Norfolk is a waterfront city in the state of Virginia’s southeastern region.
It is a melting pot of cultures, ideas, and people with so many attractions to see in this uniquely wonderful city.
Some of the major attractions include; the Naval Station Norfolk, the Battleship Wisconsin, and the Virginia Zoo.
It also boasts the Chrysler Museum of Art, which is one of the best art museums in this region of the country.
The Norfolk Botanical Garden is also a beautiful place to visit.
Alternatively, you can take a boat here to get a different perspective on the city.
Go through our list of the best places to visit in Norfolk to make your itinerary to visit this place.
Things To Do In Norfolk Virginia
1. VA International Tattoo
It’s no secret that Norfolk is proud of its military; after all, Norfolk is home to the world’s largest naval facility.
In 1997, the Virginia Arts Festival introduced the city to the Virginia International Tattoo Festival, which has since become a cornerstone of Norfolk’s performing arts scene.
The Virginia International Tattoo is the hallmark event of the Virginia Arts Festival.
To clarify, this is a military tattoo that debuted in 1997.
Military bands, massed pipes and drums, military drill teams, Celtic dancers, and other performers perform at the Tattoo every year.
This once-a-year magnificent event features hundreds of foreign artists and inspirational military music.
The grand massed pipes and drums, as well as show-stopping drill team moves, help to define it.
This showcase of military talent is unlike any other in the United States.
Above all, over 38,000 people attend each year, including over 16,000 area students at the yearly student matinees.
Don’t be left out.
Address: Norfolk, Virginia, USA
2. USS Wisconsin BB-64
Taking a tour of the Battleship, Wisconsin, should be one of the things you should do on your visit to Norfolk, Virginia. It is one of the largest battleships ever built by the United States Navy.
The USS Wisconsin (BB-64) is an Iowa-class battleship. And the United States Navy’s second ship, named after the state of Wisconsin.
On December 7, 1943, the USS Wisconsin BB-64 ship was launched, and in the year 2000, it was berthed at Nauticus.
The battleship is a majestic ship. However, it is also a weapon of mass destruction.
You can take a self-guided tour around.
Alternatively, you could go with a tour guide to explore the deck and learn about the ship’s history.
Similarly, the Navy also owns the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, which you can visit.
A collection of weapons, ship models, paintings, underwater treasures, and authentic costumes can be found here.
3. Norfolk Botanical Garden
When visiting Norfolk, make sure to stop at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.
This is Virginia’s largest botanical garden. It opens every day from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and is a fantastic location for both tours and events.
To begin with, visitors can explore the gardens’ 175 acres. It consists of 7 miles of paved trails and 7 kilometers of unpaved paths.
It’s very lovely and soothing.
There’s also plenty of room, so you won’t be going shoulder to shoulder with other people.
It is also a lovely spot for a relaxing stroll with your children.
Notably, the Children’s Garden and the Butterfly House are very popular with visitors.
They keep their splash pads out during the summer in their children’s garden, as well as a small space for babies. And the trees and flowers are really gorgeous!. There are also small houses for children to explore, as well as a large sandhill!
Roses, camellias, and crape myrtles are among the most popular collections on display here.
These botanical gardens are one of a kind. They are the only ones in the country that may be visited by tram, boat, or foot.
Water surrounds the botanical gardens on three sides, providing amazing scenery.
4. Selden Market
Visiting the Selden Market is one of the best things to do in Norfolk. Here you can sample and appreciate many of the city’s innovative trends in fashion, food, and more!
The renovated building is located in the historic Selden Arcade in downtown Norfolk.
Vessel Craft Coffee and Pure Lagos are two businesses worth checking out in this area.
Vessel Craft Coffee has quickly established itself as one of Norfolk’s greatest coffee businesses. Notably refining the art of specialty coffee.
On the other hand, Pure Lagos is an African art gallery that sells original artwork, antiquities, and fashion from all around Africa. Sia Alexander launched Pure Lagos. And it is a female-owned and black-owned enterprise.
Address: 208 E Main St, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
5. Chrysler Museum
The Chrysler Museum of Art is another famous attraction in Norfolk, Virginia.
This museum houses over 30,000 works of art.
These works of art were created at various eras throughout history, spanning over 5,000 years!.
