22 Fun & Best Things to Do in Norfolk, Virginia

22 Fun & Best Things to Do in Norfolk, Virginia

The coastal metropolis of Norfolk, Virginia, sits a brief three miles east of Portsmith and 19 miles west of Virginia Beach. It is protected by the Lafayette River to the north and the south department of the Elizabeth River.

Norfolk is called a Military city primarily as a result of it’s residence to the world’s most intensive naval base. It can be the placement of the North American Headquarters for NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. 

USA Today lists town as a Top 10 booming downtown, recognizing the superb and limitless alternatives for continued progress and small enterprise success. But this small Chesapeake Bay metropolis is a lot extra. It is the best combination of historic significance and seaside allure.

And who couldn’t admire a metropolis with 13 canine parks and a cruise ship pier?  Norfolk has over 68 neighborhood parks and miles of intercity and coastal trails. One of the distinctive trails is the Cannon Ball Trail, permitting hikers to observe a self-guided tour reviewing 400 years of American historical past.

For people who love scavenger hunts, Norfolk is residence to the Mermaids, over two dozen Mermaid statues that pepper town.

If you might be fortunate sufficient to be within the metropolis in the course of the Virginia Arts Festival don’t miss the annual Virginia International Tattoo. Roughly 1000 navy musicians, from bagpipers to drill and drum corps, exhibit inventive excellence on this colourful show.

Norfolk is a good place to go to for historical past buffs and artwork lovers. It has over ten maritime museums, together with Nauticus Maritime Museum, that includes the WWII warship – U.S.S. Wisconsin.

The Chrysler Museum of Art homes glass artwork, and the Children’s Museum of Virginia is the state’s largest youngsters’s museum. For plant lovers, the Norfolk Botanical Garden covers practically 175 acres with a Children’s Adventure Garden the place youngsters of all ages can discover the world’s biomes.

A preferred Norfolk attraction is the Virginia Zoo — residence to lions, tigers, birds, and bears. Every as soon as and some time, you might hear somebody referred to as a Norfolk Dumpling – that is an endearment referring to the flour dumplings, which have been an area meals staple.

But town’s meals scene has come a great distance from flour and water. Norfolk’s Waterfront District has many top-notch eating places, espresso retailers, bars, and even a baseball stadium on the river.

If you might be planning to go to Norfolk, the attraction cross and discount book have reductions and free passes to quite a few enjoyable locations to go to in Norfolk for a weekend or every week.


  • Most important landmark – Fort Norfolk
  • Best park – Town Point Park
  • Best free exercise – Chrysler Museum of Art
  • Best factor to do for youths – Children’s Museum of Virginia
  • Best factor to do for adults – Freemason Abbey Restaurant
  • Best meals – 456 Fish
  • Best nightlife – American Rover Sailing Cruises
  • Best all-around lodging – Glass Light Hotel & Gallery

Best and Fun Things to do in Norfolk, Virginia

1. Nauticus National Maritime Center

Address:  1 Waterside Drive, Norfolk, VA 23510

Norfolk’s landmark, the Nauticus National Maritime Center, has as its major exhibit the U.S.S. Wisconsin, a WWII warship. Visitors can view the BB-64 Iowa class battleship Wisconsin by way of a self-guided tour. The ship, nicknamed Wisky, was commissioned in 1944 and served within the South Pacific,Iwo Jima, Philippines, and Okinawa, Japan. Special guided excursions deal with intimate areas of the ship, such because the 90-minute Guided Command and Control Tour, which visits the captain’s cabin and the navigation bridge.

The museum additionally has tons of of reveals, from Naval History to artillery and sailor artifacts. Another standard tour, the Engine Room Tour, permits guests to expertise the engine room within the bowels of this highly effective vessel. 

If you might be searching for lodging close to the museum, the four-star Hilton Norfolk The Main gives simple waterfront entry and views of the river.

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2. Virginia Zoo

Address:  3500 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA 23504

The Virginia Zoo is a captivating place. Home to over 700 animals from 150 totally different species, such because the African giraffes, pancake tortoise, and Asian crimson pandas, the Virginia Zoo gives enjoyable and pleasure for all ages.

