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.
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.
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.
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.
This beautiful planetarium at the Norfolk State University is available for civic groups and educational organizations to enjoy the stars, free-of-charge. The planetarium also holds many public lectures and workshops and there is the possibility that participants might learn more about the state-of-the-art Rapid Response Robotic Telescope. E-mail for more details.
Built in 1850, Freemason Street Baptist Church is a historic baptist church designed by Thomas Ustick Walter. Made in the Perpendicular Gothic style, the stuccoed brick church also has an octagonal spire on top. Coffee hours are also held after worship time where visitors to the church can meet and interact with locals and other spiritual seekers. Book clubs, interfaith dialogues spiritual retreats and workshops are also organized by the church on a regular basis. One of the best religious sights in the city, Freemason Street Baptist Church is a must-visit for anyone who is in town for a couple of days.
St. Paul's dates back to 1739, making it one of the oldest original colonial buildings in Norfolk, but the history of the parish goes back even farther than that. Today, visitors to the church can still see a cannonball that was lodged there in 1776. The church also houses some historic grave sites dating back to the 17th Century.
This restored historic house was once home to Norfolk entrepreneur Moses Myers. One of the first brick houses built here after the Revolutionary War, the Moses Myers House today contains a nice collection of original furnishings, family portraits and other works by Thomas Sully. An ongoing restoration of this house continues by the Garden Club of Virginia.
The Legends of Music Walk of Fame, running along Granby Street, is Norfolk's version of the concept Hollywood made famous. The plaques in the sidewalk commemorate the musicians who have called the Hampton Roads region home like Ella Fitzgerald, Ruth Brown and Bruce Hornsby. Take a stroll along Granby and see if you can find them all.
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.