U.S. Naval Academy
As you stroll along Annapolis’s 250-year-old brick sidewalks, you may notice hundreds of immaculately attired and groomed young men and women in blindingly white uniforms. These are some of the United States Naval Academy’s 4,400-strong brigade of midshipmen, all of whom will become ensigns in the U.S. Navy (or second lieutenants in the Marine Corps) upon graduation.
The Naval Academy is basically the U.S. Navy’s university, much like West Point is the U.S. Army’s, and it’s a massive leviathan (some 340 acres) of imposing marble buildings and monuments that looms to the northwest of the tidy streets and yacht-filled piers of Annapolis. Security at the Academy is rigorous; armed military guards are a noticeable and constant presence, and getting in for a tour requires a valid photo I.D.
Begin your exploration at the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center (52 King George St., 410/293-8687, www.usna.edu/nafprodv/vc, Mon.–Sat. 9:30 a.m.–3 p.m., Sun. 12:30–3 p.m., reduced winter hours, admission $8.50 adult, $6.50 child, $7.50 senior) where you’ll learn about the exploits of Academy graduates past (like the legendary John Paul Jones) and contemporary (like astronaut Alan Shepard).
The walking tour, which takes an hour and 15 minutes, takes visitors through the Academy’s well-kept grounds and buildings, including massive Bancroft Hall, the world’s largest dormitory—which has its own Memorial Hall, where the names of all Academy graduates who have been killed in action are listed. Time your tour around noon to see the brigade march into formation and inspection; the precision and presence of the marchers is an amazing sight.
And though it’s not part of the main tour, stop by the U.S. Naval Academy Museum (118 Maryland Ave., 410/293-2108, www.nadn.navy.mil/Museum, Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m., free admission), which has a great collection of artifacts, uniforms, fantastically detailed model ships, and maritime maps, prints, and paintings.
© Geoff Brown from Moon Baltimore, 1st Edition