Intrepid Sea, Air, And Space Museum Review – Is New Yorks Intrepid Museum Worth Visiting?

The Intrepid Sea, Air, And Space Museum is a New York Museum housed in and on an actual US Navy Aircraft Carrier. The Museum is Packed with some incredible Aircraft exhibits along with the chance to explore a US Warship. However, With New York filled with so many fantastic Museums and attractions is the Intrepid worth your time and money to visit? We take a look at the Floating Museum on Intrepid Sea, Air, And Space Museum Review.

We take a look at the Museum, what there is to see and do, how long you should spend at the location, along with a little bit of history about what it is exactly you are looking at. The Museum is far more than a few old planes on an old boat so we go in-depth to show you if the Museum is worth including on, what is probably, a packed and hectic schedule!

Intrepid Sea, Air, And Space Museum Review
  • Attraction: Intrepid Sea, Air, And Space Museum
  • Cost:  Adults: $33 Seniors (65+): $31 Children (16 and Under): $23
  • Location:  Pier 86, W 46th St, 12th Av – MAP
  • Visit Duration: 2-3 Hours
  • Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐4 Stars
Intrepid Sea, Air, And Space Museum
  • Price
  • Collection
  • Layout
  • Time Value

What is the The Intrepid Sea, Air, And Space Museum?

The Old Hudson Dockyards was once a thriving and bustling industrial area, however, when the heavy industries that fueled the trade moved elsewhere the Docklands, like so many others, became derelict and disused. Many efforts have been made to regenerate the area, one such effort is the Intrepid Sea, Air, And Space Museum.

The Intrepid is an Essex Class Air Craft Carrier, commissioned during World War II she served extensively in the Pacific and later also in the Vietnam Wars. Retiring after 31 years she was saved from the Scrap heap and brought to the Hudson Docks to serve as a museum to all things Air and Sea. In Addition to this is the Space Shuttle Pavillion that serves as a Space Museum, housing one of 4 remaining Space Shuttles, Enterprise.

The Museum is a pretty unique experience, A living War Museum right in the heart of one of the busiest cities in the world, You would never imagine walking the decks of an aircraft Carrier right in the heart of Manhattan. It is not the usual New York Attraction and is all the better for it.

History of the Intrepid.

USS Intrepid

The Intrepid had a long and illustrious career, starting in World War II. The Ship was the third Essex Class Carrier off the production line and was immediately sent into Battle. The Ship had a distinguished campaign against the Japanese but did not come away without some serious war wounds.

For her opening skirmishes, she joined the Marines in the Island hopping campaigns ousting the Japanese from the various islands in the Indo-Pacific, with notable success. It was her she was hit by a torpedo bomber and had to retire for repairs before heading to the Philippines for continued service.

It was here the Vessel earned her medals. Assisting in the Battle of Leyte before playing a starring role in the naval battle of the Sibuyan Sea. Here she sunk several vessels in including the Battleship Musashi and the Carrier Zuihō while inflicting damage on several others including the Pacific Flagship Yamato! Eventually, Intrepid was taken out of action again by a series of raids including Kamakaze Strikes, but she survived and was repaired once again in San Francisco.

After returning to the Frey to assist in the Battle for Okinawa, the ship was again badly damaged from Kamikaze and headed home for repairs. This time her return was too late as she arrived back in the Pacific the Japanese surrendered bringing the war to a close.

After the War, the Ship served in the Atlantic fleet which saw mainly peacetime but was finally sent to assist in the war in Vietnam. Here her newly fitted Jet Attack planes took part in several raids during the opening parts of the war. She was now becoming older and obsolete as the Midway Class carriers could launch Heavier and Faster Jets to deliver more ordinance and the carrier was recalled after 3 successful tours. Finally retired around the end of the War.

One of the Carrier’ duties between the Wars was to assist in Space Crew recoveries. The Carrier was pivotal in the recovery of the Aurora 7 Module after it went astray on re-entry, saving the Astronaut’s life. This history of involvement in the Sapec Race makes her the perfect home for Space Shuttle Enterprise.

The Ship really is a piece of US Military History and exploring the Decks really is an honor and a fantastic privilege.

Who does the The Intrepid Sea, Air, And Space Museum Suit?

