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10 Best Things to Do in Norfolk VA

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Veronika

I’m Veronica Brown, I’ve been traveling for more than 10 years, traveled to more than 100 countries of the world, sharing with you the most useful and important information on the pages 43places.com.

Norfolk is a city in the south-east of Virginia that is known for its inspiring neighborhoods, established at different periods of time. Over the century, the city was proving its reputation as home to the largest and the most powerful naval base all over the world. To see Norfolk from another vantage point, you can enjoy diverse flora and fauna of multiple green areas. The local municipality doesn’t scrimp when it comes to nature. No wonder, Norfolk was called the Tree City. As almost half of the city’s area is surrounded by water, many of the properties have great views.

Despite its 400 years old history, Norfolk positions itself as a progressive city, going through constant changes. If you decide to visit this place, you may need some recommendations on quality time-spending. To have a little guide, keep reading.

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Best Thing to Do Number 1: Visit Chrysler Museum of Art

Chrysler Museum of Art is located in the Ghent area, known as the most artistic area of the city. The museum was named after Walter Chrysler, who had an immense impact on the automotive industry and who invested a considerable sum of money to the museum in the 1930s. Initially, the achievements of the automobile industry were supposed to be represented in the museum. Eventually, it has become one of the major art spaces in the Southeastern United States, having over 30,000 items that cover a long period of history. These include sculpture, paintings, glasswork, photography, and decorative arts. For instance, pottery from the Middle Ages, and European works by well-known artists such as William Baziotes, Keith Haring, and Franz Kline.

The museum is considered to be one of the most significant objects in Virginia so that you shouldn’t miss your chance if you are interested in art. You can visit this on Sundays from noon to 5pm and from Tuesdays to Saturday from 10am to 5pm. If you have little time to spend at the museum, make sure to see the glass art collection called Ancient Worlds, visit a daily exhibition at the Glass studio, or listen to a free gallery audio.

Interesting: There is no admission fee, which makes the facility easily accessible for everyone who wants to enjoy the artistic beauty.
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Best Thing to Do Number 2: Explore the Norfolk Botanical Gardens

The Norfolk Botanical Garden covers around 175 acres with 14 miles of well-organized trails. The Garden is located close to the Norfolk International Airport, being surrounded by water. This aspect makes the landscape even more attractive from an aesthetic point of view. The whole area is split into different sections that involve around forty gardens, each featuring a distinct theme. You will notice that the local flora and fauna is not limited to the USA. Here are the major areas, which are mandatory for visiting:

  • Japanese Garden is a tranquil area designed in the classical conceptualization of Asian gardens;
  • Enchanted Forest is full of ancient weeping willow, beech, and pine trees creating a comfortable environment for those who love nature;
  • Hummingbird Garden is based on a combination of annuals, bushes, and trees, attracting small birds;
  • Tropical Display House has lots of colorful leaves and various plants that are usually growing in tropical rainforests in specific regions.

The visitors can enjoy the beauty of gardens of roses, tulips, lilies, daffodils, orchids, and crape myrtles. Most flowers and plants here are seasonal so that the gardens bloom all year round.

If you think there is nothing to do in Norfolk with children, you are absolutely wrong. This can be a great place to have fun in. The Butterfly House and the WOW Children’s Garden make the whole facility suitable for customers of younger ages. Also, there is the Children’s Adventure Garden that involves interactive educational activities letting children learn many interesting things about plants and botany by means of play.

Each year the Garden arranges several regular events such as a Butterfly Festival and Barks & Brews. This area can also be used as an amazing wedding venue.

Interesting: The Norfolk Botanical Garden looks amazing in the springtime. All the themed areas can be viewed from a train if you ride it around the whole botanical garden. It usually takes around half an hour.
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Best thing to do number 3: See the USS Wisconsin

The USS Wisconsin is known as a powerful ship that was widely used for the military purposes during World War II. In the 1980s, the ship stopped being used. In the 1990s, the ship was renovated for the short-term use during the Operation Desert Storm. Later on, it has turned into a nautical museum administered by the National Maritime Center. It is an impressive construction that looks exciting from different sides, which can be accessed for an extra charge.

If you secede to visit this object, you can take a self-guided tour to see different sections of the ship including bureaus, a chapel, and the officers’ cabins. There is also a guided tour for joining where the whole background of the ship will be explained in details by professional guides. Also, you will be allowed to see the captain’s and admiral’s places.

The USS Wisconsin is in the list of the largest battleships ever developed by the USA. The onsite exhibitions include the most popular Art in the Guts of the Wisky, Battleship Aviation, and Wisky Walk: Fifty Years of Service. Thus, it wouldn’t be exaggerated to say that the USS Wisconsin has become one of the most popular highlights of a trip to Norfolk. It is usually involved in an extended city tour of the Battleship Wisconsin.

Interesting: Being a part of the Nauticus Museum, the USS Wisconsin can be visited as a part of a wide variety of educational projects, interactive theaters, and videos. Both the museum and the ship are available for visits on a daily basis.
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Best Thing to Do Number 4: Visit Moses Myers House

By the end of the Revolutionary War, the Moses Myers House was built as the first brick home in 1795. It was resided by the family of a famous American entrepreneur who was instrumental in the growth of Norfolk. These days, the Moses Myers House gives a look into how people lived in this part of the country at the turn of the century. The house is still equipped with the original furniture as if the family keeps living there. The tables are laid with silver products for the fancy dinners that once took place. A baby staff remains on the floor, as if the family had to leave their home in a rush. It’s a really amazing place to visit and well worth the trip.

