10 Things to do in Norfolk VA – 2024 Ultimate Guide

Things to Do in Norfolk, VA

Table of Contents

Welcome

Welcome to Norfolk, VA, a vibrant city nestled along the beautiful Chesapeake Bay. Known for its rich history, stunning waterfront views, and diverse cultural scene, Norfolk is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an authentic experience. From exploring historic neighborhoods to enjoying fresh seafood at local eateries, there are endless things to do in Norfolk, VA that cater to every interest. Join us as we uncover the hidden gems and top attractions of this charming city, promising an unforgettable journey filled with discovery and adventure.

Popular Experiences and Attractions

Virginia Zoo:

Essential Information

– Address: 3500 Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23504
– Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas)
– Fee: Adults $15, Children (2-11) $11, Seniors (62+) $13
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours
– Ideal for: Families, animal lovers, nature enthusiasts

Overview

The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, VA, is a must-see destination for those seeking a fun and educational experience. With over 500 animals from around the world, this zoo offers a unique opportunity to observe and learn about diverse species in a naturalistic setting. From majestic lions to playful otters, visitors of all ages can enjoy up-close encounters with a wide variety of wildlife.

One of the highlights of the Virginia Zoo is its commitment to conservation and animal welfare. Through engaging exhibits and interactive programs, guests can gain a deeper understanding of the importance of protecting our planet’s biodiversity. Whether you’re exploring the African savanna or marveling at the tropical birds in the aviary, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at this family-friendly attraction.

So, if you’re looking for a memorable day out surrounded by fascinating creatures and beautiful landscapes, be sure to add the Virginia Zoo to your travel itinerary. It’s a place where entertainment meets education, making it a perfect destination for a day of exploration and discovery.

Norfolk Botanical Garden:

Essential Information

– Address: 6700 Azalea Garden Rd, Norfolk, VA 23518
– Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM daily
– Fee: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $10 for military, $10 for children (3-17)
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours
– Ideal for: Nature lovers, families, photography enthusiasts

Overview

Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, VA is a verdant oasis that offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. With over 60 themed gardens spread across 175 acres, this botanical paradise is a must-see for nature enthusiasts and families alike. The garden’s diverse collection of flora, including azaleas, roses, and native plants, provides a colorful tapestry that changes with the seasons, making it a delightful destination year-round.

Visitors can meander along winding pathways, taking in the beauty of blooming flowers, tranquil water features, and lush greenery. The garden also features a butterfly house, where guests can observe these delicate creatures up close. Whether you’re looking to relax in a peaceful setting, capture stunning photos, or simply appreciate the wonders of the natural world, Norfolk Botanical Garden offers a rejuvenating experience for all who wander its paths.

Nauticus & Battleship Wisconsin:

Essential Information

– Address: One Waterside Drive, Norfolk, VA 23510
– Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Closed on Mondays)
– Fee: Adults $15, Children (ages 4-12) $11
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours
– Ideal for: History buffs, families, and military enthusiasts

Overview

Nauticus & Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA, is a must-see destination for those interested in maritime history and naval heritage. The museum complex offers a fascinating glimpse into the naval prowess of the United States, with a particular focus on the iconic battleship USS Wisconsin. Visitors can explore the massive ship, which served in World War II, the Korean War, and Operation Desert Storm, gaining insight into the life of sailors on board and the ship’s impressive firepower.

Aside from the Battleship Wisconsin, Nauticus itself is a treasure trove of interactive exhibits and displays that showcase the maritime history of the region and the importance of the sea in global trade. From hands-on activities for kids to informative exhibits detailing the science behind the seas, there is something for everyone to enjoy and learn from at this engaging attraction.

Whether you’re a history buff, a military enthusiast, or simply looking for a unique and educational experience, Nauticus & Battleship Wisconsin offers a memorable journey through America’s naval past that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Plan your visit today to delve into the rich maritime heritage that defines Norfolk, VA.

Chrysler Museum of Art:

Essential Information

– Address: One Memorial Place, Norfolk, VA 23510
– Opening Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm
– Fee: Free admission
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours
– Ideal for: Art enthusiasts, families, history buffs

Overview

The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA, is a must-see cultural gem that offers a diverse collection of over 30,000 artworks spanning from ancient times to the present day. With free admission, this museum provides an accessible opportunity for visitors to explore a wide range of artistic styles and periods, from European masterpieces to contemporary American art. The museum’s impressive glass collection, including works by renowned artists such as Tiffany and Chihuly, is a highlight not to be missed. Whether you’re an art enthusiast looking to delve into the world of fine art or a family seeking a cultural outing, the Chrysler Museum of Art offers a rich and educational experience for all.

