Nauticus and the Battleship Wisconsin, located in Norfolk, VA, is one of the few museums in my hometown area I had never been to. I honestly just never heard good things from anyone about it. The opinion I was always given is that it’s a Naval Museum and the only people who would find anything interesting there were former Navy employees.
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But my family is a member of the Virginia Zoo and they were doing a membership swap with Nauticus so we could get in free. I took my 8 year old nephew, P, on a Sunday afternoon to go check it out.
The Beautiful Lobby Entrance!
There are two types of regular admission: the Basic Ticket and the Gold Ticket. They also have discounts for Senior, AAA, Military and Children.
Visiting Nauticus With Kids
Nauticus opens at 10:00 a.m. but we couldn’t get there until 12:30 so a few of the programs we missed. But we still got to do a few things:
Horseshoe Crab Cove: Upstairs on the 3rd floor is where the bulk of the programs are located and the Horseshoe Crab Cove was no exception. I was surprised how large the tank was and P was able to touch a few horseshoe crabs.
Shark Touch: This was the thing that my nephew was most excited about. And in spite of visiting the shark tank at two different times the animals were never cooperative. It’s a pretty big tank and you can only touch the sharks if they are completely still and somewhere that they can be reached with little or no effort. Needless to say they were not cooperative and P was really disappointed. It almost seems kind of silly to have them there and I really wondered what percentage of people who show up at the designated time get to touch them. If I was going again I would NOT tell the kids about the Shark Touch.
ROV Workshop: This actually looked kind of cool. Nauticus educators provide supplies for you to design and build your own underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle. You can test your design in the ROV tank. But by this time we had been there for three hours and he was over it and ready to go home.
Spelling his name in Morse Code!
The Children’s Area: There is a small area on the 3rd floor designated as the Children’s Area. It is pretty similar to what we experience at a Children’s Museum- fishing games and a few other activities. All were way too young for P.
Pretty much everything else in the museum went over his head. It was much too complicated for an 8 year old. I would think maybe a 12 year old would start to get a bit more into the activities. They also have a really cool Scavenger Hunt on their website for older kids that would help guide them through the museum and Wisconsin.
The Battleship Wisconsin
I really believe the whole trip would have been a bust if it has not been for the Dockside Cafe, The Gift Shop and The Battleship Wisconsin. I had tried to explain to P how big the Battleship was going to be but he just wasn’t ready for the sheer size.
The deck is enormous and you can touch and climb into everything. It was fantastic how hands on everything was. You can climb up and down stairs and really look at all the working parts.
It really is massive.
We spent a ton of time running around inside the ship too (also just so you know there is a public restroom on board- we had to use that too). P was fascinated by where the sailors slept, ate, showered and worked inside.
When you leave you get to take your entrance sticker and put it on the mermaid outside!
Will I Go Back?
I think P and I will go back. If we have to pay it will be a few years but I think we would both really benefit from a guided tour of the Wisconsin. If there is another membership swap next year we will probably go and pay to go on a guided tour of the Wisconsin. But there is no chance I would take all the kids- 3, 5 and 8. Because of the swap the museum was full of little kids running around but I would guess it is not like that all the time. It’s just for a bit more mature kid!