NORFOLK, VA, September 7, 2011 – With a median age of 29, and more than a third of the population falling between the ages of 21 and 39, the seaport destination of Norfolk has leveraged its cultural experience to become a youthful, urban oasis in Coastal Virginia. Expanding on its vibrant downtown location surrounded on three sides by water, the city features dining options ranging from vegan fare to a rapidly expanding coffeehouse scene, art programs that include an interactive glass blowing studio and highly lauded public art exhibitions, and a forward-thinking transit system. 
Tourists and residents in the surrounding areas find a cultural haven in Norfolk with its fast-growing and continually evolving selection of things to see, taste, and experience:

See. While the city once anchored its artistic roots in the famed Chrysler Museum of Art, grassroots programs and public art displays have emerged and popularized in recent years.

  • Local artists turn public spaces, restaurants, and shops into living art through window displays and more during Art|Everywhere. The cultural movement that debuted two years ago transforms the face of Downtown Norfolk into a widespread interactive art gallery for six weeks each spring into early summer.
  • Adjacent to the famed museum, The Chrysler Museum Glass Studio will debut in November 2011 in a 7,000 square foot modern facility. With the guidance of Chief Curator Charlotte Potter, the studio will feature public glassblowing demonstrations, classes, a Visiting Artist Series and an Artist in Residence Program.
  • Gallery Row in Ghent gives patrons a choice of one-of-a-kind pieces for their private collections. The historic district features a wide-range of modern and classic paintings and other exhibition pieces for sale. Specialized antique stores also line the streets.  
  • Film buffs and classic movie fanatics rejoice over the Naro Cinema, operating in its original form since 1936, with special theme nights and events attracting hundreds of young locals and visitors. Other cinematic happenings in town include the Mid Atlantic Black Film Festival, the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, and the ON Film Festival put on by Old Dominion University and the City of Norfolk.

Taste. Norfolk’s “restaurant row,” Granby Street, is teeming with talented chefs and ambitious restaurateurs.  While intricate architecture mingles with 21st Century skyscrapers, restaurants serve everything from traditional coastal dishes to modern, ethnic and sustainable cuisine.

  • A unique epicurean experience for a southern city, Norfolk is swiftly becoming a major player in the vegan scene with vegan-friendly restaurants lining Granby Street and the historic neighborhood of Ghent, with more than 10 restaurants in the downtown area catering specifically to the vegan crowd.
  • Each August, Norfolk participates in the “Farm to Feast” week, a synthesis of a restaurant week and a showcase of the city’s farm-to-table cuisine, featuring seasonal menus and set prices. This seaside destination is also home to more than 80 chef-owned restaurants, many featuring Virginia wine and Virginia-grown produce and meat. 
  • A nod to poets and musicians of the past, the coffee house experience is more present than ever with places like Java Surf Café & Espresso Bar, Crema, Café Stella, Elliott’s Fair Grounds Coffee House, Kerouac Café, Chocollage, and aLatté Café lining the downtown district & Ghent. Many Norfolk coffeehouses feature regular musical performances and serve as a meeting point for local artists.
  • Starting at $25 / person, epicurean walking tours are widely available in the Granby and Ghent neighborhoods. Attracting both singles and groups, the tours are a perfect way to taste the city’s gastronomic highlights and mingle with fellow food lovers. Popular companies include Norfolk Walkabouts and Coastal Food Tours of Virginia.

Experience. In every metropolitan city, the commute is half the battle, which is why Norfolk has worked to create a hassle-free, eco-friendly transit system allowing for a pleasurable commute easy access to its most popular attractions for visitors. Two new transit experiences launched in the summer of 2011.

  • Capitalizing on the trend of biking as a form of commute in cities like New York, Paris, and London, the Downtown Norfolk Council public art display project debuted five bike racks throughout prominent areas in the downtown district this summer. The racks designed by local artists are part of an initiative to encourage biking as a means of transportation, while continuing in the tradition of public artwork.
  • Downtown Norfolk launched its first Light Rail system known as ‘The Tide Light Rail’ in August, taking commuters from Fort Norfolk Station, near the historic Ghent district, to the Newtown Road Park & Ride Station at the Norfolk / Virginia Beach city line, making stops near the Chrysler Museum of Art, The MacArthur Memorial, and The Tide Minor League Baseball Stadium.

~ Norfolk, Virginia ~
One of the Mid-Atlantic’s most exciting destinations, Norfolk, Virginia attracts thousands of travelers each year to enjoy its lively waterfront downtown which is easily walkable and alive with eclectic dining options, a rich arts scene, high-end shopping and fun, year-round special events. For four hundred years this dynamic heart of Virginia’s storied sea front region has offered a vibrant blend of history and heritage, contemporary attractions, outdoor adventure and the Commonwealth’s most revered cultural institutions.  For more information about Norfolk, visit the city on the Web at www.visitnorfolktoday.com or call 757-664-6620 or toll free at 800-368-3097.