If you’re looking for fun things to do in Norfolk, VA you’ve landed in the right place.
Home to many well-known attractions, this seaside town is a great place for a quick getaway or family vacation.
One of the oldest cities in Virginia, Norfolk is rife with history-rich attractions providing the landscape for lots of interesting sights and great opportunities to learn about the great state of Virginia, or Old Dominion as it’s locally known.
This quaint riverside city has a bustling downtown, tons of opportunities to get out on the water, historical sights aplenty, excellent restaurants by the dozen, and many fun activities for all ages.
World-renowned museums, unique retail shops, theaters galore, historical landmarks, picturesque parks, diversity, and culture among other things are just a few of the reasons to run (don’t walk) to Norfolk, Virginia.
1. Norfolk Botanical Garden
Situated in the heart of Norfolk, Virginia, the Norfolk Botanical Garden is one of the most beautiful places to go.
The garden sits on 175 acres of pristinely kept land and is home to more than 50 incredible gardens.
Each of the many gardens encompasses its own unique theme, the beauty of which can’t be overstated.
Significantly, the garden was established as it’s known today in 1955.
Since that time, evolutions in the landscape and scope of the space have made Norfolk Botanical Garden a wildly popular attraction.
Of note, each season at Norfolk Botanical Garden brings something new for visitors.
Not only are there a series of year-round gardens that can be seen anytime, but there are also seasonal gardens and an astounding children’s garden.
Moreover, the garden often hosts lovely special events such as garden story times, tea parties, and kayaking tours.
For the most part, Norfolk Botanical Garden is open seven days per week except for a few closed holidays, so visit today or this weekend, the choice is yours.
Address: 6700 Azalea Garden Rd, Norfolk, VA 23518, United States
2. USS Wisconsin
The USS Wisconsin is a Naval battleship docked in Norfolk, Virginia.
If you have an interest in maritime history, the USS Wisconsin is one of the top Norfolk attractions.
A visit to the USS Wisconsin allows you the distinct experience of boarding a real Naval ship.
Once aboard, you’ll have the opportunity to navigate its deck through either self-guided or guided tours, the choice is yours.
Of note, the USS Wisconsin earned a whopping five battle stars during its tour of World War II.
As such, this history-rich attraction is a must-see.
The USS Wisconsin was decommissioned after its tour during Operation Desert Storm in the 90s.
Since that time, this historic relic has been stationed in Norfolk to serve as a museum.
Tours of the vessel take between two and three hours and are laudably immersive.
If you’re looking for places to visit with the history buffs in your party, the USS Wisconsin fits the bill.
Address: 1 Waterside Dr, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
3. Selden Market
Located in downtown Norfolk, Selden Market is an area hotspot.
Situated in a historic building, Selden Market is one of the best places to go for a unique and local shopping experience.
The indoor market is host to a diverse population of merchants and vendors, some of which have made their home there while others pop in and out.
Nevertheless, Selden Market has a stellar roster of retailers, food purveyors, and beyond all in one epic location.
Additionally, some of the fabulous shops you’ll encounter during a visit to Selden Market include candle makers, luxury lingerie, pastry makers, jewelers, and leather crafters to name a few.
Furthermore, Selden Market frequently hosts pop-up events such as wellness classes and children’s activities.
Lastly, the market is also home to divine eateries making your time spent at Selden Market a well-rounded experience.
One of the best points of interest in all of Norfolk, be sure to set aside time for Selden Market.
Address: 208 E Main St, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
4. Chrysler Museum of Art
One of a few free things to do when visiting Norfolk, Virginia, the Chrysler Museum of Art is an astounding art museum.
With an incredible 50 galleries teeming with more than 30,000 works of art on display, you’d be remiss to pass up an opportunity to visit this world-class museum.
The museum’s vast collection features mediums such as glass, decorative arts, photography, and beyond.
Additionally, the Chrysler Museum of Art showcases works of modern, contemporary, American, European, and Ancient art.