Intrepid Museum

This is really a two-part question, for a large number of people, those with an interest in military history, the Intrepid is a wonderland. It s filled with incredible iconic Aircraft that will literally have you jumping up and down with excitement to see. This is me, I absolutely adore the Intrepid and if your interests align with mine, just head straight to the booking section below!

However, not everyone shares these interests. They have no real idea what a “Blackbird” is (other than something your cat ma bring home), The Space shuttle is all very impressive but they don’t really need to look at a retired one and while they are obviously aware of the sacrifices of the war generation and eternally grateful, the miniature of the history is not that interesting. If this is you Will you still enjoy the Intrepid?

The answer is probably not, at least not as much as something else in New York. You should easily be able to tell your likely enthusiasm for the Museum by reading our “What to See at the Intrepid” section below. If the different exhibits excite you, as they do me, then you will love the Museum. If you are a bit, Eh…I don’t really know what all this means, then it might be a pass!

Of course, 99.9% of people DO NOT visit New York alone and we all have different interests, even couples. We are a great example of this as I get giddy just at the thought of seeing a Jet Fighter, whereas Kate has almost no interest at all. Of course, we always visit the Intrepid as I love it so much. It’s a great compromise, something Kate does not particularly enjoy but can be used as a bargaining chip for something else I am not so keen on, maybe about of shopping on 5th Av.

It’s also a great treat for kids, who largely love the Intrepid! It’s great too to drag than round something “boring” with the offer of this as a reward.

The Good news for those on the wrong end of the Bargain, the Intrepid is still pretty special even if you are not “that” interested in the exhibits. The Ship itself is awesome, and the views from the flight deck really incredible. Just exploring an Aircraft Carrier is pretty unique. The Shuttle is seriously impressive and most people do find it pretty inspiring. There really is a lot going on at the museum and it is rarely a chore even if you are being dragged there against your will.

Kate for example would never visit the Museum without me but does have a good time when I drag her along. In her own words … “Oh god, not there again!!!”

For people on limited Timeframes, however, we are not sure the Intrepid is really Suitable unless you are a real Military History Geek. There are so many Iconic attractions and things to see in the City, we feel the Intrepid is a bit of a Side Show. It took us a few visits to New York to finally fit it in as there are just so many other “must-see’s” in the City. We think my enthusiasm for the Museum shines through, but I was still willing to side-step it the first few times to fit in more “New Yorky” things to do!

How long does it take to visit The Intrepid Sea, Air, And Space Museum?

The Museum does not take particularly long to visit. After all, there are probably less than 100 Exhibits! It’s just some of them are the Size of Aircraft Carriers…literally. So after getting a good look at each plane there is little to do but grab a selfie and move on. Honestly, we think we spend the most time there waiting for people to clear out of the frame so we can get good photos!

You can get a good in-depth visit to the Museum in a couple of hours. There is no need to commit a half-day to the Museum. It’s a great stop-off when using the Big Bus Tour on your way back to mid-town after visiting the Downtown Area.

Booking The Intrepid Sea, Air, And Space Museum

Currently, the Intrepid, Like all Museums in New York requires you to book an advanced time slot. You can check availability and book a timeslot below via our preferred ticket seller.

If you are looking to save money and are thinking of visiting a few Museums or other Paid attractions, such as observation decks, a statue cruise, or Bus Tour, then you should consider an Attractions Pass. We look at all of New York’s best Passes here in our Attraction Pass Comparison Guide.

What To See At The Intrepid Sea, Air, And Space Museum

There is an awful lot to see at the Museum. From the Ship itself, the different Decks and Aircraft Exhibits, the Space Shuttle Pavillion, Concorde, The Growler Submarine, even just the views from the Flight Deck and Dockside. Here is our rundown of what not to miss when visiting the Museum.

You can view the Full Aircraft Collection here but we highlight our favorites in the below sections

Flight Deck

The Flight Deck is the Highlight of the Museum. The Outdoor Flight deck is the original take-off and landing area for the Flight operations of the Intrepid. Simply walking around an old Flight Deck is pretty cool, especially with a backdrop as iconic as Midtown Manhatten. However, the Deck is also the location for the majority of the Museum’s best Exhibits.

