17 November 2022

Norfolk's Mermaid Market Holiday Gift Guide

Shopping in the Mermaid City is always a treat, especially during the holidays. During your next visit, be sure to stop by our very own Mermaid Market, located in our Visitors Center at 232 E Main St., Norfolk. We’ve got a great representation of uniquely Norfolk and Virginia-centric items that make terrific holiday gifts. Plus, we carry an assortment of wares from local artisans and makers. So come see us, support local, and get your holiday shopping started all in one stop. Or, shop online for a quick and easy memento of Norfolk delivered to your doorstep.

For the Foodie

Jody’s Popcorn

Proudly based in Hampton Roads, Jody’s Popcorn is created with the highest quality ingredients and handcrafted for the very best tasting popcorn. After 53 tries of tweaking their caramel corn, they developed a winner in their Recipe 53 Caramel Corn. Snag a bag for yourself or a loved one, and you’ll soon see why the brand is a favorite across the country.

Mermaid Apron

Protect your clothing as you cook and represent Mermaid City in your home kitchen with this lovely mermaid apron. Mermaids come in all shapes, sizes and colors, beautifully represented in this artful apron. Bonus: there’s a cute pocket for holding your trusty spoon or ladle.

VA Cutting Board

Some of the best meats, cheeses, jams, honeys and more come from the commonwealth, so why not represent our fine state during the presentation of your next charcuterie board? Serve in style with this beautifully crafted VA wooden cutting board.

City With Bite Hoodie

Know someone who loves streaming our culinary series, City With Bite? Know someone who loves eating their way through Norfolk? Know someone with impeccable style who loves repping a good brand? This City With Bite hoodie is a perfect gift for the foodie in your life.

For the Decorator

Glass Mermaid Ornaments

A favorite among locals and visitors alike, these gorgeously handmade glass mermaid ornaments are the perfect addition to your tree but can also be enjoyed all year round. Created by T. Rose Glass Studio, these ornaments are mesmerizing in swirled colorful glass, making each one unique. Because of the delicate nature of these ornaments, in-store purchases are available only.

For the Lover of Local

Norfolk Love Mermaid T-shirt

Show your love for Norfolk or gift to a local-loving pal! These Norfolk LOVE mermaid shirts were lovingly created by Norfolk’s own Prince Ink and feature the city’s beloved mermaid icon we all know and love.

On this Day in Norfolk History

Established in 1680 near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, Norfolk is a maritime jewel of the East Coast. During the American Revolution, British ships shelled the city on New Year’s Day 1776. The first battle of the ironclads—Monitor versus Merrimack—took place off Norfolk’s shore in 1862. Walter P. Chrysler moved his art collection to the city in 1971 and catapulted the former Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences into the renowned Chrysler Museum. Author, historian and Norfolk native Sarah Downing offers a daily look at the fascinating and sometimes offbeat history of the city’s storied past. Navigate the waters of history one day or month at a time with this celebration of Norfolk’s heritage.

For the Little Mermaids

Virginia Puzzle

Map your way through the commonwealth by assembling this detailed Virginia Puzzle. With 70 magnetic pieces, this puzzle routes young minds on the road to fun and learning!

Norfolk A to Z Prints

Whether your young explorer lives in Norfolk or has traveled here on a memorable excursion, they’ll love this colorful poster featuring an alphabetical representation of some of Norfolk’s greatest icons. From the historic Attucks Theatre to the Virginia Zoo, there’s so much to see in our city.

Holiday Clip

A festive hair flair for kids of all ages, this Lily & Momo Holiday Clip can be worn all season long. The adorable gingerbread clip makes a cute stocking stuffer, or you can fasten it to the outside of a present for two gifts in one.

Shark Memo Tabs

Well, because sometimes you just need to take a note on a Shark Attack Memo Tab. When dinos, alligators or turtles simply won’t do, sharks can surely help you manage your priorities in bite-sized pieces. With questionable fury and classically jagged teeth, these paper sharks will wave away any doubts of a forgotten list.

Stuff for Stockings

VA Wildflower Sticker

Virginia is known for its vast variety of wildflowers, beautifully represented here in this vinyl VA Wildflower Sticker. It’s waterproof, scratch proof and sun safe, which means it will stick around for quite a while.

VA Pennant Keychain

Show your adoration for Virginia with this lovely script lettering VA Pennant Keychain. Put it on your key ring, purse or lanyard to keep a piece of Virginia with you at all times.

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03 November 2022

STEAM Field Trip Ideas for Student Groups

Looking to apply the concepts of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) into an educational opportunity using real-life exploration? Norfolk has just what your student group is looking for in terms of fascinating, hands-on curriculum. Follow this five-day itinerary to plan an engaging, educational opportunity that students will remember for a lifetime.

Day 1

Arrive in Norfolk, Virginia early afternoon to explore the Chrysler Museum of Art and Perry
Glass Studio
. The museum and studio offer a combination tour including a live glass demonstration and a guided 45-minute tour of the art museum. Add to the curriculum the “History and Science of Glass,” program, which teaches students not only about art history and science, but also technology and culture in art.  

Head to dinner at California Pizza Kitchen located inside MacArthur Center. Go behind the scenes on a restaurant tour, which includes an interactive pizza-making demo from a certified pizza chef. This tour gives students a glimpse into how kitchens and chefs make delicious culinary magic happen. It’s a fun, unique opportunity to discover how a restaurant works from the inside out!

Ever wonder how, when, and where the waffle cone was invented? Get all of those answers at Doumar’s! Stop for ice cream with a famous waffle cone from Doumar’s, where Abe Doumar invented the waffle cone by taking a waffle and rolling it into a cone, to which he added ice cream. Students will take delight in learning the history of how the cone was invented while watching the process of making cones from the original machine.

