During the summer which is considered Memorial Day through Labor Day, the Nauticus is open daily from 10am–6pm.
Nauticus is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas.
The only reason I didn't rate this as 5 stars is that my littler kids (ages 5 and 3) were just a touch bored. There wasn't a whole lot to do for those younger kids. But my older son had a great time, and his Dad got to show us a lot of things he remembered from his time in the service. I loved being able to tour the ship, it was neat to see. Great time.
There isn't a whole lot of interactive displays for the younger kids. So be prepared for that. We didn't have a stroller, either, and our 3 year old ended up being carried a lot of places.
There is a section where the kids can try on Navy suits, can try their hand at "spying," can have their picture taken with a "sailor," many many things for the children to do, but again, it is geared towards slightly older kids than my children were at the time.
We have visited Nauticus a few times and it has been an enjoyable experience. They have some interesting activities for the children and all the exhibits there are great for adults and children alike. The summer before last our daughter (at the time she was 6) attended the summer camp week at Nauticus. She absolutely loved it, they created different projects and learned about science and nature. Overall, we think Nauticus is a great way to spend some family time while learning some new things!
We visited Nauticus on a whim after staying in the Outerbanks of North Carolina for a week. We were flying out of the Norfolk Airport, had some extra time before our flight. This museum is located very close to the airport (less then 15 minutes). I was there with a large group and the children's ages ranged from 18 mo - 11 yrs old.
This museum is huge! It is part maritime museum, part aquarium, part science center. You start on the top floor and wind your way down. There are lots of hands on activities for kids along the way. Some of the highlights include an actual "bridge" from a naval ship. Kids can stand at the helm and pretend to command the boat. Then take a small history lesson while walking through parts of the salvaged ship and onto other things they can touch. There are places to play dress up or "recruit" officers. My kids totally loved the old fashioned manual typewriter!
Before long you find yourself in the aquarium rooms. There are tanks for viewing and touch tanks with baby sharks for petting as well as horseshoe crabs. I found the staff to be very knowledgeable and helpful. There are computerized games for older kids to play on/learn. One really cool thing is an actual submersible with a crane arm that kids can operate and try to pick things up. There is a movie theater with continual shows playing.
There is a very cool water table demonstrating water flow with plastic boats. However I didn't notice aprons or steps tools for little ones. Our smaller kids had a harder time with this.
When you head down to the second floor you can go out onto the Battleship Wisconsin. We are not a military family so this was so cool an so new to us. it definitely had the "wow" factor. Everything was HUGE. You take a walking tour of the outside only of the boat yourself. But I think the coolest part was the fact that one of the gentleman working the boat was actually stationed on the ship during the war and patiently answered all of our questions.
There is a pretty nice gift shop and cafe on the first floor. I did spot some other restaurants (like Outback Steakhouse) directly up the street though.
More than 150 hands-on exhibits make learning about the world’s seas oceans of fun. Thrown overboard are static museum displays in favor of “interactive theater,” which explores the marine environment as well as maritime consumers, technology, and the modern U.S. Navy. At Secrets of the Deep, enter a submersible to take on the role of a scientist. Maneuver a robotic arm to collect samples and artifacts from a seabed.
Additional fun includes landing a navy warplane on an aircraft carrier, piloting a merchant vessel through dangerous waters, designing a seaworthy ship, and discovering how an octopus travels. At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Science on a Sphere, visitors can watch a hurricane form and the desert expand on planet Earth as if they were seeing it from out in space. At the Aegis Theater, live actors and video involve the audience in a high-tech naval battle aboard a destroyer, thus demonstrating how the Aegis weapons system makes crucial decisions. Some of the battle booms and special effects may scare preschoolers, so exhibits are recommended for ages 6 and above. The large-format Nauticus Theater plays exciting films about life aboard ship and the wonders of the ocean.
Kids can also stand atop a real ship’s bridge (USS Preble destroyer) and check out the Elizabeth River with telescopes in the Changing Exhibits Gallery, tape their own weather forecast in the Weather Station, design a seaworthy ship and race their own submarines in the Design Chamber, and touch a live shark in Shark Touch.
Another highlight is the USS Wisconsin battleship, moored at the center. Battlescope, overlooking the Wisconsin, lets kids see the virtual result when laser cannons are fired at the ship, and City at Sea shows what it’s like living with 2,900 other people on a battleship, through firsthand accounts from her crew.
At Nauticus’s exhibit the Jamestown Exposition, learn about the launching of the steel navy: armor-clad vessels. Before visiting, kids should check out Kids Corner on Nauticus’s Web site for an online battleship game, coloring pages, and other maritime-themed activities.
Nauticus also houses the Hampton Roads Naval Museum (757-322-2987; www .hrnm.navy.mil), one of the U.S. Navy’s ten official museums. This museum is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Wisconsin (its Wisky Walk exhibit includes a detailed history of the battleship) and has exhibits on naval battles and events in the Norfolk area, with detailed ship models, naval artwork, and underwater artifacts. Stop by JJ’s Room, a hands-on activities spot near Wisky Walk. Admission is free.