things to do in Norfolk

Strategically situated at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, the port city of Norfolk makes a great base for exploring coastal Virginia.

You’ll be thrilled by the incredible range of fun things to do in Norfolk. Outdoor junkies can go boating or surfing in the Atlantic Ocean, while culture vultures will love browsing the museums and art centers.

Home to the largest naval base in not just America but the entire world, the city forms the headquarters of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command. Located on the Elizabeth River, many activities revolve around water.

Board a once-used navy ship and take a tour, stop by the maritime discovery center, feel all the excitement at a waterpark, visit a national swamp and veer through forestry of wetlands, and look out for the multiple mermaid statues around town!

Swapping scenery for indoor time; enjoy a night at the theater, catch one of your favorite bands or revel in an evening of opera!

Whether you’re into fine dining, naval history, or baseball, Norfolk has all the ingredients for a truly memorable vacation.

1 – Enjoy a concert by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra

Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Norfolk

Listening to a performance by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra will be one of your trip highlights. They put on over 100 concerts every year, so there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to see them in action.

The repertoire is delightfully fluid, with the music of Star Wars and Harry Potter rubbing shoulders with concertos by Vivaldi or Tchaikovsky. Venues include Virginia Beach, Chrysler Hall, Ferguson Center for the Arts, and the Sandler Center.

2 – Get back to nature at Norfolk Botanical Garden

Norfolk Botanical Garden, Virginia

Surround yourself with beauty as you explore 175 acres of blooming brilliance at Norfolk Botanical Garden. With over 50 themed gardens to admire you’ll wonder just where the time went!

Listen as endemic birds warble in the trees and see if you can identify the butterflies as they dart among the flowers. Kids will adore the Children’s Adventure Garden where they can go on a plant safari and enjoy scavenger hunts.

3 – Sail and dine on the Spirit of Norfolk

dinner cruise in Norfolk

Is there anything more relaxing than cruising along a river, watching the world go by? A jaunt on the Spirit of Norfolk is just the ticket if you want a leisurely float and top-notch grub.

The buffet is served on the elegant dining deck, with honey chicken and roasted flounder on the menu. Head to the upper deck for cocktails and city skyline views, or grove into the night on a dance cruise.

4 – Catch a basketball game at Chartway Arena

Chartway Arena, Norfolk

Calling all sports fans! Home to the ODU Monarchs Men and Women’s basketball teams, watch a live game courtside at Chartway Arena!

Purchase seasonal tickets if you live in the area, or single-seat tickets are available for travelers passing through and who are keen on catching a basketball game.

During season, and especially when it’s off-season, the venue transforms from courts to stage, and there are plenty of live acts that you can enjoy here which change weekly/monthly — so best to check the online events calendar.

Bands hit the stage, artists on tour utilize this venue, comedians scoop up the laughs front and center, and there are shows dedicated to the little ones featuring their favorite characters from cartoons or television series.

5 – Visit the Chrysler Museum of Art

Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk

There are over 30,000 exhibits at the Chrysler Museum of Art, but we don’t suggest you try to see them all! Some pieces date back 5000 years, with ancient Egyptian ceramics and Mayan sculptures stealing the show.

More modern offerings include glass-blown pumpkins and paintings by Henri Matisse. Pop into the Perry Glass Studio while you’re there and watch the experts at work. You can have a go yourself at the workshops.

6 – Go wild at Virginia Zoo

Virginia Zoo, Norfolk

Meet the residents at Virginia Zoo as you wander around the different enclosures. There are species from all corners of the globe waiting to greet you, including Bornean orangutans, American bison, and Malaysian sun bears.

Feel your spine tingle as the African lions roar and watch in awe as the meerkats stand alert on top of their desert mounds. Don’t miss the cute red pandas and the sleepy sloths as they pose for photos.

7 – Enjoy live music at The Norva

The Norva, Norfolk

For the love of music; The Norva has been pleasing the crowds with musical talents since 2000.

Many great artists and bands have graced the intimate stage, and the venue is well-favored for its set-up, acoustics/sound and lighting effects, and audiences really appreciate seeing artists up close, instead of having to watch the concert from a distance on a monitor (unless you have front row seats).

That’s not the case at this venue as all tickets are general admission and work on a first-come-first-serve basis for your spot up front. Boasting two levels within a theater-style setting, no matter where you are you’re guaranteed a good angle.

