08 May 2024

Five-Day Itinerary to Celebrate Sail 250® Virginia

What: Sail250® Virginia

 When: June 19-22, 2026

2026 marks the 250th anniversary of our nation’s birth in 1776- The United States of America’s Semi quincentennial.  International tall ships and military vessels will sail into the port of Virginia as part of Sail2025® America.  4,000 officers, cadets, and crews of more than 55 ships from 20 nations will engage in events along Virginia’s waterfront.

Thursday – Day One – Coastal Virginia – June 18, 2026

Arrive in Coastal Virginia and check into your hotel.

Start the morning at The MacArthur Memorial. The memorial museum and research center is dedicated to preserving and presenting the story of the life of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. The Memorial also pays tribute to the millions of men and women who served with General MacArthur in World War I, World War II and the Korean War. A visit to the Memorial will allow you to explore the life of one of America’s greatest and most complex leaders.

Friday – Day Two- Virginia Beach, Virginia

Start the day with a visit to one of the smallest National Parks in the country. Here visit the First Landing Cross– marking the spot where the first permanent English settlers landed on April 26, 1607, before heading to Jamestown. The crew of 104 men and boys erected a wooden cross to mark their arrival. A granite cross was erected in 1935. Also located on this site is the Battle of the Capes Monument– honoring the Battle of the Chesapeake Bay between the French and British- one of the most significant battles, that helped clear the path for the creation of the United States. There is also a Statue of Admiral De Grasse, leader of the French Fleet.

Next up is the Cape Henry Lighthouse, the first federally funded lighthouse and the first public works project in the United States. Construction (1792) was authorized by George Washington and overseen by Alexander Hamilton. The Lighthouse is open to the public and guests can climb 191 steps to the top for a breathtaking view of where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. Located next door (not open to the public) is the New Cape Henry Lighthouse, still in use today, and is the tallest cast iron, fully enclosed lighthouse in the United States. A gift shop is located on-site.

Head to downtown Norfolk and spend the afternoon watching ships from around the world sail into Norfolk’s Harbor, at Sail250® Virginia. More than 60 international tall ships, character and military vessels; and more than 20 countries will dock on Norfolk’s waterfront and throughout the region. Sail250® Virginia is proud to be a part of the annual Norfolk Harborfest® celebrations which continues through Monday, June, 22, 2026. Ships will be open for touring after docking in downtown Norfolk. Enjoy lunch and explore Norfolk’s Waterfront with Navy exhibits and demonstrations, artisan foods and beverages, national and regional live entertainment, and much more. Visit www.Sail250Virginia.com for details.

Also don’t miss Norfolk’s annual Juneteenth celebrations on Friday, June 19, 2026 and throughout the weekend.

Saturday – Day Three – Norfolk, Virginia

Start the morning at Nauticus and step aboard the largest and last battleship, Battleship Wisconsin. Battleship Wisconsin was commissioned 75 years ago. She saw action during the Luzon Attacks in World War II and earned five battle stars. The battleship served as a training ship and engaged in active assignments several times up until Feb. 27, 1991, during Operation Desert Storm.

Nauticus & The Battleship Wisconsin

It reached its final assignment on Dec. 7, 2000, when it docked in Norfolk to become a floating museum. Do not forget to stop on the second floor and visit the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. The Hampton Roads Naval Museum is an official museum of the United States Navy. The museum interprets the history of the U.S. Navy in and around Hampton Roads, Virginia from the American Revolutionary War to the present day for service members and the general public.

Lunch and shopping at Norfolk Premium Outlets.  The outlets offer a great selection of name-brand stores, a food court, and a restaurant.

In the afternoon, head to Norfolk. The first stop of the day is the Perry Glass Studio.  See artists from around the world blow glass art in a theater seating from noon to 1 pm.  Then take a guided tour of The Chrysler Museum of Art. Make sure your tour includes two copies of works that celebrate famous moments from the American Revolution, Washington at the Delaware: Two copies pay homage to John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence and Thomas Sully’s Passage of the Delaware.

End the tour with a narrated tram tour of Norfolk Botanical Garden. Learn how the garden started a Works Progress Administration (WPA) grant for the Azalea Garden project. Since most of the male labor force was at work with other projects for the city, a group of more than 200 African-American women and 20 men were assigned to the Azalea Garden project. Today, Norfolk Botanical Garden includes 175 acres, with more than 60 themed gardens that can be viewed by tram, boat, or foot.

Enjoy dinner at Omar’s Carriage House.  The building is a historic site in Norfolk. The original Carriage House was built in the early 1840s. Its patrons then were horses. From the first floor, if you look up at the center of the room, you’ll see the large opening where hay used to be loaded into carriages.

Sunday – Day Four – Norfolk, Virginia

Spend the morning aboard the Victory Rover Naval Base Cruise for a two-hour narrated tour of Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest Naval Base. Cruise past the vessels that ensure our freedom – destroyers, submarines, air carriers, and more! The land on which Naval Station Norfolk is located was originally the site of the 1907 Jamestown Exposition. During this exposition, high-ranking naval officers were consulted and favored the idea that this site was ideal for a naval base. Immediately after the United States entered World War I in April 1917, the Secretary of the Navy was persuaded to purchase the property. A bill was passed for the purchase of 474 acres. 

Spend the rest of the day on the Virginia Waterfront at Sail2025® Virginia in downtown Norfolk, Virginia. 4,000 officers, cadets, and crews of more than 55 ships from 20 nations will engage in events along Virginia’s waterfront. A day of ship visitations, land and water events, food, and music.

Monday – Day Five – Virginia Beach, Virginia

Begin your morning with a Dolphin Watching Tour. Venture into the Atlantic Ocean in search of bottlenose Dolphins. Learn why Virginia Beach has the largest population of Bottlenose Dolphins on the East Coast (Whale Watching Tours are offered in the winter months)

Depart Coastal Virginia with lasting memories.

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