A Brief History of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD

Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD
Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD | © m01229 / Flickr
Kristina Gaddy

Located in Annapolis, Maryland, the United States Naval Academy is one of the most elite schools in the country, and also has a unique history. Learn more about this special training school for the Navy, and how it found a home in Maryland’s capital city.

Since the Revolutionary War and the beginnings of the U.S. Navy, the government knew that they would need a way to train young sailors. After a bizarre journey where some naval apprentices tried to mutiny the training ship they were on in 1842, the government saw even more clearly that the young men (since only men were allowed) couldn’t just jump into practical training. By 1845, Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft had found a place in Annapolis, Maryland’s capital not far from Washington, D.C., where the midshipmen, or cadets, could train to become Naval officers.

Annapolis, Maryland

In 1850, the school was officially named the United States Naval Academy (USNA) and became more of a college, requiring four years of schooling plus practical training aboard ships in the summer. However, it wasn’t until 1933 that the school could officially award Bachelors of Science degrees. In 1976, the school accepted the first female midshipmen, and today, they make up about 20% of the first-year class.

Although the USNA is a college, it has a unique culture. To even apply, you must be nominated by a U.S. Representative or Senator from your district, and acceptance to the school is notoriously selective. However, once you are accepted, tuition is fully funded by the Navy. First-year students or freshmen are called “plebes,” and a series of rituals have developed that include climbing a greased monument on campus, dressing a goat in blue and gold, and a graduation hat-toss.

Climbing a greased monument is just one ritual at the USNA

You can visit the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center on the Naval Academy’s campus. However, due to security concerns, you must have government-issued identification, and unless you have a USNA ID or Department of Defense credentials, you must walk in through the main gate. The visitor center will give you an overview of the Naval Academy, and you can also take guided walking tours of the campus. Nearby, the U.S. Naval Academy Museum displays historical artifacts and interprets the history of the U.S. Navy and the Academy.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.