15 Famous Historic Ships Open to Visitors Now

Port of San Diego/Openverse

There are many lovely stories about ships, and if you are a fan of them, you’ll know that stepping into one from history is an experience nothing can beat. These ships offer a unique and immersive way to connect with the past. Thankfully, you can visit boats from the past and get an authentic sense of what those who used them felt. Here are 15 famous historic ships open to visitors right now.

U.S.S. Constitution: Boston, U.S.A.


Known as “Old Ironsides,” it is the oldest commissioned naval ship still afloat. This historic frigate was launched in 1797 and played a monumental role in the War of 1812 against Great Britain, where she defeated five of their warships. Visitors can walk around the ship and learn about her storied past at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston.

H.M.S. Victory (Portsmouth, U.K.)

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty

The flagship of Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, H.M.S. Victory is the world’s oldest naval ship still in commission. She became a harbor shop after 1824. Located at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, this grand ship offers guided tours that show you her artifacts and answer your questions about her.

U.S.S. Missouri (Pearl Harbor, U.S.A.)

Ron Cogswell/Openverse

Also called the “Mighty Mo,” the U.S.S. Missouri is a World War II battleship famous for being the site of Japan’s formal surrender, ending the war. Docked at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, visitors can tour this powerful boat and see the exact spot where the historic surrender took place.

Vasa (Stockholm, Sweden)


The Vasa is a 17th-century warship that sank on its first voyage in 1628 and was salvaged in 1961. Now housed in the Vasa Museum in Stockholm’s Royal National City Park, it is the most preserved ship of the 17th century and Scandinavia’s most visited museum. The museum offers a glimpse into Sweden’s naval warfare and shipbuilding techniques of the era.

U.S.S. Midway (San Diego, U.S.A.)


Before becoming a museum ship at the U.S.S. Midway Museum in San Diego, California, the U.S.S. Midway was an aircraft carrier from 1945 to 1992. When you visit, you can check out the extensive flight deck, the hangar deck, and the virtual reality flight experience.

Cutty Sark (London, UK)

Ethan Doyle White/Wikipedia

The Cutty Sark, a legendary British clipper ship made in 1869 in Dumbarton, Scotland, is renowned for her speed—one of the fastest ships of her time—and design. Located in Greenwich, London, the ship is now a museum showcasing its impressive design and beautiful views across the River Thames.

S.S. Great Britain (Bristol, UK)

Hugh Llewelyn/Wikimedia

The S.S. Great Britain, designed by the famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was the first iron-built, screw-propelled steamship to cross the Atlantic. The crossing took 14 days and took place in 1945. Now a museum ship in Bristol, she offers an immersive experience of Victorian maritime life.

H.M.S. Belfast (London, UK)


A Town-class light cruiser that served in World War II against Germany, H.M.S. Belfast is now a museum ship operated by the Imperial War Museum and moored on the River Thames in London. Visitors can enjoy family-friendly activities and guided tours when they visit this boat.

U.S.S. Intrepid (New York City, U.S.A.)

Ajay Suresh/Wikipedia 

The U.S.S. Intrepid, or The Fighting “I,” is the fifth Essex-class aircraft carrier to be launched. She served during World War II and the Vietnam War. Three vessels bore the name before her. Today, she is part of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City, where guests enjoy programs and events around science, technology, history, and virtual and augmented reality!

Mary Rose (Portsmouth, U.K.)


After serving King Henry VIII’s Tudor Navi, the Mary Rose sank in 1545. In 1982, the Mary Rose Trust raised her from the seabed. The ship and her artifacts are displayed at the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth. After the work done at the museum in 2016, when it was closed for nine months, you can now view the ship directly instead of through a glass wall.

USS Hornet (Alameda, USA)


This Essex-class aircraft carrier was built for the U.S. Navy. She is remembered for her role in the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 space missions, recovering astronauts from the Pacific Ocean. She also participated in the Vietnam War. Now open to the public as a museum ship in U.S.S. Hornet Museum, Alameda, California, with rotating galleries and special exhibits.

H.M.S. Warrior (Portsmouth, U.K.)


This 40-gun steam-powered vessel was launched in 1860. Alongside the sister ship, Black Prince, H.M.S. Warrior was the first iron-hulled, armor-plated warship. Today, she is docked at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard complex, and you can stroll on her top deck and see her engine rooms.

Star of India (San Diego, U.S.A.)


Star of India was built by Ramsey in 1863. She is the world’s oldest active sailing ship and still-afloat iron-hulled merchant ship. The seaworthy museum ship is docked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, where you are allowed to step aboard the iron-hulled beauty.

U.S.S. Texas (Galveston, U.S.A.)

Patrick Feller/Wikipedia 

Only seven ships have served in World War I and II, and The U.S.S. Texas is one of them—and the only capital ship among them. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has jurisdiction over her, but the people of Texas own her. She was the U.S. battleship to turn into a permanent museum ship. Today, you can visit her and check out the sheer size for yourself.

SS Jeremiah O’Brien (San Francisco, U.S.A.)


This Liberty ship’s life began during World War II. It bore the name of Captain Jeremiah O’Brien from the American Revolutionary War ship. Currently, she is at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, serving as a museum ship. Most of the ship is open to the public—even the engine room used for the movie Titanic!

Written by Johann H