Kids Love the Battleship USS North Carolina: All Hands On Deck!

The Battleship USS North Carolina, completed and launched only a few months before the onset of World War II, saw action in every major Pacific campaign. Fifty years later the warship remains one of the most powerful ever constructed.

Today the highly decorated battleship is permanently anchored in the Cape Fear River across from Wilmington. The ship has been preserved almost exactly as when on active wartime duty.

Battleship USS North Carolina History

The Battleship USS North Carolina played a significant role in history, particularly during World War II. Commissioned in 1941, the USS North Carolina was one of the first battleships to be built following the limitations of the Washington Naval Treaty, which restricted the size and armament of naval vessels.

During World War II, the USS North Carolina served in the Pacific Theater as a vital part of the United States Navy's fleet. It participated in numerous battles and campaigns, including the Guadalcanal Campaign, where it provided gunfire support for Marines ashore. The battleship also played a crucial role in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, and the Battle of the Philippine Sea, among others.

The USS North Carolina earned a distinguished reputation for its firepower, speed, and survivability in combat. Despite sustaining damage from enemy attacks, it remained operational throughout the war and never lost a crew member to enemy action.

After World War II, the USS North Carolina was decommissioned in 1947 and eventually became a museum ship in Wilmington, North Carolina. Today, it serves as a memorial to honor the sailors who served aboard her and as a reminder of the sacrifices made during the war. The battleship's legacy continues to be celebrated, both for its contributions to victory in World War II and for its status as a symbol of American naval power and ingenuity. Learn more about fascinating military history in the Carolinas.

What’s There To Do at the Battleship USS North Carolina?

Visitors can stroll the decks and imagine life with the crew of more than 2,300 required for full operation. You may also climb inside the turrets containing 16-inch guns and capable of firing 2,700-pound shells at targets more than 20 miles away. 

Nine decks are open for exploration, including the bridge, crew’s quarters, galley, sick bay, engine room, pilot house, radio room, coding room and guns. In addition, one of the last surviving float planes in existence is displayed on the stern.

The USS North Carolina is the State’s memorial to the 10,000 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War II. It is a fitting and unique tribute to these American heroes.

Is It Fun for Kids?

Younger children enjoy the freedom of the open space above deck as they zip from moving guns to below deck access points. Kids navigate quickly below deck as “tight spaces” is a relative term. There are stairs and ladders to climb, pipes, valves and gauges to check out. Popular stops include the big gun turret, the mess hall and crew bunks. Older children and teens will enjoy the easy-to-grasp video interpretation, and they'll enjoy exploring the ship with their siblings or friends.

At the visitor center before you board the ship, be sure to check out the interactive displays (read: video games). The staff recommend closed-toe flat shoes (Carolina Traveler says “there are no soft parts of a battleship”) and budget about 2-3 hours for your visit. Summer visitors: the battleship is not air conditioned – bring a bottle of water!


  • Kids 5 and under are free
  • 6-11 is $6
  • 12 and up is $14
  • 65+ is $10

The whole family will be left with a lasting memory of their time on this amazing warship.

What Else Can You Do In Wilmington NC?

While the Battleship USS North Carolina is undoubtedly a highlight of Wilmington, North Carolina, the city offers a plethora of other attractions to explore once you've experienced its historic decks. Here are some of the best things to do in Wilmington:

  1. Explore the Riverwalk: Take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Wilmington Riverwalk, which stretches along the Cape Fear River. Enjoy the stunning views of the river, browse local shops, and dine at waterfront restaurants offering fresh seafood.
  2. Visit the Wilmington Historic District: Immerse yourself in Wilmington's rich history by wandering through its charming historic district. Admire the beautifully preserved architecture, including antebellum homes and landmarks like the Bellamy Mansion.
  3. Discover Airlie Gardens: Spend a tranquil afternoon at Airlie Gardens, a breathtaking 67-acre garden featuring colorful blooms, walking trails, and stunning lakeside views. Don't miss the iconic Airlie Oak, a massive 500-year-old live oak tree. Learn more about botanical gardens in the Carolinas.
  4. Experience the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher: Just a short drive from Wilmington, the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher offers an exciting marine adventure for visitors of all ages. Explore exhibits showcasing local marine life, including sharks, sea turtles, and exotic fish.

From historic sites to natural wonders, Wilmington offers a diverse array of attractions beyond the USS Battleship North Carolina, ensuring a memorable visit for all.

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