Day 2

Rise and shine and head over to the Virginia Zoo to discover wildlife! Spot lions, tigers, and many more animals on board a train that runs throughout the Zoo with stops along the way. The Virginia Zoo’s education department is available to provide field trips with guided tours and program themes consisting of adaptations, animal groups, habitats and zoo careers. For lunch, the Zoo offers many options for students such as the African Village Café and The Beastro.

Time to Perform! The Virginia Arts Festival offers unparalleled opportunities to explore the beauty and power of the arts. Choose from special student matinee performances to share the thrill of a live performance in a theater or concert hall, then incorporate the experience into classroom discussions and projects that open students’ minds to new ways of learning. 

Time to dance and dine aboard City Cruises by Hornblower. Students can enjoy an evening cruise with dancing, great food and live entertainment all while enjoying the panoramic skyline of Norfolk.

Day 3

Spend the morning at Nauticus, an interactive science and technology center where students can explore and learn about the power of the sea. Nauticus offers hands-on experiences and real-world examples of science and the maritime industry, with 3D films, traveling exhibitions, and STEM-based programming. Students will also learn what it feels like to walk in the footsteps of a United States Navy sailor aboard the Battleship Wisconsin, one of the last and largest battleships built by the U.S. Navy. Then students can learn about 200 years of naval history in Coastal Virginia at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum

Do not forget that perfect souvenir! The mermaid has become the official symbol of Norfolk, and mermaids can be found throughout the city. Students can paint and design a mermaid at The Mermaid Factory. It is an ideal blank canvas to inspire creativity. Another great place for mermaid souvenirs is VisitNorfolk’s own Mermaid Market, filled with an assortment of items that students will love.  

End the evening with a performance at the Virginia Stage Company, the region’s only fully professional resident theater company that attracts the nation’s leading artists to the Wells Theatre stage. After the performance, let the stage become the classroom with a talk-back session with students, award-winning directors, designers and actors. This program directly follows each performance and allows students an opportunity to interact with professional artisans and technicians. Do not forget to check out the Virginia Opera and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra which offers student programming throughout the year as well.

Day 4

Discover local artists and their studios with a guided tour of the NEON District, an environment where working artists are a part of an interactive arts community that engages the public through the experience of art and the creative process. The NEON District offers students of all ages workshops, hands-on make and take projects and artist lectures and demonstrations. 

Explore wetlands and the riverbank at the Hermitage Museum and Gardens with “The Wetlands Enrichment Tour or WET.” This program is a hands-on outdoor educational program aimed at bringing the living shoreline restoration to life for students. Students will tour the boardwalk while observing and touching live creatures found in the wetlands, build a wetland model and record experimental findings.

For a final dinner, the Waterside District offers an incredible setting for student events of any size, menu, or budget. The Waterside District has spaces to accommodate student groups of five to 500 people with private spaces, entertainment venues and public restaurants. Here are some more restaurant options for student groups.

Day 5

@coopdeville_, Instagram

Before heading back to school, make a stop at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. The garden is Virginia’s largest botanical garden and offers students numerous educational opportunities. Students will discuss the differences between plant and animal cells, explore the plant cell structure and demonstrate how plants’ energy is passed through the food web and what role they play in their habitat.

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03 November 2022

Holiday Attractions in Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Richmond

Looking for some festive holiday attractions and activities for group tours? We’ve got you covered. Come share the glow of the season and experience millions of lights and holiday events from Virginia’s capital city to Coastal Virginia. Drive or walk through light shows that will dazzle and shine with more than 2 million lights in Richmond, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia. Lighted boat parades, city illuminations, festivals, parades, living history reenactments, caroling, dining events and music are among the many activities occurring throughout the region from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

Annual Holiday Events

Grand Illumination Parade

@snapshots_from_norfolk

On the third Saturday in November, holiday magic will come to life in the streets of Downtown Norfolk with marching bands, motorized units, walking units, floats and balloons. The finale will bring Santa Claus on a spectacular float, marking the official beginning of the holiday season. 

Holiday Yule Log Bonfire & Holiday Marketplace

First Saturday in December. This festive outdoor wonderland will feature unique and local crafters, a massive Yule Log bonfire and Christmas caroling. Hosted by Festevents. Town Point Park, Norfolk.

Court End Christmas

Second Sunday in December. Historic sites in Downtown Richmond open their doors for musical performances, carriage rides and free admission at the Valentine, the Valentine First Freedom Center, The Executive Mansion, Historic St. John’s Church, Virginia State Capitol, ACWM-White House of the Confederacy, John Marshall House, Monumental Church, St. Paul’s Church, Mason’s Hall and the Egyptian Building.

Virginia Beach Holiday Parade

First Saturday in December. Over 80 parade units make their way down Atlantic Avenue in a joyous celebration of the holiday season. Giant balloons, marching bands, lighted floats and more join forces to present a dazzling and entertaining night of fun for all ages!

Richmond Dominion Energy Christmas Parade

First Saturday in December. Annual Christmas Parade in Richmond, Virginia with bands, floats, giant balloons and, of course, the guy in the red suit are sure to please the entire group.

James River Holiday Boat Parade

Second Saturday in December. The James River Parade of Lights is one of the region’s most cherished holiday events. Enjoy watching from the water’s edge as the beautifully decorated vessels and their captains create “river sparkle” along a 14-mile route.

Holiday Attractions

Richmond

Maymont Mansion and Estate

Victorian holiday splendor awaits you with a glorious design of the gilded age. Wreath making classes, table design and carriage rides are a great add-on to your tour of the Mansion.

Jefferson Hotel

Enjoy holiday brunch or a holiday high tea at this five-star and Five Diamond Historic Hotel of America. Located in the heart of Historic Downtown Richmond since 1895, the Jefferson Hotel is all decked out and a perfect stage for your group’s photo.

Norfolk

City Cruises by Hornblower

Grand Illumination Early Dinner Cruise aboard City Cruises. Welcome the holiday season with a cruise before the Grand Illumination. Start off your festivities with great food, entertainment and a great view from the water. 