It’s a treasure trove of contemporary art and historical antiquities. Coupled with that is the amazing collection of mummies!
It is also one of the top glass collections in the country.
The Chrysler Museum has two levels of massive collections spanning all nations and ages. Notably, from Ancient Egypt and Greece to French impressionism and cutting-edge new-age inventions.
Guests can also have the opportunity to explore the Perry Glass Studio. This studio is a 7,000-square-foot space where artisans meet to exhibit their work.
Chrysler museum offers a diverse collection ranging from ancient to modern art. As well as unique exhibits that are only on display for a few months at a time.
They also have a sizable collection of blown glass, as they have a glass blowing facility and classes right next door.
In addition, they also have a small cafe that is quite decent. The staffs are also quite pleasant, informed, and indeed very helpful.
In conclusion, if you’re searching for a place to have an amazing experience, this is a good place to go.
Address: Chrysler Museum of Art, 1 Memorial Pl, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
6. The Virginia Zoo
The Virginia Zoo is home to over 500 animals. This includes the African elephant and the small dart frog, as well as a diverse collection of plant species.
Furthermore, the Zoo has a range of habitats with creatures from Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America, as well as a number of good displays.
Malayan tigers, orangutans, oriental small-clawed otters, and binturongs are among the exotic and rare animals here.
The zoo is located next to Lafayette Park in Norfolk. It is also noted for its lovely gardens, which are meant to supply locals with fresh plant delicacies.
In addition, throughout the year, the Zoo hosts a range of educational events. This includes the famous ‘Zoo Snoozes,’ in which guests spend a fun-filled night at the zoo enjoying games and activities while also visiting the nocturnal creatures.
Address: 3500 Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23504, United States
7. Naval Station Norfolk
The biggest naval base in the world is located in Norfolk, Virginia.
To the point, whatever brings you to Norfolk, you should take advantage of the opportunity to see Naval Station Norfolk.
Naval Station Norfolk’s objective is to support and strengthen the US Atlantic Fleet’s manpower and logistics preparedness. The naval facility in Norfolk provides services such as seaport, airports, and squadron facilities.
The Station is located on a peninsula known as Sewells Point and covers approximately 4,300 acres.
The tours of the Naval Base are not to be missed.
The 45-minute trip begins at the Naval Tour and Information Center, which is located close to Gate 5 at 9079 Hampton Boulevard.
Subsequently, Navy officials lead bus tours past aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, and the crowded airstrip.
A historic mansion from the 1907 Jamestown Exposition is also included in the tour.
The tour is fee-based, and for all adults, a photo ID is necessary.
Also, the Port’s facilities stretch for more than four miles along the water’s edge.
You just can’t go wrong by visiting this place too
Address: 1530 Gilbert St # 2000, Norfolk, VA 23511, United States
8. American Rover Sailing Cruises
On a real tall ship-the American Rover, cruise the calm waters of Hampton Roads Harbor.
The American Rover sets sail from downtown Norfolk’s Waterside.
While here, you can help with the sails or simply relax and take in the incredible sights.
The design of the American Rover was influenced by 19th-century schooners, yet it has all the modern conveniences.
There are three cruises per day, one of which is a sunset cruise. You can, by all means, go on all three cruises, but the best ones are usually sunset cruises.
This is indeed a fantastic sailboat cruise around Norfolk’s port.
The boat is incredible, and the crew and skipper are also outstanding.
If you haven’t already, include this on your list of things to do when visiting the area, and make sure to do so.
Address: 333 Waterside Dr, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
Planning a road trip outside of Norfolk? Why not check our list of things to do in Virginia Beach, things to do in Arlington, and things to do in Roanoke?
9. The Victory Rover
The Victory Rover sails through Naval Station Norfolk on 2-hour narrated cruises.
It leaves from Nauticus, which is located on the downtown waterfront. Along the journey, you get to listen to some entertaining remarks.
You can also see all the ships that make up the world’s most powerful fleet, including aircraft carriers. There’s an enclosed deck with air conditioning, an open-air upper deck, and a snack bar.
This is an amazing opportunity for anyone who wishes to spend a pleasant day on the water while having a good view of the harbor.