Some of the astounding artists whose work(s) are showcased at the Chrysler Museum of Art include Pollock, Rothko, and Lichtenstein to name a few.
In addition to showcasing some of the world’s best artwork, the Chrysler Museum of Art also houses the Atlantic seaboard’s only glassmaking classes.
The museum’s Wonder Studio is another fun attraction that provides all-age digital experiences.
Finally, the museum is home to an epic gift shop that you must make a point of visiting before exiting the museum.
Address: 1 Memorial Pl, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
5. Ocean View Beach Park
This nearly-seven-acre park sits in the heart of Norfolk, Virginia, and has been dubbed “the jewel of Ocean View” by locals.
Notably, Ocean View Beach Park has it all: a picturesque, white sand beach with lifeguards on duty all summer long, vast open green space for picnics, games, and beyond, and even a bandshell for live entertainment.
Furthermore, the park also boasts a beautiful boardwalk perfect for a morning jog or evening stroll.
The park uses its lovely bandshell to host weekly live music, essentially, free outdoor concerts all summer long.
Moreover, a full schedule of events such as beach parties, barbecues, dance parties, family nights, and festivals happen throughout the summer season.
If you plan to visit Norfolk, be sure to plan a day or two at Ocean View Beach Park.
Address: 100 W Ocean View Ave, Norfolk, VA 23503, United States
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6. Moses Myers House
The Moses Myers House is a historical, 19th-century home that belonged to Jewish merchant Moses Myers.
Built in 1792, the house is a beautiful replication of life in the late 1700s.
Significantly, Myers was a successful American entrepreneur who built this epic home for his burgeoning family.
Throughout the years, the house was passed down to family members but it eventually became owned by the state of Virginia in the 1930s.
Small group tours of the Moses Myers House are available on Saturdays and Sundays by appointment.
During a tour, you’ll enjoy walking the halls of a perfectly maintained and restored historic home.
Many of the furnishings and decor are original to the home.
One of the reasons the house is so important to Norfolk history is that the Myers family made up the city’s entire Jewish population for many years, significant in its own right.
One of many cool things to see when visiting Norfolk, be sure to schedule an appointment with Moses Myers House for a tour.
Address: 323 E Freemason St, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
7. Hermitage Museum and Gardens
The Hermitage Museum and Gardens is a multi-faceted historic experience well worth visiting when you’re in Norfolk.
This historic home is surrounded by gorgeous gardens while the contents of the home showcase an epic fine art collection.
The artwork featured within the museum spans nearly 5,000 years of indoor and outdoor artwork.
With 12 acres worth of gardens and a vast art collection, it’s no wonder visitors to Norfolk can spend an entire day exploring the property.
One of the coolest tourist attractions to visit when you’re in Norfolk, the Hermitage Museum and Gardens is open Thursday through Sunday.
Best of all, the museum is one of the few free things to do in town.
What’s more, the museum offers a variety of unique ways to tour the property.
From self-guided tours to guided ones and children’s tours to garden tours, there are so many unique ways to experience your time at Hermitage Museum and Gardens.
Address: 7637 N Shore Rd, Norfolk, VA 23505, United States
8. Neon District Murals
The Neon District is a colorful and vibrant neighborhood of Norfolk, Virginia.
The walls and other surfaces of this neighborhood are laced with incredible street art, the likes of which you have to see to believe.
Because the Neon District Murals are outdoors in public spaces, a visit to this unique neighborhood is one of a few free things to do in town.
Part of the fun of touring the Neon District Murals is that at each turn you might discover something new.
From large-scale murals to tiny displays of art and everything in between, you never know what or where you’ll spot something new as you meander the Neon District.
The beautiful artwork that lines Norfolk’s streets are pieces by famous and local artists.
From fences and walls to signs and sidewalks, the Neon District is fraught with colorful depictions of local heroes, social justice depictions, and so much more.
One of the most extraordinary things to do in downtown Norfolk, you’ve got to check this place out.