Check out the online calendar to see who’s playing with the next couple of months already lined up.

8 – Ride the log flume at Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens, Norfolk

Want to get your heart pumping? Then make a date with the Busch Gardens theme park in nearby Williamsburg and hit those rides. Feel the adrenaline rush as you hurtle along in Apollo’s Chariot and plunge down watery flumes.

Families will have a blast spinning around on the traditional teacups and there’s a classic carousel too. For something more sedate, hop on the mini railway for a scenic train ride.

9 – Tour the city by bike

bike tours in Norfolk

See Norfolk in a new light as you pedal along the cycle paths that criss-cross the city. You’ll be stopping at top landmarks as well as exploring well off the beaten tourist trail. Electric bikes will give you a bit of a boost on the hilly bits!

One of the most fun things to do in Norfolk for groups is to ride a multi-seat party bike through buzzing Downtown, checking out the best bars.

10 – Solve challenges at an escape room

Escape Rooms in Norfolk

Get your brain into gear as you race against the clock to break out of a themed escape room.

You’ll need to complete challenges and decipher puzzles if you want to beat the code makers at Escape2Win. Will you find yourself on an abandoned spacecraft or at the scene of a gruesome murder? Either way, your detective skills are what’s needed to solve the mysteries before you. Watch out for vengeful ghosts!

Offering four different escape rooms with varying levels of difficulty, the ultra-realistic props and detail-oriented decor really transport players the moment they step inside a locked room at Countdown Escape Room Virginia Beach. ‘Escape the Titanic,’ ‘The Pirate’s Treasure,’ ‘Science Lab Spy’ and ‘Dr. Madblood’s Mystery Manor’ (the most difficult one) are the escape rooms to pick from here.

With a whopping eight rooms to choose from, Breakout Games has themed escapes to suit all ages. Find the stolen art during ‘Museum Heist’ or try to free yourself from handcuffs before the kidnapper returns in the heart-pumping ‘The Kidnapping.’ Pretend to be a spy attempting ‘Operation: Casino’ or board the rescue boat in time and escape volcanic eruptions during the ‘Island Escape.’

11 – Kids have all the fun at the Children’s Museum of Virginia

Children's Museum of Virginia, Norfolk

Designed especially for our wee ones between the ages of one and 11 years old, let the kids exert some energy and have fun learning at the Children’s Museum of Virginia.

The museum aims to inspire playtime that allows little ones to imagine, explore and discover through interactive and immersive exhibits that excite and delight young minds.

There are 12 permanent attractions to scout and try out. One of the most popular is called ‘Bubbles’ where you can create bubbles bigger than your body, or the Lancaster Antique Train & Toy Collection mesmerizes all who pass by the large-scale diorama of operating trains.

Pretend to be an adult and shop for groceries at ‘Wegman’s’; learn about recycling, energy consumption, biology, ecology and more at ‘My Backyard & Beyond’; uncover the world of physical sciences at ‘Dr. Force’s Traveling Energy Extravaganza’ and become familiar with the four families of musical instruments at ‘Sounds Around.’

Important to note: You will need to book tickets in advance to visit the museum.

12 – Watch baseball at Harbor Park Stadium

Harbor Park Stadium, Norfolk

Catch a live game at one of the top Minor League Baseball stadiums in the country. Home to the Norfolk Tides Team, Harbor Park is renowned for its superb acoustics and outstanding views from the seats.

Feeling peckish? Then bag a table in the onsite restaurant and watch the action while you tuck into the buffet. Why not make your experience extra special with a message for your traveling companions on the scoreboard?

13 – Attend a festival in Town Point Park

Town Point Park, Norfolk

Town Point Park is your go-to destination for festivals, concerts, and cultural events. Even if there’s nothing on during your visit, it’s a fun place to chill out.

There’s lots of public art here to enjoy, paying homage to the maritime and military heritage of Norfolk. Check out the mermaid sculpture hidden in the interactive fountains, admire the Armed Forces Memorial, and see a 19th-century cannon excavated from the river.

Directions on Google Maps

14 – Visit Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, Norfolk

Encounter fearsome sharks and watch the hilarious antics of seals as you explore the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. Don’t forget to say hello to the resident Komodo dragon!

