Exploring the USS Hornet with little ones

Big thanks to El Cerrito mom of two, Wendy Copley, for sharing her family’s adventures aboard the USS Hornet in Alameda.

Alameda's USS Hornet with kids

My family is not a particularly military-oriented group, but we do love science and gadgetry so when my husband suggested that we visit the USS Hornet Aircraft Carrier museum in Alameda everyone was excited by the idea. The museum is huge — the size of an aircraft carrier, in fact — and we spent an entire afternoon exploring the various nooks and crannies of the ship.

There are four main areas on the boat. Visitors enter on the hangar deck, which is filled with planes, helicopters and an exhibit about the Apollo 11 moon mission. The second and third decks give a glimpse of what life on the ship was like with crew quarters, the hospital, the mess and the torpedo shop.

USS Hornet

The flight deck features more aircraft, wide expanses of tarmac that little legs can use to run off energy and gorgeous views of San Francisco and the East Bay hills.

My children are both younger that the minimum age (9 years) required to tour the engine room, so we opted to tour the navigation bridge instead. The tour was a bit long to hold my three-year-old’s attention the entire time and we had to slip away near the end, but our visits to the control room and the bridge were well worth our time. We also had a lot of questions about the ship by then (Do planes ever fall in the water? How big is the cable that catches the planes?) so it was nice to have an opportunity to ask the docent questions.

In addition to normal museum access, pricey but fun-sounding birthday parties and family overnights on the ship are available, too.

Open daily, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Find out more at http://www.uss-hornet.org or call 510-521-8448.

[all photos by Wendy and not for your use without her permission!]