There’s a little museum on the road between Phoenix, AZ and Palm Springs, CA that I’ve often been curious about. It always catches my attention because of its strange location and the big military tanks that can be seen from outside. Only once have I made the time to visit it while traveling between Arizona and Southern California. But I think the little General Patton Memorial Museum in Chiriaco Summit is a worthy roadside attraction for anyone who is interested in history and/or exploring military vehicles. Read on if you think that little-known spot might be the perfect stop over for your roadtrip, or if you’ve always been curious about what this museum is all about.
Is the General Patton Memorial Museum Worth It?
This depends on you! It is $18 to visit (in 2023), so the ticket price isn’t cheap by any means. But I think you will enjoy stopping here if you (a) really enjoy history museums, (b) have an appreciation for more home-grown museums, and/or (c) you need a break from a long drive to or from the big cities of the southwest.
While General Patton is the focus of the building, there are many different elements of World War II, the US military, and even the dynamic lands surrounding the museum. These are complicated subjects, and while I wouldn’t say that this museum has the capacity to adjust to our current understanding of the people and events in the past, I did find it to be a very interesting place that peeked into a specific corner of history. For example, there were places in the General Patton Memorial Museum that really humanized the regular soldier of WWII. I was particularly appreciative of the collections that focused on the unique art that came out of the battlefields.
For those of you who enjoy a good immersive museum, the tank section of the General Patton Memorial Museum scratched that itch for me. There were a couple of tanks that you could climb into and explore the controls. And the outdoor section of the museum had a great collection of vehicles to explore from multiple angles.