Baton Rouge Bucket List: Visiting the USS Kidd and Veterans Museum

Baton Rouge Bucket List: Visiting the USS Kidd and Veterans Museum
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The USS Kidd is one of Baton Rouge’s most recognizable landmarks. The World War II destroyer has made the capital city its home since 1982, perched languidly on the Mississippi just across from the River Center in downtown Baton Rouge. It’s part of the USS Kidd Veterans Museum, a memorial and museum that details the history of the ship and local veterans.

Since last year the museum has been overseen by director Parks Stephenson. Stephenson’s history with the Kidd began when he dived on its sister ship the USS Johnston — one of the world’s deepest shipwrecks — and he has plenty of exciting plans in mind, many sourced from other leading museums around the world. An engaging exhibit about pirates, relating the story behind the crew’s self-appointed “Pirates of the Pacific” nickname, is his doing. 

“I don’t like the old traditional type of museum where you come in and read a placard and look at a thing,” he told The Advocate last year. “The number one job I see for my role here is to make this place more interactive. We’ve got to make Kidd relevant for the 21st century.”

The USS Kidd rest along the shore at its home at the Veterans Museum on the Mississippi River at on Sunday, May 8, 2022 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Entry to the museum is gained through its main entrance on River Road. There are plenty of exhibits located both upstairs and downstairs, including the Kidd’s history, women in war and Louisiana veterans. While you’re at it, check out the World War II-era Curtiss P-40 fighter, painted in the colors of the famous Flying Tigers, located on the ground floor.

The Kidd itself is, as Stephenson says, “90% pure 1945” in its specifications. It’s one of the world’s most authentic warship tour experiences, an honor that sees visitors travel from all around the world to experience it. When first stepping aboard, being on something that you’ll usually only see while reading historical accounts or watching old and grainy footage is a little surreal.

The sense of exploring a part of history, in other words, is very real. See the spot where a kamikaze pilot hit off Okinawa in April 1945. Peek into the officer’s wardroom (a dining room for commissioned officers) that was turned into a surgery in times of need. Marvel at the ship’s fierce array of weaponry. Check out the radar room. On a light note, keep an eye out for the ice cream machine, which was stolen, likely from another ship by the Kidd’s sailors during the war.

Want to spend a more time onboard? The ship also offers overnight camping for groups of adults and/or children, letting fans both young and old bunk down in the same spot that sailors did 80-odd years ago. 

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Fireworks light up the night sky behind the USS Kidd and over the Mississippi River in downtown Baton Rouge on the Fourth of July in 2021.

When it comes down to it, having the world’s sole remaining period-accurate World War II destroyer in our backyard really is something, isn’t it? 

What to know:

Tickets to the Kidd and the museum can be bought at the museum’s main entrance off River Road. Adults are $14, Military (with ID) $12, Senior citizens $12, and children $10.

Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. Limited free parking is available on River Road outside the museum, while there’s also plenty of parking in the wider area.

Allow at least an hour to see the ship. Visitors can carry out their own self-guided tours at any point, though if you’d like to take a deep dive into the ship’s storied history, guided ones are recommended.

If you’re tall, make sure to watch your head. Many of the entryways are on the shorter side, while tripping hazards are in abundance too. It’ll give you a new appreciation for sailors who had to navigate the ship while being flung around by the wild Pacific Ocean.

Overnight camping is $35 per person for children and adults, while a minimum of 20 people are required to make a reservation. All participants must be at least 6 years old or over. Reservations can be made by calling (225) 342-1942 or requesting a date online.

Interested in learning more? The museum has a very active Facebook page and a terrific YouTube channel.


About Mary Weyand 11096 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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