Visit a floating museum and see what life was like aboard an ocean liner, a riverboat, aircraft carriers, a submarine, and one of the world's oldest active ship.
History doesn't stop at land's edge, so why should our museums? The West Coast teems with ships and boats rich in high-seas history.
USS Arizona Memorial Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The sunken battleship is a tribute to the 1,177 crewmen and 1,211 other Americans who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. (808) 422-0561, www.nps.gov/usar .
Balclutha San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. This 1886 square-rigger brought salmon from Alaska and lumber from Seattle and even appeared in Mutiny on the Bounty. (415) 447-5000, www.nps.gov/safr .
USS Blueback Portland. Tour the cold war-era submarine seen in the film The Hunt for Red October. Book a Submarine Sleepover and experience the sub as its crew once did. (503) 797-6674, www.omsi.edu .
Delta King Sacramento. Today a hotel and restaurant, this stately riverboat made a daily 10-hour voyage from Sacramento to San Francisco during the 1930s. Guests enjoyed Prohibition-era drinking, live jazz, gambling, and fine dining. (800) 825-5464, www.deltaking.com .
USS Hornet Alameda, Calif. This World War II aircraft carrier helped with two Apollo space missions. (510) 521-8448, www.uss-hornet.org .
SS Jeremiah O'Brien San Francisco. In 1994, this sturdy World War II Liberty ship sailed to Normandy for the 50th anniversary of D-day. (415) 544-0100, www.ssjeremiahobrien.org .
Lightship Columbia Astoria, Ore. The last floating lighthouse to be operated on the West Coast is now retired and stationed at the Columbia River Maritime Museum. (503) 325-2323, www.crmm.org .
Lady Washington Aberdeen, Wash. This 175-ton tall ship, recently a star in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean:The Curse of the Black Pearl, calls on various West Coast ports. (800) 200-5239, www.ladywashington.org .
USS Midway San Diego. The longest-serving aircraft carrier in U.S. naval history opens for tours in early June. (619) 702-7700, www.midway.org .
USS Pampanito San Francisco. One of the last surviving submarines from America's World War II fleet. (415) 775-1943, www.maritime.org .
USS Potomac Oakland. Board FDR's "Floating White House" for a history cruise on San Francisco Bay. From secret wartime meetings to drug smugglers to Elvis Presley, tales abound on the Potomac. (510) 627-1215, www.usspotomac.org .
Queen Mary Long Beach, Calif. Larger than the Titanic, this venerable ocean liner boasts 365 staterooms, 16 ballrooms, some 2,000 portholes, and a jail. (562) 435-3511, www.queenmary.com .
Star of India Maritime Museum of San Diego. Born in 1863, she's the world's oldest active ship. (619) 234-9153, www.sdmaritime.org .
Wawona Seattle. Now a valuable relic, this ship launched in 1897 is one of the largest three-masted schooners ever built in North America. (206) 447-9800, www.nwseaport.org .
Photography by Kenny Williams
This article was first published in May 2004. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.