The Top 10 Things to Do in Norfolk, VA

Updated on April 3, 2019
ercramer36 profile image

My family and I love to travel and explore new places. We have been blessed to travel across the United States.

BB-64 USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA
BB-64 USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA | Source

For our family vacation in 2017, we drove out to Virginia on a week-long road trip. We spent the first three days in Virginia Beach, which is an incredible place to visit. We also spent some of that time in Norfolk, which was incredible. It is home to one of NATO's two Strategic Command headquarters as well as the largest Navy base (Naval Station Norfolk) in the world. It also has mile after mile of shoreline and a large natural harbor. There is so much to see and do there. Here is a look at the top 10 things to do in Norfolk, VA.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Beautiful Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VACrepe Myrtles at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VAFlowers at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VAFlowers at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VAFlowers at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VAFlowers at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VABeautiful red flower at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VADragonfly at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VAButterfly at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA
Beautiful Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA
Beautiful Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA | Source
Crepe Myrtles at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA
Crepe Myrtles at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA | Source
Flowers at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA
Flowers at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA | Source
Flowers at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA
Flowers at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA | Source
Flowers at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA
Flowers at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA | Source
Flowers at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA
Flowers at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA | Source
Beautiful red flower at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA
Beautiful red flower at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA | Source
Dragonfly at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA
Dragonfly at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA | Source
Butterfly at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA
Butterfly at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA | Source

1. Explore the Norfolk Botanical Gardens

The Norfolk Botanical Garden is incredible. It is 175 amazing acres with 14 miles of paved and unpaved trails that take visitors past gardens of roses, camellias, and crape myrtles. It also has a butterfly house and a children's garden. It is surrounded on three sides by water and next to the Norfolk International Airport. Each year the Norfolk Botanical Garden holds several annual events, including a Butterfly Festival, Virginia Honeybee Festival, Barks & Brews, and the Norfolk Botanical Garden Million Bulb Walk. It is also great as a wedding venue.

We spent a few hours exploring the Norfolk Botanical Garden. The roses were in bloom as well as the crape myrtles. It was amazing. The butterfly house was great as well. I highly recommend it.

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Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VABattleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VAThe Lone Sailor statue and the Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VABattleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VABattleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VASunset at Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VASunset at the Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VABattleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VABattleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA
Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA
Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA | Source
Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA
Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA | Source
The Lone Sailor statue and the Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA
The Lone Sailor statue and the Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA | Source
Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA
Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA | Source
Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA
Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA | Source
Sunset at Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA
Sunset at Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA | Source
Sunset at the Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA
Sunset at the Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA | Source
Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA
Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA | Source
Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA
Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA | Source

2. Tour the USS Wisconsin

The Battleship Wisconsin (BB 64) is an Iowa-class battleship and one of the largest ever made. It first entered service on December 7th, 1943. The USS Wisconsin saw action in World War II, the Korean War, and Operation Desert Storm. In 1991, it was retired from active service. It is now a museum docked across from Nauticus in downtown Norfolk, VA. Admission to Battleship Wisconsin (BB 64) is part of a regular Nauticus admission, which includes a self-guided tour of the deck. There are additional options for guided tours. The sheer size of the ship is incredible. It is a must see when visiting Norfolk.

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Naval Museum Nauticus at Norfolk, VABoardwalk near the Naval Museum Nauticus in Norfolk, VABlue Angel replica at Naval Museum Nauticus in Norfolk, VANaval Museum Nauticus in Norfolk, VAAircraft Carrier model at Naval Museum Nauticus in Norfolk, VAAircraft Carrier model at Naval Museum Nauticus in Norfolk, VANaval Musuem Nauticus Lobby with Saltwater Aquarium in Norfolk, VALionfish at the Naval Musuem Nauticus Lobby in the Saltwater Aquarium in Norfolk, VA
Naval Museum Nauticus at Norfolk, VA
Naval Museum Nauticus at Norfolk, VA | Source
Boardwalk near the Naval Museum Nauticus in Norfolk, VA
Boardwalk near the Naval Museum Nauticus in Norfolk, VA | Source
Blue Angel replica at Naval Museum Nauticus in Norfolk, VA
Blue Angel replica at Naval Museum Nauticus in Norfolk, VA | Source
Naval Museum Nauticus in Norfolk, VA
Naval Museum Nauticus in Norfolk, VA | Source
Aircraft Carrier model at Naval Museum Nauticus in Norfolk, VA
Aircraft Carrier model at Naval Museum Nauticus in Norfolk, VA | Source
Aircraft Carrier model at Naval Museum Nauticus in Norfolk, VA
Aircraft Carrier model at Naval Museum Nauticus in Norfolk, VA | Source
Naval Musuem Nauticus Lobby with Saltwater Aquarium in Norfolk, VA
Naval Musuem Nauticus Lobby with Saltwater Aquarium in Norfolk, VA | Source
Lionfish at the Naval Musuem Nauticus Lobby in the Saltwater Aquarium in Norfolk, VA
Lionfish at the Naval Musuem Nauticus Lobby in the Saltwater Aquarium in Norfolk, VA | Source

