things to do in norfolk va

20 Best Things to Do in Norfolk VA for a Memorable Vacay

Norfolk it is! Going on vacation to Norfolk, Virginia? You should definitely check out the fun things to do there to make your trip special. Read on to learn about all the exciting details!

What to do in Norfolk

Norfolk, one of Virginia’s oldest cities, is rich in history, providing the backdrop for many interesting sights and great opportunities to learn about the great state of Virginia, or Old Dominion as it’s locally known.

This charming riverside city has a bustling downtown, numerous opportunities to get out on the water, numerous historical sites, a plethora of excellent restaurants, and a plethora of fun activities for all ages.

The largest naval station in the world can be seen on a guided tour in Norfolk, Southeastern Virginia, where you can also visit the Chrysler Museum of Art and the Norfolk Botanical Garden. 

The Virginia Zoo, the Nauticus National Maritime Center, and Harbor Park are among the best family-friendly things to do in Norfolk, Virginia.

Prior to your visit, make sure to call the restaurants and attractions to confirm the most recent opening hours.

What is Norfolk Va Known for?

It is one of the nine cities that make up Hampton Roads and is Virginia’s second-most populous city by population, behind Virginia Beach.

Due to the fact that Norfolk has the largest naval station in the world and that nearly half of the city’s surface is made up of water and beautiful views, Portsmouth Naval Base

Due to the abundance of trees and flowers, including in downtown Norfolk, the city is also known as the “Tree City.” The mermaid serves as the city’s emblem. As a result, you can find them in a variety of vibrantly colored forms all over the city.

Wondering how to get to Norfolk, Virginia?

We’ve got your back! You can fly there. If you are traveling from outside the United States or from a more remote state, you can drive to Norfolk International Airport.

If you’re coming from Virginia Beach, the city is easily accessible via Interstate 64, US Route 60, US Route 13, and US Route 460.

Places to Visit in Norfolk Va

1. Norfolk Botanical Garden

things to do in norfolk va

The Norfolk Botanical Garden, located in the heart of Norfolk, Virginia, is one of the most beautiful places to visit.

The garden is set on 175 acres of meticulously maintained land and is home to more than 50 incredible gardens.

Each of the numerous gardens has its own distinct theme, the beauty of which cannot be overstated. The garden, in its current form, was established in 1955.

Since then, changes in the landscape and the scope of the space have made the Norfolk Botanical Garden a hugely popular attraction.

It is worth noting that each season at Norfolk Botanical Garden offers something new to visitors.

There are not only year-round gardens that can be visited at any time but there are also seasonal gardens and an incredible children’s garden.

In addition, the garden frequently hosts lovely special events like garden story times, tea parties, and kayaking tours.

Except for a few closed holidays, Norfolk Botanical Garden is open seven days a week, so visit today or this weekend. The choice is yours.

2. Town Point Park, Downtown Norfolk

things to do in norfolk va

Town Point is the ideal place in Norfolk to spend a quiet afternoon strolling through the narrow alleys and admiring the Elizabeth River. This is only when there is no important event scheduled for that day.

The park hosts numerous festivals, and significant events designed to entertain and bring Norfolk residents together.

These include the July 4 Celebrations, which celebrate America’s independence with spectacular fireworks, the Parade of Sail, the Cajun Food Festival, the Virginia Wine Festival, and the Spring Wine Festival.

One of the most enjoyable things to do in Norfolk is to attend a festival at Town Point Park.

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3. Chrysler Museum of Art

things to do in norfolk va

The Chrysler Museum of Art, located in the artistic district of Ghent and overlooking a small body of water known as The Hague, is one of the major art museums in the Southeastern United States and one of the best things to do in Norfolk, Virginia. 

Founded in 1933 as the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences, the museum expanded thanks to a large donation of art by automotive heir Walter Chrysler and now houses over 30,000 objects spanning thousands of years of world history.

The collection includes Middle Ages sculptures as well as paintings by famous artists such as Tintoretto, Eugene Delacroix, Edouard Manet, Auguste Rodin, Paul Gauguin, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and Franz Kline. 

The Museum also houses one of the world’s greatest collections of glass, distinguished decorative arts, and an outstanding photography collection. There is no admission fee.

4. Ocean View 

Ocean View Beach Park is one of the best travel destinations, It is exactly what it sounds like: a lovely public park with spectacular ocean views.

One of the most enjoyable things to do in Norfolk, Virginia, is to spend a day at the beach in Ocean View, which is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Virginia.

It may sound sarcastic, but we must thank a hurricane that appeared in the middle of the 17th century for this massive stretch of fine sandy beach.

