Norfolk, Virginia is easily one of the best places to visit in Virginia! Located along the Elizabeth River, Norfolk is filled with history, museums, art, dining, breweries, and many other fun things to do. Check out our recommendations for what to do in Norfolk when visiting!
Ocean View & East Beach
If you’re looking for some time in the sun and in the water, head over to one of Norfolk’s beaches! Head to the beach for swimming, sunbathing, fishing, kayaking, sailing and more.
So, head over to Community Beach Park, Sarah Constant Beach Park, or Ocean View Beach Park for beach day with the family. As well, Ocean View Beach has a fishing pier and a museum for you to enjoy.
When visiting Norfolk, you’ll definitely want to check out Waterside District. Waterside District can be found along the Elizabeth River on Waterside Drive.
Head inside of The Market, a large open concept style food court, and grab a bite or a drink. Some of the restaurants inside of The Market include Blue Moon Taphouse, Guy Fiere’s Smokehouse, and Stripers.
And outside of The Market, on the water side, you’ll find outdoor seating and games. Waterside District hosts lots of fun events such as trivia nights, silent discos, drag brunches, live music, and more.
Town Point Park
Town Point Park is a large open park in Norfolk located along the Elizabeth River. The park is the location for many of the city’s festivals! The city holds events such as Taco Fest, Virginia Wine Festival, Norfolk Harborfest, Latino Music Fest, Jazz Festivals, and more. Be sure to check out the Norfolk Festivals and Events website to find out if there is a festival happening when you’re in town!
Nauticus & the USS Wisconsin
Nauticus is a popular maritime museum located in downtown Norfolk. The museum is three floors and has an entrance to the USS Wisconsin battleship docked next door. Nauticus offers hands-on activities, films, and educational programs about the area’s maritime presence.
The second floor of Nauticus is actually the Hampton Roads Naval Museum offering a look into our naval history. Once you’re done visiting the museums, be sure to head over to the USS Wisconsin for a tour of the ship and spectacular views of the Elizabeth River!
Pagoda & Oriental Garden
The Norfolk Pagoda is a beautiful oriental garden and koi pond located near Freemason Street. Formerly known as the Marine Observation Tower, the Pagoda was a gift to the state and the city of Norfolk from the Taiwanese government in 1989.
Enjoy a peaceful visit to The Pagoda and enjoy the beautiful Chinese architecture, cherry trees, the pond, and views of the Elizabeth River. And if you’re looking for an instagrammable spot in Norfolk, The Pagoda is your perfect backdrop!
Elizabeth River Trail
The Elizabeth River Trail is a 10.5 mile urban trail beginning in downtown Norfolk and ending in the Lochhaven neighborhood near Hampton Blvd. Walk, bike, jog, or skateboard down the trail and enjoy beautiful waterfront views of the Elizabeth River. Along the way you’ll run into parks, restaurants, shops, and more. So, grab the pup and hit the trail for some fresh-air and outdoor time.
The Selden Market is a small local shopping mall in downtown Norfolk. If you love to shop local, you’ll love the Selden Market! The Selden Market showcases boutiques, a coffee bar, restaurants, regular pop-ups, and more! Visit the Selden Market Facebook Events page for information on upcoming events.
Chrysler Museum Glass Studio
If you’re an art lover, you’ll want to head over to the Chrysler Museum of Art! With over 50 galleries and more than 30,000 pieces, the Chrysler is an art lover’s paradise. The New York Times has even commented that the art collection at the Chrysler Museum of Art is one that “any museum in the world would kill for.”
In addition to the main galleries, the museum also houses The Perry Glass Studio! You can watch a glass blowing session or even sign up to try it out yourself!
If you’re interested in learning all about Norfolk, consider taking a city tour! Norfolk is filled with rich history and a up and coming art scene. The Norfolk Tour Company offers guided walking tours of several Norfolk districts. However, if you’re looking for something more unique, Norfolk Pedal Tours offers tours on a trolley pub. Enjoy a beverage with your tour while seated and cycling.
If you’re looking to get out on the water with family and friends, consider taking a cruise! The Spirit of Norfolk offers brunch, lunch, and dinner cruises while you tour Norfolk from the Elizabeth. They also offer specialty cruises for holiday, such as Mother’s Day, as well as an after dark dance cruise!
However, if you’re new in town consider a cruise on the American Rover! They offer tours of the harbor highlighting many important landmarks in Norfolk. And if you’re interested, you can even help sail the ship! The American Rover offers sunset cruises as well.
Visiting the Virginia Zoo is one of the top family friendly things to do in Norfolk, VA. Showcasing more than 700 animals and over 150 species, a day at the zoo is fun and educational.
Take the Ferry to Portsmouth
One way to enjoy a cruise on the water without breaking the bank is to take the Elizabeth River Ferry over to Portsmouth, Virginia! Currently, it costs $2 each way for adults and kids under 17 cruise for free. The Elizabeth River Ferry makes two stops in downtown Portsmouth where you can hop off and tour the city.
Go for a stroll on the Portsmouth Boardwalk and take in all the views of Norfolk and the massive shipbuilding operation across the water. Continue on and see a real floating lighthouse called the Lightship Portsmouth.
If you’re with the kids, stop by the Children’s Museum for an educational and interactive experience! But if you left the kids at home, consider a drink at Legend Brewing Depot!