Venture into the wild on a boat tour and see if you can spot whales and dolphins. Or visit the Adventure Park to tackle the high ropes obstacle course and zip line trail that will have you zooming through the trees.

15 – Spend the day sampling local beers

Grain rooftop, Norfolk

Craft beer aficionados and connoisseurs… great news! There are some epic breweries, beer gardens and drinking holes in Norfolk!

It’s a total vibe at O’Connor Brewing Co. whether you’re here to visit the production factory or the tasting room. Built within a mid-century building, the brewery hosts special events as well as live music nights, and there are often food trucks popping up.

Once a grocery store turned bulb importer turned church is now the home of Elation Brewing, and the setup has an upmarket warehouse-like feel. Situated in the up-and-coming Railroad District, The Veil Brewing Co. is set across three levels. Done up in dramatic monochromes, the taphouse sells bottles, cans and drafts that change on the daily.

With a few locations around Virginia, Smartmouth Brewing Co.’s original tasting room is right here in Norfolk. Ask one of the beertenders to sample any of the brews first, and the extra-large tasting room is next to a big warehouse where events happen, live music and there is extra seating here.

Bag a spot at Norfolk’s only rooftop beer garden and soak up the superb city views. Craft beers and local gins are the cream of the crop at the Grain. As night falls, gather around the fire pit listening to live music, and watch the sunset over the Elizabeth River. Evenings out in Norfolk don’t get much dreamier than this!

16 – Cruise around a naval base on the Victory Rover

Victory Rover, Norfolk

It’s all aboard the Victory Rover for a tour of one of the world’s busiest seaports, home to the Atlantic Fleet. Enjoy a narrated cruise as you explore the largest naval base in the US.

As you power along the Elizabeth River, keep your eyes peeled for naval vessels. See if you can spy submarines, aircraft carriers, and missile cruisers from your comfortable seats on the open-air deck.

17 – Watch the sunset at Ocean View and East Beach

Ocean View and East Beach, Norfolk

Looking for a chilled-out day on sublime sands? The laid-back coastal communities of Ocean View and East Beach are the answer.

Spend the day building sandcastles and devouring picnics in the undulating dunes. Or take to the water by kayak and explore the endless coastline. There are festivals and concerts held here during the summer, so check the schedule to see what’s on during your visit.

Directions on Google Maps

18 – Zoom down slides at Ocean Breeze Waterpark

Ocean Breeze Waterpark, Norfolk

Hold on tight as you fly down the flumes at Ocean Breeze Waterpark. The rides here are epic, with adrenaline rushes guaranteed around every corner. Are you brave enough to take on the Vortex? It’s one of the most thrilling things to do in Norfolk!

If you want to slow the pace down, jump in a rubber ring and float along the lazy river, drifting past secret coves and refreshing waterfalls.

19 – Eat succulent seafood at Saltine

Saltine, Norfolk

Soak up the old-world atmosphere at this retro seafood restaurant in Downtown Norfolk. Sophisticated Saltine is famed for its platters of jumbo shrimps and baked lobster, with truffle French fries sealing the deal.

Go for brunch and feast on tuna tacos and Belgian waffles heaped with chocolate. In the evening, an extensive cocktail menu offers everything from pisco sours to mint juleps. Arrive between 5 and 7 PM for happy hour!

20 – Get the party started on a pedal tour

pedal tours in Norfolk

Start your night out with a bang as you cycle through Downtown Norfolk on a pedal tour. Great for groups of friends and celebrations, this quirky excursion is a unique way to explore.

Opt for a specialist bar tour and stop at some of the best watering holes in town to keep hydration levels high. Or climb on board for a history outing and swing by the major landmarks in style.

21 – Perfect your backswing during golf time

golf courses in Norfolk

If you’re already missing out on your golf time, not to worry when in Norfolk as there are some great courses to enjoy playtime at.

Built between 1929 and 1930, Ocean View Golf Course has been a long-standing favorite, boasting 18 holes, with the option to play half the course at nine holes. Carts and clubs are available to rent.

Originally built in 1927 sporting Donald Ross-design, and with an upgrade by golfing architect Tom Clark in 1989, Sewells Point Golf Course is an 18-hole championship course with a Par 71,  and they offer golf lessons by a PGA pro!

