Summertime is the perfect time to make a splash with a visit to Norfolk, one of the world’s great port cities. With 144 miles of shoreline waiting to be explored, with the Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean and countless rivers in our backyard, you’re never far from the water in Norfolk. Here are a few great things to do on the water during your visit.

Go Sailing

Discover sailing at Sail Nauticus, the Norfolk-based sailing school and community sailing center on the Elizabeth River. Set sail for two relaxing hours with one of the captains at the rudder or take a class from a certified instructor and learn how to tack, jibe and steer. It’s a great way to unwind or just give yourself a unique treat.

sailing - photo for blog@rylantuohy, Instagram

Join the Party at the Water’s Edge

Celebrating its 43rd year in 2019, Norfolk Harborfest® is three explosive days of tall ship visits, national, regional and local entertainment, electrifying fireworks – and the biggest outdoor dock party in Hampton Roads. The June 7-9 weekend festivities include more than 130 hours of live entertainment on multiple stages featuring national, regional and local musical acts, a Craft Beer Garden, pirates, mermaids and so much more.

Hit the Beaches in Ocean View & East Beach

Ready for a swim? Norfolk has three beaches in the low-key Ocean View area that are perfect for swimming. These include Sarah Constant Beach Park, just east of 4th View Street, Community Beach Park, and Ocean View Beach Park, farther east near Norfolk Avenue.

ocean view - photo for blog@marstravelsearth, Instagram

Go Fishing!

No matter what your choice of the fresh catch may be, you’re sure to find it in the nearby Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean or Elizabeth River. The Chesapeake Bay is home to a host of saltwater fish, including trout, flounder, cobia, croaker, red drum, and striper. The Ocean View Fishing Pier offers a unique and enjoyable experience, with fishing license included in the cost of admission, equipment available for rent, on-site facilities and restaurant, and head boat excursions departing once or twice daily.

ocean view blog

@coopdeville_, Instagram

Board and Tour a Tall Ship

Want to get a lay of the land from the water? Then you’ll want to set sail aboard Norfolk’s own Tall Sailing Ship, The American Rover. This three-masted topsail schooner with its familiar red “tanbark” sails has been a signature sight along the Elizabeth River and Hampton Roads Harbor since 1986, offering 1½- and 2-hour narrated Harbor or Sunset Cruises, April through October.

Experience the Spirit of Norfolk

See incredible views of the Norfolk Harbor and the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet aboard the Spirit of Norfolk. Enjoy delicious new menus and specialty drinks. Then, dance to DJ entertainment or relax on the rooftop lounge. It all adds up to the perfect Norfolk experience. Cruising year-round from downtown Norfolk, Spirit offers lunch, brunch, dinner, cocktail, moonlit cruises and more.

spirit of norfolk - blog post

@toddimbriaco, Instagram

Step off the Garden Path

Norfolk Botanical Garden offers more than strolls through beautiful landscapes. This must-see attraction also offers Guided Kayak Tour-Sunset Paddles and other waterborne adventures on the adjoining Lake Whitehurst. Visit their website for details and tour schedules.

Cruise by the Base

The Victory Rover is your front row seat to the U.S. Navy’s Norfolk-based fleet. Departing from a berth just a short walk along the Downtown Norfolk Harbor from Nauticus, the Victory Rover offers a 2-hour narrated naval base tour, an enjoyable alternative to the bus tours offered on base. Passengers will witness the majesty of the Navy’s aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, guided missile cruisers, and other vessels that make up the world’s most powerful sea-going armada.

Victory Rover