Hunter House Victorian Museum and Moses Myers House

@hunterhousemuseum1894, Instagram

The Hunter House Victorian Museum displays the Hunter family’s collection of furnishings and decorative pieces done up for a Victorian Christmas. The Moses Myers House, an elegant Federal period home dating back to 1792, was built by one of Norfolk’s first Jewish residents and is decorated for Hanukkah.

Virginia Beach

The Founders Inn Grand Illumination & Holiday Events

Throughout the holiday season The Founders Inn hosts a variety of festive family oriented seasonal events. You can also attend a live taping of the 700 Club at The Christian Broadcasting Network. 

Town Center Last Night on the Town

Every New Years’ Eve, celebrate the “Last Night on the Town,” the City of Virginia Beach’s premier New Year’s Eve event with entertainment in Virginia Beach Town Center.

Holiday Light Displays

Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights

The Dominion GardenFest of Lights is a holiday tradition featuring more than half-a-million lights, hand-crafted botanical decorations, model trains, holiday dinners, a fire pit with s’mores and hot chocolate and nightly family activities. Virginia Tourism Corporation, www.Virginia.org

This adored holiday tradition at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond features more than 500,000 holiday lights arranged in botanical themes.

WinterFest Kings Dominion

This is the ultimate holiday celebration as the park magically transforms into a winter wonderland.

Richmond Tacky Lights Tour

This tour is a must during the holiday season. With a minimum of 10,000 lights per house, your group will have plenty of photo opportunities.

Dominion Energy Garden of Lights

@cityofnorfolkva, Instagram

Come to the Norfolk Botanical Garden to walk through the garden’s magical two-mile twinkling light display. Tram rides are available for guests who are not able to walk.

Winterfest on the Wisconsin

@beach_racegirl, Instagram

This dazzling light trail on the Wisconsin features more than 250,000 lights, interior tours, Santa sightings, lighted sailboat parade and holiday beverages.

Holiday Lights at the Beach

This light show features a shiny journey into nautical, holiday and adventure lands all along the beautiful Virginia Beach boardwalk from the comfort of your motorcoach.

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08 October 2022

Activities for Scouts in Norfolk

From discovering the history of Norfolk to connecting with zookeepers and taking action by snapping photos of local attractions, Norfolk, Virginia provides Scouts of all ages with opportunities for fun, adventure and enriched troop programs. Here are some enriching, educational and exciting activities for Scouts in Norfolk, Va.

Explore Norfolk

First, discover where Norfolk is on a map. Then, learn about Battleship Wisconsin, the largest and last battleship built by the Navy, and the world’s largest naval base, Naval Station Norfolk. Next, visit a few of Norfolk’s great attractions such as the Chrysler Museum of Art, home to over 30,000 objects or the Virginia Zoo, where over 700 animals call home. While you’re here, take pictures and create a scrapbook of your favorite moments.  

Nauticus and Battleship Wisconsin

Learn about local shipping in Norfolk’s harbor through Nauticus’ maritime discovery center. Visit one of Nauticus’ traveling exhibits and design a poster or PowerPoint presentation of some of the fascinating experiences learned.

Have you ever wanted to spend the night on a ship? Overnights aboard the Battleship Wisconsin are open to all Scouts. These unforgettable events are offered on various dates and are available for up to 142 guests. They include a one-day admission to Nauticus, an exclusive VIP tour of the battleship areas not open to the public, team building activities, an evening movie, sleeping in battleship berthing (beds) and a full hot breakfast in the morning.

Chrysler Museum of Art

Experience the history of art with a self-guided tour through one of Chrysler’s many exhibits. Across the street is the Perry Glass Studio where you can discover the art of glass. Watch live, free glassblowing demonstrations any Tuesday–Sunday from noon to 1 p.m., see the studio of a glassmaker and admire the blown glass on display. Connect with art by visiting the Egyptian Gallery and watch the video about the High King Psamtik-Seneb. Then, find a gallery host and ask them to show you what their iPad can do! Design a flyer and schedule of events and creating an exhibit your family and friends would love to attend.

Norfolk Botanical Garden

Enjoy a showing of “The Gift,” a short film about the local history behind Norfolk Botanical Garden at the Baker Hall Visitor Center. Then, stroll over to the Baker Perennial Garden to scout out plants and learn all about the necessities a plant needs in order to survive. End your discovery at the Friendship Pond. Legend has it if you hold hands with a friend as you walk around the pond, you will be friends forever! Explore the World of Wonders Children’s Adventure Garden and walk through Discovery Peak to locate 10 different crops available during the time of your visit. Research Virginia’s jobs within the wildlife or horticulture industries, or track how many steps you take in a day with a pedometer. Using the Norfolk Botanical Garden map, create a route that would satisfy this daily requirement and lead this walk for your troop, friends or family. 

U.S. Navy Pride

Norfolk is home to the world’s largest naval base, Naval Station Norfolk. Get a view of destroyers, cruisers, submarines, aircraft carriers and more during a two-hour tour aboard the Victory Rover. Choose a Navy ship in the U.S. fleet and research facts about the vessel. Invite a member of the U.S. Navy to come to talk to your troop to learn about their job, duties and everywhere they have been in the world.

Bike Norfolk

Learn about all the parts of the bike, hand signals, and traffic safety laws online (at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website) or at your local library. Plan a bike route through the app Map My Ride or by using a local map. Then, explore your new route with your family and take photos along the way to share with your friends. You could even attend or participate in a local bike race. Research the environmental impact of bikes versus cars.

Virginia Zoo

Chat with a zookeeper and learning about the many different tasks and duties that they do at the zoo. Explore the Zoo and discover the different habitats where animals live, watch animals’ natural behaviors and explore the many gardens. Connect with reptiles, amphibians and other animals that live in the World of Reptile building. Learn the diversity of reptiles and ways you can help them in your own backyard. Share what you learned with your loved ones by creating a brochure, video or poster or designing an animal habitat with shelter, food and enrichment programs.  

