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Visiting The Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park – VIDEO

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The Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park is the largest inland Naval Park in the United States where visitors can learn more about some of the military conflicts the vessels served in and see what ship life was like 40-70 years ago.

Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park USS Little Rock

Located on Buffalo’s Waterfront, this unique family destination also has a restaurant, museum, gift shop, and military exhibits in the main building.

We have visited a few times over the years but hadn’t been in 3 or 4 years so we planned a trip last week.

I bought tickets online and we were checked in quickly when we arrived and given wristbands.

You start your tour on the USS Sullivans. Named in honor of the five Sullivan brothers who lost their lives serving in World War II, it served in both World War II and the Korean War, before being used as a training ship until she was decommissioned on 7 January 1965. In 1977, she and the cruiser USS Little Rock were donated to the Buffalo Naval Park where they have been on display to the public since 1979. Unfortunately in April of 2022, the USS The Sullivans partially sank from a severe hull breach. In the past, you would have been able to go below deck to see the staff quarters and some of the operational spaces. Currently, they are closed. A staff member told me there are plans for it to go into drydock where they will hopefully be able to repair the interior so visitors can tour it again.

Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park USS Little Rock
Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park USS Sullivans Kitchen

The USS Little Rock is the largest ship at the park with lots of spaces to explore. My kids enjoyed seeing the sleeping spaces for the crew and the differences in comfort between the different ranks.

Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park USS Little Rock officers quarters

The tour includes spaces like the mess hall, kitchen, Captain’s office, Officer’s quarters, operating room, and the Brig.

Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park USS Little Rock Mess
Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park USS Little Rock Sleep beds
Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park USS Little Rock captains office

Many of the spaces onboard offer additional education with items like uniforms worn by the crew, some of their belongings, other ships in the class and historical information.

Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park USS Little Rock museum

The USS Croaker is your last stop on the water. Commissioned in 1944, USS Croaker sailed through the treacherous waters of the Pacific theater on six war patrols. Retired in 1971, USS Croaker found a new home at the Buffalo Naval & Military Park in 1988.

Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park USS Croaker

It’s very interesting to see how they fit sleeping quarters(and pretty much everything) onto this ship with its slender design.

For mealtime, the crew had small tables that doubled as gameboards to sit in beside the tiny kitchen.

Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park USS Croaker dining

We met a lovely man who served in the Cold War that gave us some information about the ship and how the crew lived on board. This was a highlight for us because he was able to give us first-hand accounts of things that happened over the 20+ years he served in the Navy. He showed us things about the Submarine that we would never have seen on our own and brought it to life for us. If you get the chance to book a tour with one of the Behind the Scenes Curator Tours that would be the best bet as you get more information and visit spaces on board the USS Little Rock that are not available on any of our other tours.

Outside there are more military equipment exhibits including aircraft, a tank, and the PTF-17 boat.

Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park

If you are planning to visit as a family it’s important to note that the tour route is not stroller friendly and the stairs to move around the ship and transfer between each vessel are very steep. The staircase between USS Little Rock and USS Croaker is not for the faint at heart so it may not be the best option for toddlers or even kids under 5.

Admission was reasonable, parking was ~$5 and there are a couple other attractions in the area you can visit including the waterfront, The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum, Buffalo River History Tours and the Keybank Center.

Lisa Arneill
Lisa Arneill
Canadian mom of 2 busy boys (one with #ASD), photo addict, lover of adventure and wrinkly dogs. Also founder of Growing Your Baby - a parenting website.

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