The small town of San Pedro is a bit of a surprise. Quietly tucked on the outskirts of LA, it's home to the Port of Los Angeles, one of the world's busiest seaports.
Spotted right away are well-known cruise lines making stop-overs. There's another vessel, though, that stays put -- the Battleship USS IOWA.
*Time sensitive: Memorial Day is a great time to visit the Battleship USS IOWA (250 S. Harbor Boulevard), when fallen service people are honored during festivities (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) including a remembrance ceremony, military vehicles, food and music.
There are many reasons to visit San Pedro, which will be covered in a later post, and the USS IOWA tops the list.
I was lucky enough to be invited on a tour this past November. As the founder of Change Your Life Travels VR, I was excited to try out the USS IOWA's virtual reality experience. Truth be told, I was so loving being immersed in the actual ship, I didn't make it to the VR portion of my tour. And yes, I'm planning a return visit to do just that.
The battleship has a storied history spanning World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War and beyond. I won't go into the ship's many tales here, as learning about the IOWA from an official guide is a must. In some cases, tours are even led by veterans who served aboard the USS IOWA.
That being said, there are myriad tour options, for ages six and above. These include self-guided options ($19.95 adults, $11.95 children; don't forget to download the app prior), the Full Steam Ahead Tour that gives a behind-the-scenes look at engineering spaces ($25 members, $49.95 non-members; This is the tour I took. I highly recommend it.), Curator's Tour (four hours, $99) and Group Tours (minimum of 10, prices start at $9.50 depending on age). Some combo tours to consider: the Battleship IOWA & LA Waterfront Harbor Cruise (starts at $16.95, based on age) and the Battleship IOWA & Queen Mary combo tour ($44.90 adults, $25.90 children).
As mentioned, I embarked upon the Full Steam Ahead Tour.
***Word of warning: there will be stairs and ladders to climb. If you have a fear of heights or small spaces, or if you have difficulty navigating steps/rungs, this might not be the tour for you.
Though I have knee issues, I was able to make it through the multi-level climbs with no problem. And I'm so glad. It was truly a thrill venturing into otherwise restricted areas of the IOWA.
Getting a glimpse at what life was like aboard the ship was enlightening. With the exception of a suite built specifically for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (be on the lookout for his special bathtub), there were no creature comforts of note.
Seeing the stacked sleeping quarters for crew made the concept of a life at sea being romantic seem, well, not so dreamy.
What definitely stood out, though, was the sacrifice put forth by those who served our country during times of war.
Go. Explore. Take time to soak in the seafront atmosphere.
If not touring with a docent, strike up a conversation with someone who's served in the military. It's highly likely you'll encounter just such a person taking the tour.
While you're at it -- thank them for their service.
Let me get the ball rolling right here.
Many thanks to the members of our military on this Memorial Day weekend!
Speaking of which... Memorial Day is a great time to visit the Battleship USS IOWA, when fallen service people are honored during festivities (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) including On a remembrance ceremony, military vehicles, food and music.
Ready to explore San Pedro and the Battleship USS IOWA? Visit https://sanpedro.com/ and https://pacificbattleship.com for further information. Stay tuned, too, for an upcoming post about other San Pedro attractions to add to your itinerary!
*The first and final photo in this post are courtesy of the USS Iowa. All other photos were taken by Bekah Wright