Address: Norfolk, VA, United States
9. Benchtop Brewing Company
Established in 2015, Benchtop Brewing Company is a Norfolk, Virginia brewery that embraces local community and culture.
The brewery is a family-owned, small business with big ideas.
Owned by a former food scientist, the brewery is something of a local legend.
The brewery’s combined scientific and creative approach, an approach that doesn’t work in most worlds, is the perfect combination for the brewery.
What’s more, the brewery’s tasting room is a local hotspot making it one of the top 10 locales in Norfolk.
Speaking of the tasting room, the chill and comfortable atmosphere draws beer lovers from all walks of life.
During a visit to the tasting room, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy perfectly crafted and bold brews such as IPAs and pilsners.
With up to 12 fine brews on tap at a time, there’s something for every beer lover’s palate.
Round your visit with a bite from the on-property food trucks and your well-rounded Benchtop Brewing Company will come full circle.
Address: 1129 Boissevain Ave, Norfolk, VA 23507, United States
10. Barry Art Museum
If you’re looking for stuff to do off the beaten path, be sure to check out Barry Art Museum.
Situated on the campus of Old Dominion University, Barry Art Museum opened in 2015.
Of note, the museum got its start by housing the personal art collection of founders Carolyn and Richard Barry.
The vast and diverse collection includes works of art that encompass glass sculptures and modernist paintings by significant American artists.
Besides sculptures and paintings, other exhibits showcase doll collections and works on paper.
Despite being housed on the university campus, the museum is open to the public and, best of all, admission is free for all.
Laudably, the museum offers both private and public tours as well as an optional self-guided tour.
Besides touring the museum, Barry Art Museum also offers regular educational programs such as lectures and hands-on activities.
If you’re wondering what to do in Norfolk, be sure to add a pitstop on your itinerary to this amazing museum.
Address: 1075 W 43rd St, Norfolk, VA 23508, United States
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11. Elizabeth River Trail
One of the coolest places to visit when you’re in Norfolk, Virginia, the Elizabeth River Trail is the best way to see the waterfront.
The Elizabeth River Trail comprises more than 10 miles of scenic pathways along the picturesque Chesapeake Bay.
Suitable for walkers, runners, bicyclists, and skaters alike, the trail is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise while taking in epic Virginia views.
Notably, construction of the trail began in 1994 and has continued along the river ever since.
If you’re looking for a unique way to see some of Norfolk’s greatest attractions, the trail is the answer.
Along the way, you’ll pass near Norfolk State University, Harbor Park, the Downtown Waterfront, the Sentara Loop, and Fort Norfolk among other area attractions.
Moreover, the trail is often the backdrop for local festivals throughout the year.
If you’re wondering what to see when you’re in Virginia, be sure to visit the Elizabeth River Trail.
Address: 101 W Main St #1000A, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
12. Freemason Abbey Restaurant
Situated in an old church building that was built in 1873, the setting of this amazing local restaurant is breathtaking.
The church’s original stained-glass windows create a unique ambiance for this now tavern and restaurant.
In 1987, the restaurant opened in what was a dilapidated space but has since been refurbished into an inviting eatery.
Surrounding the bar is the impeccably maintained stained glass while in the vestibule you can look up and check out the church’s original bell tower.
Essentially, each dining experience at Freemason Abbey Restaurant is a holy one.
What’s more, the menu selections at Freemason Abbey Restaurant consist of local cuisine with menu selections such as frog legs, alligator ribs, and venison saddle.
Furthermore, the restaurant has fabulous brunch, children’s, and cocktail menus.
So pull up a pew with your family and friends and enjoy a unique dining experience; there’s surely something for everyone.
If you’re wondering what to do for dinner when you’re in Norfolk, be sure to check out Freemason Abbey Restaurant.
Address: 209 W Freemason St, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
13. Hunter House Victorian Museum
This museum is set in the historic home of James Wilson Hunter and his family; it was built in 1884.
A beacon for Victorian Era architecture the house is a sight to behold.
If you’ll be in or around Norfolk when you’re in Virginia, be sure to visit the museum.
