Widget-ToursOn a recent rainy spring day, I accompanied a group of eighth grade students on a trip to the Naval Academy, where we took in the Yard (the Naval Academy grounds), and the U.S. Naval Academy Museum. While on the tour of the beautiful historic grounds, we discovered amazing nautical artifacts and monuments highlighting generations of midshipmen's contributions essential to our history. As Baltimore and Ft. McHenry continue their Star Spangled Celebration this summer commemorating the 200th birthday of the national anthem, a stop at the Naval Academy is a perfect fit for a family historical tour you may be planning this spring or summer.

Tour the Naval Academy

[caption id="attachment_2346" align="aligncenter" width="500"]USNA Yard USNA Yard[/caption]

While at the Academy, a rich, not-to-be missed experience for families is the Naval Academy tour. Guided by certified Naval Academy tour guides, these tours begin at the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center. Discover United States and Naval history housed at the Naval Academy Museum and visit the crypt of revolutionary hero John Paul Jones housed under the stunning Naval Academy Chapel. Step out at noon on weekdays for formation as the midshipmen head into lunch. Since picnicking is not allowed on campus, head over to the Drydock restaurant to eat lunch. End back at the visitor center to browse at the USNA Gift Shop. All proceeds from the tour, Drydock and gift shop go back to the Academy.

Self-guided walking tour commemorates War of 1812

Here's another fun way to share some history with kids while in Annapolis. Through October 2014, visitors can take a self-guided walking tour that celebrates the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, highlighting Annapolis' involvement in this important historical event. The tour features 10 stops in Annapolis, five of which are at the Naval Academy. Copies of this historical walking tour and exhibit map are available at the Naval Academy Visitor Center, the Naval Academy Museum, the Maryland State House, the Historic Annapolis Foundation on Main Street and at the Annapolis Visitor Center.

Getting there

Park in downtown Annapolis or at the Navy-Marine Corp Stadium ($5) and ride the shuttle. Enter through Gate 1 pedestrian entrance on Randall Street. Those over 16 years old will have to show a photo ID at the gate. Once in the Yard proceed to the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center and U.S. Naval Academy Museum. Visitor center hours are 9:00am-5:00pm March through December and 9:00am-4:00pm January and February.