Our second week of summer started with a visit to the National Museum of the US Navy. The museum is located on the grounds of the Washington Navy Yard which is an active US Naval Base located on the Southern border of DC and on the banks of the Anacostia River. Since the Navy Yard is a working military installation, getting inside takes a bit of effort (i.e. access in only granted through one of the many gates -- the least accessible one, of course; official government ID is required at multiple checkpoints; it is necessary to obtain a visitor's pass and keep it with you at all times; etc.). Ultimately, however, all the jumping through hoops was worth the effort.
Despite the fact that the naval art museum seems to be closed indefinitely (there was a sign that said it would open in early 2012, but that ship has sailed), a fact about which Caleb was supremely disappointed (the kids loves his art!), and that access to the USS Barry is very hit or miss (for us it was miss), we had a very enjoyable afternoon.
The grounds of the Navy Yard are adorned with all manner of cannons and guns from innumerable decommissioned ships and the boys were delighted to play "battle" at each one. The museum itself is well designed and very thorough. It was bursting with intricate ship models and full-size battleship guns that visitors were invited to climb on. There was also an abundance of information about the naval battles of every major (and even some minor) conflict in US maritime history as well as special exhibits devoted to exploring Antarctica and military undersea exploration. Outside there is a park with even more ship parts to climb on and explore.
The boys have insisted that we go back again, but with Daddy next time. So, we likely will. The museum is an excellent indoor activity for rainy and cold days. The day we went was forecast to be stormy -- it wasn't, so we took full advantage of playing indoors and out.