Interesting: There is a permanent exhibition devoted to the story and history of Moses Myers and his family. What’s good about it is that there is no service charge for visitors as the facility is maintained by the local municipality.
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Best Thing to Do Number 5: Go to Nauticus National Maritime Center

The Maritime Center was established in the 1980s, while its doors were opened to visitors in 1994. The operations of this center are based on all nautical things so that you can expect a wide range of interactive exhibits and several interactive and large-screen theaters.

The main part of the center is the Hampton Roads Naval Museum that is known for giving customers an opportunity to get close with the exhibits such as a shark laboratory. The Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center functions as a marina and a cruise ship platform which are located within the center. As it has been previously mentioned, the USS Wisconsin belongs to the Nauticus.

Interesting: The museum organizes different events for adults and kids teach them the history of the American navy, which is the largest in the world. They offer interactive activities that enable a better understanding of the navy’s duties and a ship’s general functionality. It’s engaging enough to spend all day here if you like.
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Best Thing to Do Number 6: Get Excited at Naval Station Norfolk

Naval Station Norfolk is considered to be the largest naval base in the world, which is something worth of seeing. The area covers around six kilometers over the waterfront of Norfolk, involving 11 hangars, more than 130 aircraft, and 70 naval vessels. This naval base serves as home to the majority of navy personnel in the USA. Nevertheless, visitors are allowed to visit the base with a member of naval staff who will explain the background of the navy, as well as the functionality of some of the ships and aircraft providers that operate here.

Interesting: Naval Station accumulates the largest number of U.S. Navy forces in the world. Most tours last for 45 minutes and are guided by naval staff who provide visitors with the major information about ships and aircraft carriers operating here.
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Best Thing to Do Number 7: Enjoy the Beauty of Hermitage Museum and Gardens

The Hermitage Museum and Gardens was established as a historic attraction and art museum. The Sloane house is located close to the Lafayette River and serves as a decent example of an arts and crafts estate being founded sometime in the beginning of the 20th century. Its collection is represented with more than 40,000 items that cover thousands of years of art and history from more than 25 countries across the globe.

Apart from the regular collection, the museum arranges short-term exhibits in its Changing Galleries section. The gardens cover around 12 acres of forest and areas flooded by water that are often used as the venture for special occasions.

Interesting: If you want to enjoy outdoor activities in a breath-taking setting, the Hermitage would be the best possible solution. With plenty of flower-themed gardens, amazing selection of paintings and fantastic atmosphere, you will surely enjoy the atmosphere.
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Best Thing to Do Number 8: Have Fun at Mermaid Factory

The symbol of the city is mermaid so that you should be ready to see it everywhere. The local a craft store and working facilities located on West 21st Street used this symbol for marketing purposes. It started making clay mermaids and dolphins in Norfolk. Visitors are offered to buy ready-made mermaids, and decorate the colorless samples on their own at the studio by using a vast array of resources, from various charms to various fabrics. There are lots of locations where you can buy souvenirs in Norfolk, but crafting souvenirs on your own can be an even more meaningful experience.

The studio has capacity for not more than 25 people. Thus, it is available for rental for corporate events, parties, and so on. The craft shop also produces and distributes the additional dolphin, mermaid, and some other nautical items, which may be interesting for visitors. This local hot spot becomes very busy on weekends so that it is highly recommended to reserve the place in advance, even if you are just a couple.

Interesting: To make your experience more delightful, complimentary wine is included! Nicely, it may boost your creativity while decorating your own thing.
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Best Thing to Do Number 9: Join One of Coastal Food Tours

Norfolk’s tasty food is based on the number of qualified chefs. Now, you can try some of the most delicious things on a Downtown Norfolk Food Tour. It would be a nice idea to walk around the city spending time at some local restaurants that serve the whole spectrum of international dishes, from traditional coastal to modern cuisine.

You have a wide range of tours to choose from in order to explore the historical background of each area and its culinary specificity. Here are some of them:

  • The Granby Street Food Tour goes through the downtown areas where you can try a variety of regional meals as well as the elements of the modern cuisine at the most popular restaurants.
  • The Historic Ghent Tour is based on the exploration of the architectural constructions, which create great opportunities for shopping and having a meal.
  • The Ocean View Tour makes you involved in the picturesque landscape of Chesapeake.

Interesting: The average price for coastal food tours in Norfolk doesn’t exceed 100$, which is quite a reasonable price for trying the best pieces of the local food tradition. Oftentimes, these tours include the degustation of high-quality wines and some other alcoholic drinks, which are popular in the given area.
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Best Thing to Do Number 10: Go to the Beach

What’s so good about the local beach is that it offers generous waves and comfortable temperatures throughout a year. Also, it is a perfect place for water sports such as surfing and jet skiing. If you are not a big fan of physical activities, you can spend some time sunbathing. The local beach is a beautiful and quite place where you can meet many local people and tourists who come here to relax.

Ocean View is totally worth of seeing in the morning when you have the unique chance to enjoy an impressive sunrise. If you are lucky enough, you will see the migration of dolphins, which is absolutely amazing. By the end of the day, you can walk a bit and have dinner on Harrison’s Fishing Pier or some other cozy restaurant on the coast.

By the way, the Ocean View Fishing is one more way to enjoy your time on the beach. The pier for fishing is located near the Chesapeake Bay covering the area of almost 1,700 feet. This is where you can not only start fishing but also visit the local restaurant, tackle shop, and lounge areas. The restaurant is equipped with outdoor seating offering great views of the water.

Interesting: While Norfolk has lots of nice things to offer to visitors, going to the beach must be a mandatory part of your trip. Virginia Beach is probably the most popular place to enjoy transparent water, clean sand, and bright sun rays. Make sure to take the camera, as beach photos happen to be the best ones for sharing with family and friends.
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Written By:

I’m Veronica Brown, I’ve been traveling for more than 10 years, traveled to more than 100 countries of the world, sharing with you the most useful and important information on the pages 43places.com.

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