29 February 2024

Take the Amtrak to Norfolk, VA

Did you know that Norfolk has an Amtrak station that resides Downtown near the Harbor Park baseball stadium? The station is just steps away from connecting you to our whole city, and you can get here seamlessly and conveniently.

Ashland, VA Amtrak stop

Whether you’re catching the train in D.C, Richmond or another Northeastern city, your trip is sure to be smooth and enjoyable. Once aboard the train, you will start soaring through the beautiful countryside of Virginia, catching glimpses of small towns along the way. As the train makes a stop in the quaint town of Ashland, crossing guards and local spectators will wave at your arrival. As the trip continues, you’ll pass marinas, worn farmhouses and small country stores.

Amtrak offers guests Wi-Fi, comfortable seating and tables in the dining car for eating or working remotely. Grab a bite to eat, a coffee or even a glass of wine as you relax and enjoy the ride to Norfolk. Taking the train has its perks for both leisure and business travelers, but the most obvious of them all is a stress-free commute. When your next meeting is in town or you want a weekend getaway, let the convenience of the train be your answer.

Once you arrive to your destination in Norfolk, exit the train and walk a short three minutes until you reach Norfolk’s light rail system, The Tide. Here, you’ll find yourself at the Harbor Park Tide Station. Once on board The Tide, take the light rail to MacArthur Square Station to land in Downtown Norfolk. With eight Downtown hotels, you’re only a short walk from your home away from home.

Norfolk’s Light Rail system The Tide at Harbor Park station

Walkability

After check-in, you’ll be ready to explore our beautiful city that’s full of things to do, plus amazing culinary spots. From Downtown to the NEON District, Granby Street is known as Restaurant Row and features cuisine ranging from modern American fare at 219 BistroGershwin’s and Grilled Cheese Bistro to French bakeries like Lamia’s Crepes and La Brioche. The cuisine doesn’t end there. Seafood restaurants like Saltine and Stripers decorate our waterfront while juices and healthy options are frequently enjoyed at The StockpotTown Center Cold Pressed and Zeke’s Beans & Bowls.

@thejphys, Instagram

You can also walk over to Freemason District, arguably the most picturesque area in the city for its cobblestoned streets, historic architecture and the perfect spot to watch a sunset. Check out the historic Hunter House Victorian Museum or Freemason Abbey, an 1870s church-turned-restaurant; we highly recommend their she crab soup. Cure Coffee House serves some of the best coffee and cocktails in town, while the Pagoda is a picturesque place that’s ideal for perusing, taking photos and simply enjoying the beautiful ambiance and trickling water.

Downtown by Bike

ertnorfolk, Instagram

If walking isn’t the best option, Norfolk also has the Elizabeth River Trail (ERT), a 10.5-mile waterfront path that is perfect for biking. Discover spots on the trail by renting a bike from Pedego, an electric bike rental company located Downtown.

The ERT starts right where you exited the train at Harbor Park. Hop on the trail here for a start-to-finish ride or visit ERT’s website for a map of where to pick up the trail.

The Bakehouse at Chelsea

If you hop on the ERT Downtown, take a short ride over to Norfolk’s Chelsea neighborhood. Along the way, you’ll pass the Battleship Wisconsinthe Pagoda, Hague Bridge, Plum Point Park and many more picture-worthy stops. Once you arrive in Chelsea, you’ll find local food favorites and lots of craft beer including BenchtopSmartmouth and beer bar, The Birch (named one of the top 10 beer bars in America by USA Today). Local tip: Order a brick oven pizza from the neighboring restaurant Bakehouse at Chelsea and enjoy a delectable pie at The Birch.

@hermitagemuseumva, Instagram

Continue biking through Norfolk’s beautiful neighborhoods filled with established trees and stunning historic homes. The path ends near the Hermitage Museum & Gardens, a 20th-century arts-and-crafts estate located on the shore of the Lafayette River.

To purchase your Amtrak tickets click here. 

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29 February 2024

Top Places for Engagement Photos in Norfolk

Now that you’ve found the one, it’s time to announce your love to the world with some stunning engagement photos. Norfolk has endless options for backdrops, allowing you to surround yourself with the scenes that best represent your love for one another. Picture yourselves surrounded by burgeoning blooms in a lush garden setting, against the backdrop of the Elizabeth River or Chesapeake Bay at sunset, in front of an eclectic mural or among the charming streets of a historic neighborhood. Here are some of the most picturesque locations for engagement photos in Norfolk, VA.

Downtown Norfolk

Start on historic Granby Street with romantic arched marquee lights and a sprawl of historic buildings as a backdrop. You may also want to mosey down to the breathtaking Battleship Wisconsin and Town Point Park overlooking the Elizabeth River. Whether you have specific photo spots planned out or just looking to go with the flow, you won’t be disappointed with Downtown’s many picturesque locations.

Freemason District

The charming, historic neighborhood of Freemason will enchant you with its tree-lined, cobblestone streets and fascinating architectural details. After your sunset shoot, head over to Four Eleven York and enjoy a glass of champagne to celebrate your love.

Ghent

One of Norfolk’s quintessential neighborhoods, Ghent is filled with character and culture—and some cute places for taking engagement photos. Head down one of the charming, tree-lined streets for a neighborhood feel, or stake a claim on Colley Avenue for shots in front of restaurants and stores, underneath the iconic Naro Expanded Cinema marquee or along The Hague waterfront.

Hermitage Museum & Gardens

This waterfront estate featuring an Arts and Crafts style mansion features many gorgeous opportunities for that perfect shot. The stately brick walls and flowing botanicals along the Museum’s walls and archway create a stunning scene, as do the beautifully manicured grounds which offer a romantic, secret garden vibe you’ll love.

