Walking on the deck of an aircraft carrier, climbing through a submarine hatch and getting an up-close view of a space shuttle are a few of the things you can do at the Intrepid sea, air, and space museum. To give you an idea of the massive size of the Intrepid aircraft carrier, the museum and the space shuttle easily fit in one area of the ship. The Intrepid museum is one of the most interesting sites we saw on our recent trip to New York City.
In addition to the museum, the Growler submarine is docked nearby. We started our journey aboard the submarine. The USS Growler is the only American guided missile submarine open to the public.
USS Growler Submarine
Travelling through the submarine you see the working areas, sleeping quarters and mess hall. Each section has a plaque giving you detailed information on the functions of the area. The first thing you notice is how extremely tight space is in a submarine. There is very little room in the walkways and all of the space is maximized for efficiency. We enjoyed seeing all the equipment they used and climbing through the hatches.
The main areas included the crew’s mess, where they relaxed and ate. This was a slightly larger area with tables for eating and playing games. Next, we went to the control room and attack center which was interesting. This is where the crew sat in three seats side by side and steered the submarine. There were also two periscopes for the crew to scan the surface of the water.
The Growler has two torpedo rooms one located in the bow (front) and the other in the stern (back). The torpedo room also includes nine bunks for the enlisted crew. Did I mention it was a tight space? The officer’s rooms were more private and they had their own showers away from the crew.
I really enjoyed reading all the descriptions of the equipment and imagining what it was like working so far underwater. You would get very close to your crewmates. It was a unique experience not only going through the submarine but standing on top. It actually started snowing when we were there, so it made it a surreal experience being in New York City on top of a submarine in the snow.
Intrepid Aircraft Carrier
Our journey now took us across the dock to the Intrepid aircraft carrier which has an interesting background. Intrepid was launched in 1943 and survived five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo strike in world war II. It served in the cold war, Vietnam, and was a recovery vessel for NASA. It was decommissioned in 1974 and now serves as a museum.
As you can see, the snow was really starting to fall. The deck was full of all kinds of aircraft from fighter jets to medical helicopters. It was so much fun looking at the painted designs and names on the planes. We got to see a Blue Angels plane and several types of jets. You walk across the deck past the aircraft and then see an entrance into the museum.
Once inside, there is much to investigate. You are in the hangar deck where there are displays telling the history of the crew, their work and what they did for entertainment. Lots of photos of the ship and crew can be found as well as medals of honor. There was one display that had audio from the actual crew during a kamikaze attack. That was intense and emotional. They have many exhibits and some shows so there is a variety of things to do to keep your interest.
In addition to the history of the Intrepid, there were unique space exhibits. There was a replica of the Mercury space capsule and a display of the Soyuz spacecraft. The view inside Soyuz made the submarine seem spacious. It was very cramped for three people.
Space Shuttle Enterprise
The next stage in the space exploration section is the space shuttle Enterprise. This was so cool seeing a full-sized space shuttle inside of an aircraft carrier. You can’t go inside but they have various exhibits about it and the controls. The Enterprise was a prototype NASA orbiter that paved the way for the space shuttle program. It was moved to New York City and the exhibit was opened in 2012 at the Intrepid museum.
It was impressive standing by such a huge shuttle. The exhibits walked you through the stages of the space shuttle program and gave you insights into how the crew lived. One exhibit called StationLife by NASA gave you a glimpse of life on the International Space station. It was informative and they made it fun.
So much to do
We saw many things on our trip to New York City. I have to say this was one of the most unique and enjoyable stops. In one location we got to crawl through the hatches of a submarine, see how the crew lived and walk on the deck in the snow. If that wasn’t cool enough, then we walked a few feet to a massive air craft carrier with amazing fighter jets and helicopters on deck. That wasn’t even half of the adventure. We then went through a historical museum, learned about the space program and got to see an actual space shuttle. All of this was at one museum.
I would highly recommend going to the Intrepid museum. There is so much to experience, learn and see all in one spot. I had fun and am very grateful for the opportunity to do all those amazing things. We went to many historic attractions in NYC including the Met, Statue of Liberty, and the Guggenheim. They were all great, but the Intrepid museum was the most unique with lots of variety. If you get a City Pass, Intrepid is included and definitely a lot of fun.
“Another day, Another adventure“
Rating (5 stars):
Pros: Unique experience, educational, fun, entertaining
Cons: Tight fit in submarine may bother some people
Priority: High – rare opportunity to experience so many things in one spot
Cost: $33 adult, cheaper with City Pass.
Savvy Tip: They have guided tours of the museum and submarine to learn much more about them