Once considered the world’s greatest naval ship thanks to its powerful weaponry, heavy armor, and advanced fire control systems, the USS Iowa served the U.S. Navy during World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War. Today it’s docked in Los Angeles Harbor in San Pedro, California.
USS Iowa visitors have their choice of several tours: a self-guided tour (just board the vessel and following an easy, well-marked path), a guided kid’s tour, a guided highlights tour, the Full Steam Ahead tour, and the Big Stick Tour, which offers the best behind-the-scenes access, including lunch in the captain’s or admiral’s cabin.
Whichever you choose, you’ll walk in the footsteps of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and President Reagan as you see where daily operations took place, where officers spent their free time, the galley, and the flying bridge. Go below deck to play an interactive combat game in the digital theater, then explore exhibits that reveal more about the ship’s fascinating history. Former military personnel are usually on hand to answer questions.
Things to Know Before You Go
- This is a great site for history buffs, particularly those interested in the Navy, the Korean War, and WWII. It’s also one of the area’s best-rated attractions for kids.
- Save time and money by purchasing tickets in advance.
- Because there are several steep steps and narrow passageways, the Pacific Battleship Center is not a good choice for people who are disabled or physically impaired.
How to Get There
The museum is located at Berth 87 at the Los Angeles World Cruise Port Terminal at the Port of Los Angeles, about 30 miles (48 kilomters) south of downtown Los Angeles. Take I-110 South to exit 1A, then turn onto North Harbor Boulevard. Paid parking is at the lot on 1st Street and Harbor Boulevard.
When to Get There
This site is open from 10am–5pm daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Weekdays tend to be less busy than weekends; on some days, it’ll feel like you have the entire vessel to yourself. Fleet Week, when there are typically several free events planned, can be an exciting time to visit.
Oops! Wrong Target
The USS Iowa, escorted by three destroyers—including the William D. Porter, also known as the “Willie Dee”—was carrying President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Nov. 14, 1943. During a routine mock torpedo run, one crew member didn’t remove a crucial priming pin, which launched a torpedo toward the USS Iowa. Thankfully, the Willie Dee crew radioed to the Iowa, and the vessel made a safe, sharp turn to avoid impact.