• The West End Mom

Nauticus: A Family Friendly Maritime Adventure

Located in Norfolk, this maritime museum has interactive exhibits on the environment, industry and military. This museum is such a unique destination for families because you also get to board and explore the USS Wisconsin, an authentic WWII battleship.


At about 1 hour and 40 minutes from Richmond, this is an easy, family friendly day trip. It's also a fun half day adventure to add on during your stay in Virginia Beach.


Nauticus has rotating exhibits & permanent exhibits, a discovery center, STEM programing, and the Battleship Wisconsin! They also have a sailing school, camps and seasonal events.


When you enter the museum, you take a conveyor belt to the third floor. The third floor exhibits are interactive - each one is about maritime environment, industry, and military.

My children really enjoyed the Mini Mariners Play Zone, Secrets of the Deep, Horseshoe Crab Cove, Living Seashore, and Shark Experience exhibits. We played on wooden ships, competed in an over-sized Battleship game, went "fishing," saw Whitespotted Bamboo sharks and Epaulette sharks, and manipulated the water flow of "rivers."

Our self-guided tour of the Battleship Wisconsin was pretty quick, only lasting about 30 minutes. My children loved the deck of the ship & looking into the water, but exploring the inside of the ship was difficult with little kids. There are narrow walkways and steep stairs - my 2.5 year old wanted to be carried most of the time, too.


Since we arrived at the museum at 3, we only had 2 hours to explore before it closed for the day. We felt very rushed, and we didn't get to experience everything. I definitely recommend allowing for a 3 hour visit!


Things to Know:

1. General Admission includes the galleries inside Nauticus and the self guided tour of the Battleship Wisconsin. It costs $15.95 for adults and $11.95 for kids (2 and under are free). Seniors and active duty military receive a discount. Virginia & North Carolina teachers get one free adult admission ticket with a valid teaching ID.


2. Advance, online tickets are encouraged.We didn't buy our tickets until we arrived, but the admission line was so long that I purchased tickets online while in line, and we were able to head right in.


3. It's open Tuesday through Saturday from 10-5, and on Sundays from 12-5. Nauticus is closed on Mondays.


4. The museum doesn't have parking on property. There is metered parking on the street, and there are local city garages with hourly fees. We parked at Town Point Garage (about .2 miles from the museum).


5. It's stroller friendly. If you've littles 5 and under, definitely bring one. Since there isn't parking on property, it was easier to have a stroller with us on the walk. On the battleship, we parked our stroller and walked around.


6. Dockside Cafe is located inside the museum, and there are also vending machines.


7. There are bathrooms on each floor with changing tables.


8. This museum is fun for all ages. There's enough for babies, toddlers and preschoolers to see and do, and there is so much history that bigger kids and adults will enjoy it too.


9. This was a 1:1 adult/child adventure for us. If your children are older (5+), it is definitely doable solo.


Looking for more adventures close by? Check out these spots to break up your drive or extend your fun!


1. Williamsburg - an hour from RVA; 55m from Nauticus

*Check here for my review of Freedom Park.


2. Newport News - 1h14m from RVA; 35m from Nauticus

*Check here for my review of Virginia Living Museum.


3. Virginia Beach - 1h53 from RVA; 21m from Nauticus

*Check here for my review of the Virginia Zoo.


For more details on these getaway spots and more Virginia adventures, follow our family on @thewestendmom on Instagram!




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