When you’re planning a group tour in coastal Virginia, chances are you’re going to take a deep dive into “The Cradle of American History.” The area is also home to the greatest military in world history. You’ll want to book with AFR Tours, the region’s only full-service receptive tour operator. From world-class museums and historic sites to military bases and the plentiful Chesapeake Bay, there is a lot to take in.

AFR Tours specializes in cruise ship excursions. The area is surrounded by water—the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay, rivers, back bays, sounds, and streams—so opportunities lie in fine-dining sunset cruises, whale-watching, and kayaking with dolphins. The tour company also offers full-service planning of inbound motorcoach tours from all over the East Coast.

In Norfolk, specifically, groups can spend the morning at Nauticus, a fun and interactive maritime discovery center, to explore the power of the sea. Discover the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, where groups are introduced to over 200 years of naval activity in Hampton Roads. Walk the teak decks of Battleship Wisconsin, one of the last and largest battleships built by the U.S. Navy. Stand beneath her 16-inch guns and feel the excitement of being aboard a historic warship.

Groups can visit the MacArthur Memorial, the final resting place of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and his wife, to discover the compelling story of this five-star Army general and the millions of American men and women who served our nation during the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Occupation of Japan, and the Korean War.

For fare, tourgoers can enjoy dinner at Stripers Waterside, which offers a local, fresh seafood menu and waterfront views. A few favorites on the menu include she crab soup and choice prime rib. Have a sweet tooth? End the group’s evening with a famous waffle cone from Doumar’s Cones & Barbeque. Abe Doumar invented this sweet novelty by rolling a waffle into a cone shape, to which he added ice cream. Doumar’s still bakes cones on the original cone machines. Some other fun haunts include the Norfolk Botanical Garden and Norfolk Premium Outlets.

Another must-visit spot in Virginia Beach is Beachside Social, a 10,000-square-foot shuffleboard club and games bar. By combining an unusual mixture of games, design, and entertainment, Beachside Social offers a unique day and nighttime venue with a full bar, fast-casual menu, and stunning ocean views. Try your hand at shuffleboard, bocce ball, and plenty of board games.

If your group wants to get in the water, dolphin kayak tours with Kayak Nature Tours is the way to go. The company has been offering tours for 26 years and specializes in experiencing dolphins up close and personal from late April through October. The trip is $62 per person and includes all kayak gear. No experience is necessary, but advance reservations are required. For booking information, check out visitvirginiabeach.com.

By Andrea Stehle

Main Image: AFR Tours, Norfolk; Credit: AFR Tours