I Have Free Time on a Business Trip, Now What?

PHOTO: The Walt Disney Family Museum, San Francisco

Let's say you're in Chicago for a convention. The sessions you need to attend end at 1:30 p.m., but you have a few hours before you need to get to the airport. You'd like to do something interesting, but you've already been to the major tourist attractions in town. Should you just sit in Starbucks and hope there's an outlet to power your laptop? Heck no. We've put together a list of smaller museums and things to do in five top business cities.

PHOTO: The National Museum of Funeral History, Houston
Houston: The National Museum of Funeral History

Kill some time (sorry, that was irresistible) at this unique museum dedicated to the history of funeral rituals, caskets and memorabilia. "Boy were we pleasantly surprised," wrote one TripAdvisor traveler. "This museum has an upbeat feel about it even considering the serious nature of death," wrote another. Reviewers rave about "the awesome old hearses" and the special exhibition on papal funeral rituals. Plus, as one person added, "How many times to you get a chance to say you've been to a funeral museum?"

PHOTO: Oriental Institute Museum, Chicago
Chicago: Oriental Institute Museum

Despite its name, this museum doesn't focus on Asian culture—instead, it boasts a "huge archaeological collection of objects from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Persia," according to one TripAdvisor reviewer who went on to call it "one of Chicago's best museums." Another visitor wrote, " You only need an hour or so to browse the halls of this small museum, but you will be stunned by the giant stone sculptures as well as the intricate, tiny artifacts." Also, admission is free (but a donation is suggested).

PHOTO: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
Boston: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

This "beautiful mansion with an eclectic collection of art and antiques" was once the home of Isabella Stewart Gardner, a wealthy Bostonian who collected an amazing assortment of art. In her will, Gardner stipulated that her house should be open to the public as a museum, but with one catch-- nothing could be moved or changed. As a result, the house is exactly as she decorated it. One TripAdvisor traveler praised its "fantastic paintings-- John Singer Sargent, Degas, Corot, Whistler, Dürer, Holbein, Fra Angelico, Titian, Tintoretto, etc., etc." Another called it "one of Boston's crown jewels."

PHOTO: The Walt Disney Family Museum, San Francisco
San Francisco: The Walt Disney Family Museum

Many, many TripAdvisor reviewers make a point to advise others that "this is NOT Disneyland." Instead, as one visitor puts it, "It is about the Disney family, the making of the legend Walt Disney, and his legacy." Another reviewer who proclaimed, "I am not a Disney person" emerged feeling "impressed by the whole thing" and called it an "unexpected treat."

PHOTO: The Tenement Museum of New York, New York
New York: The Tenement Museum of New York

This isn't one of New York's grand museums—it's housed in a former tenement on the Lower East Side. But if you're interested in cultural history, it is, according to one TripAdvisor traveler, an "excellent look back in history—[there's] no other museum like it." Through guided tours (most one or two hours long), the staff "does a fine job of educating adults and children how various groups (German, Italian, etc.) lived in the years between first landing at Ellis Island and later achieving enough to moving uptown and integrate," writes another visitor.

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