Norfolk, Virginia is an exciting place to be! It’s easily one of the best places to visit in Virginia! Bordered by the Elizabeth River, there’s lots to do and see on or near the water.
Travel a little further into the heart of downtown, and you’ll be surrounded by museums, art, tons of dining options, and breweries! Norfolk also offers walking tours, group pedal bike tours and more. Check out our favorite places to eat, where to stay, and things to do in Norfolk, Virginia!
1. Waterside District
333 Waterside Dr., Norfolk, VA 23510
Downtown Norfolk offers tons of exciting things to see and do! First, be sure to check out Waterside District. Located right along the Elizabeth River, Waterside District offers dining, trivia, silent discos, drag brunches, live bands, and other entertainment.
The Market, which is a large open concept style food court, includes popular restaurants such as Blue Moon Taphouse, Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse, and Stripers. On the water side of the Market there is an area for outdoor dining, cornhole, other fun outdoor games, and beautiful views of the Elizabeth River.
2. Town Point Park
113 Waterside Dr., Norfolk, VA 23510
And right next door to the Market, you have Town Point Park which is home to many of Norfolk’s festivals. Annual festivals include Taco Fest, NashFest 757, Bayou Boogaloo, Wine Fest, HarborFest, Latino Music Festival and much more! Check out the Fest Events website during your stay to see what festivals are happening!
3. Norfolk Breweries
Norfolk is also bustling with breweries! If trying new brews is your thing, then check out the many options Norfolk has to offer. A few of the more popular options include,
- Smartmouth Brewing
- O’Connor Brewing
- Benchtop Brewing Co.
- Veil Brewing Co.
- Elation Brewing Co.
Just do a quick search for “breweries near me” to find an outstanding Norfolk brewery to fit your taste.
4. Virginia Zoo in Norfolk
3500 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA 23504
If you’re looking for something to do in Norfolk with the kids, check out the Virginia Zoo! While not in the heart of Downtown, it’s only 2 miles away! General admission is $17.95 for adults and $14.95 for children. The Virginia Zoo is filled with exhibits, animals, and gardens for you and the little ones to explore! Check out this Virginia Zoo map for more information.
5. Norfolk Botanical Gardens
6700 Azalea Garden Rd, Norfolk, VA 23518
The Norfolk Botanical Gardens is another fun thing to do in Norfolk with the kids! The gardens are filled with art, greenery, and beautiful flowers. There is also a butterfly garden and even a kids splash park! Admission for adults is $15 and $13 for kids. There is ample free parking on the grounds.
6. Norfolk River Cruises
Take a City Cruises Norfolk dinner cruise or a tall-ship tour of Norfolk on the American Rover! These tours take you down the Elizabeth River and offer spectacular views of Norfolk and Portsmouth. And if you want to visit another harbor city without the drive, take the Elizabeth River Ferry over to Historic Downtown Portsmouth and explore!
7. Nauticus & Battleship Wisconsin
1 Waterside Dr., Norfolk, VA 23510
Visit Nauticus and tour the battleship Wisconsin! Nauticus is a maritime-themed museum with a decommissioned battleship you can hop on and tour.
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.
On the second floor of Nauticus is 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!
8. Hermitage Museum and Gardens
7637 N Shore Rd, Norfolk, VA 23505
Housed in a 20th century brick home, the Hermitage Museum and Gardens is a beautiful property located along the Lafayette River. The East Garden overlooks the Lafayette River and is a popular spot for weddings.
Take a guided tour or check out their calendar of events and attend a workshop! You will experience sculptures, paintings, decorative art, and gorgeous gardens. During the warmer months, the museum holds a concert called Sunsets on the River which offers live music, drinks, and art! The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday and admission varies.
9. Chrysler Museum of Arts
1 Memorial Pl, Norfolk, VA 23510
Located in Downtown Norfolk, the Chrysler Museum of Arts showcases over 30,000 items within 50 galleries. Between 2PM and 3PM you can catch a guided museum highlights tour. There are usually other things going on throughout the day, so be sure check out their calendar of events!
In 2011, the Chrysler Museum of Arts added on The Perry Glass Studio which showcases glassmaking. You can catch a demonstration of the hard work and care glassblowers put into their works of art. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you may be able to experience hands-on glassmaking yourself.
The Museum is closed on Mondays and operates Tuesday through Sunday. The Chrysler Museum of Arts has free admission and parking.
If you’re looking for a mall, you’re in luck! McArthur Mall is located in the middle of downtown. If you’re looking for something more unique, or maybe a few souvenirs, check out the Selden Market or stroll Granby Street. Then travel just a bit further over to Colley Ave and 21st Street and check out some of the cute boutique shops.
11. 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! You can swimming, sunbathing, fishing, kayaking, sailing and more. Spend time at Community Beach Park, Sarah Constant Beach Park, or Ocean View Beach Park for a beach day with the family. As well, Ocean View Beach has a fishing pier and a museum for you to enjoy.
Where to Stay in Norfolk, VA
If you want easy access to everything Norfolk, I highly recommend staying at a hotel Downtown. With light rail access, staying downtown will make visiting and touring Norfolk a breeze. Most of my suggestions for things to do will be within walking/light rail distance. However, there are a few must-visit places within driving distance as well.
Here are a few of the more highly rated hotels in the area: Hilton Norfolk The Main, Courtyard Norfolk Downtown, and the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel. Our favorite hotel is The Main as there are three highly recommended restaurants in the hotel including one on the rooftop.
Where to Eat in Norfolk, VA
Norfolk’s culinary scene is booming and there are tons of local dining experiences to be had! Here are a few suggestions for a truly Norfolk culinary adventure.
Breakfast in Norfolk
Let’s begin with your breakfast/brunch options! If you’re looking for a good old American style breakfast, then you’ll want to visit D’egg Diner, Charlie’s Cafe, or Hair of the Dog Eatery. But if you’re looking for something a little different check out the Starving Artist Cafe or Granby Street Waffle Shop!
Lunch in Norfolk
Definitely a local’s favorite, check out No Frill Bar and Grill or the Freemason Abbey for lunch. But if a sweet potato biscuit with fried chicken and gravy sounds amazing to you, run over to the Handsome Biscuit for takeout. Last but certainly not least, if you like gyros Istanbul Gyros and Kebabs is a little hidden gem serving authentic Turkish cuisine.
Dinner in Norfolk
And when dinner roles around, you’re in for a treat– there are tons of restaurant options. Must-dine restaurants include Luce, Byrd & Baldwin Bros Steakhouse, The Flying Pig, and Saltine. However, you can also do a little research and easily satisfy a craving or try something new with the options Norfolk has to offer!
Alexandrea Sumuel is the founder of Wander With Alex, where she provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, and explore-- and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help people travel better.