Have gone to this museum repeatedly for over 45 yrs. It has evolved in a mostly good way over the years. Offers more for mature kids up to seniors rather then little ones. You can easily spend a full day in the exhibits. They do have changing exhibits that are usually 6 month runs. There is a permanent display of the Monitor, the Union ironclad that faught the CSA Virginia (better known as the Merrimac to a stalemate. This was the first battle between steel sided ships). The only negative in that display is the outside recreation of the Monitor , which is built to scale , is a bit tired ..showing signs of age and weathering. There are alot of outside boats, anchors cannons etc that give kids a chance to get rid of energy. The Museum is located in a 800 acre park with wonderful woods and trails. Lot of picinic areas as well. There is a 5 mile walk that goes over the property that circles Lake Maury. Even though the area appears flat this trail follows the lake closely so there is alot more up and down then would expect. There are many small wooden bridges that go over the lake and it's coves, you will enjoy depending on time of the year seeing many birds, turtles sunning and even fish at times. Make time to go to the south end of the property after visiting the museum if you don't do the whole trail. There is very nice bridge with massive lions on each end. There is a large statue on one end of the bridge that honors Colis Huntington, one of the original rail barons. Without Colis most likely there would be no N News or N News Shipyard where all of your Navy Carriers are built. The property actually originally belonged to this tycoon, and his son founded the museum 80+ yrs ago. If you find time to go down to the Lion's bridge walk over to far side of the road and you will have a wonderful view of the mouth of the James River ( 5 miles wide at this point). You can look out over the water and view the same view that Capt's Christopher Newport and John Smith had as the original first three english ships to come to America and found a continous English Settlement in 1607. The Pilgrims were more then 10 years later up north. If you are here in mid spring to early summer you may also be treated to seeing soaring Ospreys circling above look for dinner. If you wait a bit you will see these fish hawks dive into the water and often rise with a wiggling fish in their talons as they head to their nearbye nest to feed their young. Lots of blue herons as well.
Having lived off on an on in N Newport for close to 1/2 of my life I would say if you are going to do just one worthwhile thing in the city it would be to spend a 1/2 to full day at the Mariners Museum and it's grounds.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.