There are plenty of things to do in Norfolk, Va, and I wanted to write about this city since I started my travel blog, but I never found my words to describe a place so special to me. 

 

With a population of approximately 250,000, Norfolk Virginia has been home to me twice for ten months.

 

   I’ve been there two years in a row. My first experience was through the Work and Travel program for students who want to work and travel in the States. 

 

But the second was as a tourist when I visited my boyfriend who was doing his master there, in one of the most beautiful towns in Virginia

 

  In total, I spent about ten months here, so I know pretty well what the main Norfolk tourist attractions are. Therefore, I want to share this little guide that includes 20 things to do in Norfolk, Va.

 

   Or, why not, determine you to visit this gorgeous city, about 400 years old and of great importance in the military and nautical field, internationally. 

 

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What is Norfolk Virginia known for?

  • it’s the second most populated city in Virginia, after Virginia Beach
  • it’s one of the nine cities that make up Hampton Roads
  • almost half of the city’s surface is composed of water and many of the properties have wonderful views due to this reason
  • Norfolk has the largest naval station in the world: Norfolk Naval Station
  • it’s also called the Tree City, due to a large number of trees and flowers even in downtown Norfolk
  • the symbol of the city is a mermaid. For this reason, you will see them all over the city through very diverse and extremely colorful forms

What I use every time I travel:

What to do in Norfolk Virginia

 

    How to get to Norfolk Va:

  • by plane. If you come from outside the United States or from a more remote state, you have the opportunity to land at Norfolk International Airport
  • by car. The city is crossed by Interstate 64 and US Route 60, US Route 13, and US Route 460, so it’s easy to navigate for a visit
  • with the Tide Light Rail if you come from Virginia Beach
  •  

 

Since it’s not a very touristy city, there are not many hotels in Norfolk Va. But there are a few located very close to the attractions in Norfolk. These are my suggestions for the best hotels in Norfolk:

 

mid-budget: Hampton Inn Norfolk-Naval Base– great location, pool, free parking, good breakfast

luxury: Residence Inn Norfolk Downtown– great location, pets allowed, parking, good breakfast

 

best things to do in Norfolk Va | places to visit in Norfolk Virginia

 

20 things to do in Norfolk Va

   1. Take a walk in Town Point Park, downtown Norfolk

Town Point is the perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon in Norfolk, strolling through the narrow alleys and admiring the Elizabeth River. This is only when there is not an important event on that day.



The park hosts many festivals and significant events designed to entertain and bring together people who live in Norfolk.

 

These include the July 4 Celebrations celebrating Independence of America through spectacular fireworks, The Parade of Sail, the Cajun Food Festival, the Virginia Wine Festival, and the Spring Wine Festival.

 

Participating in a festival in Town Point Park is one of the most fun things to do in Norfolk.

 

 


READ ALSO: 5 gorgeous towns to visit on the East Coast, USA USA


 

 

  2. Go to the beach in Ocean View | Best places to visit in Norfolk, Va

Ocean View Norfolk Virginia

 

Ocean View Norfolk Virginia

Ocean View Norfolk Virginia

 

 

 3. Have fun for a day at the Norfolk Yacht & Country Club | 20 things to do in Norfolk Va

  Visiting Norfolk can be a lot of fun. Get your daily entertainment portion at one of the hottest clubs in Norfolk Va. This is, of course, the Norfolk Yacht & Country Club, where relaxation and leisure opportunities are almost endless.

 

     Swimming pools, tennis courts, 3 superb restaurants, yachts, fitness, sauna, and massage are all located in the same place on the banks of the Lafayette River on Hampton Boulevard. Moreover, it seems to be the ideal place for a complex photoshoot, one of the fun things to do in Norfolk Va

 

 4. Walk the streets of Norfolk Virginia

 

 It’s no news that this kind of activity is among my favorites when we talk about visiting a place, especially if it’s the first time I’m there. 

 

Given that Norfolk Va is not a very big city, you can explore most of the center and the neighborhoods on foot in a few hours of walking. Bonus, it’s one of the free things to do in Norfolk

 

   Why would you do this? Not miss the chance to admire Gothic-style churches like the Revival St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Colonial, Neoclassical, Tudor, Victorian houses, colorful streets, parks, gardens, and mermaid statues scattered throughout the city.

 

   Many people practice running, both in the morning and evening, just because the alleys and streets of the city reveal a charming atmosphere. Add walking to your list of Norfolk Va activities.

Norfolk Va

Norfolk Va

best things to do in Norfolk Va | attractions in Norfolk Va | best places to visit in Norfolk

best things to do in Norfolk Va

 

5. Go Shopping at MacArthur Mall | 20 things to do in Norfolk Va

 It is not the only mall in town, but it is located downtown, where many other Norfolk attractions are. So, I recommend you combine necessity with pleasure and spend some money at MacArthur Mall, one of the most entertaining places to visit in Norfolk.