Established by a former PGA playing professional, Bide-A-Wee Golf Course is a public course and is open all year around. Expect fast greens, varying tee boxes to suit different play levels and a few challenging holes!

Wow, talk about a unique setup… Topgolf is unlike any golf ranges around! Incorporating the idea of games with technology and golfing, this is what you get! Instead of a golf course with a certain amount of holes, there are individual bays that players/groups book out. From the range, take your shot and aim for the gigantic outfield targets.

Using special high-tech balls that can score themselves, you don’t need to be a professional or even an experienced player to enjoy this one!

22 – Become an expert mermaid spotter

mermaids of Norfolk

The Norfolk Mermaids have been in residence for over 20 years. These iconic painted sculptures can be found at various locations throughout the city – see how many you can tick off during your visit. Don’t miss the baseball-themed mermaid at Harbor Park or the giant mermaid tail at Saltine!

Fancy taking home your very own mermaid? Then pop down to the Mermaid Factory where you can paint a mini plaster statue.

23 – Visit Nauticus and explore the USS Wisconsin

USS Wisconsin, Norfolk, Virginia

One of the top must-visit sights in Norfolk is Nauticus, a maritime discovery center down on the waterfront. Go on a naval voyage through time as you learn about the city’s seafaring heritage.

Take a tour of the mighty USS Wisconsin – a real-life battleship used in World War II. You can chat to the naval officers on board who will share hair-raising stories of deadly combat on the high seas.

24 – Reel in a marlin on a fishing excursion

fishing in Norfolk

Pros and amateurs alike will love sailing out to sea on a fishing charter in search of some big game. The waters here are teeming with life so you’re in with a great chance of landing a whopper.

Cast your line and compete with your friends to see who will reel in the first prize. Will it be a tasty tuna or a magnificent marlin? Bonus points for hooking a rockfish!

25 – Be entertained by the Virginia Stage Company

Virginia Stage Company, Norfolk

Settle in for a night of revelry and revelation at the Wells Theater as the Virginia Stage Company put on a dazzling performance. As the lights dim and the music strikes up, be transported into a world of make-believe.

Check the schedule to see what’s on during your stay. Plays and musicals are the stars of the show, and you might even catch a world premiere.

26 – Bounce around at DEFY trampoline park

DEFY trampoline park, Norfolk

Leap up and down as you show off your moves at DEFY trampoline park in Chesapeake. You’ll be practicing somersaults and star jumps until you run out of steam.

Follow in the footsteps of your basketball heroes as you slam dunk on the court, and wobble along the battle beam if you dare. There’s extreme dodgeball and a ninja obstacle course to tackle, and for the truly courageous, the intimidating Warped Wall awaits.

27 – Relax at the Pagoda and Garden Foundation

Pagoda and Garden Foundation, Norfolk

Down on the waterfront at Freemason Harbor, there’s a surprising hidden pocket of peace, just moments away from the busy city. It’s called the Pagoda and Oriental Garden Foundation, and it’s a great place for a stroll.

Embrace a moment of Zen as you wander through the swaying bamboo grove and enjoy the harmony of nature. Then follow the walkways to the giant pagoda for those quintessential garden photos.

28 – Snap selfies in front of the Neon District Murals

Neon District Murals tours, Norfolk

Looking for quirky things to do in Norfolk? The Neon District Murals are at the beating heart of the city’s up-and-coming arts scene – take a self-guided tour to check them out.

The colorful installations show off the creative local talent on walls, sheds, and even sidewalks. Pose beside the giant pink roses on Boush Street and admire the life-size humpback whale keeping watch over Waterside Drive.

29 – Grab cocktails, wine or craft beers from the best bars

cocktails wine or craft beers in Norfolk

Looking for a hotspot to grab a round of drinks to end off a great day, or night?

Choose from more than 100 beers on tap at Grain Norfolk! Plus, the vistas over the Elizabeth River add the cherry. There is both indoor and outdoor seating available.

For insatiable craft cocktails head to Press 626. Also a wine bar, join them on Sundays for a supper party and wine tasting!

A funky martini and tapas bar is what to expect from Crackers, and if you are feeling peckish after all them cocktails, their menu is seasonal.

As the first proper craft beer bar in Norfolk, The Birch has made a name for itself thanks to its delicious selections of brews. Order from between 21 crafts, and they also have cider and mead on tap.

Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and run, Gershwins on Granby is where to arrive for cocktails and live music like the sounds of sweet jazz or pianist playing melodic tunes.

30 – Take on the rides at Atlantic Fun Park

Atlantic Fun Park, Norfolk

Feel the thrills as you get flung about on the mighty Gravitron and the Flipping Action Arm at Atlantic Fun Park. Brave souls should hang on tight while swinging in the Sea Dragon Ship before zooming at top speed around the go-karting track.

Younger adventurers will love riding the Flying Elephants and taking a spin on the giant Ferris wheel. Keep energy levels topped up with pizza and fries.

31 – Visit the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Norfolk, Virginia

With a name like that, you could be forgiven for avoiding the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Yet it’s actually a beautiful place full of unique habitats and endemic wildlife.

Head out on trails through the forested wetlands and see what you can find. Bobcats, black bears, and white-tail deer are frequent visitors. Come in summer for the clouds of butterflies or winter for huge flocks of swans.

32 – Meet the wild residents at Virginia Living Museum

Virginia Living Museum, Norfolk

More zoo than museum, this wildlife sanctuary is home to over 250 species of orphaned and injured animals. Exploring the Virginia Living Museum gives you the chance to meet your wild heroes, whether they’re American alligators, wily coyotes, or diving ducks.

Don’t miss the Dinosaur Discovery Trail and pop into the planetarium for a show about the prehistoric night sky. Could stegosaurus really see the Milky Way?

33 – Check out the Norfolk Waterside District

Norfolk Waterside District, Virginia

Spend a happy afternoon wandering through the regenerated Norfolk Waterside District. The buzzing vibe is infectious, with locals and visitors both coming here to hang out.

Feast on oysters and pizza in the family-run restaurants, jig along to live music at laid-back gigs, and go clubbing into the early hours.

During the day you can take a cruise from the marina or explore the Nauticus and the battleship Wisconsin.

34 – Go kayaking on the Lafayette River

Lafayette River, kayaking in Norfolk Virginia

Jump in a kayak and paddle down the Lafayette River in search of adventure. You can rent a boat and head into the wilds on an independent mini-expedition or join a tour and discover all the secret spots.

Search for marine wildlife as you drift lazily along, often with bald eagles flying overhead. If you’re lucky there might even be a pod of dolphins hunting for lunch – keep your camera ready!

35 – Enjoy a concert at Harrison Opera House

Harrison Opera House, Norfolk

Be dazzled by the glittering interior of the Harrison Opera House as you sashay down the sweeping staircase beneath the twinkling chandeliers. If you’re after a glamorous night out in Norfolk, this is it!

Begin your evening with Champagne in the elegant bar before taking your seats for the performance. As the curtain rise and the lights dim, let the magic take you away into a world of musings and music.

36 – Discover Mount Trashmore Park

Mount Trashmore Park, Norfolk

It’s not often you visit a landfill site on your vacation, but bear with us, this one’s a corker. The aptly named Mount Trashmore was once a literal wasteland, but today it’s been turned into a pretty green park in the heart of the urban city.

There are man-made mountains and adventure playgrounds to enjoy, as well as lakes for a truly tranquil environment. Kayak on Lake Windsor or scale Mount Trashmore for epic views.

37 – Tour Hermitage Museum and Gardens

Hermitage Museum and Gardens in Norfolk
credit to The Hermitage Museum & Gardens

One of the most rewarding things to do in Norfolk is visiting the Hermitage Museum and Gardens. Step over the threshold of this charming 20th-century house and find yourself in a world of Asian paintings, Arts and Crafts paneling, and vibrant early Coptic tapestries.

Built as a summer retreat, this treasure trove sits in 12 acres of formal gardens, woodlands, and wetlands, beside the meandering Lafayette River.

38 – Go hiking in Lake Lawson and Lake Smith Natural Area

Lake Lawson and Lake Smith Natural Area, hiking in Norfolk

Pull on your hiking shoes and hit the trails that wind around Lake Lawson and Lake Smith Natural Area. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife that calls this wilderness preserve home.

There are 42 acres to explore, with pretty lake shorelines that make ideal picnic spots. You can go fishing, boating, or kayaking to get closer to nature – the calm waters are perfect for beginners.

