15 Best Things to Do in Norfolk (VA)

Norfolk, a city in southeastern Virginia, may sound unassuming, but it’s actually home to a slew of power players, such as the world’s largest naval base.

It also houses one of the most important art museums in this part of the United States, the Chrysler Museum of Art, which currently houses more than 30,000 objects.

As if that wasn’t enough, Norfolk doesn’t skimp on nature, and if you love flora and fauna, you can visit some amazing places like the Norfolk Botanic Gardens or the Virginia Zoo which is also based here.

Since Norfolk is on the water, you can also head to the Nautilus National Maritime Centre or Seaport Park, or you can even take a cruise here to see the city from another vantage point.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Norfolk:

1. Chrysler Museum of Art

Chrysler Art Museum

The Chrysler Museum of Art is located in the Ghent District, known for being the most artistic area of ​​the city. The museum is known for being one of the most important in the entire southeastern United States, so keep that in mind, and if you’re an art lover, don’t miss a trip here.

The museum dates back to the 1930s and is based on the art collection of Walter Chrysler, famous for his cars. Here you’ll find more than 30,000 objects from the museum’s collection that will transport you back thousands of years. Look forward to sculpture, painting, glasswork, photography and decorative arts.

2. USS Wisconsin

USS Wisconsin

The aircraft carrier USS Wisconsin is known for its mighty battleships, which served during both World War II and the Korean War.

The ship was actually decommissioned in the 1980s, only to be called up again during Operation Desert Storm in the 1990s.

After such a glorious history, the ship is now a nautical museum where you can take a self-guided tour where you can visit different parts of the ship, including the offices, the ship’s chapel, the dining room and the officers’ staterooms .

If you prefer, you can also take a guided tour that explains the full history of the ship to you, and you can also see other parts of the USS Wisconsin, including the captain’s cabin.

3. Moses Myers House

Moses Myers House

The Moses Myers House, the former home of the famous American entrepreneur Moses Myers who played a major role in the development of Norfolk, the Moses Myers House gives visitors an idea of ​​how people in this part of America would live at the turn of the century .

Beautifully restored over the years, Moses Myers House is one of the first brick buildings built in Norfolk.

Much of the original furniture is still here, and there is a permanent exhibit dedicated to the story and history of Moses Myers.

4. Norfolk Botanic Gardens

Norfolk Botanic Gardens

The Norfolk Botanic Gardens span over 150 acres and are divided into different sections, including more than 40 gardens, each with a different theme.

The flowers and plants here are seasonal, which means the gardens bloom all year round, and there’s even a garden dedicated to younger visitors. In addition to a special space for young people, all visitors here can enjoy themes such as the peaceful and relaxing Japanese Garden, which includes a traditional Japanese pond, and the Hummingbird Garden, which is planted with all of these delicate birds’ favorite plants. .

The flora and fauna here is definitely not limited to the United States, and you can even find a tropical display garden that mimics a rainforest setting.

5. Hunter House Victoria Museum

Hunter House Victoria Museum

Built in 1894, the Hunter House Victorian Museum is the former home of the Hunter family and is ideal if you want to learn about Victorian family life in Norfolk.

The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and visitors can come here to see displays of period furniture and antique memorabilia that are just as they were in days gone by.

6. Virginia Zoo

Virginia Zoo

Nestled next to picturesque Lafayette Park, the Virginia Zoo houses more than 500 animals, ranging from elephants to rare frogs.

Not limited to native species, you’ll find animals from all over the world here, including Africa, Australia and Asia.

The zoo is divided into specific exhibits to showcase different species, such as the Tiger Road with tigers from Malaysia.

In addition to the animals on display here, the zoo is also known for its gardens and flora, and you can even visit the zoo at night to see the many nocturnal animals kept here.

7. Nautix National Maritime Center

Nautix National Maritime Center

The Nautix National Maritime Centre was established in the 1980s and first opened in 1994.

The center is dedicated to all things sailing-related, and for that, you can expect a series of interactive exhibits that visitors can experience first-hand, as well as several interactive and big-screen theaters.

Part of the center is the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, known for giving visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with exhibits, including a shark lab and a horseshoe crab touch pool.

There is also a marina and a cruise ship terminal as part of the center.

8. Norfolk Naval Base

Norfolk Naval Base

Norfolk Naval Base is known as the largest base in the world, and it’s definitely a place to claim its name.

The base stretches over 6 kilometers on the Norfolk waterfront and houses 134 aircraft and an impressive 75 naval vessels.

This is a very working naval base and actually has the most personnel in the US Navy, but nonetheless visitors can visit the base with a Navy staff member who will explain the history and work of the Navy, as well as provide some of the preservation in Here’s a tour of ships and aircraft carriers.

9. General Douglas MacArthur Memorial

General Douglas MacArthur Memorial

Dedicated to Douglas MacArthur, the memorial is actually a museum that houses an education center, a research center, and a theater.

The monument here is designed to tell the story of General MacArthur’s battles in World War I and World War II, as well as the Korean War.

At the museum, visitors will have the opportunity to see wartime memorabilia in the form of paintings, ancient artifacts and antique cars.

You can visit the museum and there are special events from time to time, so check the local listings for what to do while you’re in town.

10. Wells Theatre

Wells Theatre

The Wells Theatre first opened to the public in 1913, so if you want to catch a glimpse of Norfolk’s architectural wonders of the era, this is the place for you.

Many of America’s top performers at the time performed at the theater, and in 1916 a big movie screen was erected.

The theatre has taken many different forms over the years, including being a gin house and brothel for a short time before being listed on the Register of Historic Places in the 1980s.

11. Hermitage Museum and Gardens

Hermitage Museum and Gardens

To see what Norfolk looked like in the past, head to the Hermitage Museum and Gardens, now a home and art museum.

Located on the scenic Lafayette River, the Sloan House here dates back to the early 20th century.

The house has more than 40,000 antiquities on display, and its 12 acres of gardens include lush forests and wetlands.

12. American Rover

American Rover

If you want to go to sea in Norfolk, Sailing Harbour Cruises is a cruise operator that operates the American Rover, a 1980s vessel that can carry more than 100 passengers at a time.

The ship can be seen from a distance thanks to its signature red sails made of tan tree bark. There are harbour tours and sunset cruises.

13. Harbour Park

Harbour Park

Norfolk’s Harbour Park is a sprawling 36-acre park that even has its own baseball field.

Opened in the 1990s, the stadium is best known as the home of the Norfolk Tides, a minor league baseball team that practice here.

The stadium can accommodate more than 12,000 spectators at the same time, and there is also a restaurant on site.

The park is best known for its stadium, but there are other events throughout the year, especially during festivals.

14. Dumar’s

Dumar's

For a taste of historic Norfolk, come to Doumar’s, which has been serving American comfort classics for 100 years.

The restaurant is a perfect example of vintage furniture and is famous for inventing the waffle cone.

They also make all their ice cream in-house, which has given them a great reputation for their milkshakes and other dairy products.

If you’ve tried waffle cones here, you’ll know that the first cone was sold in 1904 by the founder of Doumar’s.

15. Atax Theatre

Atax Theatre

Built in 1919, the Attucks Theater is named after Crispus Attucks, the first patriot to die in the Revolutionary War.

The theater has gained fame over the years and was once one of the most famous theaters in the area, hence the nickname “The Apollo Theater of the South.”

Many of America’s top performers have appeared here over the years, and the theater is now also known as the Crispus Attucks Cultural Center.

To that end, there are cultural performances throughout the year, so check out the local listings to see what’s going on when you’re in town.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Norfolk, VA, VA
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