5 Fantastic Reasons to Visit the Nauticus and Battleship Wisconsin
This week I have a fun post for Hampton Roads visitors and residents, featuring the Nauticus and Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk. I'm writing this now because 1) I just visited a few weeks ago and loved it! And 2) because, until the end of February 2020, local residents get admission for only $7.57! So for all of you that are maybe on the fence about whether or not to visit, I'm here to alleviate those doubts and tell you what you can look forward to!
Your admission includes access to the Nauticus, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, and the Battleship Wisconsin. I would highly recommend you give yourself 4 hours or more to allow yourself to enjoy everything because there is SO MUCH to do! There's also a lot of things to read, so be sure you have the time to pace yourself and learn about all the things that interest you along the way.
Now, let's get into the 5 Fantastic Reasons to Visit the Nauticus and Battleship Wisconsin!
Okay, so maybe these exhibits are mostly meant for the kids, but even adults will enjoy getting hands-on while you're here! The Nauticus is filled with all sorts of exhibits that teach you about different aspects of nautical life, as well as games and fun zones to break up the barrage of information. Here are a few of my favorites from our trip:
Drive a ship simulator around a virtual harbor
Learn to tie nautical knots
Smash every single button on an authentic (non-working, sorry) ship's command center
Use a telescope to look for otters swimming in the bay
Play a giant game of Battleship
Scare virtual fish in a floor "aquarium"
Experiment with waterways and race sailboats down your route
Shake hand with Uncle Sam to determine your personality
Build a robotic boat
This list just brushes the surface of all the things you can do when you visit! As you can see, this is great for families, but a fun-loving couple will also enjoy messing around with these exhibits (we certainly did!).
The Aquarium Center
The aquarium was such a cool and unexpected area up in the Nauticus. Now, it isn't going to rival the Virginia Beach Aquarium, but the mixture of learning and exhibits is terrific! Because Hampton Roads has both salt and freshwater sources, the aquarium features creatures from both bodies of water, which offers a cool variety. You can see fish from the Chesapeake Bay, an eel, lionfish, pretty much every fish from Finding Nemo (you know you identify them like that, too), and some seahorses! Plus, you can get up close with both sharks and horseshoe crabs in the touch pools at the end.
In keeping with the military side of the museum, the aquarium also features an interactive section where you can learn how the navy contributes to marine conservation and research efforts! This area includes a lot of simulators where you can play around with sonars and "search" for endangered sea creatures. It's both educational and fun, which is always a bonus!
As I mentioned before, there's a lot to read, and if you go through it all, you will learn A TON. For example, do you know how much cargo comes into the Port of Virginia every day and where it comes from? Or how much coal it took to power a battleship in the 1940s? You can definitely feel like you're on information overload, but the beauty of it is that you're free to explore and read the things that interest you!
Learn about the Jamestown Exhibition; discover when and why the Navy decided to make more Destroyers than Battleships, and eventually aircraft carriers; see military projectiles that weigh as much as a Volkswagon Beetle; take an interactive tour through the solar system; study tsunamis and learn the warning signs! With such a variety of information, you'll undoubtedly find something that sparks your interest!
The Battleship Wisconsin is an authentic, retired navy battleship that you can explore! Its history goes all the way back to WWII, and it served in several American wars. Part of the Battleship Wisconsin experience is learning about the amazing men that served on her over the years. There are a couple of videos and several exhibits that tell their stories as you progress toward the ship's entrance.
The actual battleship takes about an hour to explore if yuo hit every area. Some of the upper and interior decks are only accessible through a guided tour, but you can see a lot of the ship on your own! Be ready to climb up and down ladder-like stairs, step over high door ports, and maneuver around tight spaces--you are literally getting the Navy experience here. But you can also see how small you feel underneath the turret guns, peek in on the commander's quarters, and check out the massive anchor chains. You can even check out one of the command centers under the turrets and pop into two radio rooms to check out the equipment.
And don't forget to look out on the bay; the deck offers a beautiful view of the water!
Hampton Roads Naval Museum
The final attraction here is the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. Because Hampton Roads was at the center of British colonization efforts, this museum is filled with incredible history and artifacts dating all the way back to the Revolutionary war and up through the current times. Few cities in America have this much naval information to offer for one place.
Besides learning about a lot of naval battles, secret ships, and various wars, you'll also be able to see intricate ship models, cool artifacts, symbols of honor, and vintage army uniforms.
The museum is small, but it is packed to the brim with information and naval memorabilia. If you have any interest in maritime battles whatsoever, you'll have a fantastic time perusing through here.
I hope the information here sparks your interest enough to send you on a visit the next time you're in the Norfolk area! I barely scratched the surface of what you can enjoy at these museums, but I want you to go experience it all for yourself! You will have an absolutely amazing 4-5 hours of learning and fun.
For Hampton Roads residents, remember that you can get admission for nearly half the regular price through February 2020! Just remember to bring your I.D. for verification!
Don't forget to share this post and give it a heart to help support the Mandala Traveler so that I can keep sharing amazing attractions and adventures with you!
Until next time, happy travels!
For more fun Hampton Roads adventures, visit the Exploring Virginia page!