One of the coolest experiences I remember having as a young cub scout was an overnight stay on the Battleship New Jersey. In the middle of winter, our pack stayed aboard the battleship. We had a lengthy tour, abided by the rules of the ship’s lights out times, and helped raise the flag first thing in the morning.
Battleship New Jersey, or BB62, was built at the Philadelphia Shipyard and launched Dec. 7, 1942, exactly one year after the Pearl Harbor attacks forced the United States into World War II. After a long history culminating in her decommissioning in the 1990s, Battleship New Jersey opened as a museum and memorial in October 2001. Nearly 20 years later, the battleship still acts as a great spot for education and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Visiting the ship without any special plans or goals is pretty simple. Depending on which season you want to visit, the battleship is open different hours. No matter which season, guests can take self-guided tours if the ship is open for visitors. Before boarding the actual ship, guests are encouraged to stop by the visitor center to meet with tour guides, use the bathroom and situate themselves. Typically the ship closes around 3 p.m. each day, except for the summer months, when it closes at 5 p.m.
You can find and visit the ship at its home in Camden, New Jersey. For those driving, there is plenty of parking nearby. If you live nearby and want to visit the ship, there are also plenty of public transportation options available, like Riverlink Ferry, the PATCO high-speed rail and New Jersey Transit.
If your family is part of a group, and you want to do something truly memorable for the kids, consider booking an overnight stay. These can accommodate up to 292 guests and let kids live the way sailors on the ship did for the night, including eating in the mess hall, sleeping in bunks and stowing belongings in real lockers. Overnights are also available for things like birthday parties.
One caveat for spending the night aboard the battleship, however, is adult groups with no children are not allowed. The overnights are geared toward kids by way of interactive and engaging tours. It is important to dress for the weather, because much of the included tours take place outdoors.
A visit to America’s greatest battleship has the potential to create lifelong memories for parents and kids alike. After all, I still remember my trip like it was yesterday, more than 20 years later.
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