75 Fantastic Festivals and Things To Do In Norfolk VA

For a quick weekend getaway or a week-long vacation, Norfolk has plenty to keep the whole family busy.

Take time to explore museums filled with local history, peruse the local art and culture scene, relax on a sandy beach, take to the waters on a sailing adventure, attend an annual festival and marvel at the world’s largest Naval Station.

With so many things to do in Norfolk, VA, you may want to book a week-long vacation instead of a weekend or day trip from Virginia Beach.

Things to do in Norfolk Virginia

Why Norfolk, VA?

Norfolk has been named “Favorite American City” by Travel + Leisure and “All-American City” by the National Civic League. Come find out more about this city in southeast Virginia that sits between the Chesapeake Bay and the Elizabeth River.

Here are some of my favorite things to do and see throughout the city in which I live. 

You’ll find the art, foods to taste, museums to discover, and how to have a trip to remember.

Things to do in Norfolk VA

How to get to Norfolk, VA

Before you head into Norfolk, get ready to hold your breath as you take a dive under the water and travel through the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. Sorry, there are no windows to see the fish swimming past.

If you are not driving, you can also reach Norfolk by air the Norfolk International Airport or take the Amtrak train, which delivers you to the Norfolk Amtrak Station in downtown Norfolk at Harbor Park.

Find the fastest ways to get from DC to Norfolk

Things to do in Norfolk VA

Museums to Visit in Norfolk

With a wide variety of museums throughout Norfolk, there will be at least one that will spark your interest when visiting this historic town in the United States.

Chrysler Museum of Art

  • Address: One Memorial Place, Norfolk, Virginia 23510
  • Hours: Closed Mondays, Tuesday–Saturday, 10–5, and Sunday, noon–5
  • Website

The Chrysler Museum of Art has 50 galleries that are free to explore. The Chrysler houses over 30,000 objects, has interactive spaces, and the kids will love the Egyptian gallery with the sarcophagus and mummies.

Things to do in Norfolk VA

Chrysler Museum Perry Glass Studio

  • Address: 745 Duke Street, Norfolk, VA 23510
  • Hours: Closed Mondays, Tuesday–Saturday, 10–5, and Sunday, noon–5
  • Website

Learn more about class making by attending a free Glassmaking Demo from 12:00 – 1:00 PM or take one of a wide assortment of art classes.

Moses Myers House

  • Address: 323 E. Freemason Street, Norfolk, VA 23510
  • Hours: Saturday–Sunday Noon–5 pm

Explore the 1792 home of five generations of the Moses Myers family. 

During a guided tour on weekend afternoons, you will learn more about the prosperous life of this Jewish merchant family.


  • Address: One Waterside Drive, Norfolk, VA 23510
  • Hours: Wednesday – Saturday 10 PM – 5 PM, Sunday Noon – 5 PM
  • Website

The Nauticus is a maritime science museum that offers both children and adults a variety of hands-on exhibits, programs, films and activities to keep you busy for most of the day.

Make sure you visit the shark touch tank– the kids will LOVE it!

Nauticus is also home to the Battleship Wisconsin and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum.

Things to do in Norfolk Virginia USS Wisconsin

Hampton Roads Naval Museum

  • Address: One Waterside Drive, Norfolk, VA 23510
  • Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10 AM – 5 PM
  • Website

This free museum, housed in Nauticus, does not need a Nauticus ticket to visit.

During your visit, you will learn more about the 200+ year history of the U.S. Navy, Norfolk Naval Station and maritime center within the Hampton Roads area. Explore the exhibits filled with model ships, uniforms and artifacts that highlight the national maritime tradition in the area.

Norfolk VA

USS Wisconsin Battleship

  • Address: One Waterside Drive, Norfolk, VA 23510
  • Hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 10 AM – 4:45 PM, Sunday Noon – 4:45 PM
  • Website

Choose between taking a self-guided tour around the perimeter of the USS Wisconsin or choose between several guided tours that take you within the ship to the engine room, Admiral’s cabin, Navigation Bridge and Quartermaster’s space. 

Hermitage Museum - Norfolk Virginia Things to Do
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Hermitage Museum and Gardens

  • Address: 7637 North Shore Road, Norfolk, VA 23505
  • Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Website

Situated along the Lafayette River, this early 20th century home of the Sloane family showcases 12 acres of beautiful gardens, along with visual and contemporary art galleries.

MacArthur Memorial Museum Norfolk Virginia Things to Do
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MacArthur Memorial

  • Address: 198 Bank Street, Norfolk, VA 23510
  • Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Sundays 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Website

After a few hours exploring this memorial, you will know more about the life of General Douglas MacArthur along with the men and women who served with him during both World War I and II and the Korean War.

Norfolk Police and Fire Museum

  • Address: 401 E Freemason St, Norfolk, VA 23510
  • Hours: Thursday and Friday 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
  • Website

A visit to this museum means visiting the oldest Norfolk museum. Here you will learn about the history of Norfolk Police and view a vast collection of fire and rescue uniforms, medical equipment and fire equipment.