Perched on the Layaffette River, the Virginia Zoo additionally gives behind-the-scenes excursions that permit a better take a look at the animals. Learn the right way to feed and look after the Masai giraffe or pleasure of African lions. 

Wander the reveals or experience the zoo practice to see the white rhinos or black and white tigers. The zoo can be residence to eleven specialty gardens, from a Pollinator backyard and a Hummingbird backyard to an Observation Bee Hive.

After roaming the zoo, take a couple of minutes to peruse the Eggleston Garden Center and Farmer’s Market subsequent door. 

Tired of strolling? Try a family-friendly meal on the Dirty Buffalo, with six totally different sorts of Mac and Cheese and all kinds of wings.  

3. Chrysler Museum Of Art

Chrysler Museum Of Art Architecture

Address:  Chrysler Museum of Art, 1 Memorial Pl, Norfolk, VA 23510

The Chrysler Museum of Art is situated close to the Mowbry Arch Conservation Area. It gives over 50 galleries and 30,000 works courting again 5,000 years. Visitors will discover glass collections, a superb arts gallery, and an African artwork gallery.

There are additionally work and sculptures by worldwide artists. Galleries are devoted to Egyptian, Pre-Columbian, Islamic, and American modern artwork. It takes a number of hours to wander by way of this Norfolk treasure, and the most effective half? The museum is free to the general public.

The Chrysler’s glass assortment homes roughly 104 Tiffany glass and lamps and Chihuly, an American glass artist well-known for creating larger-than-life blown glass sculptures. And the visible arts studio, the Perry Glass Studio, gives courses and demonstrations, reminiscent of glass-blowing. 

Spending the day looking these magnificent reveals works up an urge for food. And when visiting the Hampton Roads space, crabs and crabcakes are the issues. Wicker’s Crab Pot Seafood is only some minutes from the Chrysler. And the all-suite lodge, the Residence Inn Norfolk Downtown, is just a few quick miles from a number of artwork museums for a fast relaxation and refresh.

See Related: Best Museums within the US You Need to Visit

4. Elizabeth River Trail

Elizabeth River Trail Scenery

Address: 101 W Main Street #1000A, Norfolk, VA 23510

The Elizabeth River Trail in Norfolk is without doubt one of the finest methods to expertise the Norfolk Waterfront. It options 10.5 miles of paths that reach from Norfolk State University Sentara Loop and the Freemason District, by way of the Downtown Waterfront District to Amtrack’s Terminal Boulevard. 

It connects 28 neighborhoods, together with Norfolk’s working waterfront, historic landmarks, standard points of interest, eating places, and parks. There are even designated Wi-Fi areas and Bike-Fix-it Stations alongside the path.

ADA accessible to hikers, bikers, and walkers, locals think about the paved path to be among the best bike path techniques in Virginia. The path is curated and maintained by the Elizabeth River Trail Foundation.

Immediately adjoining to this iconic Waterfront Trailhead is the Norfolk Waterside Marriott, which gives full facilities and easy accessibility to landmarks and downtown leisure.

5. Norfolk Botanical Garden

Norfolk Botanical Garden Scenery

Address:  6700 Azalea Garden Road, Norfolk, VA 23518,

The Norfolk Botanical Garden is Virginia’s largest Botanical Garden. Adjacent to the Norfolk International Airport, the gardens are housed on 175 acres that may be explored by strolling the grounds or taking a guided strolling tour. 

Several guided excursions spotlight seasonal gardens, a youngsters’s backyard that features a plant safari, and an journey backyard. Another strategy to be taught concerning the park’s historical past and plant variety is to take a Narrated Tram Tour. 

One of the extra distinctive gardens is the W.P.A. Memorial Garden, impressed by the work carried out within the late Thirties and early Forties with the Works Progress Administration grant, which is a must-see. The W.P.A. grant financially supported African American girls who labored to rework a Virginia swamp into a phenomenal azalea backyard.

