Norfolk, Virginia: A Navy town worth visiting

Norfolk Sara Kendall

Norfolk, Virginia: A Navy Town Worth Visiting

Since Norfolk is home to the largest Naval base in the world, it’s natural that “Navy Town” pops into your mind when you thinking of it. In addition to its many nautical attractions, Norfolk offers many things to see and do for visitors to this waterfront city.

Let’s start at Nauticus, a maritime science museum and home to the Battleship Wisconsin. A stop here will enlighten the whole family and is absolutely worthy of your time. The highlight is taking a self-guided tour on the Battleship Wisconsin, which served in 3 wars. Visitors can view wardrooms, office quarters, berthing units, chapel, plus more. There is an informative museum with hands-on exhibits, touch tanks, 3D movies, and more.

Make your way to the downtown restaurant Field Guide for a scrumptious, flavorful lunch. This place isn’t your typical lunch spot. The casual setting is made even more so with long communal tables, where you just find a spot and enjoy your fellow diners. The menu combines unique flavors into every item creating a flavorful meal. Like Yala Surfer sandwich, grilled chicken, bleu cheese apple coleslaw topped with Lupo hot sauce – yum!

Located in downtown Norfolk, MacArthur Memorial is a free-admission museum of the life and times of Douglas MacArthur, an American five-star general who was made famous by his contributions during World War II. Here you can view WWII artifacts including his car and motorcycle along with many items from the Battle of the Philippines and his time there.

When it’s time to get back to nature, wander through Norfolk Botanical Gardens. Among the 175 acres, there are over 50 themed gardens like Fragrance Garden, Enchanted Forest, and Wildflower Meadow to enjoy. Kids love the award-winning Children’s Garden. Your family can explore the grounds by foot, by tram, or by boat.

Pull into the drive-in at Doumar’s Cones & Barbeque for made-from-scratch ice cream on a homemade waffle cone. The founder, Abe Doumar was the creator of the world’s first ice cream cone. You may see their waffle cone machine making their famous cones. This historic landmark was featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

Home to one of the greatest glass collections in America, The Chrysler Museum of Art is a nationally renowned art museum with a state-of-the-art glass studio. With 30,000 original works of art that span more than 5,000 years, you can see a lot of spectacular art. One highlight is the acclaimed Tiffany collection.

A small neighborhood dining spot is Handsome Biscuit where you can devour unique flavors piled into a sweet potato biscuit. One of their most popular sandwiches is fried chicken, bacon, cheddar, and red eye sausage gravy. You can expect a line out the door and limited indoor seating, but it’s worth it!

Over 144 miles of shoreline surround Norfolk, so getting out on the water is a must.

Go on a sailing harbor cruise with Victory Rover Naval Base Tour. Board for a two-hour narrated tour to hear about and see many interesting sites of this port city.

Opened in 1997 by two sisters, Luna Maya is not only an award-winning restaurant, but also a popular place among the locals. Fresh ingredients along with a variety of chiles and spices are used to make the most delicious Mexican food. Indoor and outdoor seating is available, but wherever you sit, it’s going to be a festive atmosphere.

For a beautiful location on the Elizabeth River in downtown Norfolk, book your stay at the Sheraton Waterside Hotel. You can take in beautiful river views and be within walking distance from many attractions.

Sara Kendall has traveled halfway across the globe with her kids and lived to tell about it. Stay tuned to hear about family destinations around Charlotte and beyond. Check out more of Sara’s travel at her website or email her at