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The Best of Norfolk & the Virginia International Tattoo

Program No. 18354RJ
Discover military and art culture in Norfolk, then experience the nation’s largest military musical celebration at the Virginia International Tattoo, a tradition dating back to 1600.

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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
Apr 17 - Apr 21, 2024
Starting at
Apr 18 - Apr 22, 2024
Starting at
DATES & starting prices
Apr 17 - Apr 21, 2024
Starting at
Apr 18 - Apr 22, 2024
Starting at

At a Glance

Adapted from a 17th-century European tradition of “taptoe,” a process of notifying innkeepers to turn off the tap and send soldiers back to their barracks, the term “tattoo” now represents a grand display of military music. At the Virginia International Tattoo, the largest one in the U.S., enjoy a range of internationally influenced performances from traditional military displays featuring drums, trumpets and drill to more modern lyrical and theatrical shows. Then, enhance your festival experience by learning more about Norfolk’s local military history with field trips by land and sea to General MacArthur’s Memorial and the harbor that’s home to the world’s largest naval base and America’s Atlantic Fleet. Sans ink and needle, this military and music-filled adventure is sure to leave a permanent impression.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to 2.5 miles per day, covering multiple city blocks and over uneven terrain and city sidewalks; periods of standing and walking are required through the various museums, gardens and for the Behind the Scenes tour at the Scope Arena. There are stairs for both the parade seating and Tattoo performance in addition to the steps on the motor coach.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Admire the Parade of Nations from reserved seats before exploring the Scope Arena with event directors for a behind-the-scenes look at the Virginia International Tattoo.
  • Enjoy a Road Scholar exclusive private performance from the decorated Virginia Coast Chorus, an affiliate of the globally-recognized Sweet Adelines International organization.
  • Delve deeper into the art culture of Norfolk with an adventure to the Norfolk Botanical Garden and a docent-led excursion at the Chrysler Museum of Art.

General Notes

Please note that this program utilizes school buses for short trips.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Peggy Haile McPhillips
Peggy McPhillips is a life-long resident of Norfolk, Va., and a graduate of Mary Baldwin College in Staunton Va. She currently serves as president of the Norfolk Historical Society, and is on the boards of the Friends of Historic Houses, Chrysler Museum of Art, Friends of Norfolk's Historic Cemeteries and Norfolk History Museum. Peggy is the author of “Historic Photos of Norfolk, Virginia,” and contributes to Downtowner Magazine. Sharing Norfolk's history is one of her favorite things to do!