These lovely gardens are additionally residence to a singular assortment of statues and superb artwork. Within the customer’s heart are rotating work. And items by Moses Ezekiel, circa 1800, complement modern bronzes by Virginia natives William H. and David H. Turner.

While meandering, cease by the Marigold & Honey Café and the zoo present store for a fast refreshment. A visit to the Norfolk Botanical Garden combines historical past, horticulture, and artwork, and undoubtedly one of many high issues to do in Norfolk.

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6. Children’s Museum of Virginia

Address:  221 High St, Portsmouth, VA 23704

The Children’s Museum of Virginia is the biggest youngsters’s museum within the state of Virginia and the highest and the most effective factor to do in Norfolk. It is situated in Olde Town Portsmouth, simply throughout Berkeley Bridge. 

The museum’s planetarium is complemented by everchanging hands-on interactive actions that discover house. And the onsite vintage toy and mannequin practice assortment is without doubt one of the East Coast’s most intensive. 

Visitors can play on the bubble-blowing station or take pleasure in devices on the music retailer. In addition, youngsters can climb across the full-sized tugboat, metropolis bus, and hearth engine. As you head again over the bridge into Norfolk, seize the child’s a few scorching canines or hamburgers at Famous Al’s Hot Dogs. 

7. Hermitage Museum and Gardens

Address:  7637 N Shore Road, Norfolk, VA 23505

Hermitage Museum and Gardens is a phenomenal artwork museum advanced in Norfolk, Virginia. It options superb artwork and sculpture courting again 5,000 years.

The museum is housed on the Sloane property, an 1895 Arts and Crafts type summer season residence on the banks of the inside Lafayette River close to Lafayette Park. The 12-acre property slowly transitioned to the Sloane Family’s principal residence.

The Hermitage boasts over 40,000 objects. The Sloane Collection, the household’s artwork assortment, contains extraordinary work by modern artists reminiscent of Charles Hawthorne, Eugene Francis Savage, and Helen Turner. In reality, the Hermitage is the one largest holding of Helen Turner’s works. 

The property is surrounded by a waterfront path and several other gardens, together with a grotto and sunken backyard. The Hermitage Museum and Gardens is a high attraction in Norfolk.

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8. Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

Address: Norfolk VA

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is a marvel of engineering and a should for anybody who loves tunnels. It crosses the mouth of the Bay between Delmarva and Hampton Roads. The bridge changed ferries that might transport visitors between the 2 shores.

With 17.6 miles of bridges and two one-mile-long tunnels, the CBBT is one in all solely 14 bridge-tunnel techniques worldwide and one in all three in Hampton Roads. It is a shortcut between Washington and Baltimore through U.S. 13.

On the CBBT’s west aspect is a scenic relaxation cease the place guests can benefit from the many chicken species that relaxation on the bridge. Bird fans collect on the bridge with permission to search for over ten totally different avian species identified emigrate by way of the realm.

9. Town Point Park

Town Point Park Aerial View

Address:  113 Waterside Drive, Norfolk, VA 23510

Town Point Park is a seven-acre metropolis park on the river in Norfolk, Virginia. It is situated downtown, adjoining to Nauticus Maritime Museum and the usS. Wisconsin. The Elizabeth River Trail runs by way of Town Point Park. And the inexperienced house hosts main out of doors concert events and celebrations, together with Norfolk Harborfest and the 4th of July.

The park can be residence to the Armed Forces Memorial. This distinctive bronze options 20 letters residence from U.S. service folks, all of whom died throughout numerous conflicts from the American Revolution to the Operation Desert Storm.

A number of blocks from Town Point Park is the Norfolk Waterside District, a marina-based advanced with a number of informal eateries and pubs. Or, for one thing within the space however a bit extra formal, strive 219 Bistro, an upscale New American eatery.

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10. Hampton Roads Naval Museum

Hampton Roads Naval Museum

Address:  1 Waterside Drive, Suite 248, Norfolk, VA 23510

The Hampton Roads Naval Museum is a high Norfolk vacationer attraction. The museum is adjoining to Town Point Park and Nauticus, a part of a ten-interrelated Navy museums community.

