A Little Time and a Keyboard: Battleship North Carolina Brings WWII History to Life

Battleship North Carolina Brings WWII History to Life

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Staring down the guns on the Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington, NC.

**Disclosure: Thank you to Wilmington, North Carolina for hosting our visit. No compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.

From Riverwalk in Wilmington you can see the impressive Battleship North Carolina docked across the river. The Battleship certainly presents a striking presence in the landscape. Although I had noted the impact of the Battleship on the scenery while walking along the Riverwalk earlier in the day, I was not prepared for how powerful a visit to this piece of history would be.

View of the Battleship North Carolina from the River Walk in Wilmington, NC.
Battleship North Carolina from the Riverwalk.
When you stand on deck for the first time, you can immediately feel the history of the ship. The ship was commissioned in 1941 and decommissioned in 1947. Involved in every major conflict in the Pacific during World War II, the Battleship North Carolina has so many stories to tell!

Plane on the deck of the Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington, NC.

The tour of the ship is self-guided, so you have plenty of time to appreciate everything at your own pace. Markers provide information about the different parts of the ship and guide you through. Of course, we somehow ended up going backwards at several points, but the tour is so free-flowing that there were no issues!

My daughter was a little more enamored with the guns than I had originally thought she would be. She just had to try them all out! Besides trying out the guns on deck, you can also check out the ones firing from the hatches. Where else can you get this hands-on with this part of history?

Taking a peek below deck on the Battleship North Carolina.

We got a real inside look at what life was like on the ship by touring the galley, engine room, boiler room, sleeping quarters, the ship post office and more. The quarters are even tighter than you would think! I am totally in awe of our men and women who live aboard these ships!

While on the ship, be sure to also take in the surrounding views. You can see the Riverwalk area which is pretty cool!

Things to know:
  • Make sure to bring water with you, especially in the summer. The deck really attracts the heat and you will work up a sweat climbing around! The Battleship does have vending machines if you need.
  • Sunscreen is also a must. Visiting the Battleship is quite an adventure so you will probably spend more time on deck than you expect!
  • Restrooms are located in the museum. Be sure to use them before entering the ship.
  • Be prepared to climb. Most nooks and crannies of the Battleship are accessible so be prepared to explore nearly every spot in the ship. 
  • Avoid carrying excess bags because they make certain areas difficult to navigate.
  • Parts of the ship can be slippery, so be careful!
  • Later hours in the summer make the Battleship a great location visit after touring some of the other wonderful treasures in Wilmington. The Battleship also opens at 8AM, so you can explore early in the day as well!
  • The Battleship North Carolina is open every day, including Christmas because she is a memorial. On Christmas, she opens at noon.
  • The ship also has a sizable gift shop and a canteen for light snacks.
  • Be prepared to spend about two hours exploring. It is worth it!
A visit to the Battleship North Carolina is the perfect way for families to engage in hands-on history learning. We don't often have opportunities to engage in learning about WWII this way. Our experience at the Battleship North Carolina was powerful and not one we will forget!

How to Tour a  Battleship USS North Carolina

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