School Books Come to Life at Norfolk

03/31/2010  | 
outdoor adventures

Spring heralds the season of warm weather and outdoor activities. It is almost that time of year when school students itch to get out of the classroom and explore the outdoors and partake in hands-on learning experiences.

This season, whether during a fieldtrip or weekend stay, students who visit the port city of Norfolk, Va. will find that their schoolbooks come to life. While in Norfolk, not only will they have the opportunity to learn more about history, art, science and the mysteries of the deep blue sea, but experience them as well.

It has never been more important, or perhaps more relevant, for students to learn the importance of ’going green’ and understanding the natural eco-system of the Hampton Roads region.

One If By Land

On shore, there are many sights to be explored. Throughout the city, the Cannonball trail, a heritage trail with nearly 400 years of American history, connects historic sites woven among featured attractions in Downtown Norfolk. This year, a new and exciting way to delve into the trail is through narrated Segway tours. After a safety demonstration, the easy-to-use Segways provide an exciting vehicle to take in the sites of Norfolk, as well as the city’s rich and multi-faced history. The Cannonball Trail becomes, in effect, a “story-telling stage” for more than 40 sites included on the trail such as the Norfolk History Museum at the Willoughby-Baylor House, Freemason Street Baptist Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, The MacArthur Memorial, and the Confederate Monument.

The city’s renowned Chrysler Museum of Art is also a wonderful snapshot of art through the ages, displaying everything from fine art, photography, sculptures and more. With a staff of highly trained docents, the Chrysler Museum of Art has created a number of educational programs, highlighting the many wonders of the museum, such as Five Continents, the Chrysler’s collection of art from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome as well as West Africa, Asia and the Americas. More than an introduction to art, the programs at the Chrysler Museum of Art also help students to understand the beliefs and cultures of different people around the world.

Two if by Sea

Flanked by the Elizabeth River and Chesapeake Bay along its west and north borders, it is no wonder that Norfolk’s nautical heritage has been a formidable presence throughout the destination. With over 144 miles of shimmering coast line, Norfolk’s waterways can be showcased in both historical and adventure activities, for students of all ages. To learn more about Norfolk’s place in U.S. and world history, groups can engage in lively tours of Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval station and home to more than 100 ships in the Atlantic Fleet. Norfolk also calls itself home to the USS Wisconsin, one of the largest battleships in the world, which is docked in the city’s picturesque harbor and has served in both WWII and the Gulf War. Rather than researching in books, or even online, students will have the opportunity to tour the top two decks and get a deeper understanding of what ship life was like through a narration from a knowledgeable docent. Guests will also be able to explore the deep blue sea at neighboring NAUTICUS, a museum complete with touch tanks, an IMAX theater and interactive exhibits. Located right next door to USS Wisconsin, this arena for light-hearted educational fun presents 150 nautical exhibits that give a slice of naval life, including a simulated destroyer and saltwater aquarium. Permanent exhibits include: 1907: The Jamestown Exposition and Launching of the Steel Navy, Secrets of the Deep, and the SOS Station, analyzing current weather conditions and all types of weather-related phenomena.

Sailing the Elizabeth River, is also an entertaining and exciting way to take in the spectacular downtown views and learn more about the city’s illustrious nautical heritage, which dates back to the 1600s as a port city. Multiple river cruises are easily accessible from downtown Norfolk’s Town Point Park, conveniently located within walking distance of many area hotels. Excursions include the American Rover, a tall ship cruise where guests can lend a hand with the sails, explore the helms or relax on the deck and Victory Rover, a Navy-themed vessel offering a behind-the-scenes look at Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval base. 

Going Green

It has never been more important, or perhaps more relevant, for students to learn the importance of ‘going green’ and understanding the natural eco-system of the Hampton Roads region.  The 155-acre Norfolk Botanical Garden offers special events and regular activities throughout the year to teach students of all ages about the delicate environment they inhabit, from Botanical Basics, an exploration of the diverse water environment of Lake Whitehurst to Survivor Skills, an educational look at the evolution of plants and animals throughout the four seasons. Similarly, the 53-acre Virginia Zoo is a great counterpart to any in-class science lessons, directly through its Zoo to You program, which offers an educational hands-on experience. 

The 53-acre Virginia Zoo is great for in-class science lessons through it’s Zoo to You program that offers educational hands-on experiences.


For more information, call 757-664-6620 or visit

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