Previously, everything in this area was water, but after the hurricane, a thick sandy bed appeared, which today’s residents and tourists refer to as Ocean View.

The park’s lovely bandshell is used to host weekly live music, essentially free outdoor concerts throughout the summer.

Furthermore, throughout the summer, there is a full calendar of events such as beach parties, barbecues, dance parties, family nights, and festivals.

If you are planning a trip to Norfolk, make time to visit Ocean View Beach Park.

Notably, Ocean View Beach Park has it all: a beautiful white sand beach with lifeguards on duty all summer, a large open green space for picnics, games, and other activities, and even a bandshell for live entertainment.

Ocean View is ideal for water sports, with great waves and pleasant temperatures throughout the year. So get on a jet ski or a surfboard and have some fun.

And tanning on the beach sounds ideal if you’re not in peak physical condition or don’t enjoy water sports.

5. Neon District Murals

The Neon District is a vibrant and colorful neighborhood in Norfolk, Virginia.

This neighborhood’s walls and other surfaces are adorned with incredible street art, the likes of which you must see to believe.

Because the Neon District Murals are located in public spaces, a visit to this unique neighborhood is one of the few free activities in town.

Part of the fun of touring the Neon District Murals is discovering something new at each turn.

You never know what or where you’ll see something new as you meander through the Neon District, from large-scale murals to tiny art displays and everything in between.

Norfolk’s streets are lined with stunning pieces of art created by both well-known and independent artists.

The Neon District is full of vibrant representations of neighborhood heroes, social justice depictions, and much more, on everything from fences and walls to signs and sidewalks.

You must visit this location; it’s one of the most extraordinary things to do in downtown Norfolk.

6. American Rover

The tall ship American Rover is berthed near Nauticus in the center of Norfolk. With stunning views of the city and surroundings, this three-masted schooner offers sailing cruises on the Elizabeth River and Hampton Roads Harbor.

These narrated cruises depart from April to October and last an hour and a half to two hours. Visitors have the option of participating in some hands-on sailing work or just taking it easy.

Although the ship sells snacks and drinks, visitors are free to bring their own food if they so choose.

Cruises can be reserved up to 30 days in advance, but last-minute tickets are frequently available. 

There are afternoon and evening cruises available, and on occasion, special sailings like night cruises are planned.

7. Hermitage Museum and Gardens

On the Lafayette River in Norfolk, Virginia, The Hermitage Museum & Gardens is an Arts-and-Crafts residence from the middle of the nineteenth century.

It was formerly the home of the Sloane family. The Sloanes’ vision for the Hermitage is realized in its 5,000-year-old, highly esteemed art collection.

The museum also has modern exhibition spaces, a visual arts studio, and 12 acres of grounds and gardens that provide the local community with art and culture.

An entire day can be spent there exploring. The hotel is right on the water and has lovely grounds and gardens.

It’s interesting to note that the Hermitage certification was just given by The American Alliance of Museums in October 2017.

The employees here are also incredibly considerate, caring, knowledgeable, and accommodating.

8. Town Point Park

Eight acres of serene outdoor areas make up Town Point Park, which is tucked along the Elizabeth River’s riverbanks. 

This is situated in the center of Norfolk, Virginia’s business district.

But Town Point Park is more than just a verdant haven of tranquility in the middle of the city. It serves as a place for friends to get together. You can have lunch here or just relax after a long day.

A well-known waterfront park called The Park offers stunning views of the Elizabeth River harbor.

Throughout the year, a few select weekends typically see a surge in activity in the Park. 

Additionally, it hosts renowned special occasions that give the general public access to culturally enriching experiences.

It’s lovely here, and you’ll like strolling along the river. Taking in a movie in the park is also fun. Additionally, there are many benches where you can stop and rest while walking.

To keep you from getting bored, there is a trail that can be used in a variety of ways. Along with that, there are stunning river views and lovely landscapes.

Visitors to the park will also see a creative fence that depicts “Norfolk Memories.” This, along with two brand-new fountains, runs along the park’s perimeter.

9. Mermaid Factory

Mermaid Factory is a craft shop and studio that creates clay mermaids and dolphins.

 It is situated on West 21st Street between Colley Avenue and Hampton Boulevard. The mermaids and dolphins are all individually handcrafted in Norfolk. 

In addition to buying pre-painted mermaids, visitors can also customize the studio’s blank mermaids by adding charms, fabrics, glitter, paint, rhinestones, shells, and other embellishments.

