If you are looking for things to do in Norfolk VA, you have come to the right place. Norfolk is located on the coast of the Chesapeake Bay and part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan region. Norfolk is a historical city with a long and old connection to the ocean. It is famous in particular for Naval Station Norfolk, which is the biggest naval base in the world. In the lively downtown region, tourists can experience some of the histories personally by visiting Nauticus and visiting the Battleship Wisconsin, taking a Naval Base Cruise, visiting the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, or hopping aboard a giant ship for a quick sail. For those who want to to enjoy the outdoors, the Norfolk Botanical Garden is an ideal attraction, and the Virginia Zoo is an absolute family outing. In addition, art lovers will love the Chrysler Museum of Art, with some brilliant collections. It also includes a charming glass collection. Families with kids will find loads of options for kids’ fun. With a wide range of water sports, you will surely find interactive fun in both indoor & outdoor activities. For visitors, staying nearby Virginia Beach can easily plan a day trip to Norfolk.
Top Things to do in Norfolk VA
1.) Norfolk Botanical Garden
The Norfolk Botanical Garden is an amazing nature retreat. This garden is located next to the airport, just minutes away from downtown. This a beautiful place to admire colorful gardens, enjoy a walk in the forest, or visit with the kids on a hot summer day to play in the splash pad. The 52 theme gardens are spread over 175 acres. It features a wide variety of plants which provide a unique experience round the year.
2.) Chrysler Museum of Art
The Chrysler Museum of Art is an extraordinary gem. This free museum has small yet inspirational collections of art and antiquities. Everything is nicely laid out in a beautiful building. It has one of the country’s prominent glass collections. Even guests who are not interested in art, get impressed by the beauty and creativity of this collection. The museum also offers American and European painting and sculpture, photography, modern art, decorative arts, and ancient art. From Andy Warhol to Henri Matisse, the museum’s permanent collection features a bit of everything. And, temporary exhibitions make sure return visits are in order.
3.) Battleship Wisconsin and the Nauticus Maritime Center
This attraction is located conveniently on the waterfront in downtown Norfolk. Here you can find a decommissioned WWII Battleship, Wisconsin, operated by Nauticus. This impressive ship is one of the largest battleships ever built by the U.S. Navy. It is a daunting presence on the Norfolk waterfront. it was also the last battleships ever built by the U.S Navy. Wisconsin was active during WWII, Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and the Korean War. Plus it also served as a training ship in between active duty.
4.) The Virginia Zoo
The Virginia Zoo is a top favorite both with locals and tourists. All the big name animals like Lions, elephants, tigers, giraffes, rhinos, kangaroos, orangutans can be found here in well-spaced, big enclosures. Some of the animals can be seen through elevated boardwalks, which gives a bird’s-eye view or a face-to-face encounter with a giraffe. Visiting the zoo can be quite a hot excursion around summer afternoons. So, visitors may like to visit in the morning. Visitors can also find a cafeteria style restaurant on site. Visiting this zoo is one of the finest things to do in Norfolk VA.
5.) American Rover
The giant ship, American Rover, is docked in downtown Norfolk, near Nauticus. This three-masted ship provides sailing cruises on the Hampton Roads Harbor and Elizabeth River. The cruise offers an amazing view of the city and background. Guests even get the opportunity to help with the sailing if they want a little experience, or can simply enjoy the ride. Snacks and beverages are available on the ship. Guests are also allowed to bring their own food with them. Make a reservation in advance.
6.) Victory Rover Naval Base Cruises
The Victory Rover Naval Base Cruises is located on the downtown waterfront at Nauticus. It is a great way to view the area by sea. These guided tours cruise takes through the shipyards, downtown Norfolk, Battleship Wisconsin, the Portsmouth Naval Hospital and Coast Guard Station. It also takes you to the Norfolk Naval Station and several other sights. The Norfolk Naval Station is the biggest of its kind in the world. This is a nice way to see this type of site.
7.) Hermitage Museum & Gardens
The Hermitage Museum is one of the ideal escape from the city. It offers a nice retreat with cool areas for strolling around a waterfront, open green spaces, a rambling house, and unique art displays to admire. This 1895 waterfront house was established by William and Florence Sloane as a summer residence. The house underwent some additions over the years. At present, the house has 42 rooms and has remained unchanged since 1936. The museum not only showcases the old furnishings but also the works of art, both indoor and outdoor.
8.) MacArthur Memorial
The MacArthur Memorial is a tribute to Douglas MacArthur. He was a US general and Chief of Staff of the United States Army. He served the country in the Civil War, WWI, WWII and the Korean War. The Memorial is located in a big old courthouse building. The complex consists of both the memorial building and a huge visitors center next door. Visitors enter from this building. Here they can see a gift shop, several exhibits, and MacArthur’s staff car. The memorial building has the tombs of General and Mrs. MacArthur. It is in the center of the building straight below the big dome.
9.) Mermaid Factory
Mermaid Factory is situated on West 21st Street. It is between the Hampton Boulevard and Colley Avenue. It is a craft studio and store which makes clay mermaids and dolphins. Here, all the mermaids and dolphins are handmade. Visitors can buy mermaids which have already been hand painted. Also, Visitors can paint the blank mermaids at the studio by using materials such as paint, glitter, fabrics, rhinestones, charms, shells, etc. To have a mermaid experience is one of the joyful things to do in Norfolk VA.
10.) Harbor Park
Harbor Park is spread over 36 acres of space. This park has a baseball stadium situated on Park Avenue on the Elizabeth River in downtown Norfolk. It was opened in 1993, is the home of the Norfolk Tides minor league baseball team. It has a capacity of over 12,000 people. There are 2 decks of seating, 20 luxury skyboxes, picnic area, a restaurant with a panoramic view, and other concessions on selling food and drinks to visitors. Visiting this park is among the top things to do in Norfolk VA.