Visit the USS Albacore
Above, an aerial view of the USS Albacore, once the fastest submarine, at Portsmouth’s Albacore Park
Our editors feel that visiting Albacore Park (open between early June and Columbus Day) is an affordable, not-to-miss activity for parents who bring their families to Portsmouth. Kids are not likely to forget it, and the parents will also come away with a real sense of what it might be like, even today, to be confined under water for months at a time (though modern submarines are far larger, they’re not a lot less cramped).
The Albacore is a real, US Navy research submarine, launched at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in 1953, with a unique, teardrop hull that was based on extensive hydrodynamic and wind tunnel testing (with an emphasis on speed and maneuverability) and it became not just the fastest submarine in the world, but the “Albacore Hull” became the prototype design for the United States Navy’s modern nuclear submarine fleet.
Albacore Park is not quite walkable, but easy to find and an easy drive from anywhere in the City (or the region, a quarter mile from Exit 7 off I-95), with easy and ample free parking. (MAP) Families can board the submarine and walk from stem to stern on self-guided visits of any length. One of the most memorable parts of the tour, for kids and adults alike, will be looking through the periscope that is still operable today. The park is staffed by volunteers, many of them submariners, who love to share their experiences with visitors, especially families. For an interesting, interactive preview, view links to panoramic images of the submarine’s interior here.
Don’t bring the kids of any age to Portsmouth and skip the Albacore!