The studio can be rented for parties, corporate events, and other gatherings for up to 25 people. The craft store also offered other gift items with a dolphin, mermaid, or nautical theme.

10. Hunter House Victorian Museum

The Hunter House Victorian Museum is situated on West Freemason Street in Norfolk’s downtown Freemason neighborhood. 

For banker and merchant James Wilson Hunter, his wife Lizzie Ayer Barnes Hunter, and their family, the historic home was constructed in 1894.

The Hunter House, which was converted into a museum in 1988, is home to Victorian décor and furniture that belonged to the Hunter family. 

They include the home in the National Register of Historic Places in the United States. Numerous special events are also held at the museum.

Fun Things to do in Norfolk Va

1. Dive into Surge Adventure Park’s Plush Foam Pool

One of the most active things to do in Norfolk is to bounce around the trampoline zones at Surge Adventure Park. Jump as high as you can, and perform some spectacular tricks.

2. Attend a Show at the Attucks Theater

things to do in norfolk va

This thriving cultural center offers dramatic readings, traditional plays, and musical performances. There will also be some late-night jazz, with sultry melodies erupting into the streets.

3. Go Hiking in Lake Lawson and Lake Smith Natural Area

things to do in norfolk va

Take to the trails that wind around Lake Lawson and Lake Smith Natural Area after donning your hiking boots. Watch out for the animals that live in this wilderness preserve.

There are 42 acres to explore, including charming lakeshores that are great for picnics. To get closer to nature, you can go kayaking, boating, or fishing; the calm waters are ideal for beginners.

4. At Harrison Opera House, Enjoy a Concert

things to do in norfolk va

Before taking your seats for the performance, start your evening with Champagne in the chic bar. 

Allow the magic to enchant you into a world of thoughts and music as the curtain rises and the lights dim.

5. Paddle a Kayak on the Lafayette River

things to do in norfolk va

Get in a kayak and explore the Lafayette River by paddling down it. You can either sign up for a tour to learn about all the hidden spots or rent a boat and embark on a solo mini-expedition into the wilderness.

As you drift leisurely along, often with bald eagles circling overhead, look for marine life. Keep your camera ready because if you’re fortunate, a pod of dolphins may even be out looking for lunch.

6. Try out the Rides at Atlantic Fun Park 

things to do in norfolk va

Are you a fan of adventures? You ought to ride this ride. At Atlantic Fun Park, experience the rush as you are hurled around on the powerful Gravitron and the Flipping Action Arm. 

Hold on tight as you swing in the Sea Dragon Ship before racing at top speed around the go-kart track for the brave souls.

Younger explorers will enjoy spinning on the enormous Ferris wheel and riding the Flying Elephants. Pizza and fries are a good way to maintain energy levels.

7. By Ferry, Cross the Elizabeth River

The Elizabeth River and a few minutes by boat separate Norfolk and Portsmouth. The prices for a round-trip ticket are very low, so we can include it on our list of cheap things to do in Norfolk.

Aside from the fact that Portsmouth is a lovely town worth exploring, you will have the opportunity to admire Norfolk’s skyline.

8. Take Pictures in Front of the Neon District Murals

Most places in Norfolk are beautiful to photograph, but I will say that your selfies are incomplete unless you photograph the vibrant Neon District.

The vibrant installations on walls, sheds, and even sidewalks showcase the creative local talent. 

Pose beside the massive pink roses on Boush Street and marvel at the life-size humpback whale watching over Waterside Drive.

The Neon District Murals are at the heart of the city’s burgeoning art scene; take a self-guided tour to see them.


9. DEFY Trampoline Park is a Great Place to Bounce Around

Show off your moves at the DEFY trampoline park in Chesapeake by jumping up and down. You’ll spend all of your practice time practicing somersaults and star jumps.

Slam-dunk on the court and, if you dare, sway along the battle beam to emulate your favorite basketball players. Extreme dodgeball, a ninja obstacle course, and the imposing Warped Wall are all available to brave souls.

10. Join the Fishing Excursion in Marlin

things to do in norfolk va

Both experts and novices will enjoy taking a fishing charter out to sea to look for some big game. 

It’s possible to catch fish there while fishing, so why not go check it out? Try something new, even if it’s your first time; you never know, you might find that you were born with the spirit of a great fisherman in you. 

Just go fishing, please You have a great chance of catching a whopper because the waters around here are teeming with life.

Cast your line, and see who among your friends can reel in the biggest reward. Will it be a gorgeous marlin or a tasty tuna? Extra points if you catch a rockfish!

