05 October 2022

Norfolk Cemetery Tours

If you’ve never experienced a cemetery tour, Norfolk is the city in which to start. The historic cemeteries, many filled with beautiful Victorian funerary art, provide a glimpse into the past and insight into some of the notable people who shaped Norfolk into what it is today. The city is home to eight historic municipal cemeteries: Calvary Cemetery, Cedar Grove Cemetery, Elmwood Cemetery, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Hebrew Cemetery, Magnolia Cemetery, Riverside Memorial Park Cemetery and West Point Cemetery. These cemeteries are honored and educational places offering cultural and recreational resources for Norfolk’s community.

The Norfolk Society for Cemetery Conservation (NSCC) offers an array of captivating tours led by NSCC volunteers, knowledgeable historians and experienced storytellers, helping to bring the stories to life. They also host an annual “From Here to Eternity” 5K run through several of the cemeteries to raise funds for conservation efforts. Learn more about Norfolk’s cemeteries below, with information from the Norfolk Society for Cemetery Conservation.

Calvary Cemetery

Calvary Cemetery was established in 1877 as a burial ground for Norfolk’s African American citizens.  For nearly a century, most of Norfolk’s African American citizens were buried at Calvary as there were no other options available to African Americans in Norfolk until the mid-1970s. Epitaphs document the lives of every level of African American society from doctors and lawyers to sailors and laborers. Today, Calvary serves as both a place of remembrance and a chronology of the many important contributions of Norfolk’s African American citizens to the history of our great City.  

Cedar Grove Cemetery

Cedar Grove Cemetery was established in 1825 as Norfolk’s first public burial ground. Though it encompasses only 14 acres of land, Cedar Grove is a valuable cultural landscape. Along with many of Norfolk’s founding fathers, there are hundreds of Civil War soldiers and sailors laid to rest at Cedar Grove.  It is also the site of mass burials of Norfolk citizens who were victims of the 1855 yellow fever epidemic. 

Elmwood Cemetery

Elmwood Cemetery, established in 1853, is a Victorian Garden Cemetery and the final resting place for hundreds of Civil War soldiers, many of Norfolk’s founders and Virginia Governor Littleton Waller Tazewell (1774–1860). Elmwood offers several tours throughout the year

Forest Lawn Cemetery

Forest Lawn Cemetery was established in 1906 as the last of eight municipal cemeteries in Norfolk. The Langley Family Burial Ground was included in this purchase and remains a historical point of interest today with interments dating back to the 1700s. Forest Lawn boasts several fraternal and memorial lots including the Seaman’s Friend Society Lot and the U.S. Army’s 111th Field Artillery Batallion and 29th Infantry Division Memorial. Comprised of more than 165 acres of land, Forest Lawn Cemetery is a natural arboretum with over 70 species of trees including crape myrtles, black walnut trees, dogwoods, and magnolias. 

Hebrew Cemetery

Hebrew Cemetery was established in 1850 when prominent Jewish families purchased a rectangular plot fronting Princess Anne Road and extending northeastward.  At some point, the surviving graves from Tidwater’s first Jewish burial ground, Power Point Cemetery in Berkley, were transfered to this land. 

Magnolia Cemetery

Magnolia Cemetery was established in 1860 and was operated by a private cemetery corporation until the City of Norfolk purchased it in 1911.  The cemetery lies in the Berkley section of Norfolk, one of the oldest communities in Virginia. 

Riverside Memorial Park

Riverside Memorial Park was established in 1910 in the Campostella Heights area of Norfolk. The City of Norfolk purchased it in 1971. Riverside covers more than 44 acres and has a unique design, like the spokes of a wheel extending outward from a central circle creating sections shaped like pie slices. Since 1995, over 200 trees have been planted at Riverside as part of an ongoing urban forestry program. Tugboats, industrial cranes and other seafaring structures provide the backdrop to several sections at Riverside Memorial Park reminding those who visit of the importance of the ship repair industry to the City of Norfolk.

West Point Cemetery

Though the Norfolk Common Council authorized the burial of “people of colour” in a Potter’s Field in Norfolk in 1827, it wasn’t until 1873 that another Potter’s Field was established for the exclusive interment of African American citizens. Known briefly as Calvary Cemetery, this burial ground was located at the west point of Elmwood Cemetery. In 1885, with the urging of Norfolk’s first African American Councilman, James E. Fuller, Norfolk City Council changed the name to West Point Cemetery. Councilman Fuller further insisted that a section of the cemetery “…be dedicated as a special place of burial for black Union veterans…”  Thus, Section 20 was “donated to the Directors of the Union Veterans Hall Association for the burial of the members of the Grand Army of the Republic.” 