Hampton Roads is the delta of water the place the Elizabeth and James Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay meet and move into the Atlantic Ocean. At the tip of the Hampton Roads peninsula is the Naval Station Norfolk. It dominates the waterfront extending all through Willoughby Bay.

This intimate museum is free and devoted to the half Hampton Roads performed in help of the United States Navy all through the nation’s historical past. It options ships, fashions & artifacts. Be positive to maintain the Hampton Roads Naval Museum as a museum to go to when in Norfolk.

11. Hunter House Victorian Museum

Address:  240 W Freemason Street, Norfolk, VA 23510

Constructed for entrepreneur James Wilson Hunter and his household, this stately residence now serves because the  Hunter House Victorian Museum. The Hunter House Victorian Museum, situated in Norfolk’s Freemason Historic District, is an beautiful instance of ornamental arts and furnishings. It offers a glimpse of upper-class life within the early 1900s.

A nationwide historic treasure, the 1894 Richardsonian Romanesque residence homes Victorian furnishings and objects belonging to Hunter’s household. Guided excursions of the power present a deeper glimpse into the world and schooling of the Hunter youngsters and the philanthropic deeds of the household. The Hunter House additionally holds particular occasions, teas, and literary applications.

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12. Moses Myers House

Address:  323 E Freemason Street, Norfolk, VA 23510

The Moses Myers House was the house of Jewish-American entrepreneur Moses Myers. The home, inbuilt 1792, is an instance of late Federal interval structure and the stylingsof the higher enterprise class in nineteenth Century America. Surprisingly, the Moses household have been the one Jewish folks within the area for greater than a decade.

Moses Myers established Myers & Company. This household enterprise was one of many metropolis’s antebellum companies — serving to to rebuild Norfolk after the Civil War. Curated by the Chrysler Art Museum, the Moses Myers House is stuffed with interval furnishings and private belongings of over 5 generations of Moses relations. 

After a day of artwork and historical past, a number of eating places within the space provide steak and seafood. The upscale 456 Fish is a singular eatery that provides refined seafood, craft beers, and cocktails. 

13. Harrison Opera House

Harrison Opera House

Address:  160 W Virginia Beach Boulevard, Norfolk, Virginia 23510

Housed in an previous World War II USO theater, the Harrison Opera House offers seating for roughly 1,632. The Edythe C. and Stanley L. Harrison Opera House is lavishly adorned with glittering chandeliers, grand staircases, and champagne tables. But it maintains its intimacy with small tables and personal nooks all through the constructing.

The Harrison Opera House is residence to the Virginia Opera, which has been named The Official Opera Company of the Commonwealth of Virginia. A mecca for operatic college students and stars, the corporate performs a mixture of conventional and modern works all through the state.

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14. Freemason Abbey Restaurant

Address:  209 W Freemason Street, Norfolk, VA 23510

The Freemason Abbey Restaurant sits in an previous 1873 Second Presbyterian Church and is without doubt one of the high Norfolk vacationer points of interest. It can be constantly voted as one of many high eating places within the metropolis. 

The distinctive stained glass home windows are authentic works from the Freemason Abbey, giving the tavern an environment of old-world informal class. The restaurant serves lunch, brunch, and dinner with sandwiches, steaks, and pasta and is a good place to cease after a efficiency on the Virginia Stage Company.

In addition to implausible meals and ambiance, one of many attracts of the Freemason Abbey Restaurant is that it’s supposedly haunted. Reports of paranormal exercise are frequent. There are even experiences of a darkish determine wandering all through the restaurant — if you happen to imagine in these kinds of issues.

15. MacArthur Memorial

MacArthur Memorial Museum Architecture
Bryan Pollard /

Address:  198 Bank Street, Norfolk, VA 23510

The MacArthur Memorial was as soon as Norfolk’s City Hall. It was inbuilt 1847 and is a two-story, Greek Revival-style constructing with six huge Tuscan order columns. The constructing advanced is now the tomb of General Douglas MacArthur and his spouse. 

