Resting at the meeting point of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the City of Norfolk is the heart of Tidal Virginia's financial, cultural, and entertainment waterfront. With facilities for boaters, families, businesses, and lovers, the Port of Norfolk is a maritime city with a rich colonial history. The Port of Norfolk has long been a Navy town, but it is also a cosmopolitan city with world-class museums and performance arts as well as gourmet restaurants and popular attractions.
The downtown waterfront park, Town Point Park, is the site of festival and community events through the year. Granby Street is once again a main downtown avenue with wonderful restaurants and bars. The historic district of Ghent next to downtown offers historic homes and beautiful old churches. Colley Avenue offers shopping opportunities for chic boutiques and antiques as well as restaurants and clubs. The Port of Norfolk's beach community, Ocean View, has fairly uncrowded beaches. For complete information on the many things to see and do in the Port of Norfolk, please visit the city's tourism website.
The Port of Norfolk has a humid subtropical climate with mild seasonal changes. Warm summers are humid and often rainy. Spring and autumn are mild and comfortable. Winter is relatively mild, with temperatures around freezing but usually above. Temperatures range from an average high of 31 °C (87 °F) in July to an average low of 0 °C (32 °F) in January.
The Port of Norfolk is a maritime town with roots deep in naval history. Nauticus - the National Maritime Center is a contemporary museum telling the story of the maritime world with interactive experiences and exhibits. The museum covers global maritime commerce and the world's largest modern Navy. Permanent exhibits include the "1907 Jamestown Exposition and Launching of the Steel Navy," examining the US Navy's era from 1880 to the early 20th Century. "Secrets of the Deep" explores NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries, including the USS Monitor site. Visitors can enter a submersible, The Clelia, and play the role of a NOAA scientist of a pilot, controlling a 9-foot robotic arm to collect seabed samples or explore the site of the wreck. The "SOS Station" explores the world of weather from a 35-kilometer orbit above the Earth's surface.
The Aegis Theater at the Port of Norfolk's Nauticus is a command center theater that simulates battle situations as destroyers shield a naval battle group. "The Modern Navy" uses computer simulation games to let visitors experience hunting for bogeys and subs, and it offers a fleet of scale-model naval vessels. The "Touch Tank" introduces visitors to inhabitants of the Chesapeake Bay in a simulated tidepool supporting sea creatures like starfish, crabs, and urchins. The Battleship Wisconsin is berthed at the Port of Norfolk's Nauticus. One of the last and biggest battleships built by the US Navy, visitors can explore the World War II ship's decks. On level two of the museum is the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, owned and operated by the US Navy, with a collection of weaponry, uniforms, artifacts, models, and artwork.
The Virginia Zoological Park in the Port of Norfolk is both a recreation opportunity and a conservation facility. In addition to its collection of animals, the Zoo Train offers an interesting and fun ride through the park. The one-third scale model of a CP Huntington steam engine has four coaches for 80 passengers. The train engineer offers narration about the zoo and its animals and plants as the train moves along its 1.2 kilometer tracks on a 20-minute trip through the park. The 21-hectare Zoo is home to 350 animals as well as beautiful themed gardens. Animals enjoy naturalistic habitats with many plant species.
Visitors to the Port of Norfolk will also enjoy a visit to the Norfolk Botanical Garden, a former WPA project that grew to a 62.7-hectare garden with thousands of plants. The site contains over thirty themed gardens, some focusing on a single plant, some on a specific region, and others that explore the many effects created by landscape design. The Bristow Butterfly Garden supports butterflies and moths during all life stages. The Mirror Lake, the oldest part of the garden, contains azaleas first planted in 1939 and a memorial garden dedicated to the WPA workers that planted them. The Japanese Garden combines evergreen plants, stones, and water in a design dedicated to the Port of Norfolk's sister city, Kitakyushu. The Rose Garden contains over 3000 rose plants that explode with color from May through October. The WOW Children's Garden was created for families and children with interactive lessons and entertainment meant to educate.