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05 October 2022

Best Coworking Spaces In Norfolk—No Membership Required!

When traveling to a new city (or loving the city you live in), it’s refreshing to break out of your usual work routine and try something different. Sure, you can effectively work from the comfort of your hotel room, but sometimes you can gain energy and even inspiration from new places and faces around you. If you haven’t yet tried a coworking space, now is a good time, and coworking can be a great place to network, even if you don’t live locally. 

In the past several years, Norfolk has become home to some great coworking options. These spaces below were all designed specifically with coworking in mind and allow guests to drop in for a fee. One thing is for sure: no matter which coworking space you choose, you’ll be surrounded by some of Norfolk’s most talented and tenacious colleagues. 

Gather

Image courtesy of Gather

Conveniently located Downtown, Gather was one of the original coworking spaces to open in Norfolk. Gather accommodates individuals through private office space, shared office space and coworking space, depending on how much or little space you need. Their Norfolk location offers beautiful panoramic water views and 30,000 square feet of space. This location features some outstanding amenities, including a podcast booth, wellness/mother’s room, shower access, mailroom, locally roasted coffee, daily fruit water, copy/print/fax/scan machine, phone booths, wifi, easy, on-site parking and—best of all—cookie hour. They offer day passes in which guests can pay $40 for a coworking pass and $55 for a daily office rental if a bit more privacy is needed. 

Expansive

Featuring a central location in Downtown Norfolk’s MacArthur Square, Expansive boasts bright interiors thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, punchy design and a stunning triple-height central lobby. It also features a distinctive rooftop event space—the Patio on Plume—as well as covered parking all conveniently located to MacArthur Center, Slover Library and Granby Street. Their Norfolk location features three phone booths, a mother’s room, lounge areas and conference rooms. Their fully furnished day offices are open to rent for the day (based on availability), and they also have meeting rooms, podcast studios and lounge space available to rent. 

Percolator

Image courtesy of Percolator

This collaborative, creative community for entrepreneurs, startups and innovators has two locations in Norfolk—one on Granby Street and one on Monticello Avenue. The Granby location offers two levels featuring dynamic office, meeting and flexible use spaces, and they share a building with Gym Downtown, Percolator’s fitness partner. The Monticello location has over 20,000 square feet of space for collaboration and customization. They offer a day pass for out-of-towners for $30. This option comes with access to coffee and snacks but does not include printing privileges or conference room reservations. You can, however, add a conference room for just $50 more. What time is it, you say? It’s time for the Percolator to solve all your coworking needs. 

Regus

Located inside Norfolk’s Dominion Tower building Downtown, Regus designs coworking spaces with collaboration in mind. They have locations across the country, so if you have a membership at a different Regus location, you can work in Norfolk’s Regus and make yourself at home. No membership? No problem. Regus features on-demand coworking options for just $5.63/hour or $31 for the entire day. You’ll get your own desk and chair, unlimited Wifi and beautiful views of the Norfolk skyline. 

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05 October 2022

Corporate Social Responsibility Opportunities in Norfolk

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate volunteerism are important values for organizations today. Not only do these pillars provide businesses the opportunity to give back; in many cases, they have the power to bring employees together for a good cause. Corporate volunteerism is an aspect of a company’s culture that attracts talent and retention, boosts morale and helps employees join forces to contribute to the betterment of the environment or a community. 

Many businesses initiate volunteer opportunities within their own communities. VisitNorfolk, for example, hosts a quarterly trash pick-up through the city’s Adopt a Spot program. But for organizations that don’t have a physical home base or want to include volunteerism as part of a corporate retreat or meeting, Norfolk is a great consideration for booking a volunteer opportunity. From helping to preserve the city’s beautiful nature and waterways to making a difference for community members, here are some corporate volunteering opportunities in Norfolk, Va. 

Elizabeth River Project

@sethrhaley, Instagram

If you’ve visited Norfolk before, you know how much we love our Elizabeth River. We rely on the river for transportation on some of our favorite water excursions in Downtown Norfolk and can’t get enough waterfront views from restaurants and festivals. But the river is also vital to many species, including brown pelicans, dolphins, river otters and bald eagles. The Elizabeth River Project is dedicated to restoring the Elizabeth River to the highest practical level of environmental quality, and you can be part of their efforts. Your team can join in a scheduled litter clean-up or hold your own dedicated clean-up event by partnering with this organization.

Elizabeth River Trail

@ertnorfolk, Instagram

The appropriately named Elizabeth River Trail (located alongside the beautiful Elizabeth River) spans 10.5 miles of walking, running or biking paths through multiple neighborhoods. There’s plenty of things to do along the Elizabeth River Trail and also many ways to get involved, from becoming a trail ambassador to helping with beautification and maintenance. Corporate groups are invited to adopt a section of the ERT to care for by committing to a quarterly clean-up, maintenance check-in and beautification of a section of trail that’s important to you.  

Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore

As part of their mission of leading the effort to eliminate hunger in our community, the Foodbank provides healthy foods to individuals, families, seniors and veterans experiencing food insecurity. Although the Foodbank provides resources for all the cities and counties in our region, their headquarters are conveniently located in Norfolk. This organization depends on volunteers, including many corporations, for critical tasks such as sorting non-perishable food items, packing food for Mobile Pantries, preparing youth-friendly food bags for the BackPack Program or distributing food at a Mobile Pantry site or special event. 