NEON District

For a vibrant and creative location, look no further than Norfolk’s NEON District. This eclectic neighborhood is full of brightly colored murals from local artists that showcase the beauty and culture of Norfolk’s art scene. Take advantage of these one-of-a-kind scenes to highlight your one-of-a-kind romance.

Norfolk Botanical Garden

The Norfolk Botanical Garden offers a wide range of seasonal flowers that can add bright pops of color to the greenery of the garden. With a variety of beautiful spots including ivy-covered staircases, ponds and pergolas covered in flowers, every corner of the garden offers a gorgeous landscape for your photos. 

Ocean View/East Beach

Only 10 minutes from Downtown is Norfolk’s Ocean View neighborhood where you will find 7.5 miles of beach. This quiet, beachy hideaway offers breathtaking sunset views as the waves roll over the sand. We suggest walking along the water hand in hand with your soon-to-be spouse as the sunlight reflects off the Chesapeake Bay, or take advantage of the pristine pastel beach houses that make a lovely backdrop.

The Pagoda

Located along the Elizabeth River Trail, the Pagoda is tucked away in a beautiful garden setting in Freemason. The flourishing landscape changes with the seasons and creates an incredible, secluded spot for you and your significant other.

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26 February 2024

Girlfriend Getaway to Norfolk

There’s nothing like gathering your best group of girlfriends and making memories together in a fantastic destination. In friendships and in travel, your vibe attracts your tribe, and Norfolk’s vibe is one you’ll definitely be attracted to. We’ve got places to wine and dine, shop ’til you drop, bring out your creative side or enjoy the great outdoors. Take a break from running the world, and take in all that Norfolk has to offer for a great girlfriend getaway.

Unite Your Foodie Friends

Not only does Norfolk have an amazing selection of restaurants serving high quality cuisine, but we also have a good number of women-owned restaurants and businesses. What better way to commemorate an all-female getaway than by supporting some of Norfolk’s women entrepreneurs? Enjoy an elevated menu inspired by the rustic cooking in France, Spain and Italy, plus premium wines at Blanca Food + Wine, located in Riverview. Share a cheese board that’s out of this world, then delight in a seasonally focused menu at Four Eleven York. Have fun testing out the Bartenders’ Experience in which personalized cocktails are crafted on the spot. Or, start the evening with a round of mojitos or margaritas at Luna Maya, a celebration of Latin American cuisine owned by two sisters. See more women-owned businesses in Norfolk here.

Shop ’til you drop

@shawn.terry, Instagram

Shopping is more than an activity in Norfolk; it’s an experience and one that you can tailor to your group’s interests. To support small businesses and find some truly one-of-a-kind Norfolk wares, check out our local shopping guide. For unmatched deals on all the greatest name brands, head to the Norfolk Premium Outlets. For an ever-changing mix of pop-up shops, locally loved stores and even some rising restaurants, take your time strolling through Selden Market. Finally, stop in our very own Mermaid Market, located in the VisitNorfolk Visitors’ Center, where you can find a curated selection of items unique to Norfolk and Virginia, including home decor, kitchen essentials, apparel and mermaids of every kind.

Get some vitamin D

@sellerof_purple, Instagram

Norfolk is known for many things, including plenty of opportunities to get outdoors. Take a leisurely stroll-through Norfolk Botanical Garden, and take some stunning photos together while you’re there. Enjoy foliage in the fall, roses blooming during the summer, Garden of Lights during the holidays and flourishing azaleas all spring long! On warm days, you can bask in the beach vibes of Ocean View and East Beach, and in spring and fall, your gal pals can embark on a kayak tour or a walking tour of Norfolk.

… and some vitamin c

@houseofoak, Instagram

Brunch is a staple of a great girlfriend getaway, and we’ve got just the places to sip mimosas, indulge in French toast and laugh the day away. Grain is known for their fabulous brunch buffet and unrivaled rooftop views while Hair of the Dog has the ideal menu to cure a hangover. Grandiflora Wine Garden is celebrated for their Turkish brunches in a quiet, relaxing atmosphere. See all our favorite spots for brunch here.

Get creative together

There’s nothing that brings a group closer than creating something together. Take the opportunity to paint and decorate your very own mermaid keepsake at the Mermaid Factory, combine painting with sipping at Pinot’s Palette, or try your talents at glassblowing while visiting the Chrysler Museum’s Perry Glass Studio.

Check out a local event

Town Point Virginia Wine Festival. Image courtesy of Norfolk Festevents, Ltd.

We’ve got an abundance of events for each season and interest, including many that are popular among groups of girlfriends. The spring and fall Town Point Virginia Wine Festival is always a favorite among ladies who love to sip and sample Virginia wines. The Stockley Gardens Arts Festival is another popular place for friends to wander through aisles of art in all its forms. Check out our events calendar to see what’s coming up during your stay.

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21 February 2024

Norfolk's Outdoor Dining Guide

It’s the perfect time of year for al fresco dining, and Norfolk’s restaurants certainly don’t disappoint. Dinner with water views? You got it. How about an outdoor seat Downtown among the hustle and bustle? Absolutely. Quiet spot to sip wine in a dreamy garden? Coming right up. Celebrate patio season by making reservations at some of these Norfolk restaurants with outdoor dining options.

This list includes a few of our favorites, but you can find many more excellent Norfolk restaurants with outdoor dining here.