11. At Ocean Breeze Waterpark, Race Down Slides.

As you fly down the flumes at Ocean Breeze Waterpark, hold on tight. There are thrilling rides here that are guaranteed around every bend.

Do you have the fortitude to face the Vortex? One of Norfolk’s most exhilarating activities is it!

Jump into a rubber ring and float along the lazy river, passing secluded coves and cool waterfalls, if you want to slow things down.

12. Take Part in a Festival at Town Point Park

Your go-to location for festivals, concerts, and cultural events in Town Point Park. 

It’s a great place to unwind even if there isn’t anything happening while you’re there. There, you can make new friends as well.

There is a ton of public art to enjoy here that honors Norfolk’s maritime and military heritage.

Admire the Armed Forces Memorial, look for the mermaid sculpture tucked away in the interactive fountains, and see a 19th-century cannon that was dug up from the river.

13. At Harbor Park Stadium, Watch Baseball

things to do in norfolk va

At one of the top Minor League Baseball stadiums in the nation, you can catch a live game. 

Harbor Park, the home of the Norfolk Tides, is renowned for its excellent acoustics and breathtaking seat views.

14. Overcome Obstacles at Escape2Win

Do you enjoy Challenges? even if you don’t use your brain as you attempt to escape a themed escape room in a hurry. To defeat the code creators at Escape2Win, you’ll need to finish tasks and solve puzzles.

Will you end up on a crashed spaceship or at the scene of a horrific crime? In either case, you’ll need to use your sleuthing abilities to unravel the mysteries at hand. Beware of retaliatory ghosts!

15. Visit Busch Gardens and Ride the Log Flume

things to do in norfolk va

Do you want to feel fear of dying? You won’t die, but if you’re afraid of heights, you’ll be incredibly terrified. 

Nevertheless, try new things and you’ll laugh at yourself later once you’ve come down.

Set up a time to visit the rides at the nearby Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg. As you speed along in Apollo’s Chariot and descend water flumes, your heart rate will increase.

Families will love riding the vintage carousel and spinning around on the antique teacups. Take a scenic train ride on the mini railway for something more leisurely.

16. Bike Around the City

things to do in norfolk va

Are you able to ride a bike? Try renting a bike instead of driving around the city to get a different perspective on Norfolk as you ride along the cycle paths that crisscross the area. 

You’ll be visiting famous landmarks and venturing off the beaten tourist path. You’ll get a little boost from electric bikes on the incline sections!

Riding a multi-seat party bike through Norfolk’s bustling Downtown while exploring the best bars is one of the most enjoyable things to do with friends.

17. Go Berserk at the Virginia Zoo

things to do in norfolk va

Are you an animal lover? Then, while on vacation, you should not skip going to the zoo and getting to know the animals there as you explore the various enclosures. 

There are animals from all over the world, including Bornean orangutans, American bison, and Malaysian sun bears, waiting to welcome you.

Watch in awe as the meerkats stand guard on top of their desert mounds and feel your spine tingle as you hear the roar of the African lions. 

Don’t forget to take pictures with the adorable red pandas and the dozing sloths.

18. Visit Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

things to do in norfolk va

As you tour the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, you can encounter terrifying sharks and observe the hilarious antics of seals. Do not forget to greet the local Komodo dragon!

Take a boat tour into the wilderness to see if you can spot any whales or dolphins. 

You could also go to the Adventure Park to try out the high ropes course and zip line trail, which will send you flying through the forest.

19. Join the Pedal Tour

Sincerely, this is enjoyable in particular. Take a pedal tour through Downtown Norfolk to kick off your night out. 

This odd excursion is a unique way to explore and is great for friend groups and celebrations. Choose a specialized bar tour and make stops at some of the best bars in the area to stay well-hydrated. 

Or hop on the train for a tour through history and pass by the important sites in style.

20. Go Shopping at MacArthur Mall

things to do in norfolk va

Although it is not the only shopping center in the area, it is in the heart of Norfolk’s tourist district. 

Therefore, I advise you to combine necessity with pleasure by making a purchase at MacArthur Mall, one of Norfolk’s most fun destinations.

In the winter, it occasionally has a skating rink, a movie theater, and a few eateries where you can satisfy your hunger.

The mall’s decor is also exquisite, with touches of gold, and it seems particularly clever how they incorporated the plants and fountains. In Norfolk, Virginia’s downtown, don’t skip this location.

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It’s a pleasure to travel to Norfolk. Explore some of the beautiful locations when you go. Not to mention the incredible cuisine served at the various top-notch restaurants. Decide where you’ll go on your next vacation, and Norfolk should be on it.


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