Norfolk, Virginia, is a vibrant city filled with exciting attractions and a rich history. Whether you’re a nature lover, an art enthusiast, or a history buff, Norfolk offers a wide range of activities to suit every interest. From beautiful gardens to naval stations, here are the best things to do in Norfolk.
1. Explore the Norfolk Botanical Garden
Start your Norfolk adventure by immersing yourself in the beauty of the Norfolk Botanical Garden. Spanning over 175 acres, this stunning garden is home to a variety of themed gardens, including the Bristow Butterfly Garden and the Renaissance Court. Take a leisurely stroll through the peaceful paths and enjoy the vibrant colors of the flowers and the tranquility of nature.
2. Visit the Virginia Zoo
For animal lovers, a visit to the Virginia Zoo is a must. This 53-acre zoo houses over 500 animals from around the world. Get up close and personal with giraffes, lions, and elephants, and learn about conservation efforts to protect endangered species. The zoo also offers educational programs and interactive exhibits, making it a great destination for families.
3. Experience the history at the Norfolk Naval Station
As one of the largest naval bases in the world, the Norfolk Naval Station is a significant part of Norfolk’s history. Take a guided tour to explore the various naval vessels, including aircraft carriers and submarines. Learn about the Navy’s role in protecting the country and gain a deeper understanding of the maritime heritage of Norfolk.
4. Discover the Chrysler Museum of Art
Art enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Chrysler Museum of Art. This museum houses an impressive collection of over 30,000 works spanning thousands of years. From classical to contemporary art, the museum showcases a diverse range of pieces, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. Don’t miss the Glass Studio, where you can witness live glassblowing demonstrations.
5. Enjoy the scenic beauty of the Norfolk waterfront
Take a leisurely walk along the Norfolk waterfront and soak in the picturesque views. Marvel at the sailboats and yachts docked at the marina, or simply relax on one of the benches and watch the sunset. The waterfront also offers various dining options, from seafood restaurants to trendy cafes, where you can enjoy a delicious meal with a view.
6. Take a stroll at the Norfolk Botanical Garden
If you can’t get enough of the Norfolk Botanical Garden, consider going for an evening stroll. During the summer months, the garden offers special evening programs, such as concerts and outdoor movies. Experience the beauty of the garden under the moonlight and enjoy a memorable evening surrounded by nature.
7. Immerse yourself in the arts at the Virginia Opera
For a night of culture and entertainment, attend a performance by the Virginia Opera. This world-class opera company showcases a wide range of productions, from classic operas to contemporary works. Be captivated by the powerful voices of the performers and experience the magic of opera in an intimate setting.
8. Discover the lively Ghent neighborhood
Ghent is a vibrant and trendy neighborhood in Norfolk known for its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and bars. Explore the unique boutiques, dine at local eateries, and enjoy a lively nightlife scene. With its historic charm and modern atmosphere, Ghent offers a distinct experience that shouldn’t be missed.
9. Explore the Nauticus and Battleship Wisconsin
Step aboard the USS Wisconsin, a battleship that served in World War II and the Korean War, at the Nauticus museum. Discover the history of naval warfare and learn about life on board a battleship. Interactive exhibits and immersive displays provide a hands-on experience, making it an engaging attraction for visitors of all ages.
10. Relax at the Norfolk beaches
Norfolk is home to several beautiful beaches where you can unwind and enjoy the sun and sand. Ocean View Beach and East Beach offer pristine shores, perfect for picnicking, swimming, and sunbathing. Escape the city bustle and rejuvenate in the peaceful coastal surroundings.
11. Indulge in the local cuisine
No visit to Norfolk would be complete without trying the local cuisine. Sample fresh seafood, such as Chesapeake Bay blue crabs and oysters, at one of the many waterfront restaurants. Don’t forget to try regional favorites like she-crab soup and shrimp and grits. Norfolk’s culinary scene is sure to tantalize your taste buds.
12. Shop at the MacArthur Center
For a shopping spree, head to the MacArthur Center. This premier shopping destination features a wide range of stores, from high-end brands to popular retailers. Browse the latest fashion trends, shop for unique gifts, or catch a movie at the center’s state-of-the-art theater. With its diverse offerings, the MacArthur Center has something for everyone.
13. Attend a live performance at the Harrison Opera House
Located in the heart of Norfolk’s arts district, the Harrison Opera House is a cultural gem. Experience a live performance by renowned artists, from orchestral concerts to ballet performances. The intimate setting allows for an up-close and personal experience, immersing you in the world of performing arts.
Norfolk offers a multitude of activities that cater to all interests and passions. From exploring beautiful gardens and immersing in art and culture to experiencing the city’s rich naval history and enjoying scenic waterfront views, there is no shortage of things to do in Norfolk. Plan your visit today and discover the best that this vibrant city has to offer.
FAQs about Things to Do in Norfolk
1. Is Norfolk a family-friendly destination?
Absolutely! Norfolk offers a wide range of family-friendly attractions, such as the Virginia Zoo, the Norfolk Botanical Garden, and the Nauticus museum. There are plenty of activities to keep children of all ages entertained.
2. What is the best time to visit Norfolk?
The best time to visit Norfolk is during the spring and fall when the weather is pleasant and outdoor activities are in full swing. Summers can be hot and humid, while winters are mild but chilly. Plan your visit accordingly to make the most of your trip.
3. Are there any outdoor activities in Norfolk?
Yes, Norfolk is surrounded by natural beauty and offers various outdoor activities. You can explore the Norfolk Botanical Garden, relax at the beaches, or take a boat tour to experience the scenic beauty of the region.
4. Can I visit the Norfolk Naval Station without a guided tour?
No, access to the Norfolk Naval Station is restricted, and visitors are required to take a guided tour. This ensures the safety and security of the base while providing visitors with a comprehensive understanding of its significance.
5. What is the local cuisine like in Norfolk?
Norfolk’s local cuisine is influenced by its coastal location, offering a variety of fresh seafood dishes. From crab cakes and shrimp to she-crab soup and oysters, there are plenty of options to satisfy seafood lovers. Additionally, Norfolk has a diverse culinary scene with international flavors and fusion cuisine to cater to different palates.