Military historians, ghost hunters, and swing dancers meet aboard the USS Hornet museum (Ferry Point, Alameda, 510/521-8448, www.uss-hornet.org , daily 10 a.m.–4 p.m., adults $14, students/seniors/military $12, children $6) moored at the former naval base in Alameda . Small by comparison to modern aircraft carriers, the Hornet doesn’t seem so small when you stand on the hangar deck staring at the half-dozen planes and helicopters displayed as part of the museum.
Several open decks reveal to curious crawlers what cramped, steel-clad life was like aboard the Constitution-class carriers. (Bring a map; it’s easy to get lost in the mazelike lower decks.) Claustrophobic visitors can spend their time up on the flight deck or touring “the island,” imagining what it must have been like to experience the stress and action of one plane launching off the carrier every 45 seconds, all day long.
The Hornet is reputed to be one of the most haunted structures in the Bay Area , with the ghosts of sailors who lost their lives on duty floating through their favorite spots onboard ship. Most ghost activity seems to occur at night, and overnight visits and flashlight tours are available (check the website for dates and times). Finally, the Hornet acts as a local dance hall and event center for Alameda , hosting swing dance soirees and holiday parties on a regular basis.