Things to Do During Your Weekend Getaway to Norfolk, VA

There’s nothing better than a weekend getaway, but finding the perfect destination is difficult. You need to pick a spot that’s beautiful and relaxing but still energetic enough to keep you interested. Then, of course, affordability and family activities also come into consideration.

One city that’s becoming a trendy weekend escape is Norfolk, the second largest city (by population) in Virginia. Located in the heart of the Chesapeake Bay area, this bustling waterfront town is starting to attract a following among families, tourists, and urban explorers alike.

Whether you’re into the arts, craft beer, or naval history, Norfolk has something for everyone, making it the ideal destination to escape the rat race and try something new.

Here’s a list of the absolute must-see sites, tastes, and attractions in this hidden gem of a city.

See Also: 5 Fun Things to do in Hampton Roads

Picnic in Town Point Park in Downtown Norfolk

Whether you’re traveling as a tourist, escaping with the family, or taking a romantic weekend away, nothing beats a picnic in Town Point Park.

This lush, expansive park is surrounded by water and hosts a variety of open air concerts, culinary events, and cultural gatherings.

Sample some local food and watch the world go by from a waterfront park that has just enough energy and tranquility to keep you occupied for an afternoon.

Explore the USS Wisconsin

Norfolk has always been a major water hub. From the logistics industry driven by the harbor to the importance of the bay as a strategic naval station, you must make a trip to the water on your weekend getaway.

Built from 1941-1943, the USS Wisconsin is a converted battleship that will allow you to peer into the rich history of the US Navy. Knowledgeable, friendly staff will immerse you in the power and pride of the US Navy, taking you back in time in a way that makes history fun.

Grab free admission as part of your Nauticus entry ticket and prepare yourself for a visit of between 1 and 6 hours, depending on how passionate you are about naval history.

Try a Craft Beer

Thanks, in part to the university community and the tradition of outdoor food and wine festivals held in Town Point Park, there has been a rise in micro-brewing in the Norfolk area over the last few years.

If you’re curious about the craft, then be sure to head to any of the pubs in the waterfront district and sample a local brew – you will be pleasantly surprised.

You could also visit the Starr Hill Brewery taproom in the newly-developed Waterside District, which is set to be finished in early 2017.

The perfect start to an evening spent exploring the energetic NEON district.

Navigate Nauticus

If you’re looking for an outing that’s exciting and educational, then head to the Nauticus maritime museum.

Apart from being the official home of the USS Wisconsin, this science center and museum is packed full of the naval history that made Norfolk what it is today.

The center is designed to be fun and engaging, with loads of chances to interact and learn from the friendly staff. 2 hours well spent, especially for a family.

Visit Virginia Zoological Park

This 53-acre park is a paradise for animal lovers.

With over 350 different species to see, including tigers and an array of exotic African animals, this is another great family outing. The helpful, friendly zoo keepers are always ready to offer some amazing facts about all the extraordinary animals that call the zoo home.

Take your spouse and a child and entry will cost you around $40, which is nothing for the sheer variety of healthy, happy animals you’ll get to see. Take some extra cash along and grab a snack – the food is highly recommended!

Don’t forget to say hello to the extremely rare Siberian tiger while you’re there.

Become a Connoisseur at the Chrysler Museum of Art

The historic, military side of nature is well balanced by a colorful, thriving art scene that centers around the NEON district.

The heart of the city’s artistic and cultural activities is the Chrysler Museum of Art. Located on the border between downtown and the Ghent district, this cultural attraction hosts regular talks and exhibitions that are sure to inspire and excite.

Whether you are fond of the Renaissance or looking to be challenged by the very latest in fine art, make sure you visit the Chrysler Museum during your weekend in Norfolk.

Get in Touch with Nature at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Whatever the weather, the Norfolk Botanical Gardens are a beautiful way to wind down during a weekend away. Book your tickets online and wear comfortable shoes – the gardens are best explored at a leisurely stroll.

Even if you’re not a plant expert, the sense of beauty and calmness is bound to have a relaxing effect. There’s a play area for little ones and you can also catch exciting community workshops and talks on an array of topics.

Head to Hampton Roads Naval Museum

The Hampton Roads Naval Museum is ideal for visitors looking for a weekend of rich history and unique finds.

The museum chronicles the last 235 years of US Navy history through a series of artifacts and items that are sure to intrigue those with an interest in anything nautical.

The Hampton Roads Naval Museum is also within walking distance of Nauticus should you wish to dedicate an entire day to Norfolk’s proud naval history.

