Located as a stop along the Freedom Trail at the Charlestown Navy Yard, the ship the USS Constitution is open for free guided tours throughout the year. Its mission is to promote the United States Navy and America’s naval heritage through educational outreach, public access and historic demonstrations, in port and underway.
First launched in 1797, the USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship in the world. Affectionately known as “Old Ironsides”, it was during the War of 1812 in her battle with the HMS Guerriere, that she earned the nickname. Her hull is actually made of wood, but as the Gurriere’s cannonballs ricocheted off her sides during the battle, it is reported a sailor yelled, “Huzzah lads, her sides are made of iron”.
To hear more about this battle and other stories of this national treasure take a free tour. Tours of the ship are narrated by active-duty sailors and are offered Tuesdays through Sunday until 6 PM during the summer and Thursdays through Sunday until 4 PM during the winter. Each tour consists of four stations through the ship's top three decks.
Tours begin every half-hour from 10:00 a.m. and each tour can accommodate approximately 80 people. Those who are 18 and over will want to make sure to bring a valid federal or state-issued photo ID, as you might be asked to present this at the ship's security entrance.
Besides tours of the ship, there are several other activities located at the Navy Yard. The USS Constitution Museum offers ongoing and special exhibits about the history of the Constitution. The admission fee is $5 for adults.
The USS Cassin Young, a World War II era destroyer is berthed just across from the USS Constitution. Visitors can either explore the ship at their own pace or take a National Park Service Ranger-led tour. Both experiences are offered free of charge.
Regardless of the time of year, taking the time to stop at the USS Constitution to explore the ship and surrounding Navy Yard is a worthwhile experience.