3. Visit Nauticus

Visiting Nauticus in downtown Norfolk, VA, is a great learning experience. It is also known as the National Maritime Center. It offers interactive exhibits and theaters, aquaria, Hampton Roads Naval Museum, and a wide variety of educational programs. It is also home to the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center, which is a terminal for ocean-going cruises as well as offering 23,000 square foot event venue.

The other attraction is the USS Wisconsin (BB 64), which is an attraction itself. There are two different ticket options for admission to Nauticus: Basic ($15.95 for adults) and Gold ($35.95 for adults). Both tickets include admission to Nauticus, self-guided Battleship Wisconsin tour, and 3D movies. The Gold offers a guided interior Battleship Wisconsin tour. It is well worth a visit.

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USS Theodore Roosevelt heading down the Elizabeth River to Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VAUSS Abraham Lincoln pass the USS Harry S. Truman as it leaves Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VAUS Navy ships leaving Naval Station Norfolk for Hurricane Irene relief in Norfolk, VAUSS Gerald R. Ford Aircraft Carrier during its commissioning ceremony in July 2017 at the Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VAUSS Newport News submarine heading into Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VAUSS Minneapolis St. Paul returning home to Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VAUSS Harry S. Truman Aircraft Carrier approaching Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VAAn E-2D Hawkeye flies over Naval Base Norfolk in Norfolk, VAU.S. Navy Sea Dragon helicopter based out of Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA
USS Theodore Roosevelt heading down the Elizabeth River to Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA
USS Theodore Roosevelt heading down the Elizabeth River to Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA | Source
USS Abraham Lincoln pass the USS Harry S. Truman as it leaves Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA
USS Abraham Lincoln pass the USS Harry S. Truman as it leaves Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA | Source
US Navy ships leaving Naval Station Norfolk for Hurricane Irene relief in Norfolk, VA
US Navy ships leaving Naval Station Norfolk for Hurricane Irene relief in Norfolk, VA | Source
USS Gerald R. Ford Aircraft Carrier during its commissioning ceremony in July 2017 at the Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA
USS Gerald R. Ford Aircraft Carrier during its commissioning ceremony in July 2017 at the Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA | Source
USS Newport News submarine heading into Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA
USS Newport News submarine heading into Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA | Source
USS Minneapolis St. Paul returning home to Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA
USS Minneapolis St. Paul returning home to Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA | Source
USS Harry S. Truman Aircraft Carrier approaching Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA
USS Harry S. Truman Aircraft Carrier approaching Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA | Source
An E-2D Hawkeye flies over Naval Base Norfolk in Norfolk, VA
An E-2D Hawkeye flies over Naval Base Norfolk in Norfolk, VA | Source
U.S. Navy Sea Dragon helicopter based out of Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA
U.S. Navy Sea Dragon helicopter based out of Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA | Source

4. Take a Tour of Naval Station Norfolk

Taking a tour of Naval Station Norfolk allows visitors to see aircraft carriers, destroyers, amphibious assault ships, and a busy airfield. It is the largest naval base in the world. It is home to 75 ships including four carrier strike groups and 134 aircraft that fly out of Chambers Field. Air Mobility Command conducts an average of 275 flights per day including passenger, refueling, and cargo flights.

U.S. Navy personnel run the Norfolk Naval Base tours. Each tour lasts about 45 minutes. Tours leave from the Naval Tour and Information Center at 9079 Hampton Boulevard in Norfolk, VA, near gate number 5. It is $10 for adults and $5 for senior citizens and $5 for kids between 3 and 11. Visitors over 18 must have a valid picture ID to enter the military base. It is a great place to take kids and let them see the amazing ships that protect us.

Ocean View Pier in Norfolk, VA
Ocean View Pier in Norfolk, VA | Source

5. Visit the Ocean View Fishing Pier

The Ocean View Fishing Pier is a must see when visiting Norfolk, VA. The pier juts out into the Chesapeake Bay and is just shy of being 1,700 feet long. It is home to the Ocean View Fishing Pier Restaurant, bait and tackle shop, equipment rentals, and restrooms. The restaurant offers outdoor seating with great views of the water. It is $10 for adults to fish and $8 for senior citizens (over 64), military personnel, and kids under 10. It is a cool place to hang out and enjoy the beautiful views.

