This spring, we headed down to the Norfolk, Virginia, area for the first time. It was just beautiful, with views of the harbor and Chesapeake Bay. We visited the Nauticus and Battleship Wisconsin, right on the waterfront. My kids were a little museum-d out after our big trip to Chicago a few weeks before, so we were very pleased to find out that Nauticus was part science museum, part maritime museum. All of the maritime exhibits and local history were new topics for us, and we learned a lot!
Inside, the kids ran from exhibit to exhibit, finding an assortment of hands-on (great for all ages, but especially my tweens) and more traditional. Several of the learning stations were computerized, which my girls loved. They practiced semaphore, morse code, and other modes of communication. They even got to stand in a hurricane simulator and blown all around! Some exhibits were made of retired ship parts, which allowed the kids to role play and measure their size next to them.
We were unfamiliar with the geography, so we learned a lot about Norfolk Harbor, its role in history and what it does now. We looked through telescopes at ships being unloaded across from us and went onto the Observation Deck to watch sailboats and cargo ships.
We were too busy touching sea creatures to take photos, but there is a whole aquarium inside as well. The kids touched sharks and rays, horseshoe crabs, and learned more about inhabitants of the Chesapeake Bay.
The highlight of the day was going out onto the deck of the Battleship Wisconsin. After reading the exhibits inside, it all came together on the self-guided tour of a real ship. They couldn't stop talking about it for days afterward!
Visiting Nauticus and Battleship Wisconsin
Admission is $15.95/adults and $11.50/kids ages 4-12. Kids 3 and under are free, and there are discounts for seniors and military. Consider a museum membership (link). Admission includes admission to the Nauticus museum, the self-guided tour of the Battleship, and a 3-D movie. For a guided tour of the interior, purchase a Gold Ticket for $20 more.