Lockheed A-12 – The A-12 is the precursor aircraft to the legendary SR-71 Blackbird. These Planes flew higher and faster than any aircraft ever built. And they did so while looking absolutely frikin cool at the same time. These are real poster child aircraft and easily our favorite aircraft ever produce, along with will Elon Musk, Jeremy Clarkson, and about a million young boys who grew up in the last 50 years!

Honestly just seeing a Blackbird is pretty cool, seeing one on the deck of a legendary Aircraft Carrier in the middle of New York is just awesome!

F-14 Tomcat – This jet was legendary well before its starring role in Top-Gun as the pin-up fighter jet of the ’80s. Top-Gun just cemented it as one of the most well-known jets of all time.

The F-14B on Intrepid is the 7th unit built and was subsequently used as a development airframe hence the jazzy livery which was designed for the Super Tomcat variant that never came to be.

F-14’s are well known as Carrier Aircraft (Top-Gun) but were never flown from the Intrepid as the larger Midway-Class was required to operate the F-14, and Intrepid retired about the time the F-14’s came into service (1974)

AV-8C Harrier Jump Jet – The Legendary Jump Jet was the first and easily the most successful Vertical Takeoff and Landing Jet Aircraft. While not the most impressive beast as a Static Display, in fact, it appears a bit small a weedy, it’s still an amazing aircraft. The VTOL Capabilities make this the perfect Carrier-based craft as the runway space needed was minimal.

F-4N Phantom II – The Phantom is one of the most important military aircraft made. It revolutionized the USAF and the Navy Air Wing. More Phantoms were made than any other Military Aircraft, over 5,000. It had a remarkable career and was the jet that kept America safe during the cold war and fought extensively in Vietnam.

The Phantom was too heavy to fly from the Intrepid but was used extensively by both the Navy and the Marines for Carrier-Based Missions. The Jet still remains in service today, albeit not within the US, and is probably the most successful fighter jet ever produced. However, some might argue the Russian Mig-23/27 might have a say in that matter.

F-16 Fighting Falcon – The Fighting Falcon is the newest jet aboard the Intrepid. This is the newer generation of fighters that came along to replace the aging F-4 Phantoms. Another hugely successful US Jetfighter. The example on display at the intrepid is not the best, it seems a bit of a shell after having most of the avionics striped and the glass cockpit removed. Still nice to see a more modern fighter amongst the historic stuff.

AH-1 SeaCobra – The Cobra was the first dedicated attack Gunship. Deployed during Vietnam it was hugely successful and pretty much changed the modern battlefield, rendering tanks all but useless. The AH-1 was gradually replaced by the awesome AH-64 Apache, which is pretty much similar only far more advanced, but the smaller lightweight SeaCobra is still used by the US Marines!

XAD-1 Skyraider – If you haven’t heard of the Skyraider, you probably should have, this plane is every bit as successful as the Spitfire, Mustang, Messerschmitt 109, or the Zero. However, the Plane was introduced late into the war and never had an effect and as such is largely unknown. However the Skyraider did something no other Propeller fighter could do, it could mix it with the Jets. The Sky Raider continued to fly as part of the Navy’s Airwing right through Vietnam and beyond, Even Shooting down Enemy Mig-17 Jets, although its primary Role was an Attack Aircraft hitting enemy ground targets.

The Skyraider is particularly nice to see as it served aboard the Essex Class Carriers including Intrepid.

Grumman AF-9J Cougar – an early Jetfighter and one that served from the intrepid. The Folded wing Design of the cougar helped with storage issues aboard the small carrier.

Mig-17 The Mig-17 and its earlier Mig-15 cousin are kind of like the AK-47 of the Air. Stout, uncomplicated, reliable, and utterly deadly in the right hands. For the majority of the planes in the Museum, these were the Enemy fighters they were up against. These were the primary fighters used by the Communist forces until they were replaced by the faster more powerful Mig-21’s, one of which sits next to Intrpids Mig-17

Helicopters – There are several Choppers up on the deck to represent different rotorcraft that form the core of an Aircraft CArriers Air Operations. The H-19 Chickasaw, HH-52A Sea Guardian, and the AH-1 Cobra Mentioned above. There is also a UH-1A Huey, one of the most Iconic Aircraft of the Vietnam War.

