If you’re heading to Norfolk, Virginia for a vacation, you’re probably wondering how you can spend your time while you’re there.
Located on the East Coast, Norfolk has many coastal zones and a long naval history, as well as being one of the most important cities in the Hampton Roads region. With such a long and important history, you can be sure that there is plenty to do in Norfolk!
In this article, we’ve created a list of 15 amazing things to do in Norfolk, VA, during your vacation.
We’ve picked a wide variety of different attractions and activities so no matter how you choose to enjoy your vacation, there is sure to be something on this list for you.
All of the options are in alphabetical order so let’s get started!
1. American Rover Sailing Cruise
Our first choice is one of the more unique options on this list and something that you can’t do in many other cities around the United States.
The American Rover offers a variety of different sailing cruises that you can take around Norfolk Harbor.
The two most common tours are the daytime harbor cruise and the nighttime sunset cruise.
Both last around two hours and you can enjoy stunning views while listening to live music and taking advantage of the onboard bar.
2. Chrysler Museum Of Art
There are plenty of things to see and do at the Chrysler Museum of Art. It has free admission so it’s also an ideal option for anyone traveling on a budget!
The museum has 50 galleries for you to enjoy and is also a great place to take the kids as it has an interactive family space they’re sure to enjoy.
There is also a glass studio in the museum so you can watch free demonstrations of glass making and even take part in some classes aimed at beginners or intermediates.
This is the first of several attractions in Norfolk that is tied to the military. Norfolk has a long naval history so much of the city’s tourism is based on that history.
You can learn about the history and events of the US navy in Vietnam in a free exhibit that covers several different aspects of the conflict.
The museum also holds regular events such as a LEGO building event that kids are sure to love!
4. Hermitage Museum And Gardens
This is another art museum in Norfolk and it features exhibits that date back over 5,000 years! Many of the exhibits change frequently so you will need to consult the website before your trip to see exactly what is on offer.
While at the museum you can also enjoy the beautiful gardens on the grounds. These are worth a trip all by themselves!
The museum also offers a variety of different classes so that you can try your hand at skills such as pottery making.
5. MacArthur Memorial
Douglas MacArthur was a military General known for his long and distinguished military service.
He was also highly involved in the curriculum at West Point and is considered to be the originator of many of the modern techniques used there.
As well as being a memorial statue in his honor, there is a museum and research center to visit.
The museum has a variety of militaria including some vehicles that date back to World War II. There are special exhibits running at the museum that change frequently as well.
6. MacArthur Center
If you need a break from history and culture, then a trip to the MacArthur Center may be the perfect option for you.
It’s a large shopping mall located in Norfolk that has many of the big name stores you’d expect to see as well as some local color.
The center has plenty of dining options and there is also a movie theater on site. Throughout the year various special events and exhibits are held so you can enjoy these as well.
7. Mermaid Factory
Mermaids are surprisingly popular in Norfolk! As you’re walking around the city, you may find many statues of these mythical creatures.
Many visitors to the city even like to search out the statues and see how many they can find!
The Mermaid Factory is a number of stores in the city that sell mermaid statues. You can also visit the art studio where they have plain statues that you can paint in your own style and design.
There are other statues available as well so keep your eyes peeled for sharks, seahorses, and even narwhals!
If you are interested in naval history then Nauticus is a must-visit. It features a variety of exhibits about the US navy with a particular focus on the post-civil war years.
There are many special exhibits that change frequently throughout the year as well.
As part of the museum, you will also get the opportunity to view the USS Wisconsin, which is one of the last battleships built by the US Navy during World War II.
You can take a guided tour of the ship or even spend the night aboard!
9. Norfolk Botanical Gardens
Although much of Norfolk is based around the harbor and its naval history, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find relaxing greenery within the city.
The Norfolk Botanical Gardens are the ideal place for spending a few quiet hours and you have over 60 different gardens to choose from.
There are different gardens for different seasons but a number of gardens are present all year round.
These include a stunning Japanese Garden and a Sensory Garden full of plants that visitors are encouraged to interact with.
10. Ocean View Beach Park
If you prefer to relax near the sea and on a beautiful beach, then maybe Ocean View Beach Park will be more your speed. There are so many things to do at this beach and there is sure to be something for everyone.
Some of the more energetic activities include sailing, swimming, and kayaking. You can also fish or go crabbing if you wish!
There is a golf course near the beach and the park regularly has events and live music performances for guests to enjoy.
11. Selden Market
We included a shopping option earlier in the form of the MacArthur Center, but if you prefer more local and unique stores then Selden Market is for you.
It features many boutiques selling handmade items and is the best place in Norfolk for small businesses.
There are plenty of food options as well and Selden Market regularly has events and pop-up stores for guests to enjoy.
It’s all housed within a historic arcade as well, so you will be able to enjoy the venue as much as its contents!
12. Slover Library
More than just your ordinary library, Slover Library has many items of interest for guests.
Of course, it has everything you’d expect from a traditional library such as a children’s collection, non-fiction section, and reference collection.
However, you can also visit the Sargeant Memorial Collection, enjoy various classes at the Creative Studios, or even grab a delicious waffle at the on-site waffle store. You’ll also find free WiFi!
13. Town Point Park
This beautiful park has plenty to explore and is a great destination if you want a little exercise during your vacation.
Kids will love running through the interactive Waterside Landing Fountain and you will find stunning views of the Elizabeth River.
You can take a gentle stroll through the eight acres of greenery or enjoy the events and activities that are often held in the park.
14. Virginia Zoo
Zoos are always a great option for a day out, especially if you’re traveling with kids! Virginia Zoo has a wide variety of animals to see including big cats, black bears, reptiles, and tropical birds.
There are several exhibits themed around the animals where you can learn more about these majestic creatures.
The zoo also has a series of gardens for you to enjoy. This includes the Pollinator Garden which is a big favorite of colorful butterflies.
15. Waterside District
For our final amazing thing to do in Norfolk, we have the Waterside District of the city.
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat delicious food or enjoy a fun night out, then the Waterside District should be your first choice.
It has a wide range of restaurants and bars for you to choose from and there’s sure to be something to tickle your taste buds.
There are also several events held every month that vary from silent discos to watch parties and food festivals.
In this article, we listed 15 amazing things to do in Norfolk, VA, during your vacation. We picked a variety of cultural and historical attractions as well as some fun and interesting activities that can be found in Norfolk.
We hope that you enjoy our suggestions and have a great time in Norfolk!