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The Freemason District contains some of the major historical sites in Norfolk. Part of the original plot of land given to Captain Thomas Willoughby in 1636, the streets are cobblestone, with brick houses and trees lining the sidewalk. Among the many museums and history centers here are the Moses Myers House, Norfolk History Museum, and Hunter House Victorian Museum.
Downtown Norfolk is the real heartbeat of the city. Downtown, visitors will find all kinds of attractions, from museums to theaters, boutiques, restaurants, bars and a beautiful waterfront view. Make sure Downtown is on your list when you visit Norfolk. It's hard to miss!
Part of the Nauticus Maritime Center, the USS Wisconsin came to Norfolk in 2000. The ship is over 60 years old, first launched in 1943, and is one of the largest battleships ever built by the US Navy. Children and history buffs especially love it, and docents are placed in various spots on board to answer any questions about the ship's colorful history.
Norfolk has a long-standing military tradition, and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum is dedicated to celebrating this rich history. Located inside the Nauticus Maritime Center, the museum also operates the USS Wisconsin exhibit. Featuring uniforms, documents, photos, and other artifacts, history buffs should not miss this treasury of local history.
The Nauticus Maritime Center is a huge complex on the waterfront in Downtown Norfolk. The interactive exhibits help visitors explore nautical science, Nofolk's naval history and marine life. Touch tanks bring you as close as you can get to sea creatures like starfish, anemones, even nurse sharks! Included in the admission price is entrance to the 3D Theater.
Fort Norfolk is the last of the George Washington authorized harbor-front ports. Set on four acres next to the Elizabeth River, the fort had a significant role in the War of 1812. Sites to be seen include the dungeon, ramparts and barracks, most of which date back to 1810. Located in the historic Ghent area, Fort Norfolk is an interesting and educational outing.
The Virginia Zoo has been collecting animals since the beginning of the 20th Century. The zoo houses animals from all over the world, from domestic farm animals to Siberian tigers and white rhinos. In addition to animals, the zoo simultaneously houses a large horticultural collection as well. The zoo can also host birthday parties and other private events, as well as zoo camps, Girl and Cub Scout programs and family programs.
The Norfolk Botanical Gardens offer many different signature and theme gardens for guests to stroll around, such as the Virginia Native Plant Garden, the Bristow Butterfly Garden and the Enchanted Forest. In addition to the numerous beautiful gardens, the Norfolk Botanical Gardens also put on special events and exhibits. Among these are bike nights, sculpture exhibits and guided tours of the gardens.
Spread across an area of 2,888 acres (1168.73 hectares), First Landing State Park is a regularly visited destination that entices visitors with its tranquil atmosphere. The beautiful park gets its name due to its proximity to the site where the first colonists landed in Virginia in 1607. It features a recreational space, picnic areas, and facilities for swimming, boating, and fishing. Apart from these leisurely activities, the park is also a popular destination among hikers and bikers. There is a sprawling campground on-site where cabin rental facilities and modern amenities are available. The First Landing State Park plays host to various local events on a regular basis.
One of the most visited spots in Virginia, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an experience that should not be missed. The wonderful marine life on display will leave you enthralled. The centre holds various exhibitions, excursions, tours and outings to make the whole experience memorable and worthwhile. If you still have some energy left, catch a movie at the IMAX theatre which is located at the centre.