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15 Epic Maritime Museums: USA Navy!

Explore top maritime museums across the USA, from naval warfare to ocean exploration. A must-visit for travel enthusiasts and history buffs alike!

Tobi Miles
July 1, 2022
15 Epic Maritime Museums: USA Navy!

Maritime Museums tell the exciting & intriguing stories of Naval past, the high seas and mans journey through the powerful Oceans. His Ship, how he navigated and most of all how great ocean battles were won & lost out in the blue ocean battlefield.

These days the U.S Navy and U.S Coast Guard do a tremendous job still protecting the great waters of the United States, although the ships may have changed by becoming more high tech...the heart of these brave men is still just as powerful as they battle through the high seas on a daily basis!


So to honor them will draw up the Anchor & cast away into this top 15 list of the best Mariners Museum.

15. The Mariners Museum & Park

Location: Newport News, Virginia

The Mariners Museum & Park has many fantastic exhibits throughout. Such as the international Small Craft center which features a wide variety of naval vessels from all over the world! Spread out over 17,500 square foot the center houses 150 boats from 42 different countries. A unique international focus is a real highlight at the Mariners Museum & Park.

There area is great for all ages/audiences & features a variety of interesting categories from Maritime Environment to Materials and cultures etc.

The Conveyance category highlights, the various boats & equipment used for transportation and harvesting the ocean jewels.

Photo by Mariners Museum and Park

Experimental & Hybrid Boats:

The experimental section is an interesting one which uses boats to test certain theories via experiment. This can be really informative & interesting.

Another interesting section is the live conservation area, where staff & volunteers work on the boats!

Action Photography Exhibit:

"Seziing the moment" The evolution of Action Photography is a fascinating exhibit of 20th Century Maritime photography from the Horace Havemeyer III Collection. These provide a real look back in time into the rough seas of yesteryear.

USS Monitor Center & Foundation:

USS Monitor Center features the infamous "BATTLE OF THE IRONCLADS". Outlining the Civil war era, USS Monitor and CSS Virginia meeting head to head at Hampton Roads, VA. This was the first battle of the ironclads in 1862 & although neither ship won the battle both proved the triumphant power of Iron over wood.

Consevator Elsa Sangouard removing part of a gun in the batten conservation Complex USS Monitor

This kick started a revolution in Ship design, warfare and even psychology! With William Keeler (USS Monitor) saying to his wife "There isn't enough danger to give us glory" , "The Poetry of the profession is gone!

Wow I wonder how he would react to todays technological ships & even drone technology!

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Model Ship Galley

If you love your model ships then you will be in heaven here! With a great selection of Ship Models, vessels and even a variety of Steam engines! You will have plenty of eye candy to spark the imagination. There is also a cool activity area for the kids.

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This Swedish beauty from 1925 is the Gripsholm. This model was presented to us by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. She has very nice fittings, including capped stacks, polished brass and gold plated items, full sets of oars, and a telegraph at the bow. #marinersmuseum #ships #boats #history #swedish #internationalmodel #collection #artifact #maritime #loveNN

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Kids & Family Programs:

There are also a variety of cost effective summer programs for kids. On imaginative subjects from mermaid to sea Monsters! For the adults you can take a relaxing Gallery crawl where you can observe the rare artifacts with a glass of wine in hand.

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14. Battleship Cove Mariners Museum

Location: Fall river, Massachusetts

"Battleship Cove is dedicated to the preservation of a historical memorial providing the public with an educational experience to honor patriotism and country."

As home to the largest collection of naval vessels anywhere in the world, Battleship Cove is a real great place to visit. From the USS Massachusetts Battleship to the USS ST Paul "the fighting saint" a cruiser which served proudly in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam until she finally retired in 1971...a real record breaking career.

Other Great vessels include the destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy, the USS lionfish Submarine and even the Soviet-built guided missile corvetter Hiddensee.

Battleship Cove Mariners Museum USA

Other Great highlights include RMS TITANIC exhibit which explores the  "The Birth and Death of a Titan: the Story of the TITANIC," which opens in April 2019.

This exhibit features a variety of artefacts, construction models (28' Titantic Model) and even allows you to get into the mind of the passengers on board, as detailed as seeing their menu options!

Women who served?

Often over look by many Marintime Museums Battleship cove make a point to highlight the contributions made by women to the defence of the United States from the American Revolution to the modern day. With displays such as female military reserve units and nursing.

13. Maine Maritime Museum

Location: Bath, Maine

The Maine Maritime Museum  opens the doors to Maine’s Maritime history, at the  Kennebec Riverside facility. This 20 acre facility is the United States only in tact historic wooden shipyard, intriguing galleries and even a fully working boating shop!

