Places to Go

Monitor National Marine Sanctuary is located 16 miles off the coast of North Carolina, and the Monitor wreck rests at a depth of 240 feet. With that in mind, visiting the sanctuary can be a challenge. However, there are many places that offer an immersive experience into the history of the shipwreck, all without getting wet.

In the Outer Banks

Coastal North Carolina is an extraordinary place with strong ties to the marine environment. Surrounded by water, the Outer Banks of North Carolina are a chain of narrow barrier islands separating the Currituck, Albemarle, and Pamlico sounds from the Atlantic Ocean. This dynamic environment has shaped the islands and its people for centuries.


Visitors to coastal North Carolina's Outer Banks have many opportunities to learn about the history of the USS Monitor and the National Marine Sanctuary System. Be sure to check out the various museums and historic sites with exhibits telling our story.

OBX Maritime Heritage Trail

No matter if you are physically visiting the Outer Banks or exploring online from your living room, we invite you to check out the Outer Banks Maritime Heritage Trail. Here you will find videos and oral histories that take you along Highway 12 to learn more about World War I and World War II off the North Carolina coast and about the many iconic places and features that make the Outer Banks unique.

From the lighthouses to the wildlife to the shipwrecks offshore, the Outer Banks culture reflects the surrounding marine environment. Take a trip down this stretch of road and experience the maritime heritage of the Outer Banks of North Carolina through videos, oral histories, pictures, and stories.

Downloadable video files and captioned versions

Educational Activities

Students experience the unique maritime culture of the Outer Banks, North Carolina, when they watch one or all eleven video clips and listen to the oral histories of those who experienced World War II on the shores of the Outer Banks. Each video and oral history is accompanied by supporting activities and a set of focus questions, to be answered while the students view the video or listen to the oral histories.

Download the educational activity packet

Along the East Coast: Monitor Trail Signs

From its conception to construction, from the battle to sinking, and from discovery to recovery and conservation, the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor is truly a revolutionary vessel.

Today, a series of trail signs dot the landscape along the East Coast from New York to North Carolina telling Monitor’s story. Find where these trail signs are located and learn more about the history of the USS Monitor, its crew, and all those who work to honor and protect it today.

Trail Signs:

Syracuse, New York

After the construction of the USS Monitor, other turreted ships were produced. One such ship was the double turreted monitor-type ironclad, USS Onondaga. Built at the Continental Ironworks in Greenpoint, New York, Onondaga was named by U.S. Representative Charles Baldwin Sedgwich of Syracuse, New York.

Monitor trail sign from Syracuse, New York

Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York

In 1859, Thomas Fitch Rowland established the Continental Works at this site in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York. When the Civil War began, the company was engaged by John Ericsson to build a “shot-proof steam battery.” On October 25, 1861, the keel for the ironclad was laid and construction began on the ship that Ericsson named Monitor. Just 98 days later, Monitor launched on January 30, 1862.

Monitor trail sign from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York

Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia

During the Peninsula Campaign in the Spring of 1862, a variety of innovative weapons saw action. But nothing captured the public’s attention more than the ironclad warships, in particular the USS Monitor. After its epic duel with the CSS Virginia at Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862, Monitor next found fame at Drewry’s Bluff during the battle on May 15.

Monitor trail sign from Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia

Newport News, Virginia

  • Overlook Park
    • Day 1: The CSS Virginia was slow and unwieldy, but this Confederate ironclad had one of the most destructive maiden voyages in history. In less than eight hours, Virginia attacked the entire Union fleet in Hampton Roads, sinking four vessels, capturing a transport, and damaging four other warships.
      Monitor trail sign from Overlook Park
    • Day 2: As the news spread of the impending clash of ironclads, northerners and southerners alike lined the shores of Hampton Roads to watch the March 9, 1862 battle. The battle that day left neither Monitor nor Virginia seriously damaged. Both sides claimed victory, and historians called the battle a draw, but one clear winner was ironclad technology.
    • Monitor trail sign from Overlook Park
  • The Mariners’ Museum and Park: In 1987, NOAA selected The Mariners’ Museum as the principal repository for the conservation and preservation of USS Monitor artifacts. The museum’s state-of-the-art Batten Conservation Laboratory Complex, where thousands of Monitor artifacts are conserved, opened in 2006. In 2007, in partnership with NOAA, the museum opened the USS Monitor Center where visitors of all ages can learn the complete story of the USS Monitor.
    Monitor trail sign from Mariner's Museum

Beaufort, North Carolina

In August 1973, John G. Newton of the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort, North Carolina, led an interdisciplinary team of distinguished scientists in search of the USS Monitor. In 1974, it was confirmed that they had indeed found the USS Monitor.

Monitor trail sign from Beaufort, North Carolina