The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle sails into Norfolk as part of Norfolk Harborfest 2015. The Eagle is a 295-foot barque sailing vessel and the only operational commissioned sailing vessel in the U.S. military. (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class David Weydert)
With a rich history dating back more than 400 years, Norfolk is within an hour’s drive of Yorktown, Jamestown and Williamsburg, an area known as the Historic Triangle. Norfolk offers a wide array of cultural and entertainment options including local sports teams, museums, the zoo, concert arenas, and historic sites and battlefields.
For more information on Norfolk, check out the Norfolk Convention & Visitors Bureau’s website at www.visitnorfolk.com or call 757-664-6620. The following is merely a sampling of the cultural and recreational opportunities in Norfolk.
American Rover Cruises
Take in the sights of Hampton Roads with an American Rover sailing ship cruise. Cruises depart from Waterside Marina and sail the Elizabeth River and Hampton Roads Harbor. The 2-hour narrated harbor and sunset cruises are available April through October. Visit www.americanrover.com.
Chrysler Museum of Art
Founded in 1939 as the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences, the Chrysler Museum of Art combines a fine arts museum, two significant historic houses and a glass studio, the only one of its kind on the East Coast. In addition to its permanent collection of more than 30,000 objects spanning nearly 5,000 years of history, the museum offers changing exhibitions and education activities for visitors of all ages. Visit www.chrysler.org.
Crispus Attucks Cultural Center
The Crispus Attucks Cultural Center operates year-round inside the Attucks Theatre. The center presents educational, civic and multicultural programming to enhance learning through the arts. The center showcases artists who are emerging or under-recognized; who create innovative and distinctive work in theater, dance, music and film; and who represent black and multi-ethnic culture. The center also uses lectures, author readings, film screenings and panel discussions to give the public a comfortable yet intellectually challenging forum to engage with public scholars in conversations about history. Visit http://cacc-inc.org.
The d’Art Center visual arts facility features some 40 artists creating, displaying and selling original fine art. The center also offers adult and children art classes, workshops and summer camps. Visit https://d-artcenter.org.
Elizabeth River Trail
The Elizabeth River Trail is a 9-mile biking and pedestrian trail that runs from Norfolk State University to Terminal Boulevard. The trail can be used for travel between Naval Station Norfolk to downtown Norfolk. The trail connects parks, the Waterside Festival Marketplace and other city locales, while providing scenic views of the Elizabeth River. Interpretive markers tell the history of the area and environment. Visit http://ertnorfolk.com or http://norfolk.gov/bike.
Norfolk is home to a number of historic attractions. Explore the Cannonball Trail along the Elizabeth River shoreline and see 400 years of local history, with stops at the Armed Forces Memorial, Hampton Roads Naval Museum, Taiwan Friendship Pavilion and the final resting place of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Ride the local light rail system, The Tide, and see everything from a revolutionary cannonball lodged in the brick of a church to a historic battleship. Discover Civil War sites within the city, including the Customs House where the city was surrendered to Union forces. Learn about the area’s Underground Railroad connections with an online interactive visual and audio tour. For self-guided tour information on these historical gems, visit www.visitnorfolk.com/things-to-do/self-guided-tours.
Nauticus and Battleship Wisconsin
Nauticus is an interactive contemporary museum that uses the natural setting of Norfolk’s harbor to showcase global maritime commerce and the world’s largest Navy. Nauticus is home to the Battleship Wisconsin, which is one of largest and last battleships ever built by the Navy. You can explore the deck of the ship with self-guided or guided tours. Visit http://nauticus.org.
Norfolk Botanical Garden
The 175-acre Norfolk Botanical Garden is a Virginia Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The garden is nationally recognized for its deep-rooted history and celebrated for its blooms in every season. The garden is home to 52 themed gardens, 95 species of birds and 40 kinds of butterflies. Theme gardens include a children’s adventure garden, a rose garden, a fragrance garden, a hummingbird garden, a Japanese garden, a sensory garden and more. Visit http://norfolkbotanicalgarden.org.
Norfolk Boxing Center
The 13,000-square-foot Norfolk Boxing Center at Harbor Park boasts two U.S.A. Boxing regulation-sized competition rings, stadium-style seating, and the capacity to host larger shows and championship bouts. The center has programs for adult and teens. Other center amenities include fitness equipment and classes, a homework and tutoring classroom and a parents’ lounge. Visit www.norfolk.gov/boxing.
Held in June, Norfolk Harborfest is the nation’s largest, longest-running, free maritime festival. Celebrated for more than 40 years, the three-day festival offers a weekend packed with thrilling activities on land and sea. Enjoy the Parade of Sail, artisan foods and beverages, work boat races, one of the largest fireworks shows on the East Coast, family games and activities, entertainment and more. Visit https://festevents.org/events.
The NorVA is concert venue in the heart of downtown. Visit www.thenorva.com.
Ocean View Beach Park
This 6.5-acre beach park has a large band shell for presentations and dancing, a beach with lifeguards in the summer, a boardwalk, a beach handicap access ramp and lots of open green space. It is an ideal fishing spot and offers commercial piers, bait shops and tackle rentals. The park is also a great place to swim, windsurf, kayak and canoe. Visit www.norfolk.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/34.
From malls and major department stores to unique boutiques and souvenir shops, there’s something for every taste and budget in Norfolk. Shopping venues include the 1 million-square-foot MacArthur Center, the 1907 Beaux Arts style Monticello Arcade, Military Circle Mall, local farmers markets, and shops and eateries in the historic Ghent and Freemason neighborhoods. Visit www.visitnorfolk.com/things-to-do/shopping.
Norfolk is home to the Admirals hockey team and the Tides baseball team. The Norfolk Admirals are an ECHL affiliate of the Condors and Edmonton Oilers. Home games are played at the Norfolk Scope Arena. Visit www.norfolkadmirals.com for stats, a schedule of upcoming games and ticket information. The Norfolk Tides at Harbor Park are the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles and a member of the International League. Visit www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t568 for tickets and other team information.
Virginia Arts Festival
The Virginia Arts Festival organization brings world-class performing arts to the Hampton Roads community. The organization regularly commissions new works of music, dance and theater from some of the most influential composers, choreographers and playwrights. The organization’s arts education programs reach tens of thousands of area schoolchildren each year through student matinees, in-school performances, artists’ residencies, master classes and demonstrations. Visit www.vafest.org.
The official opera company of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia Opera presents more than 28 main stage performances each year. Performances are held at the Edythe C. and Stanley L. Harrison Opera House in Norfolk, the Carpenter Theatre at Richmond CenterStage in Richmond and George Mason University’s Center for the Arts in Fairfax. The opera reaches more than 150,000 students and community members each year with its education and community outreach program. Visit www.vaopera.org.
From the plains of Africa to your own backyard, the Virginia Zoo has a world of discovery for you. Open year-round, the zoo offers family fun, education and excitement for everyone. The 53-acre zoo is home to 400 animals, including lions, kangaroos and meerkats. The zoo creates naturalistic habitats for exotic and native animals by designing and growing themed gardens, which also provide the animals with fresh plant treats. Visit http://virginiazoo.org.
Norfolk is situated where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean and is also home to rivers, creeks and beaches. As such, it’s no surprise that the area offers a number of water activities. Enjoy crabbing, paddlewheel ferry rides, fishing, harbor cruising, kayaking, sailing, swimming, windsurfing and more. Visit www.visitnorfolk.com/things-to-do/on-the-water.