The museum’s aim is to tell the stories of the people who lived in Norfolk during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The museum has completely restored the Hunter House and its original contents and in so doing gives visitors a bird’s eye view of home life during that time.
Within the museum, you’ll observe period pieces such as furniture, decor, and more.
Tours of the museum are open to the public Wednesday through Saturday and, best of all, they’re entirely free.
While you’re enjoying your experience at Hunter House Victorian Museum, be sure to visit the gift shop where you can pick up unique souvenirs.
Address: 240 W Freemason St, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
14. American Rover Sailing Cruise
If you’re wondering what to do in the way of watersports when you’re in Virginia, be sure to book a cruise with American Rover Sailing Cruise.
This company provides visitors with options for public, private, and sunset cruises as well as beautiful harbor tours.
All American Rover cruises leave from Waterside Marina in downtown Norfolk.
The duration of most public cruise options is about two hours.
Each public cruise provides passengers with cold libations and live entertainment.
One of the coolest ways to see Norfolk, American Rover Sailing Cruises provide water tours of the top scenic spots in town.
If you’re looking for something a bit more intimate, you can also charter private tours that can include catering as well as drinks and entertainment.
Lastly, the beautiful harbor tours provide you with epic views of Norfolk from a unique vantage point.
Lastly, American Rover Sailing Cruise tours are one of the most fun ways to see the city.
Address: 333 Waterside Dr, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
15. Glass Light Hotel & Gallery
If you’re looking for things to do in Norfolk and places to stay, look no further.
This boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Norfolk provides top-notch accommodations as well as an interesting in-house attraction.
As for the hotel, Glass Light Hotel & Gallery is situated in a historic building that was built in 1912.
The hotel boasts 113 gorgeous guest rooms as well as amazing on-site amenities such as free full breakfast, valet parking, a fitness room, and beyond.
Besides the hotel, the on-property art gallery is one of the city’s greatest points of interest.
The gallery showcases incredible works of art by prestigious artists like Peter Bremers and Lino Tagliopietra.
Tucked in corners and boastfully placed in plain sight are epic works of artistic glass lights.
Amazing in their own right, they are as functional as they are decorative.
The cool lights add to the hotel’s charm and ambiance.
Whether booking your stay or popping in to tour the gallery, you won’t be disappointed with a visit to Glass Light Hotel & Gallery.
Address: 201 Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
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16. Virginia Zoo
Established in the 1900s, the zoo is situated in the heart of Norfolk and draws visitors from far and wide.
The zoo’s main aim is to protect and preserve wildlife and their habitats, a mission which is ever-clear with a visit to the 53-acre park.
Not only is the zoo fraught with astounding wildlife, reason enough to visit the zoo, but it also provides amazing programming such as early childhood presentations, animal presentations, behind-the-scenes tours, and even zoo camps.
Despite all the wonderful activities offered at Virginia Zoo, purely visiting with the animals is fun enough.
Speaking of the animals, the zoo is home to incredible wildlife such as tortoises, turtles, lions, lizards, frogs, otters, bears, and so much more.
Additionally, the zoo has many wonderful gardens to delightfully explore.
Best of all, Virginia Zoo is open daily with the exception of major holidays so anytime is a good time to visit.
Address: 3500 Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23504, United States
17. Nauticus National Maritime Museum
If you’re wondering what to do in the way of historical sights, be sure to visit Nauticus National Maritime Museum.
Whether visiting Norfolk today or this weekend, this museum is worth a visit.
Situated on the downtown waterfront, the Nauticus National Maritime Museum provides visitors of all ages with unique programming relevant to STEM, STERN, and maritime learning.
With four distinct settings, namely the museum, Battleship Wisconsin, the sailing center, and Schooner Village, tour guides tell an interactive story of Norfolk’s rich maritime history.
With lessons and displays that teach about the maritime environment, industry, and military, there’s so much to learn and experience at the Nauticus National Maritime Museum.
