Visit the USS Iowa Battleship in LA Harbor

Category: Travel

The USS Iowa is permanently docked in the Los Angeles Harbor in San Pedro. Visitors to the battleship can explore several decks and rooms in the ship as well as the museum. Along the self-guided tour are signs explaining what you are seeing as well as monitors showing footage of the ship and various interviews about the ship and its history.

The Iowa has three sister ships: the New Jersey, the Missouri, and the Wisconsin. Two others, the Illinois and the Kentucky were originally commissioned with the four but they were never completed. The Iowa served in World War II with about 2800 people on board. It also served in the Korean War and beyond. In 2012 it moved to its permanent home in the LA Harbor.

There are plenty of things for kids to do on the ship. When Navy Captain John L. McCrea brought his new dog onto the ship he quickly became the mascot. The dog was named Victory but everyone called him Vicky. When they first come to the ship, kids are given a card and while touring the ship they look for several signs with a picture of Vicky. They then mark down the location of the signs and at the end of the tour, when all the signs have been located, they get a little souvenir.

As you walk through the hallways you get a sense of the lifestyle of the crew. The rows of bunks are a startling reminder that this is a ship used in battle. The luxuries are minimum. The officers’ rooms are definitely more spacious. If you had any kind of claustrophobia, living on this ship would not be for you.

There is definitely patriotism surrounding this ship. Whenever a veteran or military man or woman comes on board, he or she is announced over the loud speaker. It is an homage to their service. And, the men stationed around the ship have plenty of stories to tell about their own time in the service, whether they served on the Iowa or another ship. It’s interesting to learn about their personal stories, especially those who served in World War II.

There are plenty of steps, most of them steep, to climb as well as narrow hallways to maneuver so this is not a tour for anyone in a wheelchair or with a walker. If you have trouble walking or climbing steps, don’t even think about touring the battleship. Otherwise, it’s an interesting and educational tour for those who are up to the challenge of moving around this impressive ship. Signs are everywhere to inform visitors about where they are in the ship and what they are looking at.

With the mobile app, visitors are able to get a more immersive tour of the ship, however if you don’t want to download the app (from the App Store and Google Play), the self-guided tour is still enough to give visitors plenty of onboard experiences and information.



The Battleship Iowa is open every day from 10 – 4. Ticket prices are as follows:

Adults 12-61 $19.95
Youth 6-11 $11.95
Seniors 62+ $16.95
Current Military and Veterans (with ID) $16.95
Kids 5 and under are free

Visiting the Iowa is just one more cool thing to do in Southern California.

About the Author

Roy Brokaw writes about interesting things to do and places to see. He is also an accomplished travel photographer.