Hermitage Museum & Gardens

It’s always a treat to visit this waterfront estate along the Lafayette River featuring changing exhibitions, 12 acres of gardens and grounds, a permanent collection of over 5,000 objects and some pretty spectacular events. There are a couple ways to get involved with the Hermitage at the corporate level. If you’re local, you may consider their Corporate Membership Program in which businesses may pay an annual donation to provide critical support for Hermitage programming. Benefits include company recognition, complimentary memberships for employees or clients, a private, curator-led tour and complimentary tickets to some of the Museum’s greatest events. Groups are also welcome to volunteer at the Hermitage doing enjoyable tasks such as learning to identify plants, propagating, weeding, deadheading, mulching and watering. 

Norfolk Botanical Garden

Norfolk Botanical Garden features 175 acres to explore and adore. People of all ages love discovering the beautiful nature here, no matter the season. Along with visually appreciating the diverse makeup of flowers and plants, there are many ways to take part in the Garden’s maintenance. There are some great group volunteer opportunities at NBG that involve assisting the garden’s horticulture team with various gardening projects such as mulching, wedding, planting and cleaning.

Union Mission Ministries

Based in Norfolk, Union Mission Ministries is dedicated to serving people experiencing homelessness in our community. Their emergency shelters and life-saving programs provide a safe haven, hot meals, clean clothing and job- and life-skills training to hundreds of men, women and children every day. Volunteer opportunities include landscaping and general yardwork, assisting in the Thrift Store or donation warehouse or preparing and providing meals. On-site opportunities are available for groups of eight to 10 volunteers, and larger groups can volunteer through off-site service. 

Virginia Zoo

@explorationmotherhood, Instagram

When was the last time your team used the word “wild” to describe a corporate event? Home to more than 700 species that are so fascinating to watch and learn about, the Virginia Zoo is committed to the conservation of wild species, animals and plants. The Zoo offers plenty of opportunities for groups to get involved, from horticulture activities like planting and raking to assisting at Zoo events. The beauty of corporate volunteering at the Zoo is that a lot of work can be accomplished in a short amount of time, and the bonus is that your group takes part in a unique, fun team building activity.

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04 October 2022

Holiday Experiences in Norfolk, Richmond and Virginia Beach

Get in the spirit of the season as you experience millions of lights in three Virginia cities: Richmond, Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Spend a festival holiday week driving or walking through light shows that will dazzle and shine. 

DAY ONE—RICHMOND, VA

Visit Agecroft Hall, a country manor house set amid gardens along the river. Built in England in the 15th century and transported here in 1925, the Hall is lovingly decorated for the season. Then tour the Virginia House, a 12th century priory reconstructed as an English manor house. While you’re there, enjoy cider and cookies while the staff talks about holiday traditions in this grand old manor. 

Enjoy lunch in Carytown complete with shopping for that eclectic gift you’ve been waiting for. A mile of boutique stores and restaurants line this famous area of Richmond. See how the commonwealth shows off its capitol during the holidays by visiting the Virginia State Capitol. Thomas Jefferson designed the state capitol in a neoclassical marvel featuring a hidden dome, prehistoric fossils in the floor marble, and the world-famous Houdon statue of George Washington. 

Indulge in a fabulous afternoon tea time at the 5-star Jefferson Hotel. This historic hotel has catered to no less than 11 presidents, British royalty and countless celebrities. Have a group photo with the magnificent Christmas tree or on the famous staircase that was featured in the movie “Gone With The Wind.”

End the night at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden just in time to delight in the GardenFest of Lights featuring more than 500,000 holiday lights arranged in botanical themes.

DAY Two—RICHMOND, VA

Holiday scenes for RRT

Begin the day at Maymont, a spectacular 100-acre Victorian estate mansion, decorated in Victorian Christmas décor. Then explore the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which is noted for its excellent art collections, including the largest collection of Faberge eggs outside of Russia. 

Discover Richmond’s origin story in the city’s oldest neighborhood and a true food and history powerhouse with Discover Richmond Food Tours. Then hear the inspired words of Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or give me death” at  St. John’s Church. At this very location on March 23, 1775, in the presence of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the other members of the Second Virginia Convention, the torch of liberty was kindled and these words were inspired.Experience dinner at the famous restaurant The Tobacco Company Restaurant, located in the heart of historic Shockoe Slip among the cobblestones in Richmond’s oldest part of the city. This former tobacco warehouse exudes ambiance and beauty unlike any other dining establishment in Richmond. Then it’s off to the “Tacky Lights Tour” through many of Richmond’s local neighborhoods with each house decorated with a minimum of 10,000 lights.

DAY THREE—NORFOLK, VA

Now is the time to celebrate the holidays in Coastal Virginia, just a 1.5-hour drive from Richmond. Two of Norfolk’s historic houses are decorated for the holidays. The Hunter House Victorian Museum, rich in architectural detail, displays the Hunter family’s collection of furnishings and decorative pieces done up for a Victorian Christmas. The Moses Myers House, an elegant Federal period home dating back to 1792, was built by one of Norfolk’s first Jewish residents and is decorated for Hanukkah. 

Savor dinner at the historic Omar’s Carriage House, whose original patrons were horses. Experience the magic of Norfolk’s Garden of Lights from the comfort of a tram or walking through the 2.5 miles of twinkling light displays at the Norfolk Botanical Garden

DAY FOUR—NORFOLK, VA

Stroll through 5,000 years of art history at the Chrysler Museum of Art, home to Walter Chrysler, Jr.’s world-class collection of more than 30,000 pieces of art. Experience the art of glass with a live glassblowing demonstration in the Perry Glass Studio! Watch glass artists create ornaments, paperweights and more right in front of your eyes in an hour-long glass demonstration.

Holiday shopping and lunch are a must at Selden Market, an eclectic, historic shopping hall that features local artisans, chefs and pop-up shops. Explore d’Art Center, a visual arts center featuring over 20 professional artists who, in open studios, create, display and sell an exciting mix of original art. Art classes for groups are available to make holiday ornaments or let your imagination run wild for wonderful stocking stuffers. Before heading to dinner, stop for a nice glass of wine at Mermaid Winery. Cheers to the holidays and take a bottle of wine home for your festivities to celebrate.

