Looking for family-friendly fun in Norfolk? Look no further. Norfolk is the perfect place for you and the kids to explore, learn, seek adventure and make some unforgettable memories together. From outdoor adventures and educational opportunities to spectacular sporting events, there’s no shortage of fun for all ages in Norfolk.
Explore and Inspire
Spend the day exploring Nauticus, a maritime museum and discovery center. Nauticus is also home to the Battleship Wisconsin, one of the last and largest battleships built by the U.S. Navy. Explore the decks and depths of the ship, and don’t forget to take a family photo!
There are opportunities to grow and learn at Norfolk Botanical Garden all year round! The World of Wonder (WOW) Children’s Garden offers opportunities for learning and exploration for family members of all ages. Explore edible plants at Discovery Peak, and take a nature walk through Plant Safari habitat gardens. In warmer months, cool off in the world-themed splash fountains. Daily activities include guided and self-guided discovery stations, scavenger hunts, crafts and walking tours.
You could easily spend an entire morning or afternoon in Slover’s Youth Library. The second floor section features a playscape for ages 0–2, KidZone for ages 3–6, early literacy gaming computers and tablets, children’s art studio, picture books, juvenile fiction and nonfiction and more. Not only does Slover have an amazing selection of activities for kids, but they also have some great kids’ programming to take part in. Babygarten features fun songs, playful movement activities, colorful toys, board books and parent resources geared to little ones up to 24 months. Their Toddler Time is geared to ages 2–4 and features rhyming, music, movement and books.
Giraffes, zebras and tigers, oh my! Learn about animals from all over the world as you walk among Australian wallabies and their joeys, spot Africa’s majestic rhinos, lions and cheetahs, admire slithering reptiles, and play with goats at the Zoo Farm. The Virginia Zoo is home to over 700 species, which gives something for everyone in the family to enjoy!
On the Water
Looking for a way to get out on the water? Harbor cruises on the American Rover are most popular for children and families. Lend a hand setting the sails, take a turn at the helm, or simply sit back and enjoy the cruise as the captain points out the highlights of the harbor: the Downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth skylines, Battleship Wisconsin, private shipyards and more.
Groups may also see navy ships, tugboats, mega-yachts and the occasional dolphin! Whether you’re a Norfolk local or you’re visiting for the first time, you’re sure to learn something about the harbor on this interesting tour. Your captain shares history and facts during the first hour, and you can just enjoy the tranquility of sailing during the second hour.
Enjoy a comfortable seat on the top deck, or explore the below-deck lounge, featuring a bar and a ship’s store. There’s something for everyone on this cruise.
Book a brunch, lunch or dinner cruise for a meal with unprecedented views. Enjoy amazing views of the mighty Atlantic Fleet while cruising along the Elizabeth River. Lunch cruises have a casual yet festive atmosphere, making them ideal for the whole family. A Signature Dinner Cruise gives you the chance to dine, dance and play games in City Cruises’ lounge spaces as well as catch spectacular views of the mighty ships and submarines of the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet from the skyline deck.
Ready to set sail? Our gorgeous Elizabeth River is the perfect place for sailing, whether you’re a first-timer or a pro. Sail Nauticus offers two U.S. Sailing Courses: First Sails, a fun, informal two-hour sail to test the waters and Learn to Sail, a weekend-long course where you can train, study and be guided through the process to earn your Keelboat Certification.
Paddle your way to adventure during a kayak excursion on the Lafayette River. Even the tiniest members of your family can relax along these calm waters as you row, row, row your boats along. Choose from a single or tandem kayak, depending on your group’s size and ability. All rentals come with a United States Coast Guard-approved life vest. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and sunglasses, and be on the lookout for some beautiful water birds native to Norfolk.
For a bit of education sprinkled in with a memorable sightseeing tour, book a cruise on the Victory Rover. You’ll get a great tour of the world’s largest naval base, Naval Station Norfolk. The tour will showcase aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, guided missile cruisers and more!
Spend a day making sand castles, soaking up the sun and spotting dolphins in the distance. Enjoy local seafood while overlooking the Chesapeake Bay at the Ocean View Pier Restaurant. Don’t want to leave the beach? Pack a picnic with food from Taste, they have several locations throughout the city.
EAT AND DRINK
With a diverse cuisine scene in Norfolk, it is easy to please everyone’s palates. Our family-friendly breweries are eager to entertain you. Most have a lineup of food trucks planned during the weekends, along with live music. Some even offer board games and/or yard games for the whole family to enjoy together.
I scream, you scream. One thing is for sure; we can all scream for ice cream because there’s no shortage of shops in Norfolk. Doumar’s is a great spot to show the kids the world’s first waffle cone machine and give them that classic diner experience of yesteryear. Lolly’s is always a hit with pure joy mixed right into every batch. Finally, Strawberry Fields is Ghent’s beloved gelato shop known for experimenting with some wildly wonderful flavors. See more ice cream and gelato shops here.
Norfolk is home to the Norfolk Tides, which always makes for a memorable outing. Head to Harbor Park for loaded franks for the kids and local beers for the adults as you cheer on the home team. Keep an eye out for themed nights featuring special activities like costumed characters, fireworks or a chance to run the bases after the game!
Gather your crew for a hockey game as you cheer on the Admirals, a professional ice hockey team in the ECHL based in Norfolk. Meet the mascots, cheer on the team and soak in an exciting night of fun. Little hockey fans can join Salty’s Kids Club to get exclusive team swag, enjoy fun events and meet other young Admirals fans!
When it’s time to unwind, you and your family can relax, watch a movie or perhaps swim in a pool inside one of Norfolk’s conveniently-located hotels. Some hotels offer deals on connecting rooms, free breakfast and more. Check out the deals here.