Within Walking Distance
Carnival cruises from Norfolk dock in the city’s vibrant waterfront. Next to the terminal is Town Point Park, featuring a stirring statue of a returning sailor and the Armed Forces Memorial. At NAUTICUS, The National Maritime Centre, the main attraction is the 887 ft.-long USS Wisconsin, an enormous World War II-era battleship that last saw action in the Gulf War. The adjacent Hampton Roads Naval Museum puts the Wisconsin’s storied history into perspective with a collection of model ships and maritime displays. NAUTICUS is also the departure point for two-hour cruises of the piers, shipyards, and waterways of Norfolk’s naval base. The Cannonball Trail is a great way to take in scenic waterfront sights, like Half Moone Fort and the Wisconsin. Down cobblestone streets you’ll find historic sites like the Moses Myers House, home to the city’s first Jewish settlers, and the Beaux-Arts Wells Theater.
The best collection of fine art in Norfolk, Virginia is in the stately palazzo of the Chrysler Museum of Art, with works by Pollock, O’Keeffe, Renoir, and Matisse, along with some 10,000 glass objects. The museum is the centerpiece of the Ghent district of turn-of-the-century architecture and funky shops and restaurants.
On tree-filled MacArthur Square, the Neoclassical columns of the old city hall front the Douglas MacArthur Memorial. Inside is military paraphernalia from the general’s career in the galleries and the general’s final resting place, in a sober rotunda.
Beyond the Port Area
A bit further afield from where your Norfolk cruise embarks are the seasonal blooms of the Norfolk Botanical Garden: azaleas in spring, roses in summer and fall, camellias and hollies in winter.
Less than an hour away, Williamsburg is as famous for its theme park as its historic past. Loop the loop on the Loch Ness Monster coaster and celebrate Oktoberfest any time of year at Busch Gardens. In Colonial Williamsburg, you can step back into 18th-century Virginia at the living open-air museum, where artisans still forge metal and spin wool by hand. Top off a day in history with a plate of Welsh rarebit and a tankard of ale in “ye olde” tavern.
Ferries from the Norfolk, Virginia, waterfront connect to Olde Towne Portsmouth, a colonial-era village. The atmospheric streets and lanes lead to historic homes, 18th-century churches, and many art galleries and antiques stores.
Beaches in Norfolk
Just minutes away from Norfolk is Virginia Beach, the area’s best stretch for summer swimming, golfing, fishing, and sea activities. Live it up on the boardwalk and family-filled sands in the main resort area, or hike in the natural surroundings of False Cape State Park and Back Bay Wildlife Refuge.
Shopping in Norfolk
Shop in style in the million square feet of the MacArthur Center, where quality names like Coach and Nordstrom lead the pack of nearly 150 stores. With one-of-a-kind shops and popular restaurants perched right by the harbor, the Waterside Festival Marketplace helped revive downtown Norfolk a few decades ago—and it’s right next door to the Carnival cruise terminal. Granby Street, in Ghent, is the local antiquing center.