Reservations can be made. And for a more delightful experience, bring your camera and binoculars with you.
Furthermore, the tour guides are quite knowledgeable and familiar with all the ships. Some of which include dredging boats, commerce, and military ships of various sizes.
Above all, there is a whole lot of fascinating history In this area that you’ll really enjoy.
Address: 1 Waterside Dr, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
Nauticus is located at 1 Waterside Drive in Norfolk’s downtown waterfront.
It is a maritime-themed scientific center for youngsters. Nauticus is equipped with an aquarium, hands-on displays, interactive theaters, and a range of educational events.
When visiting Virginia Beach, the Naval Museum should surely be on your itinerary. The town of Norfolk is the place to go if you want to learn more about the US Navy.
Inside Nauticus, the Hampton Roads Maritime Museum showcases 225 years of naval history. The Battleship of Wisconsin, which can be accessed from the second floor of Nauticus, is also part of the museum’s historic interpretation.
In Nauticus, stop by the well-stocked gift shop and restaurant. There is actually no parking on-site. However, there are numerous city-run parking garages within walking distance.
Nauticus is definitely worth a visit, whether you’re leaving on a cruise or exploring all of Norfolk’s sights.
You’ll have the opportunity to tour the Military Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval facility. It is particularly fantastic to see the majestic ships and carriers up close.
Address: 1 Waterside Dr, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
Hungry? Check out some of the best restaurants in Norfolk to enjoy the best cuisines!
11. MacArthur Memorial
The MacArthur Memorial is a museum, study center, and library dedicated to General Douglas MacArthur’s life narrative. It’s also a nod to those who served alongside him. The museum is free to attend.
The MacArthur Square Tide light rail stop is directly across the street.
Every half-hour, a short documentary film is shown at the memorial’s theater. It incorporates newsreel footage as well as animations, and It comes highly recommended.
Those who can’t make the trip can take a virtual tour on their website. They also provide historical podcasts.
In addition, artifacts, murals, paintings, sculptures, and cars can all be found in the museum.
There are so many beautiful and wonderful things to look at. Likewise, they also have a fantastic gift shop. Related to that, the staff here are extremely pleasant and informed.
Parking in the garage only costs $1.
If you’re not careful, you can easily spend the entire day here. It’s a fantastic site to visit, and it’s entirely free to the public and immaculately maintained.
Address: 198 Bank St, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
12. Norfolk Harborfest & Tall Ships
The world’s tall ships dock in Norfolk for Harborfest.
It is a festival usually held on June 10-12. The festival often takes place in Town Point Park in the heart of the city.
Generally, on Friday at noon, there’s usually a Sail Parade to begin with.
Tall ships, as well as smaller boats and ships, are included. Beginning at noon on Saturday, several ships will be open to the public for tours.
On Saturday, there’s generally a workboat procession on the Chesapeake Bay. At this point, the boats are adorned for the procession and will be utilized to harvest clams, crabs, and oysters. On Sunday, the workboats compete in a race on the Elizabeth River.
And particularly at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, there’s usually a massive fireworks display. It’s one of the most impressive fireworks displays on the east coast.
The Coastal Riverine Force demonstrations, Build-A-Boat Challenge, and the Real Mermaids are among the other Harborfest events.
The summer’s “can’t miss” event is the Norfolk Harborfest. Make a point of attending.
Address: 120 W Main St, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
13. The Tide
Tide light rail in Norfolk is operated by Hampton Roads Transit.
The train travels seven miles through downtown to the Virginia Beach border.
On the Tide system, there are eleven stops.
Also, if you ride your bicycle to the train station, you can take it on the train with you.
A one-way ride on the Tide costs $2. When accompanied by an adult, children under the age of 38 inches ride for free.
Tickets are available for purchase from vending machines located throughout the stations. Before boarding the train, purchase your fare card.
Address: 150 Atlantic St, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
14. Press 626 Café and Wine Bar
Right in the heart of Norfolk, Press 626 Café and Wine Bar is a relaxed neighborhood wine bar.
They are dedicated to providing a one-of-a-kind experience via exceptional wine and cuisine programs. Coupled with that is the distinctive design and unmatched service with Southern hospitality.
Press consistently delivers an excellent environment, service, food, and wine.