Enjoy a holiday dinner aboard the City Cruises by Hornblower with great food, a great view from the water and great entertainment. End the evening at Nauticus’ WinterFest on the Battleship Wisconsin with uniquely themed light zones, below deck tours and live music and entertainment.

DAY five—virginia beach, VA

Begin the day at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, one of the top aquariums in the country with over 300 hands-on exhibits. Then enjoy a riding tour of Virginia Beach for an overview of area history including the Cape Henry Lighthouses. Then, visit the historic Thoroughgood House for an afternoon Holiday Tea.

Stop at the Christmas Mouse for those nautical holiday ornaments before enjoying dinner at Rockefellers, a Virginia Beach favorite. Take the motorcoach for a drive on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk for a glistening journey into a nautical holiday adventure. Festive fish, jumping dolphins and frolicking porpoises will greet you in brightly colored lights during Holiday Lights at the Beach.

Day six—Virginia Beach, VA

Drive by Naval Air Station Oceana, the only master jet base on the East Coast. Have a boxed lunch and experience Swingtime in the Skies at the Military Aviation Museum, housing one of the largest collections of flying WWI and WWII military aircraft in the world.  

Do not forget your holiday gift list! Pick up a few last-minute holiday gifts at Lynnhaven Mall, the largest mall in Coastal Virginia where you’ll be sure to find a gift for everyone on your list! On the last night of the trip, enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants in Town Center and then catch a holiday show at Sandler Center for the Performing Arts or Zeiders American Dream Theater. Do not forget to save room for dessert at The Royal Chocolate and maybe take a box for the ride home!

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01 October 2022

Band Student Performance Tours in Norfolk

Norfolk, Virginia offers students an endless array of opportunities to explore, perform, and learn! With a multitude of festivals, internationally acclaimed museums, performing arts and attractions, you will find that no other Mid-Atlantic destination offers students more!

Day One

Arrive late afternoon and set sail across the Elizabeth River on the American Rover Sailing Cruise, a passenger operator topsail schooner! This majestic, three-masted tall ship is modeled after the cargo schooners that once sailed the Chesapeake Bay. Tours leave from Downtown Norfolk for a narrated two-hour harbor cruise. Educational classes and DJ cruises are available for student cruises.

End the evening with a live performance with the Virginia Arts Festival. This brings dozens of student-friendly performances to Coastal Virginia. Past performers include Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Yo-Yo Ma, Dance Theater of Harlem, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Kristin Chenoweth and Renee Fleming.

The Virginia Arts Festival offers student groups customized pre-performance opportunities for choirs, bands, ensembles and dance groups. These opportunities include discussions with artists, directors, producers, masterclasses and workshops and behind-the-scenes immersive learning experiences.

Day Two

Start the morning off aboard the Victory Rover with a two-hour tour of the world’s largest naval installation, Naval Station Norfolk. Cruise past the vessels that ensure our freedom—destroyers, cruises, submarines, aircraft carriers and more.

Time to perform! Choral, band and instrumental groups are all welcome to perform aboard the Battleship Wisconsin, one of the last and largest battleships built by the U.S. Navy. Feel the excitement of being aboard a historic warship and performing in front of a public audience.

After the performance of a lifetime, it’s time to play at Nauticus. Scientists will lead the groups of students showing them live demonstrations and many great educational programs. The museum features more than 150 exhibits, including computer and video interactive films on a giant screen, exotic aquariums, touch pools, shark petting, and national-caliber traveling exhibits. Then stroll through 200 years of naval history at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. Students can enjoy lunch at the BB-64 Café. 

After lunch, head off to the city of Hampton to visit the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton. Learn the history of flight from its inception to the future of our nation’s space programs through interactive, hands-on exhibits. One example is the hands-on laboratory experience, where students prepare for a cross-country flight that will take them on a tour of various NASA research centers. 

The music doesn’t stop! Time for dinner and dancing aboard City Cruises by Hornblower. Students can enjoy a nautical setting dancing to live music all while admiring Norfolk’s skyline.

Day Three

Time to head home, but before you leave, make a stop at the Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News. Discover one of the largest international maritime history museums, filled with prized artifacts that celebrate the spirit of seafaring adventure. Explore over 60,000 square feet of gallery space with rare figureheads, handcrafted ship models, USS Monitor artifacts, paintings and much more.

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01 October 2022

Wine Experiences in Norfolk, Prince William and Richmond

If you haven’t yet experienced Virginia’s viticulture, you’re in for a real treat. Group tours can spend a delightful week in Norfolk, Richmond and Prince William sipping and savoring Virginia’s wine, beers and fantastic food all while exploring some of the commonwealth’s most historic and culturally engaging attractions. Use this itinerary to plan an unforgettable wine excursion in Virginia.

DAY ONE: PRINCE WILLIAM, VA

Begin your adventure at Effingham Manor and Winery for a wine blending class and competition. Effingham’s vintners will educate, assist and judge the contest. This is the perfect group activity for wine lovers as it encompasses fun, competitiveness, education and uniqueness. Be sure to take advantage of the complimentary history tour of the property as well.

Continue treating your palate with a visit to WineStyles of Montclair, offering hundreds of different types of wines and crafts beers that have been sorted by style and taste. Pair a wine or beer with a selection of artisan cheeses, gourmet food and handcrafted chocolates.

Eat, drink and relax at Giorgio’s Family Restaurant, a neighborhood cornerstone for over 19 years serving wonderful, made-from-scratch meals with Italian and Greek influences. Some of the most popular dishes include their Greek-style pork chops, jumbo crab cakes and house-special flaming cheese.

