The Hokies open the season against Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, on Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. If you’re planning on attending the first game under new head coach Brent Pry and are extending your stay on the coast into the weekend, there are plenty of things to do in the Mermaid City to keep you occupied.
Catch a Norfolk Tides game — 13 minutes from ODU
The Norfolk Tides, the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, have a home series against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs from Sept. 1-4. The first pitch for the Saturday game is at 6:35 p.m. and there will be a fireworks show following the conclusion of the game. The Tides are currently 7th in the International League East and have a 55–66 record. The Tides are a great way to squeeze more sports action into your weekend — and don’t be afraid to wear your maroon and orange to Harbor Park as well.
Visit Nauticus — 11 minutes from ODU
Norfolk is home to the largest naval base in the United States. Paying homage to this landmark, Nauticus is a “discovery center” right on the water which allows visitors to explore the world of this branch of the military. It is also home to the Battleship Wisconsin, the biggest and final battleship the U.S. Navy ever created. Nauticus shows films daily every half hour about the history of the ship. The museum also offers other fun activities for all ages, including a shark lab.
Visit Waterside — 12 minutes from ODU
Right next to Nauticus is the heart of the Waterside district, which features a conglomerate of restaurants and bars perfect for a night out. Enjoy a drink (21+, of course) at Blue Moon TapHouse, with brunch on Saturdays and Sundays and Happy Hour on Fridays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The district also features outdoor dining with sweeping views of the water, where you can watch the sailboats go by. Relax on the man-made beach area, complete with swings and bar-style games. On Sept. 3, Blue Moon TapHouse will be hosting a “day of margaritas” featuring local food trucks and live entertainment. In the event of a Hokie victory, this is the perfect place to celebrate.
Stroll the botanical gardens — 21 minutes from ODU
Take in the natural beauty of Virginia’s largest botanical garden while the flowers are in bloom. With 175 acres of plants and 14 miles of paths, paved and unpaved, the garden is perfect for people of all ages to explore. The garden is open every day from 9 a.m.–7 p.m. and features a children’s garden complete with a splash fountain which is open from 9:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. There is also a Butterfly House where you might be able to experience a butterfly landing on you.
Stop by the Norfolk Pagoda & Oriental Garden — 9 minutes from ODU
Right by the Freemason Harbor sits an unexpected gem of The Marine Observation Tower, also known as the Taiwanese Pagoda. The beautiful structure is located at the heart of a garden with space to walk and explore the Chinese architecture, bubbling fountains and miscellaneous sculptures. The pagoda offers views of the Elizabeth River and the USS Wisconsin and is a perfect place to catch a sunset.
Check out the NEON art district — 9 minutes from ODU
Walk the streets of Norfolk and experience the New Energy of Norfolk district, which features over 90 public art displays with murals, sculptures and interactive pieces. This spot is a great place to spruce up your Instagram feed with the many colorful displays acting as ideal backgrounds. Visit night or day to get a different experience of all the works of art. While you’re there, be sure to check out the food scene, especially Hummingbird Dessert Boutique, which offers a wide variety of tasty macarons.
Explore the Chrysler Museum of Art — 8 minutes from ODU
Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays, the museum features a wide collection of art and boasts beautiful architecture. With rotating exhibits, there is always something new to take in. The best part? Admission is free. The museum is also home to a glass studio, where you can watch the artists up close or learn the craft yourself. If you’re a lover of the arts, this is a must-visit destination in Norfolk.
Bonus: Best breweries in the area
Breweries have become a popular phenomenon in recent years, and Norfolk is an ideal destination for craft beer enthusiasts and foodies. While you’re in the area, be sure to check out Elation Brewing, The Veil Brewing Co., O’Connor Brewing Co., The Bold Mariner Brewing Company or any of the other vast selections of local breweries. They are a great place to check out the local scene, support local businesses and get a taste of the Norfolk food and drink fare.