Baker’s Crust Artisan Kitchen 

There’s something for everyone to love at this small franchise restaurant located in Ghent. Come for breakfast, lunch or dinner and enjoy a seat on their patio where you can watch patrons pop in and out of stores in the Palace Shops. As a bonus, see if you can spot the colorful mermaid swimming in the parking lot.

Craft on Colley

Enjoy dining and craft cocktails in this casually-upscale yet affordable destination. Patio seating out front allows diners to enjoy the action of Colley Ave. (and gorgeous sunsets in the evening). A fire pit keeps diners warm during the cooler times of year.

Four Eleven York

This boutique inn and restaurant in the heart of Norfolk’s historic Freemason District is the pure definition of charm and beauty. It’s an incomparable experience to dine on multiple courses of elevated, locally sourced cuisine on their outdoor patio adorned with chic fire pits, greenery galore and whimsical strands of twinkle lights.

Grace O'Malley's Irish Pub Norfolk VA

Grace O’Malley’s

How Irish is Grace O’Malley’s? Virtually everything in the bar and restaurant was handcrafted in Ireland, including the bar itself and the storefront. Enjoy Granby St.-side dining at the covered parklet in front of the pub year-round.

@veronilynne, Instagram

Grain

Water views? Check. Unmatched outlook of Downtown? Check. Rooftop beer garden, fire pits and cozy seating? Check, check and check. Grain is a go-to for some of the best outdoor seating in Norfolk, complete with an impeccable weekend brunch buffet, all your favorite beverages and a few strangers who are soon-to-be friends.

@girlintheno, Instagram

Grandiflora Wine Garden

Though not quite a secret, this place has got the secret garden vibe down pat. Norfolk’s only vegetarian natural wine bar is like a quiet escape from hustles and hassles. Owners Erin, Jason and Kenny have lovingly transformed this early 1900s house in Chelsea into a gorgeous inn, growing with it an inheritance of trees, herbs, flowers and local wildlife.

Hank’s Filling Station

Hank’s Filling Station features delicious barbecue and plenty of tasty beverages to go along with a plethora of outdoor lawn games, fire pits and oftentimes live music as well. It’s like the backyard you’ve always dreamt of! Grab a seat at a picnic table, start up a friendly game of something fun, and wait for your name to be called, signaling your food is hot and ready.

@leones_norfolk, Instagram

Leone’s Italian

Norfolk’s only rooftop Italian restaurant is truly a gem of Downtown. Whether you dine on the rooftop overlooking the bustling Granby Street below or take a seat on their lovely back patio, you’re in for a treat when it comes to the views and the authentic food.

Longboards

Longboards is found in the East Beach community of Norfolk, where dockside seating awaits! Enjoy a cup of she-crab soup or crab mac and cheese as you overlook the docks and yachts of East Beach Marina

Ocean View Fishing Pier Restaurant

It doesn’t get closer to the Chesapeake Bay than this. Walk out along a portion of the Ocean View Fishing Pier to reach this sunny, casual spot with pub-type fare and cool drinks. Get a glider table for your group, or opt for one of the high-top chairs looking out onto the glistening Chesapeake Bay.

Public House

The Public House

On the inside, the Public House offers upscale comfort fare with a Southern spin with Belgian ales and craft drinks in a dark-wood space. On the outside, seating along Colley Ave. and Princess Anne allow for some serious people watching in the height of summer.

@saltinenorfolk, Instagram

Saltine

A full patio at Saltine signals a gorgeous day. It doesn’t get much better than indulging in some of the freshest seafood around while taking in a gentle breeze and doing some casual people watching from Saltine’s blissful patio overlooking Downtown’s Main Street.

@striperswaterside, Instagram

Stripers Waterside

Originally hailing from the OBX, Stripers has brought their fresh seafood and made-from-scratch menu to Norfolk’s Waterside District. With that comes quite a breathtaking view. Come for lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch and take in pristine views of the Elizabeth River as you wave to ships passing by.

@queen_frequency, Instagram

Toast

Sail shades decorate Toast’s ever-growing garden, giving you the perfect Instagrammable shot! Not only is their environment pretty, but so are the food and drinks! Sit back, relax, and toast to the good life.

@christineeliesener, Instagram

Zeke’s Beans and Bowls

Local art lines the walls and sunshine beams in on this eclectic, turf-lined patio outside of Zeke’s Beans and Bowls. The fare is just as fresh as the atmosphere. Choose from spicy poke bowls, cooling açaí bowls and a few smoothies and sandwiches in between as you take in the art and the eats in Norfolk’s NEON District.

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20 February 2024

Woman-Owned Businesses

Supporting women-owned businesses is important, not just during Women’s History Month but throughout the year. It’s crucial for business owners themselves since overall, women who own businesses face greater challenges of gaining fair access to venture capital. But it’s also important for the community. According to data from McKinsey, women reinvest 90 percent of their income into their families and the local community.

Norfolk has a diverse mix of woman-owned businesses that contribute to the vibrancy and success of our city as a whole. This roundup is by no means comprehensive but is a great start for learning about and visiting some successful businesses that make our city stronger and worthy of celebration.

All Hands Pottery

@allhandspottery, Instagram

Angela Tilley, a 26-year Navy veteran, found a love for pottery during a deployment in Iraq. Post-deployment, she started taking classes in Germany to learn the fine techniques of pottery as well as courses that gave her experience with porcelain and Raku (a technique involving heating pieces at 1,800 degrees F and then creating a reduction environment to achieve unexpected surface decoration on pottery).

After her time in Germany, she brought her new talent to Norfolk and opened All Hands Pottery Studio which offers classes for beginners and beyond. Tilley also offers an open studio for skilled pottery makers and students trying to perfect their practice. These classes make for the perfect team bonding activity or a great date night idea!