 

   It hosts many brands, occasionally a rink during the winter, a cinema, and some restaurants where you can quench your hunger.

 

The mall’s design is also exquisite, with golden accents, and it seems to be very interesting how they integrated the plants and fountains into the decor.
Don’t miss this place in downtown Norfolk Virginia.

best things to do in Norfolk Va

 

  6. Take a one-day trip to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg

  Williamsburg Amusement Park is on the list of my favorite things to do near Norfolk, Va. Besides the boost of adrenaline you get when riding the rollercoasters, the park has a stunning design.

 

The central theme is famous cities in Europe. So, in a few steps, you can jump from France to Germany, then to Italy, Scotland, and so on. Therefore, is one of the best things to do near Norfolk Va, especially for those who love to travel.

 

   My favorite area is London, well represented by the famous red buses and the English flag. Do not miss Griffon, MÄCH TOWER, or Tempesto.

 

These are the attractions that raised my pulse, and I chose to try them twice.

 

   Busch Gardens is only an hour away from Norfolk, so I recommend you book a whole day to fully enjoy all the parks. Busch Gardens is, without any doubt, one of the best fun things to do in Norfolk Virginia

 

Get your entry ticket for Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia

 

Best things to do in Norfolk Va
Best things to do in Norfolk Va
Best things to do in Norfolk Va
Best things to do in Norfolk Va

 

  7. Visit Chrysler Museum of Art | 20 things to do in Norfolk Va

     Address: 1 Memorial Pl Norfolk, VA 23510

 

    Norfolk Va boasts one of the most renowned art museums in the country, Chrysler being home to about 30,000 exhibits.

 

In addition to the art decorations, such as photographs, paintings, sculptures, you will also find a studio dedicated to glass and glass objects.

 

   You will have the chance to admire the way they manufacture it, and you will even be able to become a student, participating in the courses held in the museum. I’m telling you, Chrysler is one of the best museums in Norfolk Va.

 

  If you’re wondering if there is any link between the name of the museum and the famous car brand, the answer is yes. Walter P. Chrysler, a great collector of automobiles and art objects, donated much of his collection to Norfolk.

 

So the name of the museum was taken from him as a sign of gratitude. Well, yes, Chrysler Museum is one of the top things to do in Norfolk, Va

 

 8. Admire the blooming trees

  If I were to nominate one thing I adore about this city, it would be the vegetation. More precisely, the beautiful Myrtle Crape trees, in all colors, adorn the streets of the town in Spring and Summer.

 

  I traveled to many places in the United States, but none of them seemed as beautiful as Norfolk, Virginia, when these trees are blooming, especially in the Colonial Place neighborhood.

 

   So the warm season is the ideal time to visit this magnificent city of Virginia. I will stop at this point in my attempt to convince you and let the pictures speak instead. As you can imagine, admiring the trees is one of my favorite things to do in Norfolk, Va

 

 

9. Get lunch in town | 20 things to do in Norfolk Va

   In 10 months, I managed to make a list of the best places to eat in Norfolk, Va. Indeed, there are others I have tested, and my taste buds enjoyed them as well.

 

   But I want to mention the ones I frequented. Chipotle, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, IHOP, Cafe Stella, Hooters, Cook Out, and Saffron Indian Bistro are among my favorites. But there are so many other great restaurants that you should try.

 

Where to eat in Norfolk Va:

  • Saltine
  • Texas de Brazil
  • Freemason Abbey Restaurant

 

 

10. Admire a stunning sunset in Whitehurst Beach Park

   At this point, I must admit that my subjectivity reaches alarming levels. Whitehurst Beach Park is very close to the place where I lived in Norfolk, and, hence, this is the reason why I recommend it for observing some of the most charming sunsets ever. It’s one of my dearest places to visit in Norfolk, Va

Sunset Norfolk Virginia

Sunset Norfolk Virginia

Sunset Norfolk Virginia

Sunset Norfolk Virginia

 

  11. Drink tea at the famous Pagoda | 20 things to do in Norfolk Va

Prepare to leave the typical American atmosphere in favor of a 100% Asian one. The Pagoda is a gift given to Norfolk city by the Government of Taiwan in 1983.



It was transported in pieces, then assembled with great meticulousness and attention to detail. Today, a beautiful garden with a lake with lilies surrounded by bamboo and wooden bridges is guarding the Pagoda.



But that’s not all. The Pagoda is the ideal place to spend a lovely afternoon, serving Asian dishes and tea.


It’s very likely to spot some fish and frogs next to the Pagoda in the lake. In my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful places to see in Norfolk.

 

Best things to do in Norfolk Va
Best things to do in Norfolk Va

best things to do in Norfolk Va | places to visit in Norfolk Virginia

 

   12. Admire the splendid houses in the historic Ghent district

The fact that Norfolk has beautiful architecture is no longer a secret. I’ve revealed this to you from the first row written. But how does it feel to visit a place where all the houses seem to be straight from fairy tales?

