Travel is always more interesting when you can experience unique local spots and taste scrumptious delicacies that you won’t find anywhere else. The Museum of Ice Cream made headlines when it debuted in 2016, and now has two locations in San Francisco and New York filled with people looking to photograph every corner. But even the less Instagram-friendly food museums have a lot to offer travelling foodies. Here are some of the most interesting and obscure.
Amsterdam Cheese Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Do something cheesy during your travels at the Amsterdam Cheese Museum, located steps from the Anne Frank House. Nibble on Gouda, Edam, or Leyden as you learn about the centuries-old history of Dutch cheese-making and check out the most expensive cheese slicer in the world. This charming museum also sells vacuum-packed varieties so that you can take some of the best bites back with you.
National Mustard Museum, Middleton, USA
Home to the world’s largest collection of mustards—more than 6,000 from 50 states and 70 countries—and mustard memorabilia, the National Mustard Museum opened in Middleton, Wisconsin in 1992. From vintage ads to antique mustard tins and pots, the museum pays loving tribute to what founder Barry Levenson calls the king of condiments. Sample mustards—from sweet to fiery—at the museum’s tasting bar, and snag some cooking tips and recipes to bring home. The museum also hosts a worldwide mustard competition and an annual street festival in downtown Middleton that raises money for local charities.
The Butter Museum, Cork, Ireland
Ireland is the world’s largest butter market. At The Butter Museum in Cork, visitors will hear about dairy’s beginnings, when butter was preserved in bogs, and the development of the Cork Butter Exchange. Watch butter-making demonstrations; view traditional butter-making equipment, a collection of butter wrappers throughout history, and a keg of thousand-year-old butter; and learn about the amazing success story behind the iconic Kerrygold brand.
China Watermelon Museum, Beijing
Beijing’s China Watermelon Museum celebrates the juicy fruit, which originated in southern Africa. Futuristic in design, the museum’s exterior resembles a massive watermelon; inside, 4,000 square-feet of space are packed with wax watermelons representing varieties grown around the world. Expect exhibits to outline every aspect of watermelon cultivation and culture, and to feature ancient Chinese poems (as well as comics, books, and artwork) referencing the fruit. An outdoor portion showcases several dozen watermelon varieties grown on property; tastings are offered during the summer months.
Ponzan Croissant Museum, Poznan, Poland
If you love melt-in-your mouth buttery pastry, visit the Ponzan Croissant Museum, located in a restored Polish Renaissance home. These unique local pastries—folded 81 times into a horseshoe shape and filled with white poppy seeds, nuts, and raisins—have been baked in Poznan for 150 years and are so good that they’re protected by the European Union. Taste these savoury-sweet treats, and then help whip up a batch using traditional Polish confectionery tools. You can also check out vintage photos that chronicle the delicacy’s history, including its annual St. Martin’s Day parade—during which locals consume 700,000 croissants.
The Frietmuseum, Bruges, Belgium
Love French fries? Opened in 2008, the Frietmuseum in Bruges allows visitors to discover the story behind one of the greatest Belgian culinary specialities: the potato fry. Learn about the history of the potato, which originated more than 10,000 years ago in Peru; how French fries came to Belgium; and how this delicious snack is made. Don’t forget to sample some crispy fries in the building’s medieval cellar. This educational museum is housed in the Saaihalle, a magnificent 14th-century structure that is the oldest in Bruges.
Where tourism and food collide: it’s a delicious place to be.