39 – Browse the Hampton Roads Naval Museum

Hampton Roads Naval Museum, Norfolk

Immerse yourself in US maritime history at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. Tucked away inside the Nauticus Center, this small museum has an impressive collection of original uniforms, aged weapons, and artifacts retrieved from under the sea.

You’ll learn all about the navy’s part in the Vietnam War, and see artwork dedicated to preserving the heritage of this seafaring region. Check out the model ships before you leave!

40 – Discover the Moses Myers House

Moses Myers House, Norfolk

The Moses Myers House was built in the 18th century by one of the country’s first millionaires. Myers was a prosperous Jewish merchant, and most of the furnishings in the house once belonged to the man himself.

You’ll notice the distinctive French influences as you wander around the rooms. Check out the authentic kitchen and see if you can spot the original fireplaces. Guided tours are available at weekends.

41 – Watch a performance at the Attucks Theater

Attucks Theater, Norfolk

This treasured national landmark is the oldest surviving theater that was designed and funded by African American entrepreneurs. Constructed in 1919, the Attucks Theater was at the heart of racial pride in the Norfolk area.

Today you can take in musical performances, traditional plays, and dramatic readings in this thriving cultural hub. A bit of late-night jazz is on the cards too, with soulful melodies spilling out into the sultry streets.

>42 – Delve deep into military history at the MacArthur Memorial

MacArthur Memorial, Norfolk

Discover the haunting legacy of the First World War as you wander around the MacArthur Memorial. This thought-provoking museum charts the life of General Douglas MacArthur and pays homage to the millions of people who served with him during the war.

It’s free to enter, and there are plenty of exhibits and archives to keep you enthralled for hours. Take a guided tour for a more in-depth visit.

43 – Dive into the soft foam pool at Surge Adventure Park

Surge Adventure Park, Norfolk

Get your bounce on as you leap around the trampoline zones at Surge Adventure Park -it’s one of the most energetic things to do in Norfolk. See how high you can jump and pull off some showstopping tricks.

Take on the infamous Wipeout course and dangle off the trapeze like a true circus performer. Still have energy left? Then challenge yourself to reach the top of the colossal climbing tower if you dare, and finish the day diving into a soft foam pool.

44 – Visit the Hunter House Victorian Museum

Hunter House Victorian Museum, Norfolk

Travel back in time to an era of top hats and bonnets as you explore the Hunter House Victorian Museum. Built in 1894 by a merchant banker, the house has a Romanesque style all of its own.

Take a tour and discover a bit of Victorian splendor. You’ll come across impressive collections of decorative objects, books, and furniture to help you imagine what life was like back in the day.

45 – Attend a hockey game at the Norfolk Scope Arena

Norfolk Scope Arena, Norfolk

The imposing Norfolk Scope Arena is quite a sight with its concrete monolithic dome and sturdy flying buttresses. It’s home to an equally impressive schedule of events throughout the year, so check the listings and see what’s on during your visit.

Cheer the Norfolk Admirals hockey team as they run around the pitch, sing along at family concerts, or laugh out loud at a comedy show.

46 – Taste the finest American cuisine at the Freemason Abbey Restaurant

Freemason Abbey Restaurant, Norfolk

Wondering where the best spots are in town to grab a (scrumptious) bite to eat?

Have you ever eaten dinner in a church? That’s precisely what you can do at the Freemason Abbey Restaurant. Used as a gathering place since 1873, this former church is now an atmospheric place for a meal out. Sit in the repurposed pews to enjoy your candlelit supper of steak, salad, or seafood.

The sophisticated Saltine is famed for its platters of jumbo shrimp and baked lobster, with truffle French fries sealing the deal. Go for brunch and feast on tuna tacos and Belgian waffles heaped with chocolate. In the evening, an extensive cocktail menu offers everything from pisco sours to mint juleps.

In the mood for Italian? Luce takes the classics from all over Italy and pumps dishes with a modern twist. A dining experience here is all about authenticity — the pukka way Italians do things — and the intimate setting suits the vibe. Not just a restaurant, they’re also a wine and craft beer bar!

What happens when you fuse flavors and ingredients from three of Europe’s top foodie destinations? Well, you get Blanca Food+Wine; an amalgamation of French, Italian and Spanish cooking. With an ever-changing menu, order small tapa-style plates (ideal for sharing) and the craft cocktails are damn fine!

