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The USS Constitution Museum is truly the most spectacular place for the Boston visitor and a first hand experience in time travel. Never have I seen such an incredible sight as "Old Ironsides", the nickname for the USS Constitution, an 18th century ship now permanently docked in Boston's Charleston Navy Yard.

Old Ironsides, built in the 1700's, is considered the highest technological acheivement of the 18th century. The fact that tourists may actually walk her decks is what makes this frigate so very special: the wood shines with history, the brass accents gleam as if new, and the cannons on board allow the visitor to glimpse what sea battles actually entailed those many years ago. To walk this fine ship is to return to a place in history that few have been and the visitor will leave with a new understanding of antique vessels and warfare at sea.

A huge ship for her day, the USS Constitution, named by President George Washington for the document she defended, has sails that measure over one acre in size, her sides are over 21 inches in thickness, and she displaces over 2,200 tons in the water. You can feel the majesty of her size with each step you take on both the lower and upper decks. Also, you'll be surprised at how low the ceilings are below deck: it wasn't that the sailors were shorter in those days, the designers simply saved space with lower ceilings.

The accompanying museum is a must-see for the visitor as well due to the many hands-on exhibits that explain the history of this extraordinary ship. There are gorgeous watercolors and oils of life at sea, relics from days gone by, priceless documents, miniature models, and audio visual offerings to delight both children and adults.

Often, there is a short wait to take the USS Constitution walking tour but the museum and gift shop are wonderful places to wait your turn to see Old Ironsides. In the summer, there are folks wandering the area dressed in period costume who give demonstrations of craftmanship in nautical knots, scrimshaw, model making, and much more.

The USS Constitution Musuem and tour is not to be missed. The ship is maintained full time by a special US Navy detatchment and the sailors on board are always dressed in period costume. It's a breathtaking experience and one I hope you will not neglect when you're in Boston. Take your entire family and don't forget the camera: it's not often that you get to travel back in time.