US Naval Academy – Annapolis, MD

Prior to going to Spain and Venice for a few weeks of experience-seeking we stopped by the US Naval Academy for a weekend.  It also happened to be my 30-year reunion since graduating from there in 1986.

Not only did we get to see the Midshipmen play UConn (Navy won of course) we also got a chance to do a couple expert-guided walking tours of the Naval Academy Yard.  While most colleges have "campuses" Navy calls its campus "The Yard" a traditional naval term.

One thing we always do in every town is get expert guided tours.  There's something to having a local expert who knows the history of a place and can give insights that you don't get from other sources.  Another advantage, is you get to find out what other things you might want to see.  This is the reason we always do the walking tours on our first day when visiting a city.

Naval Academy Chapel

One of the most beautiful and public buildings you can enter at the Naval Academy is the Chapel.  It's a beautiful building shaped like a cross from above.

Naval Academy Chapel Dome
Naval Academy Chapel Dome

The inside of the chapel is as beautiful as any European cathedral, even though it was only built in the 19th century.  While religious services used to be mandatory, by the time I got there in the 1980s there was no mandatory service.

USNA Chapel
USNA Chapel

The Naval Academy Chapel is a must-see place if you are ever in Annapolis -- not necessarily because of the chapel, but because what's beneath it.

John Paul Jones Crypt!

John Paul Jones Crypt
John Paul Jones Crypt

This is what you need to know about John Paul Jones -- he was most likely the most badass ship Captain ever.  Real or fictional.  Captain James T Kirk has nothing on this guy.  He's known as the father of the US Navy, but he was an incredible person who did amazing things.

John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones

He commanded seven different ships, and almost single-handedly led to winning the sea war with England during the Revolutionary War.  In one battle, his ship was sinking because of fire from an enemy British vessel, but he was able to get the British Captain to surrender and they took over their ship while his sunk and they took the entire British crew captive!

This is the famous battle where he was quoted as saying "I have not yet begun to fight!"

Bancroft Hall

Noon meal formation USNA
Noon meal formation USNA

This amazing building not only is the largest dormitory in the world, housing 4,500 Midshipmen, it also has a massive dining hall that feeds the entire Brigade in one sitting.  It has stores, barber shops, rifle ranges, bowling alleys, medical and dental facilities.  All in one massive building.

Rotunda Bancroft Hall
Rotunda Bancroft Hall

While most of what's inside Bancroft Hall is off limits to anyone but Midshipmen, there is are a few cool areas you have to check out.

First of all you can go inside the Rotunda.  There is no building at any other US College that compares to the Rotunda of Bancroft Hall.  You can access a sample Midshipman room, and enter Smoke Hall, another beautiful 19th century designed room.

Smoke Hall USNA
Smoke Hall USNA

Basically, if you can swing some kind of tour inside Bancroft Hall, do it.  It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I was fortunate to live there for 4 years and I remember thinking every day how lucky I was to be there.

Tecumseh

Tecumseh is the figurehead from the old ship the USS Delaware.  It's not the original; it's a bronze replica.  Basically, he's known as "The God of 2.0" which is the GPA Midshipmen need to graduate.  He's also painted up for home football games, and we were fortunate to get our picture with him that weekend!

Tecumseh
Tecumseh in war paint

We had a great time in Annapolis and highly recommend a day there if you are in the Washington, DC area.