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04 October 2022

Best Wings in Norfolk

Perhaps wings are an integral part of your football season routine, or maybe you just can’t resist the sometimes-spicy, always flavorful sauces slathered on a perfectly cooked wing. A little dip in ranch or bleu cheese, a bite of a complimentary celery stick for good measure, and it’s a darn good day. While Norfolk is known for its sinfully good seafood and top-notch oyster bars, don’t think we don’t know our way around a chicken. There’s no ifs, ands or bones about it: we’ve got the wings you want. Here are some of the best restaurants for wings in Norfolk.

Alkaline

@alkalineva, Instagram

Listen, if you haven’t ordered the sticky wings from Alkaline, you’re for sure missing out. Their twice-fried Korean fried chicken wings are dipped in house sticky house and served with fried garlic. The unforgettable wings were featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and were adored by Guy Fieri just as much as locals love them. Follow an order of wings by Alkaline’s cozy, delicious ramen, and you’ll have a recipe for a perfect meal.

A.W. Shucks

Typically, we’d suggest A.W. Shucks for their seafood and raw bar, but today we’re going to persuade you to try their wings. Buffalo and chipotle wings are classics, but promise us you will at least try the Old Bay wings! Born along the Chesapeake Bay, Old Bay is a true coastal flavor. This 18 spice and herb blend pairs perfectly with seafood (but is seriously satisfying on chicken too).

Blue Moon Taphouse

@watersidedistva, Instagram

Conveniently located at Waterside District, Blue Moon Taphouse is one of the best places around for watching sports. The TVs are abundant, the beers are steadily flowing, and the wings are just how you like ’em. They’ve got boneless wings tossed in a variety of sauces including buffalo, BBQ, Bee Sting and zesty garlic parmesan. For a different variety, their sweet and spicy wings are tossed in a homemade sauce, topped with toasted sesame seeds and served with Asian slaw. No meat? No problem. The spicy buffalo or garlic cauliflower “wings” are spicy-battered, flash-fried and coated to perfection.

Bonchon Norfolk

@bonchonnorfolk, Instagram

Walk down any neighborhood in Korea and you’ll find a mom-and-pop fried chicken joint on almost every block. With years of hands-on experience with Korean cuisine, founder Jinduk Seh decided to focus on perfecting a recipe for fried chicken and share one of his country’s favorite comfort foods with the world. The result was Bonchon, Korean word for “my hometown.”

Dirty Buffalo

@lularoejenproper, Instagram

Buffalo, NY residents relocated to the great city of Norfolk and opened Dirty Buffalo, bringing their ever-famous Buffalo wing recipe with them. Dirty Buffalo offers multiple flavors and has a heat index ranging from no spice to holy moly. Voted the best wings in our region, Dirty Buffalo features bone-in, boneless and even cauliflower wings. Best time to go? Every Wednesday from 5–7 p.m. they have wings for only 89 cents. 

The Fishin’ Pig

@fishinpignorfolk, Instagram

Among the obvious fish and pig options you’ll find at this beloved barbecue restaurant, you’ll find some of the best smoked wings ever. Slow smoked, deep fried and broiled to caramelize your favorite sauce, these wings are served with fresh cucumber slices and the classic dippers. Whether you go with BBQ, mild, medium or death wish, you’re sure to leave satisfied.

My Mama’s Kitchen

Made to order, the wings from My Mama’s Kitchen are heavenly. A local favorite flavor is their garlic parmesan wings, but really you can’t go wrong with out-of-the-box options like lemon pepper gangnam, General Tso’s, blonde BBQ, buffalo soldier and mango habanero.

Orapax

@patrickevanshylton, Instagram

Known and loved as one of the region’s first Greek restaurants, Orapax delivers a fine selection of wings that have stood the test of time. Their Pegasus-Style wings are char-broiled, spiced with Greek herbs and seasonings and paired with a tzatziki sauce to cool things down. Meanwhile, their specialty sauces (buffalo, spicy bourbon or honey hot) are just as popular and come with the classic blue cheese or ranch.