Due to it's prime waterfront location the Maine Maritime Museum offers cruises daily to catch a glimpse of some of the most iconic lighthouses!

Percy & Small Shipyard:

A highlight of the Percy & small shipyard is gigantic full sized sculpture of the largest wooden sailing ship ever built in the U.S.A, the Schooner Wyoming.

Tour of the Victorian-era home of the Donnells, one of Bath’s shipbuilding families.

Working Boatshop:

The Museum Boatshop, is a fully functioning workshop which is committed to keeping Maines wood building traditions alive. The craftsmans are always friendly, open for a chat and even of woodworking & ship building workshops.

Unknown | Wikimedia Commons

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Mary E - Fully Restored!

Other great highlights include the 1906 Mary E which is fully restored. You can step on board and take a tour to learn about the history.

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June 21-23, sail aboard the 1906 schooner Mary E at Portland Schoonerfest! Regatta race and sunset sails are available; seating is limited. Tickets available at 📷: @debdawsonphoto

A post shared by  Maine Maritime Museum (@mainemaritimemuseum) on 2019-06-18T02:31:00.000+06:00

Bath Iron Works Tour

The Bath Iron works tour is immersive 2.5 hour tour which will taking you through "Building Americas Navy" and give you insight into the construction, people and ships which make it all happen! At the end of it you will definitely have their popular phrase stuck into your head “Bath Built is Best Built.”

Kids at Maritime Museum

There is plenty to do for the kids at Maine Maritime Museum, from having an adventure inside a Pirate Playship to being captain on a tugboat and even getting inside a human sized of lobster trap!


Admission: $15.50

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12. Mystic Seaport

Location: Mystic, Connecticut

As the largest maritime museum in the U.S.A, Mystic Seaport is a true icon. Well known for it's world renowed library, vast array of sailing ships and vessels.

A highlight is the only wooden sailing whale ship still afloat (Charles W Morgan) and oldest U.S commercial vessel still in operation.


Demonstrations & Performances:

With costumed characters, chantey singers the Mystic Seaport performances really bring the Maritime traditions to life! The U.S life saving service even demonstrate how they rescued ship wrecked sailors and how to hoist the sails on an ancient ship.

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Get your sea legs at the Mystic Seaport Museum, the historic home of the Charles W. Morgan whaleship, a charming 1800's seaside village, and many beautiful, unexpected adventures and discoveries every single day. #findyouradventure #streamlined #engines #boats #Summer2019 #mysticseaport #seamystic #ctvisit

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Delve back in time & learn about the historic art of wooden shipbuilding. When you visit an astonishing birds eye view can be seen from the visitors gallery. From there you can see the entire workshop, including the woodwork machinery such as an 85 foot spar lathe. Other highlights include a old school saw mill and a metal working shop.

Seaport Village - A step back in time!

Check out the scale reconstruction of a 19th-Century Seafaring Village!

This is really a step back in time with many New England trade shows & businesses staffed with period musicians, storytellers and skilled craftspeople!

Fun Fact: The 19th Century buildings you see around the seafaring village are NOT replicas! They are real vintage places from the 1800s which has been transported from all across New England to create this Seaport village.

Unknown | Wikimedia Commons

Learning & Programmes:

Mystic Seaport also includes a variety of sailing programs, workshops and even summer camps so plenty of learning opportunities for the entire family!


Admission: $26 (Take a trip on your birthday for FREE entry!)

11. Independence Seaport Museum

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The highlight of Independence Seaport Museum has the World’s oldest steel warship still active, the Cruiser Olympia, at 344 feet long, close to 6000 tonnes and launched in 1892 its a miracle this beast is still floating!

USS Becuna:

You should also check out the USS Becuna, "Becky" is a WWII submarine launched in 1944. This pride of the U.S did five wartime patrols and is credited with sinked 3.5 Japanese Merchant ships.

In 1951 it was converted to what is called a (Guppy 1A type) this gave it an advanced radar and torpedo weapons such as Nuclear Warheads!

Independence seaport museum, Olympia and Becuna

Ship Model Shack:

The "Ship Model Shack" is the hub of the Philadelphia Model Ship Society, which prides itself on being the oldest model ship society in the United States.

Usually on certain weekends you can watch members of the society meticulously build some fantastically detailed modes.

Activities & Workshops

Independence Seaport Museum also has a range of fantastic workshops from Cruiser Olympia improvements such as skylights & benches to the National Whaleboat project & even the construction of various sailboats.

The Maritime Museum also runs some fun activities, such as Kayaking excursions down the Delaware river!

Schooner Diligence:

This great wooden ship was completed in 2016 by staff and many volunteers from the Museums "Workshop on Water".  This one is great fun for kids to climb on board & pretend there pirates!