The MacArthur Memorial features a theater, museum, customer heart, and analysis heart. Numerous reveals and navy objects are housed all through the museum. The museum’s collections element General MacArthur’s half in shaping the United States on the International stage. 

Douglas MacArthur was a United States Army General within the Spanish American War, World War I and II, the Occupation of Japan, and the Korean War. He was additionally Chief of Staff of the United States Army.

Once carried out with a day of historical past, it’s time to calm down on the Autograph Collection’s Glass Light Hotel & Gallery, only a few blocks from the General Douglas Macarthur Memorial within the coronary heart of downtown Norfolk. This distinctive lodge is located in a historic 1912 constructing and is thought for top-notch lodging and an fascinating in-house museum.

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16. Harbor Park

Address:  150 Park Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23510

Harbor Park is a 36-acre sprawling sports activities advanced and park situated on the shores of the river. In addition to the Harbor Park Boxing and Fitness Center, the Harbor Park Stadium is residence to the Norfolk Tides.

The Tides are a minor-league baseball staff and an affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The baseball stadium, situated straight on the water, can accommodate over 12,000 spectators.

Harbor Park additionally comprises a phase of the Elizabeth River Trail and an Amtrack Station Stop. About half a mile up the river is the Waterside District. Grab an informal chunk and a pint at Waterside Seafood or a tasty BBQ sandwich with all of the fixings at Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse. 

17. American Rover Sailing Cruises

Address:  333 Waterside Drive, Norfolk, VA 23510,

If you might be nonetheless questioning what to do in Norfolk, Virginia, a number of the metropolis’s high points of interest are crusing harbor cruises aboard the 135-foot, three-masted topsail schooner, the American Rover. The yacht holds roughly 100 folks with shading deck seating. And whereas underway, skilled guides deliver to life the historical past of the waterways and reply any questions.

American Rover Sailing Cruises are a spectacular strategy to view Hampton Roads Harbor or benefit from the night on sundown cruises. Departing from Norfolk’s downtown Waterside Marina, this well-known crusing yacht will be recognized by its iconic crimson sails constituted of crimson tanbark. Each narrated cruise lasts an hour or two hours. 

18. Mural Tour of the NEON District

Address: Granby Street, Norfolk, VA 23510

The NEON District, New Energy of Norfolk, is downtown Norfolk’s official artwork district. A singular neighborhood bordered by East Virginia Beach to the north and E Brambleton Avenue and St. Pauls Boulevard to the south and east.

The web site has an interactive public artwork map of the NEON District murals. The space contains about 50 murals dotted across the streets, partitions, alleyways, indicators, and even streets. Take the self-guided tour, or strive one of many many city tours to make sure you don’t miss any murals. 

There are loads of eclectic locations to seize a chunk, together with Commune, Cairo Bistro & Social, or Zeke’s for a powerhouse cup of gourmand espresso. There are additionally meals vans peppering the realm. Of course, along with the mural stroll, the NEON district has comedy exhibits, artwork galleries, and theater performances.

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19. Ocean View Beach Park

Address: 100 W Ocean View Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23503

Ocean View Beach Park gives entry to implausible seashores in Norfolk, Virginia, with loads of thrilling actions for all ages. Easy water entry permits nice kayaking, shore crusing, and swimming. The park additionally has a boardwalk and band shell for stay music concert events and festivals.

A virtually-seven-acre park within the coronary heart of town has been dubbed “the jewel of Ocean View” by locals. Ocean View lifeguards are on responsibility throughout common summer season enterprise hours. 

Immediately adjoining to the park is the Ocean View Station Museum, an intimate historic take a look at the historical past of the resort. It takes about an hour to browse the objects, artifacts, and pictures, however it’s extremely well worth the time. And just a few blocks away are the Longest Pier Museum and the Ocean View Fishing Pier Restaurant – on the finish of the Ocean View Fishing Pier.

Or, within the different course, additional up the east seaside in the direction of Grove Beach, is The Bold Mariner Brewing Company for a chilly pint or two. Whichever course you stroll, there are various nice locations to calm down and luxuriate in close to Norfolk’s Ocean View Park. There are additionally close by leases to e-book within the space.

