Why You Need to Visit the USS Iowa Battleship

This summer, we headed out to California for a few weeks of sand and sun.

We scheduled most of our vacation visiting our Southern California favorites, but we left time to check out the USS Iowa Battleship.  We spent an entire afternoon there and I was surprised how much fun all four of us loved it.

The USS Iowa is one of the four remaining Iowa-class battleships in the United States and was the lead ship within its class.  All four are permanently docked as naval museums and the Iowa in the only one on the West Coast, at the Port of Los Angeles.

The battleship offers a self-guided tour, allowing the visitors to take as much time as they'd like to walk through and read more about the ship.  For me, this is a huge plus--the former social studies teacher in me needs to take everything in.  There is also an free app visitors can download that offers an audio component to their tour, providing extra stories and information about the battleship and its history.

Other highlights of the Battleship Iowa:
  • Seeing the stateroom remodeled for President Franklin Roosevelt and seeing the conference room he used with other military leaders during WW2.  The USS Iowa is the only battleship equipped with a bathtub, which was added for the President's usage.
  • Reading the history behind the battleship.  From its launch in 1942 until its decommissioning in 1990, the Iowa saw action during WW2, the Korean War, and the Cold War; serving in the Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean, and the Persian Gulf.  The Iowa also crossed from Atlantic to Pacific via the Panama Canal, with only a foot of canal space on either side.
  • The Find Victory Challenge!  Kids who visit the Iowa Battleship are introduced to Victory, the ship's mascot.  Originally the pet of Captain John McCrea, Vicky became the ship's mascot.  Kids can look for Victory in a number of locations on the ship, fill out their scavenger hunt, and turn it in for a prize at the end of the tour.

We really enjoyed our afternoon on the battleship.  While we had originally planned for a short outing, we ended up staying until right before it closed for the day.  If you have a family who enjoys history, plan for at least 2-3 hours to really see (and read) everything you can!

Considered one of the "Best Coolest Exhibits to See with Your Kids," your tour takes you on a journey through World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War to experience the life of a sailor on the lead ship of the last class of gunships. Take the unique interactive tour included in your tour admission and kids will enjoy the scavenger hunt also included.

Other options include:

Camp Battleship - a youth overnight program that begins with a STEAM introduction tour, dinner, evening activity, and sleeping in the actual bunks that sailors used during IOWA's last commissioning. Continue to enjoy the ship in the morning with breakfast in the mess decks and time in our ship's store. Camp Battleship guests continue to rave about the fun they have on board the ship!

Youth STEM Education & School Tour Programs - a field trip to Battleship IOWA presents an array of entirely novel stimuli to the student. The features of a battleship compel their attention as it confronts them with features unprecedented in their experience. Most student visitors have never been aboard a ship of any type, much less a vintage WWII warship. They walk through President Roosevelt's private cabin, and climb to the Admiral's Bridge for an unmatched seven-story vista of their historic maritime village. They participate in a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) experience coupled with history creating a well-rounded educational event.

Disclosure: We received tickets to visit Battleship Iowa, due to our relationship with US Family Guide.  All opinions are my own.