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The Short Version: Since 1966, the Gilmore Car Museum has delighted visitors with its one-of-a-kind car collection, which has grown to include over 400 vintage vehicles. Each automobile has a story behind it, and the knowledgeable staff is happy to share that history with curious visitors. Whether you’re learning something new at an exhibit or digging into an old-school meal at the diner, the Gilmore Car Museum offers a memorable date location in the heart of Hickory Corners, Michigan.
In the 1960s, Donald Gilmore retired as CEO of Upjohn Company, a world-renowned pharmaceutical manufacturer and found himself without anything to do with his time. His wife, Genevieve, told him he needed to find a hobby and suggested he attend a car show called the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Donald went to the show with a friend, and he ended up buying the Best of Show winner — a 1913 Rolls Royce. Just like that, Donald became a passionate car collector. Within a few years, he had over 50 cars in his collection. He had so many cars that he had to buy 90 acres of land in Hickory Corners, Michigan, to accommodate them all.
Then Genevieve once again made a suggestion that changed Donald’s life. She encouraged him to turn his unique car collection into a museum.
The couple established a nonprofit called the Gilmore Car Museum and opened it to the public on July 31, 1966. At the time, they had 35 cars on display, but Donald soon grew the collection to impress car enthusiasts of all ages.
Today, the museum has over 400 classic and vintage vehicles on display on more than 189,000 square feet of exhibit space, making it the largest auto museum in North America. This old-school place is a highly entertaining date spot for couples looking for something outside the ordinary.
You can tour eight restored 19th-century barns, a 1930s Shell gas station, or a fully stocked 1940s diner on the campus of serveral historic buildings.
“People are surprised by the Gilmore’s size and how much there is to experience,” said Jay A. Follis, the Director of Marketing. “It’s a great place to relive some memories or just make a few new ones.”
The Gilmore Car Museum doesn’t put rope barriers between guests and cars, so people can get up close to the vehicles. The museum only asks that people not touch the 400+ cars on display inside. The museum is open all year round, and admission rates vary depending on what month you visit.
The Gilmore Car Museum sees over 125,000 visitors a year. People come from all over the world to view this amazingly large collection of classic automobiles. The oldest car on exhibit is the 1899 Locomobile Steam Car. Plus, the Gilmore has over 1,500 hood ornaments on display — some are world-famous Lalique crystal. You can also find antique toys and clothing showcased here.
“We are so much more than just a car collection,” Jay said. “We offer free Wednesday night cruise-ins, about 20 weekend shows from horseless carriages to motor cycles to muscle cars, and a Model T Ford Driving Experience.”
The authentic Blue Moon Diner is a wonderful place for a throwback lunch with someone special. The 1940s-style diner starts serving burgers and milkshakes at 11 a.m., and it’s open seasonally from April 1 until Nov. 30. Be sure to save room for dessert because the diner serves homemade pies and creamy custards, which are perfect for splitting with a date.
The Gilmore Car Museum puts on many unique and timely exhibits, including the real story behind the Oscar-winning “Green Book,” to give people a reason to return to the museum over and over again. There’s always something new to see and learn here.
The historic campus features a recreated dealership row, a 1930s gas station, a traditional diner, and countless interesting exhibits. You can also see a London taxi, a checker cab, a Model T, or a London double-decker bus traveling on the grounds.
It takes a diverse and ingenious team to keep the Gilmore Car Museum running smoothly from day to day. Jay said he has been with the nonprofit for over 17 years, and many other staff members have been there for the long haul. The office manager, for instance, started over 30 years ago and is still excited to come to work every day.
The Gilmore staff come from different professional backgrounds — from a high school music teacher to a retired navy submariner — but they’re all bound by a common mission. They love cars. They pool their talents to teach people about the history of automobiles and create a fantastic display unlike any other in the country.
This knowledgeable team makes the Gilmore Car Museum come to life and keeps it in tip-top shape. Jay said many retired mechanics stop by to work on the Gilmore’s cars and make sure they are operational. The lead Model T Ford Driving Experience Mechanic is a retired Police Detective and SWAT commander named Wrangler.
“We also have several volunteers who drive more than an hour one way every week to be a part of the museum,” Jay noted. “They all share one thing: a passion for history and what we do at the museum.”
Car enthusiasts can join in seasonal employment opportunities at the Gilmore to become part of this team and carry its vision into the future.
Couples can take a romantic road trip to the Gilmore to discover shared interests and enjoy a one-of-a-kind date atmosphere. The engaging exhibits provide plenty of conversation starters, and you can’t go wrong by ending a date over a classic hand-spun milkshake.
Jim53F traveled from North Carolina to visit the Gilmore in 2017 and booked a two-day ticket to make the most of the trip.
“If you enjoy looking at and reading about old autos, do yourself a favor and plan two days to visit,” he said. “While I was there, a couple, whom I had seen throughout the day, came in. The first thing the man said to the woman employee was ‘I sure am glad we bought the two-day tickets.'”
“I had no idea the Gilmore Car Museum was this cool. Loved it!” said Valerie Ott, a photographer who works in Detroit.
“I was more beautiful than we had imagined,” said Amanda Hayes in another review. “The Gilmore far exceeded our expectations.”
One couple loved the Gilmore so much they decided to have their wedding ceremony in one of the historic barns and the reception in the museum itself.
Guests could roam the grounds freely before and after the event, and they enjoyed an after-hours visit to the museum. “Nice attention by the Gilmore staff,” commented the father of the groom. “The wedding couple was very satisfied.”
Genevieve’s good sense and Donald’s passion for history led to the foundation of the Gilmore Car Museum in 1966. This institution preserves the history and heritage of the American automobile with many diversions for daters to enjoy. You don’t have to be a car collector to appreciate the historic nature of the automobiles on display.
The Gilmore transports visitors into the past with its innovative exhibits, recreated environments, and vintage collectibles. The museum is always adding to its collection and creating new displays to excite people’s imaginations.
If you want to cruise into a dynamic dating experience, you can stop by the Gilmore Car Museum and spend hours viewing its collection.
“There’s a lot to see. My boyfriend loved this place. We were both able to learn a lot through this visit,” said Jetzec on TripAdvisor. “We really loved the place and are planning to return to visit other parts of the museum. I definitely recommend!”