The Top Maritime and Navy Attractions in the USA

October 12, 2021

Faith, service, courage, and honor are the tenants that the US Navy holds dear. As we come upon the Navy’s 246th birthday, it is appropriate that we reflect on the centuries of loyal service these brave men and women have provided.

On October 13th, 1775, the US Navy was created amid the American Revolution in an effort to curb British Sea control. Since 1972, this day has been officially recognized as the celebration of not only the Navy’s birth but as a day to appreciate their longstanding contribution to our great country. 

In honor of this day, we are doing a deep dive into the Top Maritime and Navy Based attractions all around the USA:

People Viewing Jet and Battleship at the USS Midway Museum - San Diego, California, USA

USS Midway Museum, San Diego, CA

Aviation fanatics will be in heaven visiting the esteemed USS Midway Museum, which features more than 30 restored aircraft and nearly 10 acres of exhibits and displays.

The USS Midway Museum in San Diego, CA, is home to the longest-serving US Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Get ready to explore the stories and history of the 225,000 Midway sailors who served our country. 

Related Post: Expert Tips on Visiting the USS Midway Museum in San Diego

Museum-goers will see what it was like to live in this ‘floating city at sea’ as they follow along with a self-guided tour narrated by the Midway sailors themselves. 

Other notable points of interest include: 

  • Captain & Admiral’s Country - see where the admirals lived and Operation Desert Storm was orchestrated
  • TBD Devastator exhibit (as seen in the movie Midway) 
  • Flight simulators like Air Combat 360 and Virtual Reality Flight Experience: Screaming Eagles
  • WWII aircrafts such as the TBM Avenger
  • Below deck exhibits such as the sailor’s galley and sickbay

Pro Tip: The museum also offers many special events ranging from Top Gun movie nights to ‘Legacy Week,’ where they host interactive activities to commemorate Memorial Day.

Related Post: Maritime Museum of San Diego: What to Know Before You Go

External View of Pearl Harbor National Memorial with American flag flying on Oahu, Hawaii, USA

Pearl Harbor Memorial Tours, HI

No trip to Hawaii is complete without a look back into the incredible history and legacy of Pearl Harbor. 

Related Post: Plan a Pearl Harbor Memorial & USS Arizona Tour in Oahu

Break up your beach hopping with any one of our fascinating and educational Pearl Harbor Memorial Tours:

  • Go Oahu Multi-Attraction Pass - receive up to 55% off over 32 of Oahu’s most popular attractions, including the Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor
  • Salute to Pearl Harbor - learn all about the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor first hand by exploring the USS Arizona Memorial & Honolulu Harbor on this 4-hour tour
  • Pearl Harbor City Tour - step into life in Honolulu on the days following the devastating attack on this hands-on, immersive tour.
  • Pearl Harbor Remembered - soak in the ‘bookends’ of WWII in the Pacific with this engaging tour that centers around visits to the USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Oklahoma.

Related Post: A Guide to the Pearl Harbor Experience
the USS Constitution ship sailing in the Boston harbor in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

USS Constitution Cruise, MA

Prepare the cannons! Get ready for an educational high seas adventure as you board the USS Constitution Cruise in Boston, MA. Your 45-minute tour will take you throughout the Boston Harbor and the Charleston Navy Yard as you learn about one of the toughest ships ever - Old Ironsides.

Old Ironsides was one of the first ships ever commissioned by the US Navy and is the oldest commissioned warship still afloat in the world. Although her cannons may no longer function, you will still have a good time exploring her hallowed halls and the adjacent Naval Museum. 

This tour also provides the opportunity to explore other notable Boston landmarks, including:

  • The Bunker Hill Monument
  • The site of the Boston Tea Party
  • The Old North Church

Pro Tip: Did you know it was our very first president, George Washington, who bestowed Old Ironsides with her famous moniker. In fact, George Washington himself was also called ‘Old Ironsides.’

overview of the Battleship Iowa in the water firing canons in Los Angeles, California, USA

Battleship USS Iowa Museum, San Pedro, CA

Climb all aboard the West Coast’s only battleship open to the public - the Battleship USS Iowa Museum. This interactive naval museum is a fun and family-friendly experience that will captivate and inspire through multiple exhibits, hands-on engagement, and knowledgeable guides. 

Throughout your guided tour, you will discover the rich maritime history of the USS Iowa, including her special nickname, ‘the Battleship of Presidents.’ 