MacArthur Memorial:

Essential Information

– Address: 198 Bank St, Norfolk, VA 23510
– Opening Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 11am-5pm
– Fee: Free admission
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: History buffs, military enthusiasts

Overview

The MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, VA, stands as a tribute to General Douglas MacArthur, a revered figure in American military history. This must-see attraction offers visitors a glimpse into the life and legacy of one of the most influential military leaders of the 20th century. Through engaging exhibits and artifacts, the memorial provides a comprehensive look at General MacArthur’s distinguished career, from his leadership in World War II to his role in the Korean War.

Stepping inside the memorial, visitors are transported back in time to pivotal moments in American history, gaining a deeper understanding of General MacArthur’s strategic brilliance and unwavering dedication to his country. The museum’s interactive displays and informative presentations offer a captivating experience for history buffs and military enthusiasts alike. Whether you’re a seasoned historian or simply curious about the past, the MacArthur Memorial promises a fascinating journey through the life of a true American hero.

Hermitage Museum and Gardens:

Essential Information

– Address: 7637 North Shore Road, Norfolk, VA 23505
– Opening Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
– Fee: Adults $12, Seniors $10, Students $8, Children under 5 free
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours
– Ideal for: History enthusiasts, art lovers, nature seekers

Overview

The Hermitage Museum and Gardens in Norfolk, VA, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by history buffs and art aficionados alike. This historic site offers a unique blend of art, culture, and nature, making it a must-see destination in the area. With its impressive collection of European and American art spanning centuries, visitors can immerse themselves in a journey through time while exploring the beautifully curated galleries.

The gardens surrounding the museum provide a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, offering a peaceful retreat for those seeking a moment of serenity. Strolling through the lush greenery and vibrant blooms, visitors can appreciate the beauty of nature while taking in the stunning views of the Lafayette River.

Whether you’re interested in exploring the rich history of the region or simply looking for a peaceful oasis to unwind, the Hermitage Museum and Gardens offers a delightful experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit.

Naval Station Norfolk:

Essential Information

– Address: Norfolk, VA
– Opening Hours: Not applicable to the public
– Fee: Free
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: History enthusiasts, military buffs

Overview

Naval Station Norfolk stands as the world’s largest naval base, a testament to the United States’ maritime power. This iconic military installation in Norfolk, VA, offers a unique glimpse into the country’s naval prowess and strategic importance. Visitors can witness firsthand the impressive fleet of ships, submarines, and aircraft that call this base home. The sheer scale of operations at Naval Station Norfolk is awe-inspiring, making it a must-see destination for history enthusiasts and military buffs alike. Whether you’re intrigued by naval history or simply in awe of the sheer magnitude of military operations, a visit to Naval Station Norfolk is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Moses Myers House:

Essential Information

– Address: 323 E. Freemason Street, Norfolk, VA 23510
– Opening Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday 12pm-4pm
– Fee: $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $4 for military, $1 for students
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: History enthusiasts, architecture buffs, family outings

Overview

The Moses Myers House in Norfolk, VA, stands as a testament to the rich history of the region. Built in 1792, this historic home offers visitors a glimpse into the life of one of Norfolk’s prominent families during the early days of the United States. The well-preserved Federal-style architecture and period furnishings provide a fascinating insight into the lifestyle of the Myers family, who were influential figures in the local community.

Stepping inside the Moses Myers House, visitors are transported back in time to the late 18th century, where they can explore the elegant rooms and learn about the family’s involvement in trade and commerce. The house’s unique blend of American and European design elements showcases the wealth and sophistication of the Myers family, making it a must-see destination for history enthusiasts and architecture buffs alike.

A visit to the Moses Myers House is not only an educational experience but also a chance to appreciate the craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into creating this historic gem. Whether you’re exploring Norfolk’s history or simply looking for a unique outing with the family, the Moses Myers House offers a glimpse into the past that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Hunter House Victorian Museum:

Essential Information

– Address: 240 W Freemason St, Norfolk, VA 23510
– Opening Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 10am-3:30pm
– Fee: $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $1 for children
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: History enthusiasts, architecture lovers

Overview

Step back in time at the Hunter House Victorian Museum, a hidden gem in Norfolk, VA that offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the late 19th century. This beautifully preserved Victorian mansion showcases exquisite period furnishings, intricate woodwork, and stunning architectural details that will transport you to a bygone era of elegance and sophistication.

