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.
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 tall monument, found in the West Point Cemetery, is one of the one African-American Civil War monuments in the South. After a long, fraught building process, the monument was finally completed in 1920, in honor of all the African-American soldiers that lost their lives. The soldier depicted at the monument's top is Sergeant William H. Carney, the son of two emancipated slaves. The monument bears an inscription in his honor - and all the other soldiers that died - at the base.
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.
Nestled in downtown Norfolk, the MacArthur Memorial is a series of four buildings commissioned in the 1960s to commemorate the life of one of America's most awarded military heroes, General Douglas MacArthur. In 1964, General MacArthur was laid to rest in the main building. The memorial also pays tribute to the men and women who served alongside the General during both World Wars and the Korean War. The memorial site is complete with a museum, a visitor center and the MacArthur Memorial Theater. The museum, in particular, lends deep insights into the life and times of the valiant man, with the help of original archives, artifacts, displays, myriad murals, mementos and memorabilia. History is frozen in every nook and cranny of this memorial which the city greatly prides itself upon.
A fine collection of art and two historic houses make the Chrysler Museum of Art a fantastic retreat. Art works here include pieces by Andy Warhol, Louis Tiffany and Paul Gauguin. Savor art in the form of Greco-Roman, Islamic, Egyptian, Asian, and African masterpieces. The Impressionism, Sculpture and Photography galleries are sure to enthral you. The Chrysler Library is the largest art reference library in the Southeast. Adjacent to the galleries and included in admission are the Moses Myers House, residence of Norfolk's first Jewish citizen, and the Willoughby-Baylor House.