From the moment you walk through the door to the moment you leave, you are immersed in a fantastic experience.
For many locals, this is a favorite go-to spot for a dating night on any given weekday. They also have a unique wine collection for wine enthusiasts of all types and budgets.
The bartenders can also help with cocktail pairings and recommendations.
In addition, the Happy Hour prices are enough to entice you in and keep you there. Also, the meal and drinks are served to you by very attentive servers.
In summary, visit here to enjoy a nice autumn evening while being gentle to yourself.
Address: 626 W Olney Rd, Norfolk, VA 23507, United States
15. A.W. Shucks Raw Bar and Grill
Norfolk, A.W. Shucks Raw Bar and Grill is widely regarded as the locals’ favorite raw bar hangout.
It is located in the heart of Ghent.
Fresh local and regional seafood, as well as a big range of fresh oysters, are among the specialties of this place.
Along with a comprehensive bar program, they also have a huge range of craft beers and excellent wine. It is a place where you may come any day of the week and have a good time.
The staff is there to assist you at any time. The staff are extremely nice and attentive, and the kitchen consistently delivers on time. Except for the fresh oysters and the daily specialties, which are frequently excellent, the menu does not change.
They notably serve the best seafood in Norfolk. And although it is not inexpensive, you get what you pay for.
This is a fantastic restaurant. There are plenty of options to satisfy your hunger. Prices that aren’t too high yet aren’t too low. Friendly personnel and, most importantly, delicious cuisine prepared to perfection!
Address: 2200 Colonial Ave, Norfolk, VA 23517, United States
See other lists of our things to do in Alexandria and things to do in Arlington!
16. Tautog’s Restaurant
This Tautog’s Restaurant was founded with the goal of providing clients with a one-of-a-kind dining experience. They combine high-quality seafood with exceptional customer service in a welcoming coastal setting.
The atmosphere of this ancient seaside bungalow turned restaurant is fantastic. You can sit on the screened porch and take in the atmosphere.
The combination of sight, sound, and smell is a winning formula for attracting guests—especially those looking for the best casual eating experience in the area.
In addition, Tautog’s unusual environment is designed to give guests a glimpse into the area’s maritime past. You relish the past while dining on some of the best seafood available today.
The Restaurant also offers a wide range of products with a focus on good quality and fast delivery.
The meals are created with local tastes and biases in mind. Equally important is the consideration of personal health concerns and environmental concerns.
Notably, Tautog’s Customer Service is designed to achieve optimum customer and employee satisfaction.
They are open from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Sundays and Thursdays, as well as 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Address: 205 23rd St, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, United States
17. Hermitage Museum and Gardens
The Hermitage Museum & Gardens is a mid-nineteenth-century Arts-and-Crafts house on the Lafayette River in Norfolk, Virginia.
It was previously the Sloane family’s residence.
As envisioned by the Sloanes, the Hermitage has a nationally acclaimed art collection spanning 5,000 years.
The museum also has contemporary exhibition halls, a Visual Arts Studio, and 12 acres of gardens and grounds that give art and culture to the community.
It is a fantastic place to spend a day exploring. The grounds and gardens are lovely, and the hotel is located directly on the sea.
As you wander around, you get a very peaceful sensation. The museum’s interior is also equally stunning.
Likewise, the exhibits cover a wide range of time periods. It also provides insight into what it’s like to be a true collector and purveyor of the arts.
Interestingly, The American Alliance of Museums just granted the Hermitage certification in October 2017.
In addition, the staff here are extremely kind, attentive, informed, and accommodating.
It’s a genuinely lovely place, and you should definitely pay it a visit.
Address: 7637 N Shore Rd, Norfolk, VA 23505, United States
See also the list of things to do in Blacksburg!
18. Stockley Gardens Art Festival
The Stockley Gardens Art Festival is held in the delightful Stockley Gardens community area. This place is well-known throughout the region.
This festival takes place twice a year and is open to the public. It’s one of Virginia’s two best and most well-presented art events. And It also features all mediums of art!
Generally, the festival is usually fantastic and well-organized. Similarly, the talent on display at each annual event is beyond incredible. Painters, woodworkers, potters, jewelry makers, leatherworkers, and food sellers abound!
