Sometimes, I make bad decisions when we are travelling. I made such a decision during our trip to Virginia Beach for March Break. It takes a lot of time and effort to develop a travel itinerary that fits and works. There are places that I want to see, but their hours do not work for the other places I want to see. There can be a lot of juggling. Plus, it is really a guess how much time I need to be at a location to experience what it offers.  

Sometimes, I decide to skip a spot. It was approaching the end of the day’s touring time when I decided we had enough and should return to our campsite for food and relaxation. The place I decided to skip was The Mariner’s Museum and Park.

It is not easy to decide to skip a location. What happens if it was a perfect spot and we missed it? This was the case for The Mariner’s Museum and Park. On the day we were to visit, we were tired and hungry. But things were different the next day. I was ahead of schedule, and the location was on our way to the campsite. I missed it yesterday, so I thought we could visit it this day.

In my research into the Virginia Beach area, I saw this museum and its huge entry fee of just one dollar. This small admission was why I had skipped it a day earlier—how can something that is only one dollar be any good?

For one US dollar, we were presented with a high-quality museum. We had two hours to explore it, and we had to do that rushed. We had to skip a few films that helped explain the artifacts and the story of the Monitor, which this museum has a full-scale reproduction of.  

This museum has several sections. I wanted to visit this museum to see the first of its kind, the USS Monitor. It was involved in a duel with another iron-clad ship during the American Civil War. I remember watching a show about this naval engagement and wanted to see it in person. The museum faithfully recreated the Monitor, and it is on display outside. Unfortunately, I was not able to go inside when we were there. There are actual pieces salvaged from the Monitor, which are displayed in preservation tanks for viewing. The thing that impressed me the most was the recreation of the crew’s quarters on display in the museum. The USS Monitor was built during wartime when the South tried to break away from the North. Inside the Monitor were spacious and decorated quarters for the captain and first officers. I understand making nice quarters for crew members during peacetime, but there was an active war happening, and this ship was pressed into service right away, yet they took the time for luxuries.  

In another section of the museum, various types of boats were displayed. Boats have different designs and purposes; some interesting ones are featured here.    

My favourite section, and one that is very popular, was the wooden models of ships throughout history. A short video was playing when we toured these carefully crafted models. They were intended to be museum quality from the beginning, and their construction was such that they would last for a very long time. No glue was used in their construction. It was an impressive display of talent by one man. Being pressed for time, I wished we could have stayed and enjoyed the video.

Like many other maritime-themed museums, this one has models, artifacts, historical notes, displays, and mock-ups. We spent two hours at this location, and I wish I had known just how informative and interesting it was before planning to visit Virginia Beach. I should have spent four hours here to see the films, read the information panels, and admire the craftsmanship of all the various people who have made these sea vessels.

It was the best dollar I have ever spent.

  • To see the location of The Mariner’s Museum and Park, check my Featured Map for this and all the other places we have visited.
  • There is ample parking. This location also serves a popular hiking system in the area.
  • The entry fee is only one dollar.  
  • Come early in the day and spend your time at this museum. I should have planned to be here for four hours to experience it all. 

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