 

   I’ll tell you: magnificent! Walking around the Ghent neighborhood is one of the unique things to do in Norfolk. Here you’ll find a perfect blend of architectural styles, like Queen Anne, Colonial, Tudor, or Victorian.

 

   Houses are made of brick, stone, and wood, in many colors and shapes, surrounded by perfect gardens.

 

Of course, such a neighborhood could not be overlooked by the National Register of Historic Places, so it has been included since 1980. Yes, as it is written on the slate below. Walking around this beautiful neighborhood is one of the best things to do in Norfolk, Va.

 

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

 

 13. Visit Virginia Zoo | 20 things to do in Norfolk Va

 

 

  I visited the Norfolk Zoo twice, and that’s because I enjoyed it very much. It’s not like any other zoo with specific animal cages and a series of paths and arrows to guide you to them. 

 

Here, the decor is gorgeous and well thought out, and it resembles the natural habitat of animals, which I like. 

 

Here you will be able to see over 500 animals brought from all over the world and many species of plants. 

 

Lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, kangaroos, and even a gorgeous red panda await you to interact with them. If you are not entirely against zoos, you should add this activity to the list of places to see in Norfolk. It’s also one of the best things to do in Norfolk with kids.

 

 

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

 

 14. A one-day trip to Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is the largest city in Virginia, and it’s one of Norfolk’s neighbors, with a distance of about 25 minutes by car.

 

With one of the most friendly beaches in the state, a 3-mile boardwalk, amusement parks, museums, and countless leisure opportunities, Virginia Beach is the perfect destination for a fun day trip, and you should add it to the list of things to do near Norfolk, Va.

 

I’ve already posted an article with the best things to do in Virginia Beach, so I’m not gonna insist on that right now.

 

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

 

  15. Visit Hermitage and Gardens Museum

 

 

 If you feel the need for an outdoor delight in a dreamlike setting with many flower-themed gardens, impressive collections of paintings, and a fairy-tale atmosphere, then Hermitage is the place to be, one of the best museums in Norfolk Va.

 

  16. Admire a ship that participated in the Second World War | 20 things to do in Norfolk Va

 This is USS Wisconsin, which served in World War II and the 1991 Gulf wars. USS Wisconsin is one of the largest and among the last remaining warships so old.

 

It’s an impressive ship that you can admire both from the outside and inside, in exchange for an additional fee.



The ship has also received many awards and recognition throughout its long career. 



Packed, you can visit the Nauticus Museum, where a wide variety of educational programs, interactive theaters, movies, and aquariums await you. Both the museum and the ship are open daily for sightseeing.

 

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

 

 17. Cross Elizabeth River by ferry

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

 

Besides the fact that Portsmouth is a beautiful town worth exploring, you will have the chance to admire Norfolk’s skyline.

 

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

 

 18. Visit the Botanical Garden

 

 Norfolk Botanical Garden is made of over 12 miles of alleys through the 60 theme gardens. Don’t worry, you can definitely see it all in one day.

 

You will feel like in an oasis of peace.
Besides flowers, the garden also has lovely artesian fountains, exhibitions, souvenir shops, or exciting boat tours. I have opted for a boat tour, and I must admit that it has exceeded my expectations.

 

Guides have been very professional in providing complete information about the surroundings, the species of trees, and birds, so the whole experience has been delightful.

 

Of all the best places to visit in Norfolk, I must say that Norfolk Botanical Garden is on my personal top 5.

 

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

Best things to do in Norfolk Va

 

 19. Go to a concert at the Scope Arena | 20 things to do in Norfolk Va

  The most eye-catching building in Norfolk is, without a doubt, Scope Arena, an impressive building that has won the title of the largest reinforced concrete building with this shape.

 

Since 1971, the arena has been a great host for theater, concerts, circus demonstrations, and other big-city events. If you’re searching for fun things to do in Norfolk, than Scope Arena is the place to be.

 

20. Dine on Spirit of Norfolk

 

Good music and delicious food, this is what you can expect from this mini cruise in Norfolk on the famous Spirit of Norfolk.

 

Get your tickets here

best things to do in Norfolk Va | attractions in Norfolk Va | best places to visit in Norfolk

 

Best time to visit Norfolk Va

 

Summers in Norfolk Va are hot and humid, and winters are considerably colder, with a lot of snow. June and July are the busiest months for tourists in the city, but May is also popular. Therefore, you schedule your vacation during Spring to avoid heat and crowds.

 

How many days do you need to visit Norfolk Virginia?

 

To visit the best places in Norfolk, you should spend at least three days here. If you want to check all the 20 things included in this list, a week would be ideal.

 

Is Norfolk a safe city?

 

In terms of crime, Norfolk is safer than other cities of comparable size. Norfolk Va, is as safe as the state of Virginia and safer than the national average.

 


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