Whether you’re just passing through during a larger East Coast road trip or visiting for the day from Virginia Beach (25 minutes away), Richmond (90 minutes away) or Washington, D.C. (3.5 hours away), Norfolk, Virginia, offers plenty of interesting attractions for visitors of any age and budget. Here’s a look at some of our favorite things to do there.
Tour The USS Wisconsin Battleship
If you’re staying in Downtown Norfolk, don’t miss the chance to tour the battleship USS Wisconsin up close at Nauticus, home of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. Tickets start at $15.95 for adults (ages 13 and up) and $11.50 for children (ages 4–12) and include entry to the galleries and exhibits at Nauticus as well as self-guided access the outdoor decks, wardroom, officer’s quarters, CPO lounge, barber shop, chapel, galley and mess deck, sailors’ berthing areas, dental office, library and brig, among other areas aboard the battleship. Additional 90-minute guided tours of the ship’s control areas with a historical interpreter can be added on from $20 per person.
Get Inspired At The Chrysler Museum Of Art
Venture north to the Neon District to view artistic creations at the Chrysler Museum of Art, which is always free to enter. The permanent collection features contemporary art by Warhol, Pollock, Lichtenstein and Rothko, over 4,000 photographs, one of the world’s largest collections of glass art and more than 30,000 European, Ancient, American and Modern art pieces on display. It’s also home to the Perry Glass Studio, where you can see glassmaking demonstrations Tuesday through Sunday at noon.
Enjoy Old-School Desserts At Doumar’s
After a long day of sightseeing, head to Doumar’s, an old-fashioned diner in Ghent that’s home to the world’s first four-iron waffle cone machine, which you can still see in action today—the device was created by Abe Doumar during the 1904 World’s Fair after an ice cream vendor, who happened to be selling his wares near a waffle stand, had run out of paper dishes and he helped come up with a delicious solution. Enjoy North Carolina-style BBQ, burgers and refreshing limeades or stick to dessert items like floats, shakes, sundaes and hand-rolled cones served with custom-made ice cream.
Explore Norfolk Botanical Garden
Enjoy the great outdoors at Norfolk Botanical Garden, the largest in Virginia at 175 acres. Reserve your tickets ahead of time online—$15 for adults, $13 for seniors over 65, children ages 3–17 and U.S. military members—and spend some time roaming the seven miles of paved paths (or seven miles of unpaved paths if you feel so inclined), visiting collections of roses and camellias, checking out the three-acre Children’s Garden and enjoying the Butterfly Garden. Boat and tram tours are available seasonally, as is an onsite cafe, though you are welcome to bring in picnic items.
Sample Locally Made Wine, Beer, Cider and Mead
Stop by Mermaid Winery in Ghent Tuesday through Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for happy hour specials including $5 glasses of wine and $7 mimosas made with hibiscus, watermelon, and bubblegum, among other flavors. Wine flights are also available if you’d like to sample several types.
Craft beer aficionados should head to Benchtop Brewing and the Smartmouth Brewing Company in Chelsea, Elation Brewing Company in NoCo (North Colley) and the O’Connor Brewing Co. in Norfolk’s Railroad neighborhood. If you’re sticking to the downtown area, make a meal of it at Grain, the city’s only rooftop beer garden, or Grilled Cheese Bistro, which each offer locally made brews alongside mouthwatering comfort foods. If you’re into craft beer, mead and cider, try The Birch in Chelsea, home of 21 craft beer options, five cider and mead taps and a menu full of artisanal meats and cheeses to pair with your beverage of choice.