Peck & Pour

Order wings by the platter! With incredible flavors to choose from and a great selection of beers, this is an awesome place to catch up with friends or watch the big game. From sweet soy, zesty orange and red chili, there’s surely something to suit everyone’s palate and spice preferences.

The Public House

@insidevirginia, Instagram

Most any local pub will serve their own version of wings, but they aren’t all guaranteed to be as delicious as the ones you’ll find at Public House. Their wings come in several options: Korean barbecue, ghost pepper, buffalo, smokey bourbon barbecue or Public House special sauce.

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28 September 2022

Haunted Norfolk

Norfolk traces its tales back to the early 17th century, soon after the first English settlers arrived in the new world. Since then, the city has seen its fair share of history (and even some haunts too). Want to learn about some of Norfolk’s eerie legends? Read about some below, and then get the full experience of visiting historic haunts and hearing the stories firsthand during one of Norfolk Tour Company’s Haunted Tours.

Moses Myers House

@alexsummy1984, Instagram

Businessman Moses Myers built this house in the late 18th century, and until it was donated to the city in the 1930s, five generations inhabited the home. Moses’ son Sam took on a major role in the family business before things took an unexpected turn. Richard Bowden, a former business partner of Moses, beat Moses in the market square in May 1811. Following the altercation, Sam, the second eldest Myers son, shot and killed Bowden at the house. Today, the house is speculated to be haunted by a figure wearing a top hat and cloak (presumably Bowden), who paces back and forth through the garden relentlessly to give his last word.​

The Wells Theatre

Opened in 1913 as the crown jewel of the Wells Brothers’ Beaux Arts theaters, the historic Wells has gone from stage to cinema to stage again, with some unsettling members of the cast and crew (or former audience members) tagging along. The spirit of a crew member who fell to his death while working on the fly system is said to roam backstage and is often blamed for missing props or doors being locked. During rehearsals, crew and cast will often be heard shouting “Stop it, Ned!” The theater’s second balcony is said to be the home of a mischievous child that can be heard laughing and running, detected by the squeak of his shoes. Finally, the Wells’ leading lady, the Woman in White, wanders the lobby, dressing rooms and a hallway while performing arias, quite the show stealer indeed.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Built in 1739, the church is the only colonial-era building in Norfolk to survive the British destruction of the city on New Year’s Day 1776. The building still carries a centuries-old cannonball embedded in its bricks, a memento from Lord Dunmore of the British Fleet. There are also said to be spiritual reminders of the past within and around its walls. The most prevalent sighting is a figure that appears in the graveyard, thought to be the ghost of Dr. Nicholas Albertson Okeson who tragically died of malaria in 1882. and was buried at St. Paul’s.

The Battleship Wisconsin

The famous battleship, largest ever operated by the U.S. Navy, is now a museum in Downtown Norfolk, a symbol of the city’s proud naval history. But one crew member has apparently stayed behind when all others left. He was working on the air conditioning system during an overhaul during the Korean War when someone turned on the unit, ending his life. Among the reports of his presence on the ship is testimony from a quartermaster 2nd class serving on board during Operation Desert Storm. Included in his report is this:


“I’m walking past the Harpoon launchers [port side] and you get that feeling that you’re being watched. That there’s somebody behind you. So, I turn around thinking it’s the aft lookout coming to me for something, so I stop and turn around and look and there’s this bright, white, wispy shadow there behind me. Now, it’s the midwatch and there was no moon that night. It was pitch black. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face it was so black. And there is now this billowy, white, shadowy sort of thing floating behind me. It sort of freaked me out. The story about the electrician—at the time I didn’t know, but I went “OK, that’s enough of that’—I turn around and start making my way forward and boom—there it is again right in front of me. And this billowy, white, shadowy thing is right in front of me, so I turn around and walked aft again towards the aft lookout and there it is again, behind me. So this time, I turn around and facing forward, I just took off running as fast as I can, back forward.”