The Birch and Four Eleven York Inn and Restaurant

A Norfolkian female powerhouse, Malia Paasch owns and operates two fabulous establishments in the city. The Birch, her first business, quickly grew into one of the world’s best beer bars. It is an around-the-world beer, cider and mead bar that serves up decadent grilled cheeses.

Her second accomplishment, Four Eleven York Inn and Restaurant, is a boutique inn and fine dining restaurant nestled among the cobblestone streets of Freemason. We highly recommend a night stay in one of their beautifully decorated suites, a meal inside their palate-pleasing dining room or even just stopping by for a house-made cocktail on their outdoor, romantically-decorated patio.

Blanca Food + Wine

Courtney White, owner and chef, combines her love of Norfolk and food through the beautifully designed and executed Blanca Food + Wine in the heart of Riverview. Courtney started her love with food while cooking in college, and now she brings her talent and passion to our city. This convivial restaurant features a fun, old world focused wine list and thoughtful plates inspired by the rustic cooking of France, Spain and Italy.

Crystal Palate

@crystalpalate, Instagram

The world of wine varieties can be intimidating, but Crystal Palate owner and certified sommelier Crystal Cameron-Schaad helps take the pressure off when choosing a wine for your next date night or dinner party. Her boutique wine store and wine education center is located in Norfolk’s charming East Beach. Walls covered in wine bottles from all over the world lure you in, and Crystal’s knowledge and friendly staff will be sure to spark a newfound passion for wine. 

Eleanor’s Norfolk

@eleanorsnfk, Instagram

Eleanor’s is your local intersectional feminist bookstore and bottle shop, combined in one welcoming space. The Ghent shop is aimed at amplifying traditionally underrepresented voices and encouraging those seeking to be a more active part of their community by offering opportunities for education and conversation.

Get Well Soon

@yelpcoastalva, Instagram

Get Well Soon was founded by Virginia Thornton and Zahra Ahmad to cater to a need they saw in themselves and in their community. Both founders suffered anxiety and depression in silence due to major life events such as loss and relocation. After realizing that many of their friends and family experienced similar issues, both Virginia and Zahra made a commitment to creating a fun and welcoming environment for self care and healing. Get Well Soon offers a variety of services, classes, events, and more to help clients achieve healthier minds and bodies.

Lorak Jewelry

Anna Lorich Akers is the talented artist, designer and owner of Lorak featuring jewelry handcrafted in the heart of Norfolk. Each piece is visibly recognizable and inspired by Akers’ passion for textiles, ancient Greco Roman and Egyptian artifacts and the clean lines found in Scandinavian design. Akers is a true artisan and will help you find the perfect ring, necklace, bracelet or earrings to give extra sparkle for your special someone.

Maison Soleil

@maisonsoleilnfk, Instagram

Lindsay Sims started Maison Soleil as a fair trade boutique aimed at bringing people together and empowering women. Here you’ll find ethical and sustainable fashion benefiting the women who created the pieces. You can also shop for home decor, coffee, candles, garden and plant accessories, books and journals, gifts, greeting cards and more.

Nine Twenty-Two

For 14 years, Becky Cohen found passion in designing floral arrangements and sharing her obsession with plants through a floral design studio and flower farm. Now, she’s able to combine her passion for plants with her love of beautifully crafted goods into one Norfolk-based lifestyle shop, Nine Twenty-Two. Here you’ll find gorgeous planters and accessories; home goods like serving platters, bowls and boards; a specialized line of wellness and beauty products, baby items and more. Plus, they offer workshops throughout the year aimed at adding inspiration to the places we live and love.

Pownd Cakes by Jen

What started as a stress-relieving hobby mainly enjoyed by family and friends has turned into a uniquely delicious bakery filled with perfected buttery and fluffy pound cakes. While owner and baker Jen Anglin’s classic pound cake is decadent and highly praised, her ambitious flavors will leave you pleasantly surprised. Here you’ll find out-of-the-box flavors like coconut, cinnamon, almond, cookies and cream and even sweet potato. These velvety, mouth-watering cakes are perfect for celebrations or simply to enjoy as a treat!

Pure Lagos

Having studied at both Howard and Stanford, Sia Alexander holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and has traveled the world, training in herbology, nutrition and spiritual healing in locations like Capetown, Paris, and West Africa. Her fair trade boutique, Pure Lagos, features treasures she sources from her trips to Africa. Shoppers will find anything from brightly colored furniture and dresses to healing crystals and herbs. Read our 2024 profile of Pure Lagos owner Sia Alexander.

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20 February 2024

5 Reasons to Road Trip to Norfolk, VA

Road trips provide perfect opportunities to create timeless memories by piling everyone into the car and hitting the road for some fun. Norfolk will easily check off all the “must-haves” your group is looking for in a destination: beach days for the sunbathers, Downtown rooftop decks for those wanting to slurp down oysters with a view, a zoo for the animal lovers and numerous pet-friendly breweries for those who bring along their furry best friend. Here are the top reasons to make Norfolk your next road trip destination.

1. Our Proximity to You

Living in the D.C or Richmond area? Our proximity to these cities allows for easy last-minute getaway trips, while our location in the Mid-Atlantic creates convenient accessibility for a slightly longer car ride. 

Who doesn’t love exiting the highway and having a short commute to your hotel? Norfolk is located just off of Interstate 64, allowing for a quick drive to your final destination. Whether you are looking for a weekend trip, week-long vacation or a stopover on your way to the Outer Banks, our proximity to you is unmatched!

