Thinking of moving to Norfolk but hesitant!
Gardens are a thing everywhere. You just have to rent a place that will have the balcony or yard for you to create your garden.
There are tons of dog parks here in Norfolk. I can't speak for Virginia Beach because I never paid too much attention in that regard. PETA has a very large dog park that dogs can run around, play, and swim in. There's no strong association with PETA other than the dog park is right next to it. There's another good sized dog park in the Colonial Place neighborhood where dogs can play, but it definitely is mostly dirt.
The forested area in Virginia Beach is First Landing, like you discovered, and it's huge! Love it there. As for Norfolk, we have some areas (there's a bird sanctuary that will likely suit what you're looking for) and then there is Botanical Gardens. I can't imagine we don't have some forested area to walk around in…
Surfing is a fun thing to learn and to pick up, but unless you plan on making that your life nearly daily for several weeks, you might want to rethink your investment. We have the perfect 'waves' to learn on as a beginner, but even then, it's certainly a time investment in terms of learning and waiting for good water. It's just tough to do. I held onto it for 2 summers and honestly haven't gone since. There's other water activities that still give you a good workout that I picked up: kayaking (plenty of spots here), SUPing, sailing (you could likely find a group to join), etc.
As for hiking, camping, trail running, and outdoor stuff: It's really not that far to travel from here to get all that done. Plenty of people I work with leave for weekend camping/hiking trips. You will have absolutely no problem meeting people in this area who love to do those things, too; myself included.
I'm guessing with the RN graduation, you're looking at Norfolk General? I work there, so I can help if you have any questions with that as well. There's a few ER RNs who love going hiking, camping, and rock climbing. So like I said, you won't be in short supply of finding people with the same interests.