Freemason Abbey

One of Norfolk’s long loved restaurants, Freemason Abbey was originally a church built in 1873 in the city’s Freemason neighborhood. There have been numerous paranormal accounts, particularly in the kitchen and bar area where items move around, sometimes falling off shelves, cupboards open on their own, and doors either won’t not stay open or closed. There are also those who claim to have seen a dark wandering figure and the sound of a woman weeping. And to this day, employees still end the evenings by saying “Goodnight, Mr. B,” a nod to a former owner of the restaurant who apparently still takes smoke breaks in the dry goods storeroom long after he has passed.​

The Norfolk Pagoda

The Blessing Gate arch is a landmark that promises good fortune to all who pass under it. However, when the Downtown section was part of the bustling port, the arch’s concrete slab foundation held the weight of a 5,000-gallon molasses storage drum, a sticky grave for many industrial accident victims from many years ago. To this day, many visitors comment on the smell of molasses around the gate. Could it be a message from beyond?​

The Ghost of Willoughby Spit

Along the beach of Willoughby Spit, there are countless stories of ghosts, which are usually intertwined with lost loves and those waiting for their return. One local legend is of a man who yearns to keep us safe. It is said that this ghost only appears as an omen that a hurricane is near. Stories of a mysterious dark figure on the beach were reported just before Hurricane Isabel in 2003.​

Please note: The stories depicted here have been gleaned from shared accounts, postings and collected news features. These stories have not been validated for accuracy in all cases and are meant to be shared for entertainment purposes only.

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27 September 2022

5 Reasons to Visit Ocean View in Autumn

There’s almost nothing better than visiting Norfolk’s beaches on a hot summer day—except, perhaps, visiting those same beaches during fall. When the autumn season rolls around, Norfolk’s beachy neighborhood of Ocean View transforms into a blissful experience, minus the scorching temperatures. We invite you to breathe in the brisk, salty air, feel the cool sand beneath your feet and enjoy a stroll with a warm fall beverage in hand. Here are just a few things to celebrate about Ocean View in autumn.

1. The beaches are less crowded—and you can bring your dog.

Ocean View’s sandy beaches meet the beautiful Chesapeake Bay, a perfect setting for a stroll any time of year. Dress in cozy layers to explore more than seven miles of shoreline in a calm and serene setting. Traveling with a four-legged friend? Bring Fido along! Leashed dogs are welcome on Norfolk’s beaches Labor Day through Memorial Day. Free parking is available at Community Beach ParkOcean View Beach Park, and Sarah Constant Beach Park.

2. It’s arguably the best season for flavored lattes (and flavored beers) .

@missmolllyyy, Instagram
@covabrewco, Instagram

Whether you look forward to a traditional pumpkin spice or like to turn things up a notch with maple, butterscotch and caramel, it’s the perfect season to cozy up to a coffee counter and order something hot for a brisk day. Stop by Ocean View’s Coaster Coffee and pick up a warm drink to sip on during a walk. They offer a variety of seasonal coffee, tea and other specialty menu items. Another great option is COVA Brewing Co., serving a fantastic lineup of coffees, plus beer, wine, seltzers and ciders on tap. Caffeinate to your heart’s content with one of COVA’s homemade syrups. Speaking of delicious fall beverages, it would be a shame to leave COVA Brewing not having tried their pumpkin spiced latte ale.

3. The fish are probably biting. The views are definitely worth trying.

@mniv919, Instagram

As the Chesapeake Bay cools off, the striper fishing season heats up! The striped bass season is an anticipated fall gift for Chesapeake Bay fishers. An abundance of Virginia state records for award-winning large striped bass has come from these prime fishing waters, with catches up to 70 pounds! Cast a line from shore, or find a chartered fishing excursion here. Ocean View’s famous Ocean View Fishing Pier, along with their handy tackle shop, will be open for your fishing needs until around Thanksgiving or as long as weather permits.

4. It’s barbecue season.

@bar_q, Instagram

The smell of savory smoked barbecue wafting through the crisp fall air is something we can’t get enough of this time of year. If you’re in that same frame of mind, head to Bar-Q, located at Bold Mariner Brewing Company, for a platter of something tasty, smoky and irresistible. Another favorite for barbecue is My Mama’s Kitchen. They serve brisket, pulled pork and ribs, plus catfish, mac and cheese and all your favorite Southern sides.

5. It’s also seafood season.

Just kidding; it’s always seafood season in Norfolk. But, we do love to talk about Ocean View’s seafood restaurants, including Longboards, Captain Groovy’s Grill and Raw Bar and the Ocean View Fishing Pier Restaurant. All of these traditional seafood spots are casual, welcoming and ready to warm you up with a steaming bowl of she crab soup after a chilly fall day.

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27 September 2022

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

@fourelevenyorkrestaurant, Instagram

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.