2. Free Parking

When traveling to a new destination, it can be confusing to understand where you are allowed to leave the car for the day. With free parking in many of Norfolk’s most popular neighborhoods, you won’t have to worry. Our beaches offer free parking and have multiple public access points via boardwalks and paths. 

Ghent (pictured above) is a charming neighborhood dotted with locally owned shops and restaurants. It’s an ideal spot to park your car and wander along Colley Avenue, popping into shops here and there and perhaps catching a movie at Naro Expanded Cinema.

The Chelsea neighborhood, which is also extremely pet friendly, is our favorite to explore by bike, but their free street parking makes exploring Chelsea by foot a breeze. Once you find a spot, venture over to The Birch and devour one of their famous grilled cheeses paired with a fabulous beer, cider or mead on tap. Looking for more options in Chelsea? Wander over to Benchtop Brewery and sip on a Gose, or enjoy the mouth-watering Greek cuisine at Orapax!

3. Our Walkability

Our Downtown consists of 12 walkable city blocks, filled with endless activities. All Downtown hotels are within walking distance of savory restaurants (many with outdoor patios), recreational spaces like Town Point Park, thrilling art experiences at The Chrysler Museum’s Perry Glass Studio and rich, historic landmarks along the Cannonball Trail, an outdoor historic self-guided experience. Our small-scale Downtown also brings you access to multiple boat cruises, City Cruises Norfolk, American Rover, Victory Rover and personalized sailing excursions with Nauticus. Mile Marker Zero, the Elizabeth River Trail and Fort Norfolk are also all accessible by foot when you are downtown. Our small town charm mixed with our high-rise southern waterfront city will quench your long awaited need to escape for a vacation. 

4. An Abundance of Outdoor Activities 

@husky.athena, Instagram

No doubt you’ll want to get out and explore during your time in Norfolk. The method you choose is up to you! Load up your kayak or paddle board and head to a launch spot to get out on the Lafayette River or Chesapeake Bay. Or, save a little time and energy by renting a kayak via Norfolk Kayak Rentals. Home to 144 miles of shoreline, Norfolk is ideal for all your favorite water activities. If you’re near the Chesapeake Bay, you might as well take advantage of fishing on the longest pier in North America, located right in Ocean View, or hop on a fishing charter for an exciting and laid-back experience. Perhaps you’d rather explore on two feet or two wheels. Explore the Elizabeth River Trail (ERT), a 10.5-mile pathway weaving through some of Norfolk’s coolest neighborhoods, with several restaurants and breweries to visit along the way.

5. Our Cuisine

@alkalineva, Instagram

What’s a road trip without experiencing the local eats? Norfolk is home to hundreds of restaurants, with approximately 600 run by individuals who live in or near Norfolk. Because of our high concentration of locally-owned restaurants, the caliber and diversity that transpires through each owner’s personalized menus, distinctive atmospheres and true Southern hospitality makes Norfolk incomparable to other cities our size. Not only will you experience high quality food, but you will help support the small businesses that make our city unique. Come hungry, and taste your way through Norfolk! Need some inspiration? Check out our culinary series, City With Bite.

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15 February 2024

A Locals' Guide to St. Patrick's Day

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Norfolk this year? Well, you’re in luck. (Get it?) We have some really fun St. Patrick’s Day events in Norfolk complete with green drinks and plenty of reasons to dress in an Irish-inspired fashion. Plus, If you’re in the mood for some authentic Irish eats and drinks, we’ve got you covered there too. So, throw on some shamrocks, give in to a green beer, and join in the fun.

Irish Inspired Eats and Drinks

Food

Grace O’Malley’s Irish Pub

Norfolk’s only Irish pub, Grace O’Malley’s is smack dab in the heart of Downtown and is the most authentic Irish experience around. Throughout the pub you’ll find items shipped directly from Ireland: the mahogany woodwork, the light fixtures and even the tile. Grace O’Malley’s owners were determined to give customers a true Irish experience and have exceeded expectations with their authentic menu and live Irish performers of Gaelic song and dance. Indulge in traditional dishes like bangers and mash, cottage pie, shepherd’s pie made with homemade Guinness brown gravy or corned beef Blarney sub created with their signature Paddy Old Irish Whiskey sauce. Pair your meal with an Irish beer (we recommend Smithwick’s – pronounced “Smiddick’s”) to get the full experience.

St. Patrick’s Events in Norfolk

Shamrockin’ in Ghent

March 8, 2024

The much-anticipated annual St. Patrick’s Day block party returns to Ghent and features tons of festivities the week before Saint Patrick’s Day! Thousands of people come out to celebrate with live music from The Fighting Jamesons. The Tidewater Pipes and Drums kick off the event on the street, and there are beer trucks, Irish whiskey and local food vendors to round out the fun. Best of all, it’s a free event to get you in the mood for St. Patrick’s Day.

Shamrock Shenanigans

March 9, 2024

Celebrate with a dinner and dance from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at the Columbian Club of Ocean View, Inc. $35 tickets include food and beer.


@carolynrice, Instagram

57th Annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade 

March 16, 2024

Undeniably Norfolk’s largest and liveliest St. Patrick’s event, this Ocean View parade draws thousands to come out in a sea of green and flood the street with Irish cheer. Look for fun-filled marching bands, clowns, floats, cars and people cascading down the streets throughout the event. After the parade, head to the Columbian Club of Ocean View for live music, food and fun. From 10 a.m. to noon.

@covabrewco, Instagram

Annual St. Patrick’s Day: Party After OV Parade

March 16, 2024

Look for COVA Brewing Company’s float during the parade, and then head over to the brewery to keep the party going until 9 p.m.! They’ll have food, live music and all the green beer you can drink!