The Flight Deck Itself

While the Collection of Craft on the Deck is the main attraction the actual deck itself is a pretty incredible place to be. Not only are you on a real Flight Deck of a US aircraft carrier, but the Deck also offers fantastic views of the Manhattan Skyline, Tours of the Bridge, and other operating areas of the deck including the Aircraft lift. Really it’s just a cool place to be!

Note – The Flight Deck has appeared in several films, notably I Am Legend starring Will Smith.

Hanger Deck

The Hanger Deck is where the aircraft were stored and worked on when at sea. Now serving as the prestige museum this is where some of the most important and most highly restored aircraft are displayed, safely out of the New York weather.

These are mostly Aircraft that operated from the carrier at one time or another and document the Air-Wing of the Carrier through its time in service. This is likely the first deck you will visit, so remember to give it adequate time as you may be tempted to rush through to get to the fast jets above!

Grumman TBM-3E Avenger – The Avenger was part of the original Air-Wing to operate from the intrepid. The Avenger formed the Carriers Torpedo force which during WW2 era operations were essential to the Ship. Torpedo Planes were how a carrier defended itself at sea and how it launched attacks on enemy ships. Modern Carriers do not really use Torpedo planes but back in the WW2 era, they were a staple.

The Avengers launched from the Intrepid led a leading role in the sinking of Battleship Musashi, along with several other ships during the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea

UH-25 Retriever – The Retriever was a utility helicopter purpose-designed by the navy for carrier use. Its small compact size meant many more could be easily fitted onto the carriers without the need for complex folding mechanisms. With the rotors tucked away the footprint was very small indeed.

The Aircraft is fairly unremarkable, however, it is fantastically preserved and its quirky looks make it a great addition.

FJ-3 Fury – An Early Carrier-based Jet, the FJ-3 served aboard the Intrepid. The Fury has a very unique design and the restoration is impeccable.

Douglas A-4B Skyhawk – The Skyhawk was one of the later jets to be used on Intrepid. The Light Attack aircraft played a crucial role in Vietnam. The Jet is still in use outside of the US, primarily in Argentina where the jet played a large role in facing off against the British during the Falklands War.

Other Displays – on the hanger deck are several other artifacts and items on display. There are films and interactive displays and a whole lot to see and do. If it’s rainy outside then there is a lot to do on the Hanger Deck.

Other Decks

As well as the two main Aircraft Display decks there are several other areas of the Ship to Explore. These are preserves and restored to reflect life aboard the ship while on Duty.

Gallery Deck

The Gallery Deck is the action hub of the Carrier. This is where all the mission planning and execution went on. The Deck is now kitted out as it would have been during service. Explore the Briefing room where pilots prepared for battle and check out the Combat Information center where the missions were tracked and monitored.

Third Deck

The Third Deck is the Crews Living Quarters. Here you can get a taste for life as a crew member aboard the Ship with period Sleeping quarters and a Full kitted-out Mess hall.

Shuttle Pavilion

The Space Shuttle is perhaps one of mankind’s most astounding creations ever developed. And getting to see one up close is the stuff of boyhood fantasies! And quite frankly it does not disappoint. Up close the shuttle is every bit as impressive as I imagined as a kid.

There were only 6 Space Shuttles ever made, with only 4 surviving the Program (Rip Columbia, Challenger, and their Crews). So getting to see one up close is a rare opportunity. The other Three are spread out across the States, Atlantis at Kenedy Space Centre, Discovery at the Udvar-Hazy Center near Washinton (Part of the Smithsonian), and Endeavor at the California Science Center.

The First thing to know about Enterprise, however, is it is not actually are REAL space Shuttle. This Shuttle never actually went to Space, nor could it have done if they tried. Instead, the Craft was a test unit for Atmospheric flight testing. It eas essentially flown very high then dropped to test and practice how the actual shuttles would negotiate the final few miles of their missions.

While this is pretty disappointing, it is still an incredible piece of engineering and a worthy addition to the Museum. The orbiter is the Size of a 737 Airliner but much chunkier and more robust.

The Pavillion that houses the Orbiter has several other items on Display all related to Space Exploration, There is the Aurora 7 Capsule retrieved by the Intrepid, A Soyuz Descent capsule that has returned from the ISS, and various other artifacts such as Space Suites and Control Panels from the Craft.

