George Washington himself gave this wooden frigate – which first launched in 1797 and is now the oldest remaining commissioned naval vessel in the world – its legendary name: the USS Constitution. It was built in Boston and is famous for defeating and capturing British warships during the war of 1812.
The USS Constitution Museum is next to Old Ironsides – a nickname earned by being unstoppable, even in the face of direct fire from cannon balls. The galleries are interactive and show much of the legendary ship’s war history (“Old Ironsides in War and Peace” and “The Barbary War: Piracy, Politics, and Power”), the daily life and hardships of its sailors (“All Hands on Deck: A Sailor’s Life in 1812”), and how the historical vessel was nearly unable to stay preserved without the help of charities and foundations. There’s also a neat model shop where Model Shipwright Guild members often display their latest creations.
The Charlestown Navy Yard, one of the first shipyards built in the nation (established in 1800), was the home of the USS Constitution. Although the shipyard closed in 1974 after the Vietnam War, much of it was adopted into the Boston National Historical Park, which preserves the area and two ships (the other being the USS Cassin Young, a WWII Destroyer). Tours are free and run every half-hour – check the schedule for changing closing times during the year.
It’s a fantastic place for families, there’s plenty of great opportunities for priceless photos, and it’s an excellent jumping- ff spot to explore the rest of historical Boston.