Interesting museum exhibits, drone displays, films, battleship tours, and even cruises are all part of the curriculum at the Nauticus National Maritime Museum.
With so many fun things to do in Norfolk, narrowing down attractions may be burdensome, however, don’t skip a visit to the Nauticus National Maritime Museum.
Address: 1 Waterside Dr, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
18. Mermaid Factory
One of the most whimsical of Norfolk attractions, the Mermaid Factory is a unique gift shop and art studio.
If you’re looking for fun activities, the Mermaid Factory welcomes visitors to paint ceramics and make sea-themed crafts along with a knowledgeable and creative guide.
If you’ll be traveling with a group, you can even book private paint parties which make for a really enjoyable time.
The Mermaid Factory provides guests with handmade plaster or ceramic musings to paint along with all the supplies needed to make your own masterpiece.
If you’d prefer to paint seashells or canvases, they’re available as well.
With many nautical and non-nautical items to engage with, there’s something for everyone at the Mermaid Factory.
If you’re not much of an artist or aren’t interested in spending the time making your own creation, many handmade items are also available for purchase.
A fun way to spend a rainy day with friends or family, the Mermaid Factory is a blast.
Address: 919a W 21st St, Norfolk, VA 23517, United States
19. Hampton Roads Naval Museum
One of ten interrelated Navy museums, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum is one of the top Norfolk attractions.
Notably, the museum is located in downtown Norfolk and its triumph is in celebrating the area’s rich naval history.
The museum is open seven days a week and admission is free for all.
Moreover, tours of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum are self-guided.
For starters, the museum is fraught with interesting exhibits with naval artifacts, records, photos, and more.
One of the most historically interesting things to see in the area, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum has loads of awesome educational programming.
Programs will bring different facets of the Navy’s participation during the Vietnam War to life in an informative and interactive way.
You’ll see wartime memorabilia, uniforms, weapons, and other items as a means of bolstering the history-rich lessons.
A great way to learn about local Navy history, a visit to the Hampton Roads Naval Museum is highly recommended.
Address: 1 Waterside Dr Suite 248, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
20. Harbor Park
Situated adjacent to the picturesque Elizabeth River, Harbor Park is one of many awesomely fun Norfolk attractions.
Of note, Harbor Park is a minor league baseball stadium that’s home to the Norfolk Tides.
If you’re interested in catching a baseball game, by all means, visit Harbor Park.
Games with a scenic backdrop, excellent acoustics, and tons of fun are in store for the whole family at Harbor Park.
One of the finest baseball fields in all of the minor leagues, Harbor Park is a must-see.
If you’re looking for fun places to go in Norfolk, be sure to secure tickets for a baseball game at Harbor Park.
The stadium is home to more than 10,000 seats, 24 luxury boxes, and picnic seating galore.
The park is also home to an excellent restaurant called “Hits at the Park” as well as amazing concessions, entertaining amusements, and excellent shopping.
If baseball is in season when you’re in Norfolk, be sure to catch a game at Harbor Park.
Address: 200 Park Ave, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
21. Coastal Food Tours
Calling all foodies!
One of the coolest things to do in Norfolk is to make reservations with Coastal Food Tours.
Coastal Food Tours is your one-stop-shop for perfectly curated food tours, guided bar crawls, and coastal cuisine.
If you’re coming to Norfolk from out of town and you want to experience some great local eats, one of these food tours is the best way to do it.
If you’ll be around for an extended stay, Coastal Food Tours can plan your dining pit stops for the duration of your stay.
If you’re looking to enjoy a smattering of local eateries on a given day, Coastal Food Tours can curate a tour for that as well.
No matter the tour you choose, Coastal Food Tours will ensure you enjoy the best of local cuisine in some of the coolest spots in town.
A truly special way to experience Norfolk, Virginia, Coastal Food Tours is a top-notch idea.
Address: Norfolk, VA, United States
22. Pagoda & Oriental Garden
Received as a gift to the town from the Taiwan Provincial Government, the Pagoda & Oriental Garden is one of the most unique things to do in Norfolk.
