Destinations

5 Things to Do in Norfolk, Virginia

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I hadn’t visited the coast of Virginia since college when I was a student at University of Virginia. That weekend is now a blur of the smells of our cheap hotel room, sitting on a curb to watch fez-topped Shriners parade in tiny cars and bloating out on pancakes. My recent weekend in Norfolk, Virginia, has left me with much nicer memories of a charming city with historic neighborhoods, bike-friendly Colley Avenue, Tide light rail, fantastic dining opportunities and plenty to experience. I was lucky enough to visit during the 25th Annual Town Point Virginia Wine Festival held every year in October. We did our best to sample many of the wines offered by 30 Virginia wineries on a gorgeous fall day. Here are five other things you’ll want to experience on your next visit.

Make time to tour some of the most beautiful gardens at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, where you can view 155 acres on foot, by boat or on a tram tour. In additional to 40 theme gardens, there is a two-acre Butterfly Garden, and a three-acre Children’s Garden. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the Norfolk Botanical Gardens are a must-see.
1. Make time to tour some of the most beautiful gardens at the Norfolk Botanical Garden, where you can view 155 acres on foot, by boat or on a tram tour. In additional to 40 theme gardens, there is a two-acre Butterfly Garden, and a three-acre Children’s Garden. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the Norfolk Botanical Gardens are a must-see.
 For a more active experience on the water, take a kayak tour with Kayak Nature Tours. Take your pick among various tours through surrounding waterways. One of the most popular summer tours is the Dolphin Tour, with a choice of launching from two locations. Our group took a short tour around the Elizabeth River Harbor where we paddled around a cruise ship and the Battleship Wisconsin, another popular tourist attraction that is one of the largest and last battleships built by the U.S. Navy.
2. For a more active experience on the water, take a kayak tour with Kayak Nature Tours. Take your pick among various tours through surrounding waterways. One of the most popular summer tours is the Dolphin Tour, with a choice of launching from two locations. Our group took a short tour around the Elizabeth River Harbor where we paddled around a cruise ship and the Battleship Wisconsin, another popular tourist attraction that is one of the largest and last battleships built by the U.S. Navy.
Currently undergoing a massive renovation, The Chrysler Museum includes sections on American Painting and Sculpture, European Painting & Sculpture, Ancient Worlds, Photography, Modern Art and Contemporary Art. My favorite is the expansive Glass section, one of the largest in the world, including a collection of the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Be sure and visit the Glass Studio, housed separately, where you can see students learning the ancient craft. If time allows, sign up for a beginning class, available for adults and children.
3. Currently undergoing a massive renovation, The Chrysler Museum includes sections on American Painting and Sculpture, European Painting & Sculpture, Ancient Worlds, Photography, Modern Art and Contemporary Art. My favorite is the expansive Glass section, one of the largest in the world, including a collection of the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Be sure and visit the Glass Studio, housed separately, where you can see students learning the ancient craft. If time allows, sign up for a beginning class, available for adults and children.
3. Indulge your sweet tooth with a visit to Doumar’s, an ice cream shop opened by Abe Doumar in the early 1900’s that is the home of the world’s first ice cream cone. The original ice cream cone machine is still in use, and if you’re lucky you’ll see his son, Albert Doumar, cranking up the machine each morning to make the fresh cones at this popular Norfolk institution.
4. Indulge your sweet tooth with a visit to Doumar’s, an ice cream shop opened by Abe Doumar in the early 1900’s that is the home of the world’s first ice cream cone. The original ice cream cone machine is still in use, and if you’re lucky you’ll see his son, Albert Doumar, cranking up the machine each morning to make the fresh cones at this popular Norfolk institution.
 Elizabeth River Harbor Cruise
5. Leisurely cruise the waters of the Elizabeth River Harbor Cruise on the American Rover, a 135-foot-long, three-masted tall ship. Take a narrated two-hour Harbor Cruise in the afternoon, or a Sunset cruise in the evening. The ship has plenty of seating, a ship store with souvenirs and refreshments and below-deck cocktail lounges. Cruises run October through April.

For more on Norfolk, please visit the Norfolk Convention & Visitors Site

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