USS Constitution Museum
The USS Constitution was commissioned and named by George Washington back in 1797; at the time, it was capital ship (a.k.a. one of the navy’s most important warships). The Constitution gained her nickname, Old Ironsides, during the War of 1812, when the ship defeated more than five British warships; after that victory, she became a darling of the public, who fought hard to save her from scrapping and devoted a museum to the ship’s history. Today the ship, which is technically still fully commissioned by the navy, is actually being restored in dry docks, which are open to the public. When it’s not being restored, its permanent home is in Pier 1 at Charlestown Navy Yard, where it can be boarded and explored by visitors to the museum. If you must see ships in the water before Old Ironsides’ makeover is finished, check out the Boston Tea Party Museum’s ingenious replicas at the seaport.