The Whole Intrepid Museum would be worth visiting in our eyes without the Shuttle Pavilion and we would happily pay just to visit the Shuttle so to get both is outstanding value and whether you are gazing up as the orbiter towers above you or you climb up to view the Shuttle “eye to eye” The Shuttle Pavillion is a must-see and fantastic addition to the Museum.

Concorde Pavilion

One of the most iconic planes ever built was the Concorde. The Delta-Wing shape and pointy nose are more recognizable than any other design of Aircraft. Even people with Zero Aviation knowledge or interest will pick the Concorde out of a line-up.

And with good reason. This is the civilian equivalent of the SR-71 Blackbird (in theory, there is no actual relation). Almost nothing apart from the SR-71 could fly as fast or as high as the Concorde, however, the Concorde did it in STYLE! This is pretty much the only way you could jet across the Atlantic, on the edge of space at twice the speed of sound while sipping Champagne!

It really was the ultimate in Luxury and Technological Advancement. It is fairly realistic to think we will never see the likes of this Jet again (although there are moves to reintroduce supersonic flight). A true Icon of the Air.

The British Airways Concorde that sits on the Dock next to Intrepid is one of three on display in the USA. It was the Plane that set the record for transatlantic Crossing and spent more time in the air than any other concord.

Tours can be booked to explore the cockpit (Currently unavailable due to Covid) and the Hallowed First Class Cabin.

USS Growler – Submarine

The Final Exhibit is the USS Growler, a Diesel Electric Submarine. Growler was a nuclear attack submarine armed with Cruise Missiles with Nuclear Warheads. She served as a nuclear deterrent against the USSR during the Cold War.

This Class of submarine was pretty unsuccessful and the Navy soon abandoned The Cruise Missile Submarine in Favour of Ballistic Missiles (Polaris). However, this is the ONLY Nuclear Submarine on display in the US.

Tours take you below decks to see the bowels of the submarine and how the crew would live for months at a time as they patrolled unknown swathes of Ocean, ready to deliver the ultimate delivery to their enemies, safe in the knowledge they would probably have no home left to return to should the call ever come!

While this class is extremely rare and unsuccessful, it is only the delivery system that has changed, the life and times of the crew remained pretty much the same for subsequent Nuclear Subs, and as such the Growler gives you a great insight as to how these Seamen carried out their duties.

Is the The Intrepid Sea, Air, And Space Museum Worth it?

The Intrepid Museum offers a huge selection of really important and interesting exhibits. The Ship is incredible in itself and some of the Planes aboard are examples of childhood dreams. The inclusion of the Shuttle, Concorde, and the Growler as “Extras” adds huge amounts to the Value of the Museum.

Even people less interested in Military history will still enjoy the experience. Exploring a giant Aircraft Carrier is not something many people get to experience and even the views from the flight decks are “almost worth” the entry fee…almost.

Our only reservation is how much this ranks as a great “New York” Attraction. As we mentioned above it took a few visits to New York before we made it to the Museum simply as there were too many “must-see” things to get to before the Museum. While this is one of our favorite things to visit in the City we are lucky that we have seen and done almost every attraction, most several times, so we are not in the position of sacrificing something else to visit the Intrepid. It is hard to justify recommending missing out on one of New Yorks’s most Iconic Attractions to see the Museum, which is larger unrelated to the City.

The Empire State, Rockefeller, Statues Cruise, The Met, MoMA, AMNH, Central Park, and the 911 Museum are all New York Icons and cannot be missed, so finding time to head to Intrepid can be tricky on a short visit. Of course, Die-Hard Military Buffs, or kids with a deep passion for all things military may feel the sacrifice is worth it, others less so.

There is also the issue of fairly steep prices for kids to visit. Many New York Museums have pretty cheap (or just FREE) prices for kids but the Intrepid is a fairly modest discount. This makes visiting as a family pretty pricey. Definitely consider one of the Attraction Passes as you have the ability to save hundreds of dollars on your Visit to New York

Have Your Say

Let us know your thoughts on the Intrepid Museum? How did you find the Experience? What were your favorite exhibits? Which parts did you find Disappointing? Whatever you have to say lets us know in the comments below. And if you have any questions just fire away.

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