@boldmariner, Instagram

Annual St. Paddy’s Day at Bold Mariner

March 16, 2024

Back for its annual St. Patrick’s Day event, Bold Mariner is giving you a day of fun with fantastic beers, music and more!

After Parade Party at CCOV

March 16, 2024

From noon to 4 p.m. join the fun inside the Columbian Club of Ocean View for live music, food and vendors. Located at 211 W. Government Ave.

Norfolk Shamrock Stroll/Bar Crawl

March 16-17, 2024

Nothing beats a St. Patrick’s Day bar crawl filled with green beer, silly hats and bad Irish accents. Well, OK. One thing beats it and that’s an entire weekend of bar crawling. Start at Hell’s Kitchen for check-in and wristband between 1 and 4 p.m., then make your way through the top bars in Norfolk on Saturday and Sunday.

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15 February 2024

5 Must-Have Norfolk Experiences for the Solo Traveler

Traveling solo can be a truly liberating experience. From start to finish, you’re in full control of your time, your meals and your adventures, making your travel experience exactly what you want it to be. Norfolk is an ideal destination for the solo traveler because of our culturally diverse attractions, incredible culinary scene, abundance of outdoor activities and unique stores for taking a piece of Norfolk home with you.

Here are five must-have experiences to get you started on planning a solo trip you’ll love.

Chrysler Museum of Art and Perry Glass Studio

The Chrysler is renowned for its illustrious collection of glass with more than 10,000 glass objects spanning nearly 3,000 years. The museum is celebrated for its Tiffany glass collection, along with a robust European painting and culture gallery, modern, contemporary and decorative arts galleries, an ancient worlds gallery and a strong photography collection. Perfect for a rainy morning or a humid afternoon, the Chrysler invites travelers to block several hours to enjoy the beautiful pieces found in this cultural enclave. Bonus — the Chrysler Museum has free admission! Adjacent to the museum sits the Perry Glass Studio, an educational facility with a full slate of public demonstrations and performances. Plus, there’s free glassblowing demonstrations Tuesday–Sunday at noon!

@handsomebiscuit, Instagram

Abundance of Locally-Owned Restaurants

Filled with a vibrant mix of chefs, bakers and makers, Norfolk has blossomed into one of the Southeast’s most dynamic foodie destinations. The city’s captivating urban appeal and history lure visitors in, and the culinary creations keep them here. Being right on the coast means an abundance of fresh seafood served in both traditional and eclectic ways. But there’s also a myriad of eateries focused on anything from healthy fare to desserts to international cuisine. Check out our culinary series, City With Bite, for a closer look at some of Norfolk’s best restaurants.

@shaundanecole, Instagram

Water activities

There are so many ways to enjoy the water in Norfolk. Grab your suit, a beach chair and magazine and head to Ocean View Beach to soak in a day of leisure! Cruise the Elizabeth River harbor aboard the American or Victory Rover, or learn the ropes with Sail Nauticus. Spend some quiet time journeying along the Lafayette River with Norfolk Kayak Rentals. Finally, for unmatched water views, head to Grain — located on the fifth floor of Norfolk Hilton The Main — to enjoy a cold beverage on a rooftop beer garden. See more ways to enjoy the water here.

Explore the Elizabeth River Trail

Hop on a bike, walk or run along the Elizabeth River Trail, a 10.5-mile urban biking and pedestrian trail built on several former railroad right-of-ways. Spend the morning or afternoon exploring the waterfront and the historic Freemason District, Ghent and Chelsea neighborhoods. Along the way, you’ll pass Plum Point Park, Weyanoke Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary, Hermitage Museum and Gardens and beautiful residential streets. See more things to do along the ERT.

Courtesy of Downtown Norfolk Council

Shop Locally

Norfolk is a city bustling with creativity, which extends to the eclectic wares and souvenirs featured at local stores. You’re likely to come across locally poured candles, leather goods, art, jewelry, clothing, accessories, home goods, plants and more during your time browsing through shops. Here’s an outline of the best gift shops, artisan wares, consignment and antique stores that are scattered throughout the city.

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13 February 2024

Outdoor Fire Pits in Norfolk

There’s something truly magical about dining outdoors with the cozy flames of a fire pit nearby. The quiet ambiance of nature punctuated by the soft crackle of fire is indeed a relaxing and romantic setting for any meal this time of year. Ready to experience it for yourself? Here are some of the hottest fire pits in Norfolk for some of the coolest evenings of the season.

Grain

Photo courtesy of Grain

Rooftop and waterfront views accompany this tabletop fire pit the whole group can huddle around. Don’t miss live music Wednesday through Sunday, happy hour Monday through Friday, and a Bloody Mary selection for Sunday brunch.

The Ghent (RoofTop)

Nothing beats pouring your own beer at this rooftop establishment in the heart of Ghent. Dine on sharables, salads, burgers, tacos and more in this open air setting where heaters and fire pits help tame the coolest of evenings in the Mermaid City.

@toastrunners, Instagram

Perro Blanco

Nestled in the Railroad District alongside local favorite Toast is Perro Blanco, a cozy mezcal bar that will be your go-to stop for a variety of tasty cocktails. With 50 mescals and 40 tequilas in stock, you’ll have your fair share of fun, innovative cocktails to try. This auto-shop-turned-hidden-gem welcomes guests to enjoy homemade corn tortilla tacos that pair perfectly with a smoky mezcal margarita. Embrace the fall and winter seasons with tacos by the fire pit on their patio!