Do yoga with some new friends

@covabrewco, Instagram

Everyone in your girl group can benefit from a morning of yoga to clear the mind and soothe the soul. Know what would make the experience even more enjoyable? Goats. COVA Brewing Co. offers a series of yoga events featuring baby goats that love to wander around aspiring yogis. It’s the perfect opportunity to sneak in some exercise, take adorable photos and obviously cuddle with baby goats.

Get creative together

@themermaidfactory, Instagram

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. Always held the same weekend as wine fest, 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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26 September 2022

Rooftop Dining in Norfolk

There’s something quite magical about a rooftop dining experience. There’s the unique chance to escape the city’s hustle and bustle while very much being in the midst of it all. There’s the exclusive feeling of rising to the same level as skyscrapers and seagulls. Most enjoyably, there’s the unprecedented views of glistening water, twinkling lights and a grand cityscape. Plan to elevate your experience at these Norfolk rooftop restaurants.

Grain

The bird’s eye view from Grain is accompanied with cozy couches, oversized selfie worthy chairs, fire pits to cheers around and over 80 beers on draft. Grain is located Downtown and is Norfolk’s only rooftop beer garden offering bountiful Sunday brunches, an abundance of live music performances and happy hour ever day! Cityscape views at Grain are available year-round. The warmer months invite you to throw on your tank top and head to the rooftop deck where life-sized lawn games await while the cooler months motivate you to layer up and sip a brew cuddled around the fire.

Leone’s

The inescapable truth is that city views are better when freshly stuffed cannolis are involved. Overlooking Norfolk’s famous Granby Street sits Leone’s, one of the most beloved Italian restaurants in the city. Sip a cocktail with an Italian twist before sharing a round of appetizers with friends or a superb pasta dish for a romantic evening out and up.

Ocean View Fishing Pier Restaurant

As much as we love our cityscape views, there’s nothing like dining on the Chesapeake Bay itself. The Ocean View Fishing Pier Restaurant sits high in the air offering views for miles. Adirondack high top seats invite you to sip a fruity cocktail, enjoy a bowl of she crab soup and relish in the fact you just saw a dolphin!

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Best Coffee Shops in Norfolk, VA

Coffee is an essential part of our daily routines, so we’ve rounded up the best places to get your caffeine fix in Norfolk. Find the coffee shop that fits your personality best. Whether you’re energizing to explore the city or simply want to enjoy catching up with a friend, these are our go-to Norfolk coffee shops.

Ghent

Elliot’s Fair Grounds

806 Baldwin Ave.

Norfolk’s oldest independent coffee shop, Elliot’s Fair Grounds offers fair trade coffee, plus assorted pastries in a homey atmosphere. Bonus: they’re located right above Eleanor’s feminist bookstore and battleshop, so you can pick out a great book to enjoy with a great cup of joe.

Equinox Coffee Co.

2800 Colley Ave.

This corner café is aesthetically pleasing with natural sunlight that beams through the windows complemented by modern rustic décor. Owner TJ Harrell explains that “Equinox represents the balance of night and day, and applying that balance to our everyday lifestyle is what we want to represent.” You will experience this lifestyle in the atmosphere and drinks. Their specialty lattes change with the seasons and are created with house-made syrups and dashed with spices. Grab a seat at the bar while sipping on a classic cappuccino and soaking up the feel-good vibes. 

Kobros Coffee

419 W 21st St.
@kobroscoffee, Instagram

Twin brothers Erik and Sean grew up in Orlando, Florida before both joining the military. They always had a love for coffee, but their extensive travels around the world broadened their appetite and amplified their appreciation for the coffee bean. Now veterans, they are creating some of the most tasteful and compelling lattes in our city. While they have rotating seasonal latte flavors like Maple Squash or Camp Crystal Lake S’mores latte, they also always have some sort of citrus flavored latte on hand. This citrus element is incorporated as a tribute to their original home in the sunshine state. While their coffee shop is bursting with plants, they are extremely accommodating and friendly. It’s hard not to be an avid Kobros coffee drinker.

Chelsea

Vessel Craft Coffee

1229 W. Olney Road

Sarah Cowherd’s decision to open Vessel stemmed from her background visiting a small coffee farm in Nicaragua as a teen on Medical Missions Trips. This once online-only business started out in Selden Market (a market in Norfolk that provides local entrepreneurs with a supportive space to develop their small business) and has now moved to Norfolk’s Chelsea neighborhood. In addition to delicious food offerings (breakfast burritos, anyone?) Vessel features a unique menu of sought-after beverages including cold brew nitro on draft, fun flavors of lattes plus a variety of teas.

