Norfolk, Virginia plays host to an annual festival favorite, Norfolk’s Harborfest! Every June, the city celebrates nautical history by displaying tall ships, along with celebrations of seafaring history and culture, delicious food, local, regional and national entertainment, and a spectacular firework display all along the downtown waterfront. This four-day itinerary will help you to celebrate the highlights of Harborfest and explore some of Norfolk’s greatest summer excursions.
Start the tour exploring Norfolk’s maritime discovery center, Nauticus, with interactive history and science exhibits. On Nauticus’ second level is the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, which introduces over 200 years of naval history in Coastal Virginia. Located next to Nauticus is the Battleship Wisconsin, the largest and last battleship ever built by the U.S. Navy. Walk her teak decks, explore interior rooms and discover the vast history of this great ship.
Come aboard City Cruises Norfolk for the spectacular Parade of Sail event. Watch tall ships sail down the Elizabeth River in a spectacular two-hour parade. You’ll have the best view of the harbor, with tall ships and over 200 boats and vessels to see.
After the Parade of Sail, come and explore a popular outdoor festival on the waterfront, Norfolk’s Harborfest at Town Point Park. Enjoy live music and great food accompanied by art and educational programs. Tall ships will be open for tours for visitors to explore the decks and talk to sailors.
Next to Town Point Park is Waterside District, a great place to end the evening for dinner. Waterside District features a lineup of restaurants accompanied by live music.
Start off the day with a two-hour tour of the world’s largest naval installation, Naval Station Norfolk. A knowledgeable guide will narrate an engaging tour aboard the Victory Rover Naval Base Cruise. Journey past the vessels that ensure our freedom—destroyers, cruisers, submarines, aircraft carriers and more.
For lunch, stroll over to Granby Street, just one block walking distance from Norfolk’s Harborfest. Experience over 30 locally owned and operated restaurants. Along the way, step in one of the many downtown retailers on Granby Street—including VisitNorfolk’s own Mermaid Market—to take home the perfect souvenir. Make sure to stop in the Glass Light Gallery, displaying 65 small and life-sized pieces of glass art.
After lunch, discover the compelling story of General Douglas MacArthur, a five-star General of the Army, and the millions of Americans who served our nation through five wars at the MacArthur Memorial. Located in Downtown Norfolk’s restored 1850s City Hall, the complex contains a museum, theater and special exhibit galleries.
Head back over to Town Point Park for Norfolk Harborfest and enjoy over 50 food vendors, live concerts on three stages and fireworks along the Downtown waterfront. Don’t forget you can also hop aboard City Cruises by Hornblower for the best seats in the house for the fireworks!
Rise and shine with a fun-filled boat ride at the Norfolk Botanical Garden and explore its peaceful waterways or meander through its many beautiful gardens and discover a variety of plants from the cultivated to the wild.
Enjoy lunch and shopping at Norfolk Premium Outlets and IKEA, Norfolk’s prime shopping destination with stores including Michael Kors, Under Armor and AX Armani Exchange, offering savings of 25 to 65 percent every day.
Next, head to Hermitage Museum and Gardens, home to a nationally recognized art collection spanning 5,000 years. Its artwork includes contemporary exhibition galleries, working artist studios and 12 acres of gardens and grounds.
Enjoy dinner at Omar’s Carriage House, an original carriage house that’s now a charming Mediterranean fusion restaurant with a fabulous wine selection. Group menus are available, with a private room that can accommodate 45 guests. End the evening with a treat from Doumar’s, the creator of the waffle cone. Doumar’s continues to bake cones on the original machines.
Before you depart for home, head over to the Chrysler Museum of Art. Enjoy 5,000 years of art in one of the country’s most impressive museums featuring a cafe, gift shop and theater. At noon, daily glass blowing demonstrations can be seen at the Perry Glass Studio, adjacent to the Chrysler Museum of Art.