When planning my Virginia Beach road trip for March Break, I noticed many military bases. In fact, the campsite that we were staying at warned us that there is an active base beside it. During our stay, we would hear helicopters, jets, and other loud vehicles. As we travelled from one attraction to another, we passed by a couple of naval installations and saw navy ships docking. Even when we were walking the beach of Virginia Beach, we saw dozens of warplanes flying overhead.

It was rather interesting.

One of our big stops was Nauticus/Battleship Wisconsin. I expected it to be free to enter since we have a North American Reciprocal Museums membership. Had we arrived a week earlier, that would have been true, but they had recently removed themselves from this program.

Disappointed, I still paid admission because this was something that I did want to see.  

Due to a significant renovation, most of the inside exhibits are inaccessible. My main focus was the ship. Charlene and I have travelled on several boats and ships before, but this was the first time we had toured a battleship. The USS Wisconsin was the USA’s last battleship built. Constructed during the conflicts of World War II, it saw action several times, playing a pivotal role in the defeat of Japan.  

While touring this impressive and imposing ship, I am glad that Canada was on the side of the USA during this conflict. I cannot imagine the fear that this battleship would have instilled in the enemy. The Big Whiskey, only once was damaged in combat, which, by comparative standards, was insignificant.  

We took part in a self-guided tour, which was all that was offered when we arrived. Guided tours are extra; I would have taken them had they been available. The ship is large and took the better part of two hours to explore on our own. Had all the floors been accessible, I imagine that touring the entire ship would have taken twice as long. What impressed me was the amount of space taken in a ship that was made during wartime unrelated to combat. There was a donut shop, an ice cream parlour, libraries, schools, several cafeterias, crew quarters of various kinds, a barber shop, a dentist and more. The ship was made to be self-contained, and in its design, it tried to serve all the amenities of home to those who served on this ship.  

Although it is a large ship, it is narrow and should be easy to find our way around with minimal effort. It should, but it wasn’t. We found ourselves getting turned around many times and wondered how long it took the average sailor to easily navigate the halls, rooms, storage and other places.  

Even though there were guides available at several stations throughout the battleship, I was having too much fun exploring, so I never took the time to consult them. I was disappointed that the self-guided tour did not include access to the big guns. After all, that is why they built this ship in the first place: for those big guns. I would have loved to see how it worked, experience the confined space, and imagine the sound of the guns firing.

Access to the USS Wisconsin includes the inside museums, which should be completed soon, but the ship itself is the big attraction. There are several types of tours, and even decorates itself for Christmas. It is a sad reality that we needed ships like these but I am glad that it was built and served its purpose. Touring a battleship is a painful reminder that war is wrong in every form but sometimes must be fought with the fullness of measure.

  • Nauticus and USS Wisconsin have various events throughout the year, including decorating for Christmas.
  • It is on the pricey side for admission, but well worth it.
  • Plan on two hours to tour, more if you stop and talk to those there to answer your questions.
  • Navigating the stairs and hallways may be a challenge for some. It is not a wheelchair-accessible destination. You may have to climb steep stairs and bend going through doorways.
  • There is no on-site parking. Minimal street parking is available, but several parking garages are within reasonable walking distance from this site.
  • Check out my Featured Map for this place and all the other places we have explored.  

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USS Wisconsin

When planning my Virginia Beach road trip for March Break, I noticed many military bases. In fact, the campsite that we were staying at warned us that there is an active base beside it. During our stay, we would hear helicopters, jets, and other loud vehicles.…

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