Patriot’s Point and the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier
A few weeks ago, I took my future cousin-in-law to see Patriot’s Point in his hometown of Charleston, SC. Patriot’s Point is home of the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, as well as other Fort Sumpter, the USS Calmagore submarine, and the USS Laffey battleship. For just $20 for adults and $12 for children, you have access to all of these offerings, including a Vietnam Support Base replica and the Cold War Sub Memorial. We only spent time on the USS Yorktown because it took us so long to explore all of it and we had to return home, but with how much Patriot’s Point offers, you can easily spend all day there and not be bored (if this sort of stuff interests you of course). On the USS Yorktown is 5 separate personal walking tours. They all begin on the main level you enter the carrier and you can walk them at your own pace.
Parking is just $5. Among the $20 adult entrance fee, they also have helicopter tours and even ghost tours. I’ve never taken a ghost tour before, but I imagine one here would be quite interesting. Once you enter, they take your photo in front of a green screen for you to pick up and purchase at the exit of the area once you are done exploring. Pictured below is also the USS Laffey battleship.
On the main level, where you enter, there are a handful of airplanes and jet cockpits you can climb into to experience what it is like. They also had a flight simulator for an additional fee. There were also replica models and even more detailed information about the history of the USS Yorktown.
Up first is Tour 1. The first tour overlaps a bit with Tour 2, but you can remain on just 1 if you choose to. On this tour, you’ll see their chapel, where they prepared their torpedoes, dentist rooms, part of the kitchen, laundromat, and sleeping areas.
For Tour 2, you head down into the engine room and work your way up. There are many stairs on this tour. Let me tell you, my legs were very sore the next day from this adventure. You’ll also get to see more of the kitchen, the bakery, more models, including that of the Titanic, and their dining area. There are also offices, more sleeping chambers, and medical areas. This tour seemed to be the longest of the five.
Tour 3, the flight deck and bridge, was easily the most visually appealing, for obvious reasons. Here, you’re able to climb up to where jets took off and landed during the USS Yorktown’s service. The view is fabulous up top. You also get to see the navigation room and many jets permanently stationed on the carrier.
After three tours, we decided to take a break and explore the Mead of Honor museum. This was incredibly interesting for me. It discusses the history of the medal and how it has changed over the years. It also shows recipients of the medal and descriptions of the wars we were in.
On the far end of the main level is an Apollo 8 replica. You are free to climb inside and ‘experience’ what it was like during the launch into space and return to earth. I was able to take video as we watched, laying on our backs in our seats. The replicate vibrates during the more intense parts. Check out the video below!
There was also a POW area with information about each of the wars we took part in.
Lastly before we left, it was time to do the last two tours. Tour 4 and 5 are combined in the same area. Here, you get to see a briefing area, history of Black Americans and women in the Navy, models of Pearl Harbor, the mail room, more dining areas, barbershop, refreshment area, and the brig.
After three hours aboard the USS Yorktown, it was time to head home! At the exit of the bridge, coming back from the USS Yorktown, this is where you can explore the Vietnam Experience. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to walk through it as we were strapped for time. You exit through the gift shop which shocked me with how many tacky and cheap souvenirs they had, many with no relation whatsoever to Patriot’s Point. I did find some Sea Dog shirts which were mildly funny and cute though, as pictures below.
Overall, we had a great time aboard the USS Yorktown. Even though we only spent our time on the one carrier, we felt like we got our money’s worth. There was still the battleship and submarine to explore as well. It would be easy to spend almost all day at Patriot’s Point and not be bored. It was a great experience and one I highly recommend if you’re ever in Charleston!