Situated at Freemason Harbor in Norfolk’s popular downtown area, the Pagoda is an awesome marine observation tower that overlooks the river.
Covered in gorgeous Chinese architecture the Pagoda itself is as beautiful as the views from within.
Serpentine-covered walls, incredible Cherry Trees, a zig-zag bridge, and astounding waterfalls are just a few of the details that make the Pagoda special.
Of note, the Pagoda is the centerpiece of the lush and verdant Oriental Garden.
Within the Pagoda is housed a restaurant called “Where East Meets West” that serves impeccable international cuisine with Asian leanings.
Other Pagoda attractions include Chinese artifacts, incredible artwork, and other activities which are all great reasons to ensure you visit the Pagoda & Oriental Garden.
Address: 265 W Tazewell St, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
23. Virginia Stage Company
Founded in1978, the Virginia Stage Company is one of the most entertaining things to do in Norfolk.
Since its founding, Virginia Stage Company has been a thread in the fabric of Norfolk’s culture.
Bringing live theater productions to the downtown area, the company brings arts and culture to this otherwise quaint city.
Housed in the Wells Theater, a National Historic Landmark, the theater is just as much a sight to see as the company’s stage productions.
Each year, Virginia Stage Company puts on a number of wonderful shows.
From musicals and dramas to holiday and child-friendly shows, there’s no telling what’ll be on stage during your visit to Norfolk.
Past shows have included “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof,” “The Hobbit,” and “A Merry Little Christmas Carol” to name a few.
If you’ll be in town or near Norfolk tonight, this weekend, this month, or whenever, it’s surely worth checking out the company’s events calendar.
A show by Virginia Stage Company is one of the top things to see in all of Virginia.
Address: 108 E Tazewell St, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
24. Smartmouth Brewing Company
This is a brewery with a big personality!
One of the top tourist attractions in Norfolk, the Smartmouth Brewing Company is a great place to meet up with friends, learn about new things, and enjoy a great brew.
Established in 2012 by a home-brewer, the brewery is one dude’s passion project that turned out to be a huge success.
Of note, the brewery focuses its beer on local culture and ingredients, sourcing from both Virginia and the Outerbanks of North Carolina.
Smartmouth Brewing Company is a great place to visit for free tours and to hang in the Tasting Room.
You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy some of Smartmouth’s excellent beers such as IPAs, pilsners, seasonal selections, stouts, and pale ales.
There’s truly something for every palate.
The brewery is open seven days a week with both indoor and outdoor seating.
They often host food truck events and live music too.
One of the best spots around, be sure to check out Smartmouth Brewing Company when you’re in town.
Address: 1309 Raleigh Ave, Norfolk, VA 23507, United States
25. Town Point Park
This seven-acre city park sits along the beautiful Elizabeth River in downtown Norfolk.
If you’re looking for fun, cheap things to do this weekend, Town Point Park is one of the top places to visit in Virginia.
All year long, the park is a hotspot for outdoor concerts, excellent festivals, and so much more.
Each of these awesome open-air events is set against the backdrop of the magnificent Elizabeth River.
Whether there’s an event on the calendar or not, the park is a great place to visit nonetheless.
Meander the waterfront, visit the beautiful fountains that bookend the park, enjoy a scenic picnic, or observe some of the incredible public artwork.
With so much to do in one comprehensive outdoor space, you won’t want to skip a visit to Town Point Park.
Address: 113 Waterside Dr, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
Start Planning Your Trip To Norfolk
If you’ve stopped by in search of things to do in Norfolk, you’ve come to the right place.
Each of these many wonderful Norfolk attractions will keep you busy and entertained when in town.
From fabulous eateries to incredible museums and picturesque parks to historical sites by the mile, this small city is fraught with culture, diversity, and most importantly, tons of fun to be had.
If you’re on the fence about visiting Norfolk or what to do when you get there, fret no longer.
Book your trip and add some of these wonderful attractions to your itinerary.
You won’t be sorry!