The very first year that we traveled, we discovered the National Museum of the Pacific War, and the Admiral Nimitz Museum. Located in the Texas Hill Country, in Fredericksburg, TX, this is a must stop for history buffs and roadschoolers!
The National Museum of the Pacific War has 3 distinct parts, all included in the reasonable ticket fees, and (best of all) tickets are good for two days, so you have plenty of time to explore the entire museum!
The main entrance to the National Museum of the Pacific War is located right off of Main Street, on E. Austin, and ample, free parking is available.
Right inside the entrance to the museum, is the museum gift shop where we have picked up some really unique gifts over the years.
Outside the museum, between the Admiral Nimitz section of the museum, and the main building, is the Plaza of the Presidents. The Plaza of the Presidents is a tribute to the 10 presidents, successively, who served in WWII. There is a plaque for each president, from Franklin Roosevelt through George H.W. Bush, which tells which branch of the military they were in, and what their part in WWII was.
The Admiral Nimitz portion of the museum is named for Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, was selected as Commander in Chief for the Pacific Fleet. Admiral Nimitz successfully halted the Japanese advance, and shifted the United States forces from being on the defense to being on the offense. Admiral Nimitz was one of the United States officers that signed for the US when the Japanese signed their formal surrender at the close of the war.
Admiral Nimitz was born and raised here in Fredericksburg, and the Admiral Nimitz Museum is housed in his grandfather’s hotel, where he was raised. Admiral Nimitz’s grandfather had been a seaman in the German Merchant Marine, turned Texas Ranger, then served as a Confederate Captain in the Civil War. Nimitz’s grandfather had a powerful influence on (Admiral) Nimitz while he was growing up, and taught him about the sea long before Admiral Nimitz would serve on it.
The Admiral Nimitz Museum is located right on Main Street, and there are quaint shops lining both sides of the street! Great options are available for a lunchtime break between exploring the different areas of the museum!
The majority of the museum is indoors, so it is an excellent destination no matter the weather.
The main building for the museum is called the George W. Bush Gallery. One of the boys’ favorite parts of the museum is the Pearl Harbor room.
There is a mini-sub in this room; the morning of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a mini sub was sunk by one of our destroyers on patrol. The US already knew that Japan was spying on us, what they didn’t know was that there were 4 other mini-subs also in or near the harbor reporting on our ships whereabouts.
The Pearl Harbor room lays out the happenings on that dreadful day of December 7, 1941 through news flashes printed on the walls. It is sobering and interesting at the same time.
The museum is very well organized, with well done exhibits and attention to detail.
The museum’s focus is on educating about the Pacific Theater, so all exhibits and displays are about that area of action. The boys loved this simulation of the battle of Okinawa…
The museum is full of full sized machinery: tanks, jeeps, airplanes, and guns. There are also monitors throughout the museum that play war footage and documentary films.
Displays are organized into different sections based on battles and/or countries, making it easier to understand what happened during the war.
The museum is great for all ages! Caleb spent the day there with the boys and came home stoked to tell me about the ships. and airplanes. and jeeps. and tanks. Even at 3, he loved it!
A mock submarine room gives you the feel of being in a sub – the periscopes show a Japanese Yamato class battleship in the distance…
Could you imagine your country being at war, and having all schools cancelled so that the students, even down to the 6 year olds, assigned to work in different factories and assignments to further the war efforts?
Iwo Jima is always of interest to the boys – they love learning new details about our role on the island.
Yes, there was a staggering loss of life in the Pacific Theater.
While some families don’t ‘enjoy’ taking their kids to military destinations I think that it’s important that my children know our nation’s past, our part in fighting injustice, and our role in defending ourselves and our allies.
If my children don’t understand what has happened in the past, they won’t truly understand who our nation is now, or see what she is becoming. They (and we) can learn a lot about who we are becoming by looking at other nations in the past.
For us, experiencing living history through visiting historical sites and military museums across the country is a large part of our roadschooling. We hope that it gives our children some small picture of our countries history, and the sacrifices that have been made to achieve, and keep, the freedoms that we still have today.
The main part of the museum is located directly across from the Fredericksburg Visitor’s Center, on East Austin St. The visitor’s center is an excellent resource for finding great destinations to visit in the area, and they also have some interesting displays that highlight the German heritage that is still influential in the area.
If you’d like to learn more about the National Museum of the Pacific War, you can find their website at PacificWarMuseum.org.
And if you would like to explore other great destinations for your trip through Hill Country, check out the visitor’s bureau site at VisitFredericksburgTX.com.
We hope you love Texas Hill Country as much as we do!