ISDxV7 | Wikimedia Commons

10. USS Constitution Museum

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

The USS Constitution Museum has a mission to engage all generations in the story of “Old Ironsides”  and spark excitement about maritime heritage and naval service!  With the worlds oldest warship still afloat the USS Constitution is a true symbol of the honor, and courage of America’s sailors.


Be sure to check out the array of artefacts available to observe from swords to muskets.

Top Tip: The USS ship actually operates separate from the museum, but you can still access certain parts of the ship for images but be aware these are on a first come first served basis so check their website for further info.

The Naval Yard

Originally Built as one of the six naval shipyards in the United States, the Charlestown Navy Yard was a centre of innovation, haven for many talented craftspeople, and even the home to officers, sailors, and Marines for over 174 years!

These days, you can catch a glimpse of the two Museums, the USS Constitution and the USS Casin Young. Which took part in several pacific battles in WWII and even survived two direct Kamikaze hits!

Walter Young | Wikimedia Commons


Admission: A donation of $5-10 for adults, is preferred.

9. Washington Naval Museum

Location: Washington D.C

The Washington Naval Museum is the only naval museum which fully records and gives a intriguing overview into the history of the U.S. Navy from its inception to the modern day.

Opened to the public in 1963, the flagship of the U.S Navy has a range of interesting exhibits from historic Naval Gun Factory, to a few submarine exhibits one such is titled "Dive! Dive! Dive!  U.S. Navy Submarines!"



The U.S Naval Museum has a variety of Artifacts from USS Naval Ship Models to even a selection of Naval Bells.


8. Michigan Maritime Museum

Location: South Haven, Michigan

Michigan Maritime Museum offers a great opportunity to gain some insight into Maritime heritage of the Great Lakes. Spread out over 5 buildings, exhibits are always popular and active with everything from Boat building to maritime skills lessons and a whole host of other activities!

With a modern habor and beaches close by there is a great community vibe around the area and various on water experiences with are really interactive.

Michigan Martime Museum | Wikimedia Commons

The most popular on water experience is the Friends Good Will. This tells the intense story of her pivotal role in trade during the 1800s & war of 1812.

The replica tail ship allows visitors to hop on board & set sail. With the sails billowing and 6 pound cannon looking mean, the most fantastic way to experience true history, is by living it!


Admission: $8

Top Tip: Dockside boarding of the Friends Good Will ship is included with admission if the vessel is in port during the summer!

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Recently, Captain Bob of Friends Good Will and Ashley, Director of Education paid a visit to the 3rd graders of Waukazoo Elementary school. Students learned boat terminology by re-arranging their desks in the shape of a ship, played the game "Captain Says", dressed up in period costumes, and even sang along to a original sea shanty composed by Captain Bob himself! It was a great opportunity to launch our Ship to Shore education program and share our maritime heritage with the next generation! If your school is interested in participating in our Ship to Shore program contact us today!

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7. Los Angeles Maritime Museum

Location: San Pedro, Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles Maritime Museum , is an interesting Museum with a variety of exhibits such a monuments from the USS Los Angeles to the history of LA Harbor fishing "Caught, Canned, Eaten" and even an exhibit called "20,000 hardhats under the sea" a century of commercial hard hat diving! There are also a variety of interactive kids exhibits to keep the little ones engaged.


The USS Los Angeles, (1945-1975) exhibit has a number of interested artifacts & relics available to check out. The warship received five battle stars for her Korean War service

6. San Diego Maritime Museum & USS Midway

Location: San Diego, California

USS Midway Museum is home to the longest serving aircraft Carrier in United States Naval history! It served between the years of 1945 to 1992.

Step on board is a really great experience where you can take advantage of the self guided tour to check out the engine rooms, sleeping quarters and even the pilots ready room.

USS Midway Museum is fun for the whole family!

If your would prefer a guided tour, then your in luck! As this place has some of the most engaging guides such as former fighter pilots! These offer some great personal stories and some real exciting insights!

If aircrafts are you thing then your in luck with 29 naval aircraft fully restored on board the carrier! Hop into the cockpits and have a go at one of the fun flight simulators to see how you handle as a pilot.


Admission: $20

Top Tip: If you book on line you will get $2 ticket discount and won't have to wait in the long line!

San Diego Maritime Museum Events & Weddings!

San Diego Maritime Museum is also a great place for events all year round including weddings! I can imagine the wedding vows now "Does this buoy take this girl..."

San-Diego-Maritime-Museum-Wedding Venues & Events!

5. Peabody Essex Mariner Museum

Location: Salem, Massachusetts

The Peabody Essex Museum  is widely renowed for it's popular art exhibits and rich historical maritime collection. This includes paintings, model ships, weapons and even navigation equipment.