Relax and unwind in Ocean View

Norfolk even has a series of comfortable beaches that you should visit. Located in the Ocean View area, there’s no better place to take in the stunning setting and unique atmosphere of the city than from a beach.

Closing Thoughts on Norfolk, Virginia

There’s a reason that this surprising city is making its way onto travel blogs and winning the hearts of tourists as well as destination awards. Whether you want a weekend to relax in nature, a chance to explore the history of naval warfare or you’re looking to delight your palette, Norfolk is the place to go. But be warned, a weekend is probably not enough time to fully enjoy the city so you will probably need to plan a return visit.

Have you ever visited Norfolk, Virginia? If so, what was your experience like?

26 Comments

  1. Gabriel says:

    I spent a weekend down there probably a decade or so ago with a friend stationed there and it was a blast. Great town, tons to see and do.

  2. I’ve been a Norfolk resident for many years and these are all great, but if you want the real craft brewery experience in Norfolk try Smartmouth, O’Connor’s and Coelecanth, too, which are all within a few miles of downtown. Also, if you are near Town Point Park and Nauticus you should also visit Pagoda, a gorgeous structure and park donated by Taiwan. That part of downtown is awesome for playing Pokémon Go if your kids (or you, no judgment here!) enjoy that. You can also find some great boat tours (the naval base tour is pretty interesting) that depart from the waterfront.

    1. Lisa,

      I have heard about Pagoda, but haven’t had the chance to go experience it yet.

  3. I do not live that far from Norfolk VA! I am planning to do a day trip there with my family one day soon. Thanks for sharing.

  4. CourtneyLynne says:

    Oooooo Norfolk looks like one fun place to visit!!!!i hope my travels take me there one day!!!

  5. I have heard some amazing things about Norfolk over the years. I have never been to VA. I know there is a lot of history there worth checking out. One of these days I will get a chance to travel more.

  6. Becky says:

    I always skip right over Norfolk on my way to the beach…next time I better stay awhile!

  7. michele d says:

    I’ve flew into Norfork, Virginia while traveling on a media trip and I absolutely love that state. It’s beautiful there.

  8. We’ve never visited Norfolk, Virginia, but we drove through it on our way to D.C. I didn’t know they have a battleship. My son has always been fascinated with battleships. We’ll visit someday!

  9. Chasity Boatman says:

    I’ve never been to Virginia before, but it looks beautiful!

  10. Yolonda says:

    These are some great travel options. I’ll have to bookmark this so I can visit some when I’m back in the area. ^yolonda

  11. I have been to this area before and we didn’t get to see very many things. I would have loved to visit the naval ship. I no longer live close enough to Norfolk, VA.

  12. kendall says:

    These are such great tips!!! I love Norfolk – it’s a great city for everyone which is the best part!

  13. Looks like a great place to visit. I’ve never been there before. I bet this time of year it looks very beautiful!

  14. Never visited there, but I did drive through there once. Looks like such a great place to visit.

  15. Myteenguide says:

    Such a lovely place to visit. So many fun activities to do. My family will enjoy visiting Norfolk.

  16. Wendy Polisi says:

    I love to bring my family in Norfolk and enjoy the picnic and do some fun activities.

  17. Dogvills says:

    I haven’t been to Norfolk. It’s good to know that there is so much you can do there. I would love to go one day.

  18. We’re going to be heading to Virginia this coming Spring so I will have to bookmark this for when we get closer to our vacation date!

  19. Thanks for sharing this! I was in Virginia a couple months ago but didn’t have the time to go explore but next time I definitely will!

  20. I’ve been to Norfolk! It’s awesome. My BFF from high school lives there. Of course it’s been wayyyy too long since I’ve been.

  21. Jennifer Van Huss says:

    That looks like a great place to visit! There really is something for everyone! My hubby would love the Craft beer sites and I would love the rich history!

  22. Heather Lawrence says:

    I have never been to Norfolk and when I first saw the title I thought you were referring to the one in Europe (that’s where my family was from many moons ago.) I would love to check out the craft beer and the beaches. That looks like a great place to visit!

  23. We’ve been to Virginia a few times, but we’ve never gone to Norfolk. It’s on the list, though. Thank you so much for sharing this. Bookmarking!

  24. Thank you so much for sharing these ideas. We’ve been talking about a trip to Norfolk, and this will be a big help.

  25. Wow, there is a lot to do! That beach is gorgeous, it is so cold and snowing here I am dreaming of the beach. We are planning some summer trips and this would be a fun one!

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