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Peggy Haile McPhillips
Peggy Haile McPhillips View biography
Peggy McPhillips is a life-long resident of Norfolk, Va., and a graduate of Mary Baldwin College in Staunton Va. She currently serves as president of the Norfolk Historical Society, and is on the boards of the Friends of Historic Houses, Chrysler Museum of Art, Friends of Norfolk's Historic Cemeteries and Norfolk History Museum. Peggy is the author of “Historic Photos of Norfolk, Virginia,” and contributes to Downtowner Magazine. Sharing Norfolk's history is one of her favorite things to do!
Profile Image of Lynn Macaluso
Lynn Macaluso View biography
Lynn Macaluso was born and raised just outside Boston. Then she moved to Boulder, Colorado, and worked in the business world for more than 20 years. She then traveled extensively throughout Italy and Sicily and decided to change careers. She was certified at the International Guide Academy in Denver, Colorado, and has been leading groups ever since, primarily with Road Scholar. Lynn is very knowledgeable about her native New England. She speaks Italian and, in her spare time, loves to play tennis, read, and cook.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Norfolk: A People's History
by Ruth A.Rose
With Norfolk: A People's History, Ruth A. Rose takes a fresh look at the people who made Norfolk but who are often overlooked in other versions of the city's history.
Historic Photos of Norfolk
by Peggy Haile McPhillips
From Norfolk Naval Base, the world's largest naval base, to the Norfolk Southern Railway, one of North America's largest railroads, Historic Photos of Norfolk is a photographic history collected from the areas top archives. With around 200 photographs, many of which have never been published, this beautiful coffee table book shows the historical growth from the mid 1800's to the late 1900's in stunning black and white photography. The book follows life, government, events and people important to Norfolk and the building of this unique city. Spanning over two centuries and two hundred photographs, this is a must have for any long-time resident or history lover of Norfolk!
Legacy: Walter Chrysler Jr. and the Untold Story of Norfolk's Chrysler Museum of Art
by Peggy Earle
The Norfolk museum that would one day bear the Chrysler name was always a good museum of its kind, home to a respectable collection serving a smallish city. But when Norfolk native Jean Outland married Walter Chrysler, heir to the automobile manufacturing fortune and an avid art collector, the museum found a person with whom its fortunes would be intertwined, sometimes spectacularly, for decades to come. Walter had already established a Chrysler Museum in Provincetown, Massachusetts, but in 1971—in need of more space and, admittedly, a fresh start—he relocated the operation to Norfolk. In Legacy, Peggy Earle paints a vivid picture of this provincial museum’s transformation into one of the finest art museums on the East Coast. She also delivers a captivating portrait of Walter Chrysler, a generous and demanding man who found in art patronage a focus not only for his wealth but also for his tremendous energy. Not content to merely admire the work, Walter had a naturally gregarious side and was apt to deal with artists such as Pablo Picasso directly. And yet he was also intensely private. Earle provides readers with a fascinating view of the politics of the museum world, where even good relationships are never uncomplicated. (The addition of the Chrysler collection’s works to the museum was not unanimously applauded by the community; nor was it a foregone conclusion that, upon Chrysler’s death, the pieces would even stay with the museum.) This lively account of the unlikely union between an arts maverick and a city on the cusp of cultural evolution sheds new light on how great art finds a place to call home.
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5 days
4 nights
8 meals
4 B 1 L 3 D
Check-In, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation, History
Norfolk, VA
Courtyard Marriott Norfolk Downtown

Activity note: Hotel check in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:00 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Orientation: 4:30 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. Travel and transfers will be primarily by motorcoach unless noted otherwise. We will pre-select choices for some meals using forms in the preparatory materials. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/current conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: We will gather in the hotel meeting room for a presentation by a local historian and Norfolk resident. Norfolk is the home of the world’s largest naval base. Service members of the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, and Marines are also well represented. The total population of active duty service members and related civilian personnel is approximately 150,000, not including their families.

Naval Study Cruise, Nauticus, MacArthur, Performance
Norfolk, VA
Courtyard Marriott Norfolk Downtown

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 1.5 miles, approximately 1/2 hour with stops. Walking about 2.0 miles and periods of standing, approximately about 2 hours; some stairs. Getting on/off an excursion boat; wear comfortable non-slip shoes.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will hop aboard our motorcoach and ride a short distance for a narrated study cruise aboard the “Victory Rover” along the Elizabeth River and Hampton Roads Harbor. This is one of the world’s busiest seaports with the world’s largest naval base, home of America’s Atlantic Fleet. The boat’s main cabin has large picture windows and comfortable seating with more seating and views up top. As we go, the captain will provide fascinating and entertaining commentary about what we’re seeing. We’ll then take a short walk to our next field trip site, Nauticus. Home of the Battleship Wisconsin, Nauticus is an interactive science and technology center that explores the naval, economic, and nautical power of the sea, with exhibits that range from the anatomy of a battleship to secrets of the deep. During our self-directed exploration, we will have an opportunity to see and do what interests each of us most. There will also be docents around the facility to answer questions

Lunch: Lunch on your own at the Waterside Restaurants along the James River.

Afternoon: Next we will walk a short distance to the MacArthur Memorial that pays tribute to General of the Army, Douglas A. MacArthur, as well as the men and women who served with him during World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. The memorial uses his life and times to teach American history. Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) was one of America’s most notable military leaders before, during, and after World War II. He was also controversial, and was ultimately removed from command by President Harry Truman. He is particularly remembered for two statements: the first, when leaving the Philippines in the face of advancing Japanese troops, “I shall return!” and the second from his farewell address, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away. Following a brief presentation at the Memorial we will have time to explore on our own and then make our way by foot back to the hotel, each at our own pace.