With 1.8 Million works of Art this is definitely one for those artistic enthusiasts out there. You can also catch a glimpse of  sculptures, photographs, drawings and even architectural relics.

Unknown Creator | Wikimedia Commons

4. Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

Location: St Michaels, Maryland

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum  located in St Michaels, Maryland on the Miles River is dedicated to preserving and exploring the history and culture of the Chesapeake Bay region.

Set out over 18 acres the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has a variety of intriguing water front exhibitions. Such as:

1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse

A vital landmark in ensure boats passing through the treacherous "Hooper Strait" had  a safe passage.

Small Boat Shed

At the Small Boat Shed you can check out a variety of working and recreational Chesapeake vessels . The long canoes here show how the Native American design was adapted by the english into a working boat for fishing, oystering and crabbing!

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Guests at our Maritime Day festival June 1 were able to sign the keel of the new Maryland Dove as CBMM shipwrights begin construction on the ship. Visit us soon to see the construction of this incredible vessel, and head to for updates on the build! . . . #cbmm #marylanddove #chesapeakemaritime #workingshipyard

A post shared by  Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (@chesapeakemaritime) on 2019-06-11T22:02:00.000+06:00

Oystering on the Chesapeake

Climb on board the Oyster Harvest skipjack. Here you can comically eavesdrop on the gossip of the historic oyster ships crew, as the captain shouts to the crew and the crew talks about the captain behind his back! Sounds like a mutiny...but hell it's entertaining!

Maryland Crab Meat Company

The Maryland Crab Meat Company was once was the largest seafood packaging facilities in town and even called itself "Seafood" capital! Observe the inner working of the crab meat plant from the meticulous work picking the meat out to a full production line!

ChesapeakeMM | Wikimedia Commons

Waterman’s Wharf

Watermans wharf is a fun recreation of a classic crabbers shanty house! Have a go at seafood harvesting , check your crab and eel pots and watch some crab shredding from the pros!

Check out this epic guide, for the Best Crab fishing spots across all U.S states

3. Columbia River Maritime Museum

Location: Astoria, Oregon

Columbia River Maritime Museum,  explores the Columbia River Bar and provides real insight into the 40foot+ waves and crazy winter storms. This is a real gem of a Museum with great exhibits on U.S Coast Guard & Columbia River Bar Pilots. Other popular features include the legendary Salmon Fishing trips and even a floating light tour (Lightship Columbia)

TourAstoria | Wikimedia Commons

2. Historic Ships in Baltimore

A child of a merger of the USS Constellation Museum and the Baltimore Maritime Museum, this hands on Maritime museum includes: the USS Constellation, USCGC Taney, USS Torsk, , Lightship 116 Chesapeake and even a Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse.

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What a great perspective of #USSTorsk, #LightshipChesapeake, and the #Paddleboats! Both the Chessie Dragon Paddleboats and the Electric Boat Pirate Ships are open daily for the #Summer, weather permitting. . . . 📷 @alectash . . . #HistoricShipsBmore #MyBmore #MuseumShips #Submarine #USNavy

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Open daily and located in the Inner Harbor check out a range of activities & exhibits.

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Did you know, #USSTorsk is open daily 10-5? Come visit the Control Room like Captain Izabella! 📷: njrobd #HistoricShipsBmore #MyBmore #MuseumShip #Submarine

A post shared by  HistoricShipsBmore (@historicshipsinbaltimore) on 2019-04-22T22:12:00.000+06:00

1. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Location: New York City

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is a real exciting multi dimensional place! Where else could you see the USS Intrepid Aircraft carrier, fighter jets, a Tactical Submarine armed with Missiles and of course the Enterprise Space Shuttle!

Aircraft Carrier Intrepid

Launched in 1943, the USS Intrepid battled in World War II, surviving five kamikaze attacks and even one torpedo strike! The ship later served in the Cold War and then the Vietnam War.

Submarine Growler

First opened in 1989 Submarine Growler is the only American guided missile submarine open to the public! Take a look a life on the submarine and even check out the top secret command centre.

British Airways Concorde

Prized as being the first commercial aircraft to break the sound barrier & even accomplishing the fastest atlantic crossing in 1996 at just 2hours 52 minutes, the Concord is a true record breaking legend!


Space Shuttle Pavilion

Head down to the Space Shuttle Pavilion to see the space shuttle Enterprise, a prototype NASA orbiter which set the stage for the U.S space shuttle program. Check out the artifacts, photos and even audio & movies from the shuttle.

When writing this the Apollo 11 50th anniversary is coming up so expect some interesting events going on!

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
March 28, 2024
A nomadic wordsmith savoring the world's flavors and penning stories that turn every journey into an epic.
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