The kids will enjoy trying on a firefighter uniform and checking out the brass pole.

Hunter House Victorian Museum Things to do in Norfolk Virginia
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Hunter House Victorian Museum

  • Address: 240 W. Freemason Street, Norfolk, VA 23510
  • Hours: Wednesday-Saturday with advance registration
  • Website

Learn what life was like for James Hunter, a merchant and banker, and his family during the late 19th and early 20th century. The guided two-floor tour showcases a variety of everyday experiences of the Hunters, their staff and the community that surrounded this Victorian house.

Norfolk Southern Museum

  • Address: 3 Commercial Place (Ground Floor), Norfolk, VA 23510
  • Hours: Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm

Norfolk Southern Museum is the perfect place to visit for all those train fanatics in your family. Take a seat in the locomotive simulator, see sections of Civil War-era track, learn hand signals and learn a little NS history.

Barry Art Museum Norfolk Virginia Things to Do
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Barry Art Museum

  • Address: 1075 W 43rd St, Norfolk, VA 23508
  • Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Saturday – Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Website

On the campus of Old Dominion University, Barry Art Museum is free to visit and houses a grand collection of glass sculptures, Historic dolls, American modernist paintings and automata.

Norfolk Botanical Gardens Norfolk Virginia Things to Do
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Parks and Trails Throughout Norfolk to Explore

Norfolk Botanical Gardens 

  • Address: 6700 Azalea Garden Road, Norfolk, Virginia 23518-5337
  • Hours: Daily 9 AM-5 PM
  • Website

Spend a few hours or the day enjoying the largest botanical garden in Virginia. Travel the 14 miles of trails through the 60 gardens featuring roses, camellias, the Children’s Garden and Butterfly House.

During November and December, the gardens turn into a winter wonderland featuring Dominion Energy Garden of Lights. Do not miss this Christmas lights special event. It is worth the drive down from D.C.

Things to do in Norfolk Virginia - Virginia Zoo

Virginia Zoo 

  • Address: 3500 Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23504
  • Hours: Daily from 10 AM – 4 PM
  • Website

Stroll through the African exhibit to see the lions, giraffes, and zebras. Then head to watch the kangaroo hop and the prairie dogs peak out of their holes. A walk along the Asian trail means seeing the tigers, red pandas and sun bears.

Just keep in mind that Norfolk loves their red pandas, so expect a crowd anytime they appear.

St. Pauls Episcopal Church along the Waterways to Freedom tour - Things to do in Norfolk VA
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church • credit Visit Norfolk, VA

Cannonball Trail

The Cannonball Trail self-guided tour through Norfolk guides your through 400 years of history as it leads you past the cannonball in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, U.S. Custom House and the Armed Forces Memorial at Town Point Park.

Norfolk VA

Town Point Park

  • Address: 113 Waterside Dr, Norfolk, VA 23510
  • Website

This open-air park is home to many of the annual festivals that call Norfolk home, as well as a few highlights you don’t want to miss.

TowneBank Fountain Park

The kids will love to run through the interactive fountains on a hot day.

Pagoda and Oriental Garden

  • Address: 265 West Tazewell St, Norfolk, VA

This is a great spot to see the USS Wisconsin and enjoy a sunset view from the banks of the Elizabeth River.

Elizabeth River Trail

Walk, run or bike along the 10.5-mile waterfront trail.

Downtown Norfolk Dog Walk

  • Address: 400 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA 23510
  • Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Take your pet for a run and play in this enclosed area. There is water available on site.

Legends of Music Walk of Fame Things to do ini Norfolk VA
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Legends of Music Walk of Fame

  • Address: Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23510 – between TCC Roper Performing Arts Center and The NorVa

Walk along the Music Walk of Fame to see those who call this area home and their contributions to the music industry. You will find the Rhondels, Bruce Hornsby, Ella Fitzgerald and the Phelps Brothers along the walk.

Norfolk VA

Norfolk Monuments, Memorials, and Military Posts

Take a few minutes to explore some of the monuments and memorials in Norfolk that honors significant moments in Norfolk’s history.

Lone Sailor Statue

Facing the USS Wisconsin, this life-sized sailor with his duffle bag stand before plaques that honor the Norfolk-based vessels that have faced tragedies.

Armed Forces Memorial Things to do in Norfolk Virginia
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Armed Forces Memorial

At the western edge of Town Point Park, the memorial features 20 actual letters cast in bronze from fallen Armed Forces heroes to their loved ones.

The Homecoming 

The Homecoming in Town Point Park depicts a Navy sailor as he returns to his family after sea duty.

Fort Wool 

Take the 2 1/2 to 3-hour Harbor Tour around Fort Wool, a little island at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.  Miss Hampton II Harbor Cruises and Tours run out of the marina in Hampton.  