As you wander through the meticulously restored rooms, you’ll learn about the history of the Hunter family and their influence on Norfolk’s social and cultural scene. From the grand parlor to the cozy bedrooms, each space tells a story of Victorian life, offering a fascinating insight into the customs and traditions of the time.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply appreciate the beauty of historic homes, a visit to the Hunter House Victorian Museum is a must-do experience in Norfolk. Discover the charm and grandeur of the Victorian era at this captivating museum that promises a memorable journey into the past.

Pagoda and Oriental Garden:

Essential Information

– Address: 265 W Tazewell St, Norfolk, VA 23510
– Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Tuesday-Sunday)
– Fee: Free admission
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: Nature lovers, history enthusiasts, families

Overview

The Pagoda and Oriental Garden in Norfolk, VA, is a hidden gem that offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. This tranquil oasis showcases a harmonious blend of Asian architecture and lush greenery, making it a must-see attraction for visitors of all ages. The intricate design of the pagoda and the carefully curated garden provide a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the East. Whether you’re strolling through the peaceful pathways or admiring the traditional structures, the Pagoda and Oriental Garden offers a unique and educational experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this peaceful retreat in the heart of Norfolk.

Food and Cuisine

She-Crab Soup

Why is it so special:

She-Crab Soup is a signature dish in Norfolk, VA, known for its rich and creamy texture. This soup is made with blue crab meat, crab roe, heavy cream, and a touch of sherry, giving it a unique flavor profile that is both savory and slightly sweet. The dish has historical roots in the region, dating back to the early 20th century when it was first created in Charleston, South Carolina, and later became popular in Virginia as well.

Where to Try It:

For an authentic taste of She-Crab Soup in Norfolk, head to Freemason Abbey Restaurant, a historic eatery located in a former church building. Another great spot to savor this dish is Todd Jurich’s Bistro, known for its upscale take on traditional Southern cuisine.

Hampton Roads Crab Cakes

Why is it so special:

Hampton Roads Crab Cakes are a local favorite in Norfolk, VA, celebrated for their generous portions of lump crab meat and minimal filler. These crab cakes are seasoned with Old Bay and other spices, then pan-fried to a perfect golden brown crispiness. The dish showcases the freshness of the region’s seafood and highlights the sweet flavor of the blue crab.

Where to Try It:

To indulge in delectable Hampton Roads Crab Cakes, visit The Ten Top, a cozy neighborhood restaurant known for its seafood dishes. For a more upscale dining experience, make a reservation at Byrd & Baldwin Bros Steakhouse, where you can enjoy these crab cakes in an elegant setting.

Events and Festivals

Neptune Festival

The Neptune Festival is a popular annual event in Norfolk, VA, celebrating the city’s coastal culture. It features a sand sculpting competition, live music, arts and crafts vendors, a parade, and a grand fireworks display. Tourists can enjoy the various activities along the Virginia Beach oceanfront during this festival.

Harborfest

Harborfest is another well-known event in Norfolk, VA, held at Town Point Park along the waterfront. This festival showcases tall ships, maritime heritage, live entertainment, delicious food vendors, and family-friendly activities. Visitors can also enjoy boat rides and tours during Harborfest.

Stockley Gardens Arts Festival

The Stockley Gardens Arts Festival is a biannual event in Norfolk, VA, featuring local and regional artists displaying their works in a beautiful outdoor setting. This festival attracts art enthusiasts and collectors who can browse and purchase a variety of paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and other handmade items. Additionally, live music and food vendors add to the festive atmosphere of the event.

Interesting Facts

– Norfolk, VA is home to the largest naval base in the world, Naval Station Norfolk. It serves as the headquarters for the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Fleet and is a crucial hub for naval operations.
– The city is known for its mermaid statues scattered throughout the downtown area. These colorful and artistic sculptures are part of a public art project called “Mermaids on Parade,” adding a unique charm to Norfolk’s streets.
– Norfolk has a rich maritime history and is home to the Nauticus museum, which features interactive exhibits on naval history, marine science, and the Port of Virginia. Visitors can even explore a decommissioned battleship, the USS Wisconsin, docked nearby.

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