Tucked behind Annapolis's historic district, standing proudly on the Severn River, the United States Naval Academy (USNA) has been educating future naval officers for more than 160 years.
For the full USNA experience, enter the Naval Academy at the pedestrian entrance near Gate 1, at Randall and King George streets, or at the other entrance closer to the City Dock at Craig Street. (The only cars allowed in the yard are those with handicapped or DOD stickers.) Start your visit at the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center, just beyond the Halsey Field House, to see exhibits about midshipman life and browse the gift shop. Then, sign up for a tour to see Bancroft Hall, the world's largest dorm, and walk through the grounds.
The crisply restored Chapel displays Bibles belonging to Commodore John Barry and Admiral David Farragut. In the undercroft is the marble Crypt of John Paul Jones, along with his swords and many medals. During the American Revolution, the commodore was the first to hoist the colors of the new nation over a flagship. The chapel is open Monday through Saturday 9am to 4pm and Sunday 1 to 5pm. Worshipers are welcome to attend Sunday services.
The Naval History Museum in Preble Hall has finally opened after several years of renovations, with displays of naval officers, swords, medals, and other artifacts, as well as stunning ship models from the 16th to the 19th century. Famous admirals, astronauts, and one president (Jimmy Carter) have memorable exhibits. The War of 1812 flag proclaiming "Don't Give Up the Ship," which hung for decades in Bancroft Hall, is shown here. The museum is open Monday through Saturday 9am to 5pm, Sunday 11am to 5pm. Insider's note: Bring your government-issued ID to Gate 3 at the end of Maryland Avenue, and the Chapel and the Museum are to your right and to your left. The Severn River is straight ahead.
Monday through Friday at 12:05pm, weather permitting, you can see the midshipmen line up in noon formation in front of Bancroft Hall before the midday meal. Commissioning Week, usually held the third week in May, is a colorful time of full-dress parades, parties, and an air show by the Blue Angels.