Take a Norfolk Naval Base Cruise on the Victory Rover in Norfolk, VA
Take a Norfolk Naval Base Cruise on the Victory Rover in Norfolk, VA | Source

6. Take a Naval Base Cruise

Taking a Naval Base Cruise is essential when visiting Norfolk, VA. The Victory Rover offers cruises that leave from Nauticus, near the Battleship Wisconsin, in downtown Norfolk. The Victory Rover has a climate-controlled cabin with large windows as well as an open-air bow and top deck which offer great views. There is also a snack bar and gift shop on board. The cruises are two hours long and give visitors a chance to see majestic aircraft carriers, guided missile cruisers, nuclear submarines, and more. The captain does a great job of narrating the cruise and explaining the sites. It is recommended to make reservations, as this is one of the most popular cruises in Norfolk. I highly recommend it.

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African lion cubs at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VACheetah at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VARhino at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VABongo antelope at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VARed Panda at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VAGoat at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VABald Eagle at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VARed-Tailed Hawk at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VATrain at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA
African lion cubs at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA
African lion cubs at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA | Source
Cheetah at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA
Cheetah at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA | Source
Rhino at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA
Rhino at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA | Source
Bongo antelope at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA
Bongo antelope at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA | Source
Red Panda at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA
Red Panda at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA | Source
Goat at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA
Goat at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA | Source
Bald Eagle at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA
Bald Eagle at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA | Source
Red-Tailed Hawk at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA
Red-Tailed Hawk at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA | Source
Train at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA
Train at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, VA | Source

7. Visit the Virginia Zoological Park

The Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk is a great place to spend a few hours. It is on 53 acres and is home to over 700 animals. The zoo is broken up into sections representing Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America. It also has reptiles area and a zoo farm. The zoo train offers visitors a chance to get off their feet and enjoy views of the zoo. The Virginia Zoological Park hosts many annual events, including a Mother's Day Brunch, Father's Day BBQ, Zoovies, Growl Fest, and Zoo Boo.

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Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA"Portrait of Woman in Pergola with Wisteria" at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VACinema Western Reality at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VAGlassware exhibit at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VARow 'o' Glassware exhibit at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VAChinese porcelain art exhibit at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VAAtrium with floral display at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VAAsian looking suit of armor at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VATo be or not to be at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA
Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA
Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA | Source
"Portrait of Woman in Pergola with Wisteria" at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA
"Portrait of Woman in Pergola with Wisteria" at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA | Source
Cinema Western Reality at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA
Cinema Western Reality at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA | Source
Glassware exhibit at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA
Glassware exhibit at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA | Source
Row 'o' Glassware exhibit at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA
Row 'o' Glassware exhibit at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA | Source
Chinese porcelain art exhibit at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA
Chinese porcelain art exhibit at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA | Source
Atrium with floral display at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA
Atrium with floral display at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA | Source
Asian looking suit of armor at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA
Asian looking suit of armor at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA | Source
To be or not to be at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA
To be or not to be at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA | Source

8. Explore the Chrysler Museum of Art and Glass Studio

Chrysler offers two incredible museums in downtown Norfolk, VA. The first one is the Chrysler Museum of Art and the second one is the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio. Parking and admission are free at both of these wonderful museums. They are open on Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. On Sundays, they are open noon to 5 pm. Here is a closer look at each of them.

Chrysler Museum of Art

The Chrysler Museum of Art is incredible. It is home to over 30,000 original pieces of art, some of which, date back over 5,000 years. The museum offers something for everyone in the family. The Wonder Studio is an interactive gallery with digitals easels so kids can create masterpieces of their own. The museum also has areas dedicated to decorative, modern, contemporary, American, European, and Ancient Art.

Chrysler Museum Glass Studio

Adjacent to the Chrysler Museum of Art is the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio. It is one of two major art museums that have a Glass Studio in it. Every Wednesday through Sunday at noon, the Glass Studio offers free public glass blowing demonstrations. The Glass Studio also offers classes for all abilities. It is a must see. I highly recommend both of these cool museums.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Douglas MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, VAMacArthur Memorial Visitor Center in Norfolk, VAMacArthur Memorial Visitor Center in Norfolk, VAMacArthur Memorial Visitor Center in Norfolk, VAMacArthur Memorial Visitor Center in Norfolk, VAMacArthur Memorial Visitor Center in Norfolk, VA
Douglas MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, VA
Douglas MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, VA | Source
MacArthur Memorial Visitor Center in Norfolk, VA
MacArthur Memorial Visitor Center in Norfolk, VA | Source
MacArthur Memorial Visitor Center in Norfolk, VA
MacArthur Memorial Visitor Center in Norfolk, VA | Source
MacArthur Memorial Visitor Center in Norfolk, VA
MacArthur Memorial Visitor Center in Norfolk, VA | Source
MacArthur Memorial Visitor Center in Norfolk, VA
MacArthur Memorial Visitor Center in Norfolk, VA | Source
MacArthur Memorial Visitor Center in Norfolk, VA
MacArthur Memorial Visitor Center in Norfolk, VA | Source