DAY TWO: PRINCE WILLIAM, VA

DAY TWO: PRINCE WILLIAM, VA
Start off the morning with a guide dressed in a Civil War-era military uniform, leading you through Manassas National Battlefield Park, “where the Southern victories tested the Northern resolve.” Two armies clashed for the first time with heavy fighting, sweeping away any notion of a quick war. Afterward, visit a Civil War hospital at the Ben Lomond Historic Site. Soldiers were taken here after the Battle of First Manassas, also known as the First Battle of Bull Run, to care for their wounds. Several soldiers left their signatures on the walls.

Enjoy lunch around a spectacular, two-story, historic dairy barn at Farm Brew Live, Northern Virginia’s first destination brewery campus that features craft beer, craft food, and live local music.

Spend the afternoon hiking along the Neabsco Boardwalk allowing you access to wetlands where the tall grasses and marsh provide a rich habitat for great blue herons, wood ducks, mallards, sparrow and red-winged blackbirds, just to name a few or kayak along the Occoquan river.

For dinner, visit Cock & Bowl. Tucked away down a charming alley in Occoquan, this enchanting European bistro indulges with 60 different Belgian beers, fries and seafood.

DAY THREE: PRINCE WILLIAM AND RICHMOND, VA

Start your morning by jumping into the boots of a marine at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, a lasting tribute to past, present and future U.S. Marines. Grab lunch and a beer at the museum’s Tun Tavern before heading to Richmond.

Then head to Richmond to discover the story of Blue Bee Cider on a one-hour tour and tasting. Learn about how Virginia’s first urban cidery made their home in Richmond and enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at a historic revitalized horse stable complex from the 1940s, now home to the cidery. 

The next stop is a gilded Victorian mansion, Maymont. The mansion tour explores the glitz and glamour of the Dooley family in the 1930s. Imagine the extravagant life that was once Maymont as you bask in the beauty of Maymont today. Following the mansion tour, explore the elaborate Italian and Japanese gardens. 

Enjoy a cocktail at The Jefferson Hotel before heading out to dinner. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this five-diamond luxurious hotel provides an unmatched setting for an overnight stay.

Richmond also offers an impressive selection of cozy boutique hotels that include Quirk, Linden Row Inn or the trendy Delta Hotels by Marriott and Graduate Richmond.

Stop, shop, sip and savor in the very walkable Carytown, Richmond’s Mile of Style, where you can find unique boutique shops and restaurants for dinner. From oyster bars, sushi and hand-cut steaks at East Coast Provisions to the Parisian-style eatery of Can Can Brasserie, there’s something for every taste. Finish off the meal with a locally hand-crafted sweet treat from For the Love of Chocolate.

DAY FOUR: RICHMOND, VA

Start your day with a hearty breakfast from a local favorite, Perly’s. Afterward, head down to the banks of the James River to Historic Tredegar, home of Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitor Center. After exploring the nation’s most significant Civil War sites, take advantage of the photo op from the Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge with Richmond’s skyline as your backdrop. Continue your journey through history with a visit to the Virginia State Capitol and the White House of the Confederacy. Enjoy lunch in Richmond’s Historic Shockoe Slip. A quaint cobblestone street adorned with Italianate style brick and front buildings, and a decadent selection of restaurants.

Spend the remainder of the afternoon among a million blooms in the spring at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, or view the largest collection of Fabergé eggs at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Grab a Richmond Beer Trail map and head over to Richmond’s historic Scott’s Addition, home of the largest collection of craft breweries.

Enjoy a scrumptious meal at one of the dozen restaurants on Grace Street, followed by a live performance at Dominion Energy Center. Top off your night in style at Q Rooftop Bar for a great view of the city lights.

DAY 5: RICHMOND TO NORFOLK, VA

Wrap up your fun in the Richmond region with an RVA Trolley Landmark Tour or an exploration of Canal Walk. Then it’s time to make your way to Norfolk. 

The first stop is for lunch at Norfolk’s entertainment venue, Waterside District. Sip on local wines paired with a crab cake taking and waterfront views at Stripers Waterside. Continue the wine tasting at Cork & Company, an intimate wine and martini bar located in the heart of Downtown Norfolk, just off Granby Street. Shop from emerging small local businesses in Norfolk at Selden Market. The Selden Market offers a rotating lineup for the city’s up-and-coming artists with concepts in retail, food and new ideas.

Stroll through 5,000 years of art history at the Chrysler Museum of Art. Explore the museum’s world-renowned Tiffany glass collection; Art Nouveau furniture; works of art from African, Egyptian, Pre-Columbian, Islamic and Asian cultures; and an extensive European and American collection of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts. Watch works of art created right before your eyes in the glass blowing studio at Perry Glass Studio.

Spend the evening at Varia, a trattoria-style Italian fare dinner, with a piano bar and tasting room with an unequaled wine selection. Become an expert at wine by attending Varia’s wine education classes happening every first Tuesday of the month. The classes are hosted by Hilton Norfolk the Main’s sommelier. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or a newbie, this class is open to all wine enthusiasts.

DAY 6: NORFOLK, VA

Discover one of the largest collections of azaleas,camellias, roses and rhododendrons on the East Coast at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. Experience 175 glorious acres of gardens with guided tours on foot, by tram or by boat. Take a wine tasting class among the flowers to learn how to make more informed wine purchases!

Start the afternoon at Press 626 featuring over 50 wines from around the world. Their menu will please all palates using only ingredients from local farms for the freshest of flavors! Head to Crystal Palate, a wine boutique and education center located in the beautiful coastal community of East Beach. With a thoughtfully curated selection of over 120 wines from around the world, the Crystal Palate specializes in wine education and also offers several wine classes every month.

Enjoy nature and art at the Hermitage Museum and Gardens. This early 20th-century Arts and Crafts estate was formerly home to the Sloane Family. Nestled on the shore of the Lafayette River, this estate features gardens and a nationally recognized art collection spanning 5,000 years.