Never failing to impress diners, Voila Cuisine prides itself on top-notch service. With an upmarket bistro-like feel, the portion sizes are hearty, delivering flavors of France and Greece, and some other international plates. You can’t go wrong with dishes like Moules Provençale, Escargot or Paidakia (Greek-style lamb chops).

47 – Indulge yourself at the best spas

spa in Norfolk

Wouldn’t you agree that visiting a spa when on vacation just seems so much more appealing/relaxing? Treat yourself to a massage or rejuvenation treatment at these best spas in town.

Whether it’s a traditional massage that you’re after, a hot stone rendition or a custom hydro treatment, Elite European Day Spa has a wide variety of treatments and other beauty services from facials to nail enhancements.

If you’re looking for the full-works, consider Changes City Spa. Book one of their packages,  for example, Changes City Escape includes a one-hour massage, facial, pedi and mani, facial wax, shampoo and blowout and lunch! Or, opt for the Afternoon Getaway with a massage, mani and pedicure.

Choose between a 30, 45, 60 and 90-minute massage at Lotus Day Spa — which also specializes in nails in case you’re looking for a spot. On that note, try out the special Lava Stone pedicure, and they also offer kids’ services for children 10 years old and younger.

Where to stay in Norfolk?

Wondering where the best places are to stay in Norfolk? Ensure that you rest easy in comfort and a bit of style at these selections of hotels.

Featuring contemporary design and tons of art throughout its spaces, the Glass Light Hotel & Gallery, Autograph Collection is full of ambiance and is super stylish. Guests especially love the super comfy beds.

Loved for its location, service and extra clean rooms, the Hilton Norfolk The Main lives up to its brand name expectations. The rooms are super spacious and there is an indoor guest pool.

Fall in love with the views (overlooking the waterfront) at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott and its elegant interiors. Featuring an indoor jacuzzi and swimming pool, on-site gym and an excellent locale, you can’t go wrong.

Another spot with gorgeous views to wake to, the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel looks out onto the waters and the rooms are well-equipped.

Great for business travelers, Delta Hotels by Marriott Norfolk Airport strategically positions itself three kilometers from the airport and provides a shuttle to and from. Find everything you need from an on-site gym to pool to restaurant to bar.

Visiting Norfolk on a budget?

If you’re traveling to more than one destination, look at ways to save money where you can so you have extra to spend on shopping and eating out!

Consider a Passport to Fun day pass that automatically gains you free access to four top attractions. Technically it’s not free as you pay for the pass, but you end up saving a lot more this way!

These include the Battleship Wisconsin, Virginia Zoo, Nauticus and the Norfolk Botanical Garden. It gives you discounts at some entertainment and shopping stops in Norfolk.

Where to go next?

After your time in Norfolk, explore the surrounding areas on a day trip or overnight stay.

Virginia Beach is only a 20-minute drive from Norfolk and is situated at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. Enjoy the outdoor activities from kayaking to dolphin watching and beach-chilling is top priority.

Richmond is further on and can be enjoyed as a day outing or a weekend away. Traveling 1.5 hours to Virginia’s capital city, this destination is one for the history buffs and cultural enthusiasts.

The next two are best kept for overnight endeavors. Raleigh is just under three hours from Norfolk and is favored for its green landscaping (it’s even nicknamed the “City of Oaks” thanks to its huge forested natural parks). Leaving behind Virginia, it’s located in North Carolina.

Washington DC is just over three hours away (three hours and 15 minutes to be exact) and needs little introduction as the home of US politics and is steeped in history.

Final thoughts

Built around the watersides, the port city is a fabulous base for your time in Virginia. From water activities to parks to memorials to music venues, the fun things to do in Norfolk appeal to all sorts of travelers, whether young or old.

Have you visited Norfolk or other parts of Virginia before? What were some of your holiday highlights? Share with us in the comments.

As always, happy and safe travels!

Heather is a freelance travel copywriter and blogger based in the beautiful English Lake District. She has worked in the travel industry for over 20 years, having enjoyed roles in marketing, sales, content and even as a tour rep abroad. Her writing has appeared in several international publications, and she has partnered with tour operators and hospitality providers across the world to promote their services. Heather can often be found on safari in Kenya, haggling in the Moroccan souks or living the high life in Scottish castles. Back at home, she spends her time camping in the Cumbrian fells and playing the double bass.