Pop culture brings people together. How many times have you bonded over a genre of music, a crush on a movie star, or the funniest episodes from a TV sitcom you grew up watching? If your group has a common interest, a tour of one of these 20 pop culture sites will strengthen your connection and group identity in a fun, unforgettable fashion.

Popular Pop Culture Picks

Can’t decide on just one aspect of pop culture? Then head to Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) for a combination of music, gaming, film, and science fiction. See props and costumes from your favorite fantasy movie series and guitars once used by rock legends like Slash. The museum’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame honors contributors to the genre like Steven Spielberg, Jim Henson, and Stanley Kubrick. The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, also deserves a special mention, as pop art—think celebrity portraits and representations of mass-produced consumer goods—is a prominent visual form of pop culture. The museum offers several themed group tours that focus on Warhol’s life and times, his approach to art-making, and his queer identity. Your group can also add on workshops where participants make a silkscreen print of a contemporary pop culture icon or use printmaking and collage to explore their cultural heritage.

The Andy Warhol Museum,
Credit: The Andy Warhol Museum

Turn Up The Music

Music is probably the largest category of pop culture sites. Some focus on a music genre, while others spotlight a single music legend. Many musicians consider induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, as rock music’s highest honor. If your group loves to rock, they’ll find hours of entertainment browsing thousands of artifacts like costumes and guitars, and watching videos of studio sessions. Nashville, Tennessee’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum offers many fun group experiences. “Our goal is that groups leave the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum feeling informed and inspired,” says Dana Romanello, associate director of museum sales. “We accomplish this through our interactive programs like Sharing the Art of Songwriting. Groups work closely with one of Nashville’s most accomplished songwriters to craft their own song—it’s the perfect way to collaborate and immerse themselves in one of the most creative communities in the entire world.” Another fun option is the Star for a Day package, which includes lunch and line dancing at the Wildhorse Saloon.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,
Credit: Aerial Agents

In Detroit, Michigan, the Motown Museum occupies the actual apartment where label founder Berry Gordy and his family lived. You can visit Studio A, where Motown artists like Diana Ross & The Supremes and Gladys Knight & the Pips made Hitsville, USA world famous. While Motown was picking up steam in the 1960s, Muscle Shoals, Alabama, was adopting the nickname “the Hit Recording Capital of the World.” It became synonymous with Southern soul and R&B, also adding in blues, hillbilly, rock, and gospel. Groups can tour the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. If jazz is more to your group’s liking, you’ll find a whole national park dedicated to the musical genre in New Orleans, Louisiana. Since New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, you’ll not only hear the sounds but also see many of the sites and structures that were paramount in the genre’s history. The New Orleans Jazz Museum is housed in the Old U.S. Mint at the edge of the French Quarter.

Graceland is probably the most famous musical pop culture attraction dedicated to a single artist. For Elvis Presley fans, visiting his former home in Memphis, Tennessee, is a spiritual pilgrimage. In addition to the grand mansion itself, an immersive 120-acre complex features Elvis’ costumes, music, awards, car collection, and custom jets. Follow Elvis’ footsteps to Sun Studios, the famous Memphis recording studio where he and other famous artists like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Orbison, made classic records. During private group tours, you can sing into the same microphone as the musical greats. Other specialty music museums include: The National Blues Museum in St. Louis, Missouri; The Big House in Macon, Georgia, which commemorates all things Allman Brothers Band; and Paisley Park, Prince’s home in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

The Elvis Jumpsuit Exhibit at Graceland,
Credit: Alex Shansky

Humorous Highlights

People from around the world still love and remember Lucille Ball. The Lucy Desi Museum in Jamestown, New York, celebrates the famous redhead and her Cuban bandleader husband. The museum is built around their “I Love Lucy” TV show, including costumes, sets, and video clips. Groups receive a special tour of the museum and can book an expanded “Lucytown Tour” that guides them around Ball’s hometown. For a unique experience, book a themed dinner in the Tropicana Room, a re-creation of Ricky Ricardo’s Manhattan nightclub.

Fans of comedian Red Skelton will enjoy a visit to his museum in Vincennes, Indiana. Skelton’s schtick may seem a bit dated—his most famous character was a happy hobo—but the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy tries to keep things relevant with a film series and changing exhibits on comedy. No matter the group members’ shared interest, you are sure to find a pop culture destination that will appeal to all. Whether your group loves comedy, pop art, film, or jazz music, visiting a pop culture attraction is a fun and unforgettable way to engage and inspire your tour guests.

Movie Magic

The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York, celebrates film with a busy roster of screenings, events, and changing exhibits, plus a collection of 130,000 objects. Groups can opt for self-guided or specialized guided tours that cover topics like the creative and technical process of making films, or an in-depth look at “The Jim Henson Exhibition.”

Museum of the Moving Image,
Credit: Museum of the Moving Image & Peter Aaron

Fans of old-time Hollywood will enjoy visiting the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield, North Carolina, which celebrates the leading lady of the 1950s. Groups particularly love Gardner’s costumes, says Lynell Seabold, the museum’s executive director. “We also have a Heritage Tour [where groups accompany] a museum representative to places in Johnston County that were part of Ava’s personal life, such as the home she was born in and the memorial park where she is buried with her family,” Seabold adds.

“These special tours are very popular with groups, as they get a chance to see for themselves the type of life Ava lived as a child. Then they come into the museum to learn more about her life, her marriages, her career, and her later years in Spain and London.” If your tastes run more toward tinmen and cowardly lions, visit the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. You’ll see her childhood home, personal effects, and the original carriage from “The Wizard of Oz.”

For more magical movie tours, check out Group Tour’s articles on California’s studio tours and Georgia’s movie set tours.

Written by Theresa Bergen

Main Image: Graceland; Credit: Alex Shansky