Tips for Visiting the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
If you've got a need for speed, join the more than one million visitors per year who come to admire the astounding exhibits at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in NYC. You'll get to see the space shuttle Enterprise (average speed of 17,500 mph), the military spy jet Lockheed A-12 (rocking a cool 2200 mph), and the British Airways Concorde (managing a still-admirable 1300 mph). Makes the average commercial passenger plane's top speed (almost 600 mph) seem almost sluggish in comparison, doesn't it?
However, they've got more than just breakneck aircrafts. The Intrepid Museum is home to a variety of retired air and sea vessels from all five of the US armed forces (the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard) that have magnificent stories to share.
A Brief History of the Intrepid Museum
The Intrepid Museum—named after its 1982 acquisition of the USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier from World War II—is one of the all-time great air and space museums in the United States. Founded by the philanthropist Zachary Fisher and his wife Elizabeth, it has held visitors spellbound for almost 40 years.
The Fishers strongly believed in honoring the brave men and women who served (and continue to serve) in the armed forces, and originally just wanted a place to house the battle-scarred USS Intrepid after they saved it from the junkyard in 1978. Their continued involvement with the foundation mushroomed into what would eventually become the Intrepid Museum.
Even though the Fishers are no longer overseeing the museum, once inside the museum it's easy to see their devotion to supporting the memory and honor of those who serve our country.
Planning Your Visit to the Intrepid Museum: Exhibits to See
When it comes to planning your visit, it's best to go in the morning at 10am when it first opens. If you really want to get a jump on things, sign up for one of their early morning 9am guided tours. You'll be treated to up to 60 minutes of in-depth history about multiple exhibits.
Choose from tours like "Anchors Aweigh" where you'll learn what life was like on the storied USS Intrepid, from those on the flight deck to the 3,000 men who called her home. If space is your desired frontier, try the "Project Mercury, Enterprise, and Beyond" tour. You'll learn all about the trials and tribulations of the very first space shuttle, Enterprise, and even get to see a Russian Soyuz capsule that flew to the International Space Station. With six engaging tours to choose from, there's sure to be something for everyone to enjoy.
Aspiring astronauts should check out the Space Shuttle Pavilion. You'll enter to the muted sounds of an actual conversation between mission control and pilots on the Enterprise during flight tests. As the first orbiter of the Space Shuttle program, the Enterprise was retired 1976, but only made the move to the Intrepid Museum in 2012. Delight in original artifacts and media from the era of early space exploration that will engage your imagination and leave you with a newfound appreciation for the odyssey of space travel.
Beyond the USS Intrepid, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum includes vessels from all realms. Don't miss the USS Growler, an American guided missile submarine lurking in the water next to the museum. Explore the control room and attack center, where three men navigated the 300-foot long steel beast through the frigid water, or take a peek at the aft (back) torpedo room, which houses torpedoes with enough nuclear force to devastate NYC.
The titular exhibit, the USS Intrepid, is a sure draw for visitors curious about this massive aircraft carrier. During WWII, five kamikaze attacks—and a torpedo strike—killed 270 of the sailors on board. The Intrepid Museum has a commemorative wall to recognize the sacrifice of those who died while in service aboard. Tour her flight deck to admire the two dozen authentically restored aircraft in an impressive display with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop. Take a peek at the hangar deck, where you'll be treated to an eight-minute informative movie on the history of the Intrepid, and explore the interactive exhibits surrounding her storied career in the Navy. The Kamikaze: Day of Darkness, Day of Light exhibit is especially powerful, featuring a film describing the terrifying kamikaze attacks of November 25, 1944.
Visiting the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum with Kids (and Kids at Heart): Hands-On Experiences
If you're visiting with children, make sure to save time for the Exploreum, which features a Bell 47 helicopter for hands-on playing, as well as the opportunity to steer various air and sea crafts.
The Intrepid Museum in NYC has quite the collection of aircraft, including the famed Concorde Alpha Delta G-BOAD. While British Airways stopped using them commercially in 2003, a round-trip ticket from New York to London would have cost you upwards of $10,000, so getting up close and personal in this exhibit is far more wallet-friendly. Sign up for the tour to get the full effect; the Intrepid Museum limits the number of visitors who get to view the inside each day to preserve the integrity of this fantastic craft.
If you're looking to enhance your experience with a little rough-and-tumble, hands-on engagement, try one of their simulators. Check out Stories of the Intrepid, where you'll feel like you're part of the flight crew, narrowly missing enemy fire and dodging shots at every turn. If you've always wanted to fly a jet plane, check out G-Force Encounter. With 360 degrees of movement, you'll feel as though you're truly soaring thousands of feet above the ground.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum also provides specialized programs and resources to support and enhance the experience of all visitors, including those with disabilities, their peers and families, including: social narrative, sensory guides, visual vocabularies, videos, virtual tours, sensory bags and more. For more information on these specialized programs and accessibility offerings, please visit the official museum website.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Pricing & Passes
If you're visiting New York (or just have the urge to explore your home city a little more), check out the New York CityPASS to save a bundle on NYC's top-rated attractions. Whether you've got a penchant for wartime vessels or have always wondered what it would be like to soar through the clouds in a screaming jet, a trip to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum will be well worth your time.