Things To Do In Norfolk, Virginia!

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For the Mid-Atlantic traveler, Norfolk is the perfect place for sightseeing on a budget. Situated between Virginia Beach and the Upper Peninsula of Hampton Roads, Norfolk is a seaport town rich in nautical and early American history. Visitors can experience a rich palette of cultural and culinary flavors in Norfolk for under $50 a day. If you’re planning a trip, here are some places we recommend to get you started.

Say hello to our four-footed friends!

And our winged ones, too…they’re all at the Virginia Zoo. Recent expansions and renovations to this region’s major zoological park have made it one of the top attractions in the city. See the new habitats for the majestic large mammals and primates, and stop by the petting zoo for an up-close encounter. Admission is under $15–even less if you are a senior, AAA member, or military personnel!

Enjoy a treat for lunch!

Nationally-known Doumar’s Cones and Barbecue, whose founder is credited with the creation of the first ice cream cone, has been featured on food and travel networks. To this day, over a century after Abe Doumar served up his first frosty treat, the folks at this popular drive-up soda shop bake cones fresh daily. You can enjoy a delicious pork BBQ sandwich with a small homemade limeade and a single dip cone for under six bucks! Just find a good spot to park and let the carhop come to you.


Explore seas and ships!

Showcased in downtown Norfolk is the impressive Nauticus National Maritime Center. Here you’ll find exhibits and films not only on aquatic life and adventure, but also naval history pertaining to the region and around the world. You can also tour the Battleship Wisconsin, which served during World War II and is docked right next to the museum. Admission: $15.95 (discounts for seniors, AAA members, and military)

Dinner in a historic church!

Freemason Abbey. is one of Norfolk’s best-loved restaurants, located in a renovated church! Especially in the early evening, the stained glass windows illuminate with a comforting glow, making for an intimate dining experience. Seafood is their specialty, so we recommend the Seafood Fantasia (shrimp, scallops, and lump crab over linguine!) for just under $20.

Window shopping in the heart of the city!

As the day winds down, why not walk off dinner through MacArthur Center or Selden Market? Norfolk’s downtown malls are always a hit with locals and tourists who come to visit the city’s most exclusive and favorite shops. Stop by Waterside District for a drink, dinner, or dessert to top off a wonderful day in Norfolk.


When was the last time you took a ferry ride?

If you want to take the quick AND scenic route from Norfolk to Portsmouth, the Elizabeth River Ferry is just for you! Three beautiful, 150 passenger ferries travel daily every 30 minutes between the Waterside District in Norfolk and Olde Towne Portsmouth during peak summer weekends. Your 15 minute ride will give you an extra-special view of our busy and very important harbor. You’ll want to visit HRT’s website for up to the date information, as operations are subject to weather and scheduling changes. The ferry is wheelchair accessible, and you are welcome to hop on board with your bike!

And what can your family do when they get to the other side? How about a whole day exploring the Children’s Museum of Virginia! This magically educational museum captures the imaginations of children AND parnets, through kid-sized replicas, trains, bubbles, musical instruments, and so much more. You’ll have so much fun, we’ll bet you fall asleep on the ferry ride back too!

For the best museums, rainy-day activities, and sun-filled outdoor events, you’ll want to check out our Trip Planner and get planning your Hampton Roads vacation today!


Martin Walsh is an owner of The Vacation Channel, and filmmaker with over a decade of experience making engaging travel content. He’s on a mission to make sure your family has fun this year with a trip to Coastal Virginia. If you would like a local’s opinion, you can always send him a question via email. Now get outside and go have an adventure!

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