Norfolk, first settled in 1682, is rich in history and culture. With 144 miles of shoreline, the coastal Virginia city offers plenty of naval history to explore and scenic cruises to take. The Hampton Roads area including Norfolk contains a wide range of religions, making this city a great destination for religious travel.
Religious Sites and Activities
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, built in 1739, is Norfolk’s oldest building and the only structure to survive the British destruction of the city on New Year’s Day, 1776. Featuring a beautiful Tiffany stained-glass window, the church retains an active parish to this day. Outside the church, St. Paul’s cemetery contains 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th century tombstones. Visitors may tour the churchyard and cemetery at any time.
Your group can also visit the Basilica of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, located in downtown Norfolk. It is the oldest parish community in the Catholic diocese of Richmond; it was founded in 1791, built in 1842, destroyed by a fire in 1856 and rebuilt in 1858.
Norfolk also offers many volunteer opportunities, such as VolunTourism, a partnership of Volunteer Hampton Roads and Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughter to help the hundreds of military families with parents on deployment.
Naval Station Norfolk offers 45-minute bus tours, narrated by U.S. Navy personnel, which pass by cruisers, destroyers, aircraft carriers, frigates and historic homes.
Nauticus is an interactive, maritime-themed science center that features exhibits, high-definition films and Battleship Wisconsin. The Wisconsin, one of the largest and last battleships built by the U.S. Navy, offers self-guided or audio tours that allow your group to explore the ship that earned five battle stars during World War II. Other activities on the water include harbor tours and sailing and kayaking on miles of coastline.
Visit the Chrysler Museum of Art and its Glass Studio to see live glassblowing and contemporary art. For a taste of history, check out MacArthur Memorial, a museum dedicated to Gen. Douglas MacArthur and those who served with him in World War I, World War II and the Korean War. Attucks Theater is the oldest remaining theater in the nation that was completely financed, designed, constructed and operated by African Americans. Built in 1919, the name of the theater commemorates Crispus Attucks, an African American man who was the first American patriot to lose his life in the Boston Massacre of 1770. Today, Attucks Theater presents musical performances, plays and dramatic readings.
Waterside Festival Marketplace serves as Norfolk’s one-stop attraction for dining, shopping, nightlife, sightseeing and exciting festivals such as the Virginia Wine Festival and Great American Picnic.
Norfolk Botanical Garden, located 15 minutes from Virginia Beach, features more than 30 themed gardens encompassing 155 acres. Lake Whitehurst borders three sides of the garden, so tours are offered by boat, tram or foot.
Watch Norfolk’s ice hockey team, the Norfolk Admirals, at the Norfolk Scope Arena. If you’re a baseball fan, take your group out to the ball game at Harbor Park to see the Norfolk Tides minor league team.
Dine by Land or Sea
Norfolk has more than 80 chef-owned restaurants and offers local food tours. Restaurants feature food from traditional Southern fare to a wide range of international offerings. At Ocean View Fishing Pier, your group can eat fresh seafood while overlooking the Chesapeake Bay and even fish off the pier. The Spirit of Norfolk dining cruise can accommodate any size group for brunch, lunch or dinner. Teppanyaki Grill & Buffet is an all you can eat Chinese, Japanese and American buffet that’s perfect for groups, walk-ins and take-outs.
VisitNorfolk’s Religious Affiliations:
- Religious Conference Management Association: The Religious Conference Management Association is a professional, nonprofit, multi-faith organization consisting of individuals who are responsible for planning and/or managing meetings, tutorials, conferences, conventions, and assemblies for their religious organizations.
- Christian Meetings & Conventions Association: an association of Christian people who plan meetings and suppliers who service them
- Rejuvenate Marketplace: is an appointment-only trade show designed specifically for faith-based meeting planners’ needs
Hampton Roads, the area encompassing the body of water and a metropolitan region in Southeastern Virginia, includes world religions such as Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Methodist, African Methodist Episcopal, Christian Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Baptist, Muslim, Jewish and Lutheran.
By Lauren Reiniger