(See Pappy’s Seafood: Elevated Classics for a great lunch or dinner after visiting USS Iowa.)
Southern California has a hidden, historical gem unlike any other, located in the coastal city of San Pedro. Potentially overlooked by many Californians, San Pedro is home to a perfect combination of education, discovery, fun, and considered by many to be the perfect destination for individuals, friends, and family. Here’s what visitors can look forward to when they book a visit to the USS Iowa in this beautiful coastal city.
USS Iowa: A History Lesson
The battleship Iowa is possibly one of the best kept secrets in Southern California, and is an experience unlike any other. Visitors can expect to spend about 2 hours or more at the battleship, depending on their tickets and tour type. Daily tours include visits to see the largest guns on the U.S. Navy ship, the officer’s ward room, President Roosevelt’s cabin, the armored bridge, mess decks, helicopter deck, missile decks, and other areas. With 6 tours to choose from, each is catered to the appropriate visitor based on age and accessibility, desired pace, group size, and special access to usually unavailable parts of the battleship.
With a length of over 800 feet, the USS Iowa, also known as “The Big Stick” in 1952, and “The Grey Ghost” during the Korean War, is the last lead ship of any class of United States battleships, and was the only ship of her class to have served in the Atlantic Ocean during World War II. To experience the USS Iowa is to walk to into a virtual time capsule. As if frozen in time, various interior and exterior fixtures, weapons, designs, tools, and technology from 1940 and later lie throughout the ship, setting a stage for the major role that the USS Iowa played in our U.S. and world history.
Though it served during World War II, the Korean War, and through the Cold War, the USS Iowa has stood the test of time, receiving occasional renovations, refurbishments, upgrades, and repairs. She earned 11 battle stars during her career and even hosted three U.S. Presidents — Franklin, Reagan, and H.W. Bush. Though it may not seem like it today with the fantasy of movies and special effects, the USS Iowa is the largest and most powerful ship of its time and ever built.
What to Expect
The USS Iowa opened in Los Angeles, (her final placement) on July 4, 2012, to a crowd of over 1,500 supporters and veterans at Port of Los Angeles Berth 87. The USS Iowa Museum offers daily tours, group programs, education visits, special events, filming, military ceremonies, and is in the process of starting an overnight program. Today, dozens of veterans volunteer in guided tours, and assist in the daily operations, like cleaning, maintenance and upkeep.
The battleship is a ginormous vertical and horizontal labyrinth of steel corridors on the inside, and on the outside, an intimidating vessel marked by the scars of past wars. Standing on any part of the deck will boast amazing panoramic views of the San Pedro Harbor. It’s difficult to imagine what life must have been like to live on an armed ship in the peaks of various wars, and it was no easy task for anyone aboard the ship. With tight quarters, halls, and passages throughout, the amount of human effort, coordination, agility, and caution necessary to keep the USS Iowa moving without a hitch is unimaginable. It’s important to consider that this is a vessel that has housed thousands of men, so space was extremely limited, and everyone had a required duty to fulfill. Even more important to note is that in the height of war, even the deck was no safety zone. In fact, the deck was one of the most dangerous places to be during storms, and when the ship’s guns were in use.
Undoubtedly an educational experience that is not only fun, but extremely immersive, the USS Iowa is a destination that brings the lifestyles of on-duty United States servicemen from early last century into clear perspective. It is an opportunity that may possibly be overlooked by many, but it is also an opportunity for any and every one to find fascination in, and appreciation for many aspects of the experience — including just how far our technological advancement has evolved.
What was once considered to be a “state of the art” battleship, has now become a legendary and well-respected piece of history. If spending a morning exploring the USS Iowa sounds like a good getaway, then consider visiting with family and friends to see first-hand why the USS Iowa is so magnificent.
Parking, Location, and Admission
The Museum is located at Berth 87 at the Los Angeles World Cruise Port Terminal at the LA Waterfront / Port of Los Angeles. The Battleship Iowa Museum shares the parking lot with the World Cruise Terminal.
Parking is accessible from 1st Street & Harbor Boulevard.
The first hour of parking is free, and each additional hour is $2 with a maximum of $18 per day.
Battleship Iowa Museum
250 South Harbor Blvd.
San Pedro, CA 90731
Full Steam Ahead: visitors are allowed access to areas of the ship generally not viewed by the public, such as the Engine Room.
Self-Guided: allows for guests to explore the areas permitted for public access by the USS Iowa Museum at their own pace.
Group: discounted rates on admission
Senior Group: provide a guided tour experience through history to areas that are easily accessible.
Curator’s Tour: VIP experience allows guests to tour the USS Iowa Battleship and Museum while accompanied by a member of the ship’s crew.
Interactive Tour: Download the USS Iowa App for an award-winning, interactive tour.
After a day of exploration aboard the USS Iowa, consider visiting Pappy’s Seafood for a befitting elevated dining experience — only five minutes away!
Contributing Writer: Anthony C. Stafford