9. Visit the MacArthur Memorial

The MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk celebrates the life of Army General Douglas MacArthur. The museum also pays tribute to the millions of American soldiers that served the United States in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. The MacArthur Memorial highlights the American values of Duty, Honor, and Country. It is in downtown Norfolk and is made up of a museum, education center, library, theater, and gift shop. Admission is free. It is an incredible place to check out for history buffs, home school groups, or anyone interested in learning more about General Douglas MacArthur.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Pagoda & Oriental Garden in downtown Norfolk, VAPagoda & Oriental Garden in downtown Norfolk, VAPagoda & Oriental Garden in downtown Norfolk, VAPagoda & Oriental Garden in downtown Norfolk, VAPagoda & Oriental Garden in downtown Norfolk, VA
Pagoda & Oriental Garden in downtown Norfolk, VA
Pagoda & Oriental Garden in downtown Norfolk, VA | Source
Pagoda & Oriental Garden in downtown Norfolk, VA
Pagoda & Oriental Garden in downtown Norfolk, VA | Source
Pagoda & Oriental Garden in downtown Norfolk, VA
Pagoda & Oriental Garden in downtown Norfolk, VA | Source
Pagoda & Oriental Garden in downtown Norfolk, VA
Pagoda & Oriental Garden in downtown Norfolk, VA | Source
Pagoda & Oriental Garden in downtown Norfolk, VA
Pagoda & Oriental Garden in downtown Norfolk, VA | Source

10. Visit the Pagoda and Oriental Garden

The Pagoda & Oriental Garden in downtown Norfolk is unique and worth a visit. It is on the waterfront and also known as The Marine Observation Tower. The pagoda was donated to Norfolk by Taiwan in 1989 because of their trading ties with the City of Norfolk. It is also the highlight of the Oriental Garden. The pagoda offers beautiful views of the Battleship Wisconsin, sunsets over the Elizabeth River, and of the Oriental Garden. It is also home to the Pagoda Garden Tea House, which serves lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. It is also available as a wedding venue. It is a cool place to check out when visiting Norfolk.

Don't Miss a Chance to Visit Norfolk

Norfolk, VA, is a great place to visit. There is so much to see and do there. My family and I loved our visit and cannot wait to go back again.

Map of the Top 10 Things to Do in Norfolk

A
Norfolk Botanical Garden:
Norfolk Botanical Garden, 6700 Azalea Garden Rd, Norfolk, VA 23518, USA

get directions

B
Battleship Wisconsin:
1 Waterside Dr, Norfolk, VA 23510, USA

get directions

C
Nauticus:
1 Waterside Dr, Norfolk, VA 23510, USA

get directions

D
Naval Station Norfolk Tour:
9079 Hampton Blvd, Norfolk, VA 23505, USA

get directions

E
Ocean View Fishing Pier:
Ocean View Fishing Pier, Norfolk, VA, USA

get directions

F
Victory Rover - Naval Base Cruise:
1 Waterside Dr, Norfolk, VA 23510, USA

get directions

G
Virginia Zoological Park:
3500 Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23504, USA

get directions

H
Chrysler Museum of Art & Glass Studio:
1 Memorial Pl, Norfolk, VA 23510, USA

get directions

I
MacArthur Memorial:
198 Bank St, Norfolk, VA 23510, USA

get directions

J
Norfolk Pagoda & Oriental Garden:
215 Brooke Ave #1002, Norfolk, VA 23510, USA

get directions

© 2019 Eric Cramer

Comments

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    • ercramer36 profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Cramer 

      7 weeks ago from Chicagoland

      Thanks Alexander and Liz! We had a great time in Virginia.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      7 weeks ago from UK

      You have put together a great list of things to do in Norfolk. A few months ago we were at a British naval base in Portsmouth. But your photos put it well in the shade. It's great to see that for those less interested in the navy, there are plenty of great alternatives.

    • Guckenberger profile image

      Alexander James Guckenberger 

      7 weeks ago from Maryland, United States of America

      Virginia is beautiful.

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