Other impressive highlights of this award-winning LA-based attraction include:

  • A scavenger hunt for ‘Vicky’ the USS Iowa’s dog mascot 
  • Viewing the HUP-2 Helicopter from the Korean War era
  • Experiencing the thrilling ride of the flight simulator
  • Remembering the bravery of the Surface Navy Heroes
  • Exploring the impact of shipwrecks in the chilling ‘Lost at Sea’ exhibit
exterior of ground view of Pearl Harbor National Memorial on Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Experiencing the USS Arizona Memorial is one of the top things to do in Honolulu.

Pearl Harbor-USS Arizona-Honolulu City Tour, HI

Craving a more in-depth Pearl Harbor adventure? Pearl Harbor-USS Arizona-Honolulu City Tour promises to look at naval history and Hawaiin culture comprehensively. This 6.25-7 hour tour includes stops at the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center, USS Arizona Memorial, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, and a narrated tour of downtown Honolulu.

Whether you are a history buff or simply a naval enthusiast, this tour is sure to impress with its numerous highlights such as:

  • The entire Pearl Harbor Visitor Center experience
  • The official USS Arizona Memorial Tour
  • Admission to the National Park Service’s theater to view a 23-minute movie documentary on the bombing of Pearl Harbor
  • Visiting the formidable USS Bowfin submarine
  • A driving tour through historic downtown Honolulu
  • A complimentary photo stop opportunity at the King Kamehameha Statue

ground view of the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum on a sunny day in NYC, New York, USA

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, New York, NY

It turns out the Big Apple isn’t just home to Broadway! Set your sights on the skies and seas with a visit to the iconic Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum in New York City. 

This impressive naval museum is home to the legendary aircraft carrier Intrepid, the space shuttle Enterprise, the world’s fastest jets, and a guided missile submarine. 

Kids and adults alike will be mesmerized by the abundance of exciting artifacts, fascinating videos, and permanent educational exhibits like:

  • The Aircraft Carrier Intrepid - fought in WWII, survived five kamikaze attacks, and one torpedo strike
  • Space Shuttle Pavilion - the prototype NASA orbiter that led the way for America’s space shuttle program
  • Submarine Growler - holds the distinction of being the only guided missile submarine open to the public

And don’t forget to check out their rotating array of new exhibits on naval history, space exploration, and technology like:

  • Navy Cakes: A Slice of History - a whimsical look into all the sweet treats baked aboard the Intrepid and the Growler
  • Kamikaze: Beyond the Fire - An immersive and interactive experience on the deadly nature of Kamikazes

ground view of the Indpendence seaport musuem

Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia, PA

Planning an excursion to the city of brotherly love? Then, complete your Philadelphia adventure with a stop at the Independence Seaport Museum. There is so much to see, do, and experience at this premier maritime destination located on Penn’s Landing waterfront. 

The Independence Seaport Museum has the distinct honor of housing the world’s oldest and still active steel warship, the Cruiser Olympia. The Independence Seaport Museum also showcases ‘Becky,’ or the USS Becuna, a WWII submarine that completed five wartime patrols and sank 3.5 Japanese Merchant ships.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to carve out time to step foot on the Schooner Diligence, a perfect replica of an 18th-century ship that would have served in the US Navy!

Other standout current exhibits include:

  • Workshop on the Water - watch firsthand as experts lovingly restore wooden vessels and educate visitors on the art of boatbuilding
  • Patriots & Pirates - ahoy! Learn all about the history of the US Navy and the city of Philly through artifacts and never before seen items 

exterior ground view of the Washington DC Navy Museum

Washington Naval Museum, Washington DC

Calling all frogmen! If you are searching for a complete overview of the history of the US Navy from its origin to the present day, you must visit the National Museum of the US Navy on your next trip to the capital. 

After a full day of taking in the landmarks, sights, and attractions of Washington DC, hightail it to the new campus-style museum, which pays respect to the Navy’s colorful heritage and history.

For over 50 years, this educational institution has brought the excitement of a Navy career to life through interactive exhibits, artifacts, and 4-D theater presentations.

Can’t miss museum exhibits include the celebrated:

  • Covert Submarine Operations 
  • Dive! Dive! Dive! US Navy Submarines
  • In Harm's Way: The US Navy and World War II: Atlantic

Pro Tip: Make a day out of it by packing a picnic lunch to enjoy outside at the lush Willard Park, directly in front of the museum.

Excited to ‘cast away’ on a day of adventure, education, and maritime fun? 

Naval and maritime museums provide the perfect chance to reflect and pay homage to the brilliant legacy of the US Navy. 

Whether you are exploring a wartime submarine or mounting a famous battleship with a very presidential pass, each of these unique destinations provides a sailor-worthy dose of entertainment. 

Wherever you are on October 13th, we hope you take a moment to appreciate the tremendous sacrifices and distinguished history of the US Navy.

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