large cannon known as Atomic Annie) designed to use nuclear weapons.

Amazon Fulfillment Center

Who doesn’t like free two-day shipping? You probably didn’t know you could tour an Amazon Fulfillment Center to see how Amazon has become one of the largest, most recognizable companies in the world. Right now they’re only doing virtual tours, but what you’ll find are cutting-edge logistics, robotics and automation technologies (everything that helps you get that Echo Dot faster).

Space Center Houston

This list would never be complete without Space Center Houston, formerly known as the NASA Johnson Space Center. This Houston-based space center was probably most made famous by the phrase, “Houston, we have a problem.” With more than 400 space artifacts, the complex is a hotbed for mechanical engineers and space enthusiasts alike. With an emphasis on STEM and education, Space Center Houston is a great place for the engineers of tomorrow too.

Computer History Museum

One of the first museums dedicated to preserving for the future the history of the Information Age, the Computer History Museum has a lot to offer the engineer. From an exhibit about the evolution of software creation and its societal impact to exhibitions exploring the birth of computer hacking and the first 2,000 years of computing, the museum is an in-depth exploration of modern history. Be sure to check out the Fairchild Patent Notebooks while you’re there!

Three Gorges Dam

No engineering travel bucket list would be complete without the world’s largest hydroelectric dam, the Three Gorges Dam in China. When construction of the dam officially began in 1994, it was the largest engineering project in the country. At the time of its completion in 2006, it was the largest dam structure in the world. The dam and adjacent hydroelectric plant were built in phases and over the course of many years, reaching its full generating capacity in 2012.

The Large Hadron Collider

And we cannot forget one of the biggest contributors to particle research. It is the world’s largest particle accelerator, and you can see it for yourself! While you’re there, you can literally follow hydrogen through the network of accelerators. Inside, you can also find exhibits about the original particle of the universe through the Universe of Particles exhibit. And if you’re a fan of selfies, you can even snap a picture within a full-size mock-up of the accelerator’s tunnel. #ScienceSelfie

Grohmann Museum

The Milwaukee School of Engineering’s (MSOE) Grohmann Museum features a vast collection of artwork depicting the evolution of human work. Thousands of paintings, sculptures and more highlight how work and the machines used to aid it have changed over the centuries. Special exhibits throughout the year provide additional opportunities to see how technology and machines have advanced. The building that houses the museum also offers unique architectural elements and a rooftop garden with additional sculptures and views of downtown Milwaukee. Can’t make it to Milwaukee? The Grohmann Museum offers a virtual tour!

Bucyrus Museum

If in Milwaukee and wanting to continue your tour of heavy machinery design through the years, you can head to South Milwaukee and visit the recently opened Bucyrus Museum. It contains close to 20,000 historic artifacts, documents and photographs of both people and heavy equipment which aided construction and mining projects around the world. The museum provides a global and local perspective of technological advances in heavy equipment design, highlighting the industrial history of South Milwaukee as well as one of its best-known residents, mining equipment manufacturer Bucyrus International Inc. which was acquired by Caterpillar Inc. in 2011.

National Construction Equipment Museum

Heavy equipment preservation is a large part of the mission of the Historical Construction Equipment Association (HCEA) which also operates the National Construction Equipment Museum where many of these restored machines can be seen. The museum preserves and displays a wide range of construction, mining and dredging equipment as well as artifacts showing the history of heavy machinery from the 1800s to today. And if you plan your trip there for the fall, you can catch the HCEA’s International Convention & Old Equipment Exposition during which you can watch live demonstrations of restored equipment.

John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum

The John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum provides an opportunity to see how this equipment manufacturer’s machines have evolved over its 100+ year history. A range of interactive displays, restored machines and artifacts show how the company moved from development of an innovative steel plow to some of the most advanced tractors, combines and other machines in the heavy equipment industry.

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