Freemason

Cure Coffeehouse

503 Botetourt St.
@cure_eats,Instagram

Cure Coffeehouse, a Norfolk staple, has an astounding selection of carefully crafted beverages. Located among the cobblestone streets of Norfolk and set in a historical building, Cure is constantly putting out exciting drink menus for both cocktails and coffee! Sip on a lavender mocha latte, order an avocado toast, and stroll the streets of Freemason. Check their Instagram for their latest seasonal flavored lattes and monthly events.

Ocean View/East Beach

Coaster Coffee

8418 Tidewater Dr.

Coaster Coffee is a nonprofit, community-driven coffee house in the Ocean View neighborhood of Norfolk. The owners decided to incorporate a bit of Norfolk history in their name by paying homage to Ocean View’s now defunct amusement park, which had roller coasters as a main attraction. While you no longer can find coasters in this area, the community pride remains. Be sure to meet some locals while you grab a coffee for the road or stay a while by sitting on couches with friends. The coffee beans on hand and for purchase are from local Virginia roaster, Prescription Coffee Lab.  On your way out, look for their brightly colored outdoor mural and flourishing veggie garden making for the perfect spot to have a cup of joe. 

COVA Brewing Co. 

9529 Shore Drive 

COVA is nestled in the heart of East Ocean View, also known as East Beach, and is owned by two local families whose passions brought this project to life. COVA’s building was formerly an auto repair shop but has been beautifully transformed into a coastal influenced brew-house, offering both craft beers and coffee. Cedar slatted counters imitate beachy dune fencing, and the color schemes throughout reflect the palette and sheen of sea glass. While they’ve kept the classic garage door look, you would have never guessed the building’s previous life. Their slogan, “There’s always something brewing at COVA” refers to the frothy liquids that fill their fermenters as well as their tasty craft coffees. All syrups and flavorings are homemade and pair well with their locally sourced pastries and treats!

Railroad District

Coalescence Coffee

226 W 24th St.
@coalescencecoffee, Instagram

Coalescence Coffee is paving the way for a newly imagined coffeehouse. While you might be thinking it’s their sleek, modern, well sought-after architectural design and Instagram-worthy drinks that sets them apart from many cafes, it’s actually their business model that has sparked our admiration. Coalescence is a not-for-profit coffeehouse that’s completely community driven—even their baristas double as community catalysts! You can find this one-of-a-kind coffee shop in the Railroad District, a neighborhood that is being revitalized thanks to companies like Coalescence. Before planting roots within the district, the owners chatted with local businesses and residents in this neighborhood to make sure they were wanted and needed, just another example of their community-minded model.

Mea Culpa

2410 Colonial Ave.

Most locals will suggest this café for their waffle sandwiches since the owner once ran a favorite foodie pop-up called Waffletina. However, in looking for a more permanent space, Mea Culpa was born and now has much more than decadent waffle sandwiches. Customers will find locally roasted Three Ships brewed coffee and espresso with house-made seasonal syrups that make their lattes extra special. You can also spend the day hanging out in their outdoor hammocks or on their 1906 Victorian front porch. The inside of the coffee house boasts modern, sleek vibes, which pairs well with the owners’ personable demeanors. Nosh on a waffle, sip on a coffee, sign-in to WIFI and let the relaxing day pass you by. 

Multiple Locations

Café Stella

1907 Colonial Ave. and 116 Granby St.

Café Stella, located in Ghent and Downtown, is one of the first coffee shops to pop up in Norfolk. The shop continues to produce tasty house blends and an atmosphere that’s welcoming and happening. All of their roastings are done in-house, which makes for delicious classic coffee drinks while their sweet treats are all baked from scratch. You’ll find lots of comfortable seating, lots of regulars and a homey ambiance.

Town Center Cold Pressed 

440 Monticello Ave. and 1902 Colley Ave.

An extensive but insanely straightforward and delicious menu awaits you at Town Center Cold Pressed. You’ll find everything from Nitro Brown Sugar Vanilla Lattes and superfood lattes like pistachio to their freshly squeezed juices, oatmeal and açai bowls. Waffles and bagels are also on the menu for the days when you want something heartier.