Four Eleven York 

Picturesquely positioned in the Freemason District, Four Eleven York offers a modern and inviting atmosphere with quite an elevated dining experience and superior craft cocktails. Here, you can enjoy the lovely ambiance of the back patio (adorned with twinkle lights, no less) any time of year as their gorgeous fire pits will keep you toasty warm. Need an extra toast? Try ordering the Bartender’s Experience to have a cocktail designed in just your style.

COVA Brewing Co.

@covabrewingco, Instagram

There’s plenty to love about COVA Brewing Co, whether you’re there for the brews (both coffee and beer), the live music, the calm, coastal atmosphere or the decadent fire pits. Why enjoy just one aspect when you can have them all in one place? COVA is a splendid spot to spend an afternoon sipping by the flames.

TASTE Ghent

Priding themselves on a fantastic, Virginia-proud selection of sandwiches, salads, soups and snacks, TASTE strives for that farm-to-table perfection. This café style restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is perfect for a quick pick-up on the way to your next destination. The restaurant’s pledge to high-quality food extends to the shelves of their retail store, highlighting local Virginia foods such as cheese, gourmet munchies, fine wine and beer. Toast your feet by the fire while you munch on their savory sandwiches and sip their aromatic coffee. 

@nfkbeerpair, Instagram

Hank’s Filling Station 

Classic cocktails, plus an ever-rotating selection of beers and ciders, are best enjoyed at Hank’s Filling Station. This hip restaurant with backyard games is an ideal spot to chat by a large fire pit, order another round of Totchos or shishito peppers and try the newest beverage on tap.

@watersidedistva, Instagram

Waterside District

With multiple fire pits throughout, Waterside District’s waterfront vibes stay cozy here in Norfolk. Grab dinner or just a drink, and soak up skyline views of our neighboring city Portsmouth. 

@komodoinstincts, Instagram

Torch

The warmth from a fire pairs perfectly with Torch’s fried pimento cheese balls, served with a side of sriracha ranch. Pair your bites with a local beer, play a round of cornhole and enjoy the crackle of the fire.

Leone’s

Overlooking Norfolk’s famous Granby Street sits one of the most beloved Italian restaurants in the city, Leone’s. Admire the views from above and then cozy up on their back patio next to the fire!

Craft on Colley

Opening in late 2023, Craft On Colley serves up first-class cocktails and an amazing array of cuisine – from burgers to Asian bowls to sushi and tacos. There’s also a lovely fire pit out front for warming up with a drink.

afterglow Brewing

Founded in the Railyard of Norfolk, Afterglow is a fun, family-friendly/pet-friendly brewery crafting delicious beers and seltzers in all styles. They brew with state-of-the-art BrewHa equipment from Canada and are the first brewery to use this system in the state of Virginia. They also pride themselves on recycling their used grain to local farmers in the Hampton Roads area.

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09 February 2024

Best Brunch Spots in Norfolk, VA

From pillowy biscuits to piled-high Benedicts and waffles topped with all the fixings, brunch in Norfolk never disappoints. No matter what your taste buds are craving, these popular brunch spots have all the essentials. Gather your brunch squad, order a mimosa or Bloody Mary and get ready to dig in! 

Downtown

Canvas Social Cuisine

Excite your palate with brunch at Canvas, where they offer every option under the sun. Choose from entrees like the Sunglasses and Advil Burger or King of Norfolk Breakfast Platter (fried lobster, blackened shrimp and salmon, crab cakes, eggs and potatoes with a side of grits). Their Benedicts come with fried chicken or lobster, their French toast is available in flights, and their omelets come stuffed with all your favorites. Sweeten things up with a Down and Dirty Waffle or a festive Party Waffle. Canvas even features brunch options for kids, ranging from classic French toast or waffles to a breakfast wrap.

Grain 

Every Saturday and Sunday, locals and visitors alike flock to the fifth floor of Norfolk Hilton The Main to enjoy the rooftop brunch at Grain. The incredible views of the waterfront paired with an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet will make for a picture-perfect Sunday brunch. Enjoy specialties like fresh oysters and made-to-order omelets and tacos.

Hair of the Dog

@hotdodu, Instagram

Whether or not you’re in need of a little hair of the dog, you’re bound to find something to improve your day at Norfolk’s two Hair of the Dog locations, one Downtown and one near ODU. From classic options (eggs with bacon or sausage, home fries or grits, toast and more) to Benedicts and omelets, there’s plenty of comfort food options at this Southern-inspired eatery. That’s not to say the menu is standard. You’ll also find offerings out of the ordinary such as a Benedict flight, cookie dough pancakes and homemade meatloaf wrapped in bacon and served with mashed potatoes, spicy tomato chutney and seasonal veggies. Choose from a variety of fun mimosas and bloodies, as well as brunch shooters like jelly donut.

Stockpot

@thestockpotnorfolk, Instagram

Specializing in modern healthy comfort food, Stockpot features a menu with the freshest ingredients, good-for-you ingredients that translate to the perfect mix of guilt-free indulgence. Look for options you won’t find elsewhere like the green Shakshuka featuring tomatillo sauce, asparagus, green chickpeas, kale, herbs and a poached egg with cotija cheese and pita bread. On the sweeter side, check out their irresistible blueberry lavender French toast. When it comes to brunch cocktails, Stockpot doesn’t disappoint with a lineup of mimosas (by the glass, bottle or flight), espresso martini or Irish coffee and a classic bloody mary.