Fort Norfolk - Norfolk Virginia Things to Do
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Fort Norfolk

  • Address: 801 Front Street, Norfolk, VA 23510
  • Website

This 4-acre area showcases the early 1800’s embankments, barracks and guardhouse of Fort Norfolk that overlooks the Elizabeth River.

Scope Arena Norfolk Virginia Things to Do
Scope Arena credit Visit Norfolk VA

Attend a Professional Sporting Event in Norfolk

  • Norfolk Admirals (AAA Hockey)
  • Norfolk Tides (AAA Baseball)
Harrison Opera House Things to do in Norfolk VA
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Attend a Concert, Broadway Show or Symphony in Norfolk

  • Attucks Theatre
  • TCC Roper Performing Arts Center
  • Chrysler Hall
  • Wells Theatre – Virginia Stage Company
  • Norfolk Scope
  • Norfolk Little Theater
  • Harrison Opera House
  • NorVa
  • Naro Expanded Cinema
NEON murals in Norfolk VA
credit Visit Norfolk VA

Visit a Norfolk Neighborhood

Fred Heutte Center

  • Address: 1000 Botetourt Gardens, Norfolk, VA 23507

The Fred Heutte Center is a horticultural center in the historic Ghent neighborhood and features herb, vegetable, water features and perennial gardens.

Norfolk Boat Club Things to do in Norfolk Virginia
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Norfolk Boat Club

  • Address: 432 W Freemason St, Norfolk, VA 23510

Stroll through the Freemason District and find this 1983 landmark. Go near sunset and have a bonus of a beautiful setting sun.

Quarantine Road

Behind ODU’s Webb Center at 1301 W 49th St, Norfolk, VA 23529, you will find the historic marker identifying Quarantine Road. Bike or walk down one of Norfolk’s oldest roads as you take the path many with Yellow Fever took so many years ago.

Doumar's - Norfolk Virginia Things to Do
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Doumar’s Cones & Barbecue

  • Address: 1919 Monticello Ave, Norfolk, VA 23517
  • Website

Stop in for lunch and have a North Carolina-style BBQ sandwich and a hand-dipped ice cream cone.

Doumar’s famous waffle cones all began at the 1904 World’s Fair when Abe Doumar curled his waffle and put a scoop of ice cream on top.  He then went on to build the waffle machine, with four irons, that sits outside the restaurant.

If your timing is right and it’s a lovely day, you can watch employees using this machine and the original waffle recipe to cook and hand roll cones for eager customers.

Elmwood Cemetery

  • Address: 238 E Princess Anne Rd, Norfolk, VA 23510
  • Website

Take a guided tour through the cemetery and learn about the lives of cherished Norfolk residences. You will also learn more about the Victorian symbols throughout the cemetery.

Norfolk VA

Take to the Water around Norfolk

Enjoy the scenic view of Norfolk from the water around Norfolk. Whether you take a scenic cruise on the Elizabeth River, go fishing from the pier or in the Chesapeake Bay, or enjoy a few water sports, there will be plenty to view and admire along your journey.

Harborfest The Spirit of Norfolk Events in Norfolk VA
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  • American Rover: Board the sailboat and explore the Norfolk harbor.
  • Spirit of Norfolk: Enjoy a lunch, a dinner or a themed cruise along the Elizabeth River, past the marine terminals and Norfolk Naval Base aboard a yacht.
  • Victory Rover: Take a 2-hour tour of the Norfolk harbor and pass various Navy submarines, destroyers and aircraft carriers.
  • Elizabeth River Ferry: Take a quick ride over to Olde Town Portsmouth.
  • Ocean View Fishing Pier: Fish from the pier or board the Judith Ann for a few hours of fishing on the Chesapeake Bay.

Mermaids Around Norfolk

Wherever you go around Norfolk, see how many of the 130 uniquely designed bronze mermaid sculptures you can find.

Latino Music Festival Norfolk Events in Virginia
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Festivals to Attend in Norfolk

Norfolk hosts a variety of music, art, cultural and food festivals throughout the year. Below is just are few that you might want to schedule your vacation around.

  • Norfolk NATO Festival- April
  • Virginia International Tattoo – April
  • Town Point Virginia Wine Festival – October and May
  • Norfolk Greek Festival – May
  • Norfolk Harborfest – June
  • Hampton Roads Pride Fest – June
  • Bayou Boogaloo – June
  • Fourth of July Great American Picnic – July 4
  • Latino Music Festival – July
  • Caribfest – August 
  • Norfolk Waterfront Jazz Festival – August
  • Neon Festival – September
  • Opera in the Park – September
  • Norfolk In-Water Boat Show – September
  • Children’s Festival – October
  • Stockley Gardens Art Festival – October
Norfolk Virginia Hotels

Looking for a Norfolk hotel? Check out a few of our favorites!

Still need more options? Search for a great deal on Booking.com!

Our Favorite Airbnbs in Norfolk, VA

While you may not get the pool, these Airbnbs give you plenty of space for the whole family. You can also save money by making meals in your full kitchen at these Superhost properties.

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