Families are also encouraged to bring their strollers as well as their pets.
Depending on the weather outside, the crowds can be quite large on some days.
In addition, there are a lot of different artists selling a wide range of products, and there’s also a lot of beach art.
Address: Stockley Gardens, Norfolk, VA 23507, United States
19. Town Point Park
Town Point Park is eight acres of calm outdoor spaces tucked on the Elizabeth River’s riverbanks. This is located in the heart of Downtown Norfolk, Virginia’s corporate core,
However, Town Point Park is more than just a lush oasis of peace in the heart of the city. It’s a gathering spot for friends to connect. Here you can eat lunch or simply rest after a long day.
The Park is a famous waterfront park with breathtaking views of the Elizabeth River harbor.
Usually, the Park transforms into a hub of activity on select weekends throughout the year. It also hosts signature special events that provide culturally enriching experiences for the public.
This region is beautiful, and you’ll enjoy walking along the river. It is also enjoyable to watch movies in the park.
Moreover, there are various benches where you may take a break while walking.
There is also a trail that can be traveled in a variety of ways, so you wouldn’t become bored. Coupled with that are the beautiful landscapes and magnificent river views.
Park visitors will also notice an artistic fence depicting “Norfolk Memories.” This runs along the park’s edge, as well as two new fountains.
Your visit to Norfolk will be incomplete without a stop at this park.
Address: 113 Waterside Dr, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
20. Sarah Constant Beach Park, Norfolk
During winter, with the cold temperatures and snowfalls, daydreaming about the beach isn’t uncommon. Fortunately, as soon as the weather warms up again, there will be plenty of seaside spots to explore.
A great example is a little-known park in Norfolk, Virginia, which is right on the beach. Sarah Constant Beach Park is small, yet it packs a punch in terms of sand and salty air.
Sarah Constant Beach Park is a hidden treasure of a park along Virginia’s coast.
In commemoration of the Flagship Sarah Constant, it was given the name Sarah Constant.
The park is well-known for being vacant and for being a great area to go seashell hunting.
This beach is also lovely and very peaceful.
While the water is clearly a lure to this park, the small forest of climbing trees is possibly the most enchanting feature of all.
A visit to this place will add a spark to your time in Norfolk.
Address: 300 W Ocean View Ave, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
21. Norfolk Ocean View Beach Park
The crown jewel of Ocean View is this 6.5-acre beach park.
The park includes a big bandshell for performances dancing and a summer beach with lifeguards.
It also includes a boardwalk, a beach handicap access ramp, and plenty of open green space.
Guests are encouraged to dance and listen to live Big Band music at Ocean View Beach Park‘s Gazebo.
Generally, on Friday nights, guests can enjoy themed party nights and live performances by local and regional bands.
There are Family Fun and Movie Nights, as well as many other fun activities, held here.
For the younger ones, there are also children’s activities, cornhole games, food, beverages, and more.
Friday night events in Ocean View are a great way to start the weekend!
It’s a great place to relax and watch the birds while taking in the view of the beach. It’s also usually not crowded, and it’s a quiet and clean environment.
Parking is also easy to come by and is free.
Address: 100 W Ocean View Ave, Norfolk, VA 23503, United States
22. Harrison Opera House
This historic venue was once a World War II USO theater.
It was magnificently refurbished in 1993.
The gorgeous Stanley L. Harrison Opera House maintains an intimate atmosphere. It has 1,632 seats, with shimmering chandeliers, sweeping staircases, and bistro tables where visitors may sip champagne and soak up the glitz.
The structure is a three-story grand foyer with floor-to-ceiling windows and a cantilevered balcony lobby.
Certainly, outstanding acoustics can be found inside the theatre.
The stunning interior is also enhanced with box seats on the mezzanine and balcony levels.
In short, the location is simply charming and lovely.
One of the benefits of the Harrison Opera House is that every seat has a good view of the stage.
You should know that parking costs $5, but you can pay with a credit card.
Address: 160 W Virginia Beach Blvd, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
In conclusion, Norfolk is a great city to visit.
There are many wonderful attractions you’ll get to explore while you’re here.
Not to mention the amazing delicacies available at the different exceptional restaurants.
So plan your next vacation and make Norfolk your next destination