Neon Arts District

Cafe Milo

@cafe.milo_va, Instagram

Tucked within the NEON Arts District, Cafe Milo features made-to-order dishes, locally roasted coffee and baguettes from neighboring bakery La Brioche. We recommend their Savory Hash, a gluten-free mashup of potato, bacon, bell peppers, onions, mustard greens and egg, topped with red-eye gravy. Vegan and vegetarian options are also available, including Avocado Toast, avocado drizzled with Green Goddess dressing, topped with pickled onion, radish and field greens on top of Sourdough toast. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays.

Commune

Courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC)

Get a taste of Commune’s farm-to-table fare inside their open and expansive dining area with exposed brick in Norfolk’s NEON District. Start out with a pimento cheese and pickle board before diving into a cornmeal waffle, pancake stack, crispy potato bowl or sweet potato falafel. You can’t go wrong with Commune’s coffee selection, or perhaps you’d rather sip on a hummingbird or sorbet mimosa. Keep in mind that Commune is closed on Saturdays but ready to rise and shine on Sundays.

Freemason District

Four Eleven York

@fourelevenyork, Instagram

Four Eleven York knows how to whip up some fabulous dishes any time of the day, and they shine bright during rise-and-shine hours. Take advantage of life near the bay by ordering a fried oyster Benedict with Eastern Shore oysters or an oyster po-boy featuring Korean fried oysters with Asian slaw. Step on the healthy side with a farro bowl featuring carrots, peas, blistered tomatoes, creme fresh and an egg. Of course, you can’t go wrong with strawberry buttermilk pancakes served with a fresh Carolina strawberry compost. Pair these downright delicious options with a Fairy Kiss (kiwi, zirbenz, lime, sage simple syrup and Prosecco) or a perfectly spiced Bloody Mary.

Omar’s Carriage House

@omarscarriagehouse, Instagram

Originally an 1840s carriage house, Omar’s is located along the cobblestone streets of the historic Freemason District and serves up scrumptious brunch dishes such as a smoked salmon platter, Nashville Hot Chicken Sammy, Hangover Burger, or a seafood omelet. Opt for something out of the ordinary with their Moroccan Tagine, poached eggs in chermoula (light tomato sauce) with merger (lamb sausage) and breakfast potatoes.

Chelsea

Grandiflora Wine Garden

@girlintheno, Instagram

If you like your Sunday brunches to be easy, breezy and intimate, give Grandiflora a try. This vegetarian and natural wine-focused restaurant is situated in a historic home in Chelsea where owners Erin, Jason and Kenny tend to the trees, herbs and flowers that they inherited with the purchase of the property. Grandiflora is a true delight any time you visit, but Saturdays and Sundays are reserved for Turkish breakfast. Three courses take guests on a culinary and cultural journey with fresh options like cucumber salad with Greek olives and dried Turkish apricots, feta and kasseri cheese with tomato-pepper-walnut sauce and tahini-grape molasses on a baguette, and savory pastries with a fried egg. Add a wine pairing or enjoy with their specialty Turk black tea or coffee.

Colonial place

The Bird

The Bird was formed out of a deep love for breakfast classics and craft cocktails. This fusion formed the core of The Bird’s brunch, cocktail, and small plates-based menu. Grab and go, or sit and stay for a while. Any way you want, it’s at The Bird.

Railroad District

Handsome Biscuit 

@handsomebiscuit, Instagram

While this isn’t your typical brunch outing, you can ask any local for a brunch recommendation and we can guarantee that Handsome Biscuit is near the top of their list. This trendy biscuit shop popped up in 2013 and has been slinging the best breakfast sandwiches ever since. They specialize in sweet potato biscuit sandwiches, like fried chicken biscuits, pulled pork biscuits and more. Their more breakfast-forward biscuit, the Shorty (over hard egg and cheddar with the option to add thick cut bacon or pork sausage) can be paired with their hash-tots to really tie in the brunch vibe. It’s common for Handsome Biscuit to have a line out the door, but the wait is well worth it.

Toast

With a name like Toast, you know what’s on the menu, but that’s where assumptions must end. Toast makes their bread in-house and tops them with everything under the sun. Try the Eggy Dub, two soft boiled eggs on toast with cheddar and ricotta alongside bacon and a side salad, or the Smoked Salmon with creme fresh, pickled onions, tomato and capers. They also have a fantastic selection of chili and grits bowls, sandwiches and sweets. Brunch is offered Friday through Sunday.

The Fishin’ Pig

Did someone say bottomless mimosas? The Fishin’ Pig offers a choice of pineapple, orange or cranberry mimosas made fresh and ready every Sunday morning from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. starting at $16.95. These pair perfectly with the restaurant’s hearty selection of mornin’ skillets, breakfast sandwiches and specialties like biscuits and gravy, French toast sticks and chicken and waffles.

Ocean View and East Beach

Mudita Cafe & Coffeehouse

@cafe.mudita, Instagram

Mudita Cafe & Coffeehouse specializes in internationally inspired craft coffee and tea— rotating specialties seasonally—and also features a variety of brunch options. You really can’t go wrong with a sharable pancake platter, especially if it’s paired with a mimosa pitcher.

Stony’s Dockside Bar and Grille

Prefer brunch with a view? Stony’s is owned and operated by Chef Stony and Laura Johnson and is located in East Ocean View, offering complete views of the East Beach Marina. Their brunch menu offers typical dishes like Cinnamon French Toast and eggs Benedict, but they also have Southern classics like scrumptious shrimp and grits and, of course, chicken and waffles. We know Bloody Marys and mimosas are a must at any proper brunch, but try a local favorite cocktail that rivals the mimosa, the Orange Crush featuring orange juice, Sprite and flavored vodka.

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