20. Pagoda & Oriental Garden

Address:  265 W Tazewell Street, Norfolk, VA 23510

Gifted by the Taiwan Provincial Government, the Pagoda & Oriental Garden is without doubt one of the distinctive issues to see in Norfolk, Virginia. Located on Freemason Harbor in downtown Norfolk, the two-story octagon construction is a Chinese-styled Pagoda. This constructing can be a spectacular marine remark tower overlooking the river.

The surrounding Oriental Garden combines water and stone to create a peaceable city house that mixes the cultures of the East and West. The space is landscaped with bamboo timber, orchids, koi ponds, and distinctive tiled and bronze sculptures.

Facing West, the exquisitely detailed Pagoda is the Oriental Garden’s centerpiece providing panoramic views of the USS Wisconsin and water-framed sunsets. The Pagoda boasts an International restaurant with an Asian flare- “Where East Meets West.”

The Pagoda additionally holds a museum residence to Chinese artifacts and Oriental brush work. The Pagoda Restaurant and Tea House serve day by day meals and afternoon tea.

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21. Basilica of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception

Address:  232 Chapel Street, Norfolk, VA 23504

In the middle of Norfolk is The Basilica of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception. Established in 1791 as St. Patrick’s Church, it’s the oldest parish neighborhood within the Richmond Diocese and is called The Mother Church of Tidewater Virginia. The authentic church was inbuilt 1842 however was destroyed by hearth and rebuilt in 1858.

Having merged with St. Mary’s, this parish serves the encircling African-American neighborhood. In 1991, on the church’s 2 hundredth birthday, it was consecrated as a minor Basilica—one in all 33 within the United States.

It is the one one within the Commonwealth of Virginia. This lovely working cathedral can be the location of a number of archeological excavations of quite a few burials and crypts discovered beneath the primary church construction. 

22. Fort Norfolk

Fort Norfolk Aerial View

Address:   801 Front Street, Norfolk, VA 23510

Fort Norfolk sits on the shores of the Elizabeth River. President George Washington approved this historic landmark in 1794. Currently owned by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the constructing was initially supposed to guard Norfolk in the course of the Battle of 1812.

Later, the earthwork embankments, ramparts, and powder magazines helped save Norfolk in the course of the Civil War. In 1861 it was occupied by Confederate forces to defend Norfolk and Portsmouth. In 1862 the Union Army recaptured the Fort to be used as a jail.

The buildings principally date to 1810, together with the barracks, dungeons, and places of work. Admission is free and open for self-guided excursions. On Sunday, the Norfolk Historical Society offers guided excursions and historic movies. While you might be close to the shipyards, cease by Vessel Craft Coffee for an impressive cup of truthful market brew.


What is the most effective factor to do with youngsters in Norfolk, Virginia?

A visit to the Virginia Zoo is on the high of the checklist. The distinctive habitat-based format offers a house to over 700 animals. Walk the paths or experience a practice to see pandas, tigers, lions, and the Aruba rattlesnake. Kids may even love the Children’s Museum of Virginia. Families can also take pleasure in visiting the Nauticus, a part of a community of naval museums, which options a captivating maritime assortment.

What are some enjoyable issues to do in Norfolk, Virginia?

Taking a strolling tour of the Murals of the NEON District, exploring the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, or visiting downtown Norfolk, are only a few enjoyable issues to do. You may take pleasure in a big part of museums together with the Hampton Roads Naval Museum and the Chrysler Museum of Art.

What are some issues to do in Norfolk, Virginia when it’s raining?

The Norfolk space will get over 114 days of rain annually, so in case you are considering of visiting Norfolk it’s a go thought to have just a few actions to go to when the climate is dreary. Chrysler Museum of Art is a type of nice museums the place you’ll be able to spend the day. There are over 50 galleries and 30,000 artworks, and better of all, no entry payment.

Or a go to to the Hermitage Museum to catch a glimpse of Norfolk’s upper-class Victorian life and wander by way of the limitless superb artwork and sculptures collected by the Slone Family.

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