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16 September 2022

A Guide to Norfolk's Murals

With self-guided tours aplenty, and even guided tours focused on Norfolk’s NEON District, Norfolk’s art scene is not to be missed. Everything from public murals to installations on local buildings have been designed for the city. Norfolk’s burgeoning arts scene provides a platform for a multitude of artists to create public murals on local businesses showcasing the city of Norfolk. Any space, whether on a building wall, a house, a shed or even the sidewalk, can be transformed into a stunning display by local artists whose love for the city is obvious in every scene.

Upcoming Murals

Ahead of the 7th Annual NEON Festival (Oct. 20–21, 2022), several new murals are being planned and painted on Norfolk’s buildings. Watch for familiar faces and new friends as this year’s selection of artists commence projects around NEON. These new murals will be unveiled at the NEON Festival, so make plans to attend and celebrate the new and ongoing energy of Norfolk.

Gourmandizing NEON

London-based artist Matthew McGuiness and The Governor’s School for the Arts public art students will paint a mural on the side of Virginia Furniture with the theme, “A History of Lunchtime in Norfolk.”

Ghent Grab & Go Mural

Victoria Jensen and Asiko-oluwa Aderin, fine art students from NSU, were selected for a mural on the rear wall of Ghent Grab & Go that illustrates the warm feelings that food and the creation of meals inspire.

Bob’s Gun Shop Billboard Mural

Local artist Hanna Kirby will be the fourth artist to fill the rotating mural site on the billboard along Olney Road, with a design that welcomes all to the NEON.

Virginia Furniture Storefront windows

Local artist Parrish Majestic will enliven a storefront on Granby Street with colorful, temporary murals as a “selfie spot” in his signature graphic style.

Current murals

BLOOM

Artists: Carl Medley III and Charles Rasputin 

Created by two Norfolk artists, Bloom is a combination of vibrant pink roses and stark white fangs located at 801 Boush Street. The artists were inspired by the intense energy and fierce creativity of the NEON District and wanted to showcase it through this mural.

NEONing

Artist: Joan Biddle + Volunteers

Guiding you through the NEON District are colorful accents like sidewalk painted triangles and fences by Joan Biddle and volunteers. You can find them on park benches, along sidewalks and under murals, reflecting the colorful artwork found along the walls of local small businesses. These bright and vibrant pieces provide a guide for locals and visitors alike to experience the unique and creative artwork of NEON. 

@allisonk_14, Instagram

757 ENERGY & VIBE

Artist: Jerrod Ray and WKTR News 3

Visitors and locals looking for a new “Instagram worthy’ photo spot, look no further than the 757 Energy & Vibe mural by Jerrod Ray in collaboration with WKTR News 3. This vibrant colored mural highlights the unique and creative community of Hampton Roads, also called “The 757.”

@riseandshine757, Instagram

LABOR OF LOVE 

Artist: Hannah Kirkpatrick

Alongside the Glass Wheel Studio, a contemporary art facility located in the heart of The NEON, Norfolk’s Arts District Labor of Love glows in the artist’s handwriting, forming an ECG or heartbeat. This unique piece of artwork expresses the energy required to sustain one’s passion. In her practice, Hannah playfully links the transitions in technology through objects, devices and engaging experiences of art.

Razzle Dazzle

Artist: Nick Kuszyk

Paying homage to the Navy’s camouflage styles from World War I battleships, Razzle Dazzle by Nick Kuszyk covers a 3-story wall on Granby Street.

NFK Arts

Artists: Elliott Addesso and students

Many of the murals throughout the city, both inside and out of the NEON District have been collaborations between local artists and Norfolk’s Emerging Leaders Program. Some, like NFK Arts are outlined by an artist, in this case, Elliott Addesso, and then students are the ones to fill in the outline.  

Daisies

Artist: Kelsey Witt

Located in the NEON’s health and wellness center, this mural pays homage to the healing process, which can take two forms: physical or mental healing. A body’s cells must heal for rebirth, symbolized by the mural’s blooming flowers.

Solidarity 

Artist: Aimee Bruce

This piece takes inspiration from “Animal Farm” and features different animals supporting the building, including a horse, a chicken and a cat to symbolize how everyone must come together as a community in spite of our differences. 