For dinner, enjoy an exciting evening with a blending at the Mermaid Winery. Using award-winning wines, your team will create your very own blend of wine and compete against others. After you have made the perfect wine, a team of sommeliers will examine and provide their results. After the course, you will be seated for a private, customized dinner.

DAY 7: NORFOLK, VA

Before heading back home, head to Pinot’s Palette for an unforgettable time of fun, friends and fine art with beer and wine! All you need to do is get ready to be inspired by instructors who will guide you step by step through a featured painting. At the end of the class, you’ll leave with your very own masterpiece and maybe even a painted wine bottle to commemorate your visit.

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28 September 2022

Family-Friendly Halloween Events in Norfolk

The spookiest time of year is approaching. While many look forward to a fun fright or even a serious scare, folks with little ones may be on the prowl for some less shocking Halloween shenanigans. Not to fear (no, really, don’t be afraid); Norfolk has a great lineup of kid-friendly Halloween events and activities. From glass pumpkins and haunted cookie houses to costumed fun for fur babies, here are some fun, family-friendly Halloween activities in Norfolk. 

Chrysler Museum of Art

Glass blown pumpkins. Courtesy of the Chrysler Museum

Starting in September and going all the way through the spooky season, the Chrysler Museum hosts their popular Pumpkinpalooza, a chance for creatives to make their very own glass pumpkin. Participants ages 5+ can choose from an array of colors to make their object unique. With help from an instructor, pumpkin makers will apply colorful crushed glass to molten clear glass on a long metal tube. The objects are then inflated with an air device. A curly stem is the finishing touch to bringing these ornamental gourds to life. (Saturdays, Sept. 17–Oct. 29 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m.)

Don’t feel like making your own? The Chrysler’s Great Glass Pumpkin Patch gives folks the opportunity to harvest a fall collectible from the Glass Studio’s outdoor pumpkin patch and bring it home to decorate in true fall fashion. Each pumpkin is unique with an array of shapes, patterns and colors available. (Saturday, Oct. 8 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m.)

Halloween at the Chrysler. Courtesy of the Chrysler Museum.

On the day before Halloween, the Chrysler Museum’s artwork comes to life during Halloween at the Chrysler. This family-friendly afternoon of crafts, games and fun gives attendees an opportunity to explore the galleries to find all the artwork before it goes back on the walls. Costumes are encouraged. (Sunday, Oct. 30 from noon to 5 p.m.)

Norfolk Botanical Garden (NBG)

The Garden’s Little Sprout Explorers is a weekly nature education program for children ages 3–6, and during the month of October, there are several spooky-themed programs to look forward to. Themes like All About Bats, Creepy Crawlies, Pumpkin Party and Spooky STEM will get kids in the Halloween spirit while they have fun learning new things about nature. (Mondays in October from 10–11 a.m.)

Ghoul & Goblin Gardens. Courtesy of Norfolk Botanical Garden.

Can’t make a Monday? NBG offers plenty of other nature-themed Halloween activities. Ghoul & Goblin Gardens (Wednesday, Oct. 26 from 10–11 a.m.) is an event that allows participants ages 3+ to design their own spooky Halloween home for friendly ghouls and goblins in their garden. Later that day, the 13 Plants of Halloween (Wednesday, Oct. 26 from 1–3 p.m.) is a horticultural Trick or Treat aimed at discussing creepy and fantastic members of the plant kingdom and their Halloween histories. Return the next day for Creepy Carnivores (Thursday, Oct. 27 from 10–11:30 a.m.) to learn about the mysterious and mesmerizing world of carnivorous plants and how to care for them at home. 

Haunted Cookie Houses. Courtesy of Norfolk Botanical Garden.

Does your family enjoy assembling gingerbread houses for the holidays? No need to wait; kids can get crafty by constructing Haunted Cookie Houses using graham crackers, candies and other spooky goodies. This activity is recommended for ages 3+ with caregiver participation. (Friday, Oct. 28 from 5–6:30 p.m.)

Maker’s Craft Brewery

In teaming up with Compact Canine Rescue, Maker’s is hosting a Howl-O-Ween Fest on Saturday, Oct. 8 from 2–6 p.m. Bring your four-legged family members all dressed up to enter them in a dog Halloween costume contest. There will be music, beer, a seasonal craft sale and more.

Masquerade in Ghent

Ghent’s largest Halloween street party and costume contest is back and bringing a frightfully fun-tastic time. There will be a costume contest, parade and monster mash with live music by The Heart Stompers. Plus, there will be activities for kids, along with refreshments and adult beverages. You and your family can enter in several categories within the costume contest, including best pet costume, best child (ages 5–12), best infant (4 and under), best family or group and even best face mask. (Friday, Oct. 28 from 6–10 p.m.)

Slover Library

A classic game of Bingo gets a spooky twist at Slover Library. Dress the little ones in costumes and head to Slover Library’s Boo! Bingo Halloween Trick or Treat Carnival featuring a fun game of Bingo complete with prizes. Afterward, head to Slover’s children’s book section for a slew of Halloween themed books you can read together. (Saturday, Oct. 29 from 1–2 p.m.)

Virginia Zoo

A beloved tradition for the whole family, Zoo Boo features a full day of fall fun at the Virginia Zoo. All ages can enjoy pumpkin enrichment with the animals, animal ambassador pop-ups at the ZooLive! Stage, a pick-your-own pumpkin patch, a costume contest with prizes and interactive activities including a scavenger hunt and Frankenstein’s Dance Field. (Saturday, Oct. 22 from 9 a.m.–5 p.m.)

Wells Theatre

Join Virginia Stage Company in the historically haunted Wells Theatre as they usher in the spooky season with Disney’s Halloween Classic Hocus Pocus. A spooky raffle, a costume contest judged by their illustrious costume designer, fun cocktails and mocktails and a fabulous drag performance by the incomparable Harpy Daniels make for an unforgettable spooky evening! (Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 6 p.m.)

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