Dinner: We will ride to Stripers Waterside Restaurant

Evening: Riding back to the hotel, we’ll enjoy a private performance for our Road Scholar group by members of the Virginia Coast Chorus (VCC), an award-winning women’s show chorus. The group has members from all walks of life and specializes in the close harmonies of a capella “barbershop” singing. The VCC is an affiliate of the highly respected organization Sweet Adelines International that extends over five continents.

Parade of Nations, Backstage at Tattoo, View Tattoo
Norfolk, VA
Courtyard Marriott Norfolk Downtown

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 2.5 miles, approximately 1 hour with stops. Walking about 1.5 miles, periods of standing throughout the day; stairs at parade risers and Scope Arena. Reserved seats for parade not covered; be sure to account for the weather. Evening performance approximately 2 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will walk a few blocks from the hotel with our Group Leader and take our reserved seats for the Parade of Nations, held in conjunction with the Virginia International Tattoo and the Norfolk NATO Festival. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a political and military alliance safeguarding freedom and security. Norfolk has been the site of NATO’s Supreme Allied Command, Atlantic, since 1953. Not only does the Parade of Nations feature floats and international military bands from all 28 NATO nations as well as high school marching bands, it is the only parade in the United States that formally honors NATO. Following the parade we walk to the Town Point Park that serves as the International Village during the Tattoo Festival

Lunch: Lunch is on your own to enjoy the foods of your choice from the many vendors set up in the Park.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll board the motorcoach for a short ride to the Scope Arena. We will have an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the Virginia International Tattoo led by the directors and event staff. A tattoo, in this context, is a gathering of an ensemble for the performance of military music, but the word originated in the 17th century when military drummers would signal the time for soldiers to return to their barracks. As we walk, we will learn about tonight’s performance, the production and staging of the event, and the venue plus some time for questions

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions within easy walking distance of the Scope Arena including the MacArthur Center, Granby Street, and Monticello Avenues.

Evening: Returning to the Scope Arena and assembling at our predetermined meeting spot, we will walk inside to our reserved seats for an exceptionally exciting and colorful display of musical “tattoos.” The Virginia International Tattoo, the greatest and grandest in the U.S., involves more than 1,000 performers. In addition to the military bands and drill teams, there are pipe and drum bands from around the world, dancers, choirs, and much more. The spirit of patriotism and love of country suffuses every event. Tonight’s Grand Performance will last approximately two hours with all of the participating bands and units, concluding in a grand finale. We’ll ride back to the hotel after the performance.

Botanical Garden, Chrysler Museum of Art
Norfolk, VA
Courtyard Marriott Norfolk Downtown

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 20.5 miles, approximately 1 hour with stops. Walking about 1.5 miles throughout the day, periods of standing.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will board the motorcoach and ride to Norfolk Botanical Garden. This lush 175-acre garden boasts more than 14 miles of paved and unpaved paths with 60 plus gardens in bloom during all four seasons. The gardens range from those dedicated to a specific region of the world to those displaying a certain species of plant: fragrant and colorful, manicured and wild. We may also catch a glimpse of local birds and wildlife. We will hop aboard a tram for a half-hour narrated ride through the gardens to view the azaleas followed by time for self-exploration.

Lunch: At the Botanical Garden, we will have our pre-selected choices.

Afternoon: Next, we will ride to the Chrysler Museum of Art where a docent will lead our exploration. It was preceded by the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences, but everything changed when art collector, philanthropist, and benefactor Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., donated his personal art collection to Norfolk in 1971. His contribution — one of the greatest museum gifts in American history — resulted in the Norfolk Museum being renamed for him as it became one of the finest art museums in the country. It has been dubbed by museum experts one of America’s “Six Magnetic Museums” for its audience engagement, We ride back to the hotel. Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Please note that the period scheduled for free time is subject to change depending on local circumstances and opportunities for independent exploration. You might like to visit the Hermitage Museum & Gardens, the Mermaid factory where you can paint your own mermaid or dolphin souvenir, or the Battleship Wisconsin. You may also elect to walk with the Group Leader to the Pagoda and Oriental Gardens and a stop at Hummingbird Macarons.

Dinner: We will ride to the Brick Anchor Brew House.

Evening: At your leisure.

Program concludes
Norfolk, VA

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 p.m.

Breakfast: Hotel Buffet.

Morning: We will gather one last time for a wrap-up session with our Group Leader. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.