705 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602
More in this neighborhood: Channelside
This 1940s-era merchant cargo carrier served during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. It's now being restored as a mariners' memorial, and your donations go to help that cause. You'll often see workers scrubbing, sanding and painting at various places around the ship.
Tours are self-guided and usually not very crowded. You do get a real sense of how men lived and worked on this ship as it delivered supplies to troops. On a hot day, you are especially struck by the glare and heat that bounce off the white decks, so be sure to bring sunglasses if your eyes are sensitive.
A highlight of the tour is climbing up to where the ship's bell is and giving it a good ring. It's a good photo op, too. Another favorite is viewing the galley and dining area, imagining what it must have been like to cook during rough seas. In fact, this is a good place to let imaginative kids role play as sailors. And yes, it's a good place to bring military vets.