Neighborhood Markers

Artists: Natalia Pilato with local teens and adults

Local teens and adults assisted in a “paint-by-number” process to create a 63-foot-long mural on the CHKD Thrift Store in NEON. Designed by Natalia Pilato (art education program director and assistant professor at ODU), the 1,500-square-foot artwork represents community and unity and celebrations neighborhood youths.

For more information regarding free public art tours click here. Don’t forget to tag us in your pictures! #VisitNorfolkVA

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15 September 2022

Norfolk, VA Fall Bucket List

Fall (aka sweater weather) has arrived, bringing with it a slew of fantastic events and activities, plus eats and drinks. Arguably one of the best times of year to visit Norfolk, fall means weather that’s just right, sunny days and brisk, cozy evenings and a ramped up festival season. We’ve put together some local favorite activities and recommendations for your ultimate fall bucket list in Norfolk! 

Slurp a Virginia Oyster

Sure, you can enjoy oysters from any coastal town, but have you tried a Virginia oyster? Fall is oyster season, and November is Virginia Oyster Month! Dining at one of Norfolk’s many oyster restaurants will allow you to taste the character of our waters in one quick, complex bite. 

Shop at a Witch Boutique

With crisp fall air comes pumpkins, full moons and all things spooky. So, head to Velvet Witch, a modern, witch boutique in the Freemason neighborhood where the owner is a psychic medium and professional tarot card reader. After your reading, shop the store for all your incense, crystals, candles and magic supplies. Other local options include Aries Apothecary in Riverview and The Crystal Sunflower in Freemason.

Sip a Pumpkin Spice or Fall Flavored Latte

It’s officially pumpkin spice season, but that’s certainly not the only fall flavor around. Check out our coffee guide on where to find the best cup of joe and explore menus to find your perfect sip of autumn. Go traditional with a PSL (or pumpkin spice cheesecake latte), or discover a new favorite flavor like Biscoff, coriander caramel, hickory boysenberry or whiskey brown sugar.

Oktoberfest Beers and Celebrations

Visit one of our breweries and enjoy a seasonal brew! Smartmouth Brewery has the Princess, a Märzen (copper lager) that boasts the perfect union of caramel toffee sweetness with warm, toasty maltiness. This is their version of an Oktoberfest beer that is named for the fair and fertile Princess Elizabeth (she birthed 13 royals) and is the namesake of the river that courses through our region, the Elizabeth River. Maker’s Craft Brewery, Benchtop Craft Brewing Company and Elation Brewery Company are all hosting Oktoberfest celebrations where wearing dirndls and lederhosen are highly encouraged. 

Attend a Farmers Market

Attend one of Norfolk’s seasonal farmers markets to find plenty of fresh fall produce including squashes, pumpkins and fall flavored sweet treats like cinnamon apple scones.    

Fall Flowers and foliage at Norfolk Botanical Garden

@norfolkbotanicalgarden, Instagram

Norfolk Botanical Garden is the perfect spot for a stroll with a hot latte to admire fall flowers, which include the popular Chrysanthemum (mums) which can be found in the Matson Garden. Keep in mind that our fall foliage usually does not occur until November, so you can still see green leaves in September and October. Once those leaves start to turn, the experience is nothing short of magical.

Attend a Festival 

Since Norfolk’s temperature is perfect this time of year, it makes for the best time to attend an outdoor waterfront festival. Attend the Town Point Virginia Fall Wine Festival and you’ll find yourself sipping some of Virginia’s finest grapes. That same weekend, you can also peruse paintings, pottery, jewelry and more from artists local, regional and beyond at the Stockley Gardens Fall Arts Festival. Another great option is the NEON Festival celebrating Norfolk’s very own arts district. For more of our fall festivals, click here.

Attend a Football Game or Watch it on the Big Screen

Football season has arrived, and our friends at Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University are just waiting for you to cheer them on! Attend one of their home games to feel the Norfolk spirit, or if you’re looking to cheer on your favorite college or NFL team, head to Waterside District. They broadcast the games on massive screens while selling plenty of wings and beer for you to enjoy.  

Indulge in fall treats

Head to one of our bakeries or restaurants for scrumptious seasonal desserts. You will find everything from traditional apple pie from Stockpot to pumpkin cheesecake brownies from Bar-Q Desserts and cinnamon roll blondies from The Bonbonnier. If you’re a fanatic ice cream lover all year long, Strawberry Fields creates some amazing fall flavored gelato like oatmeal cream pie and butterscotch walnut.

@sugarandgrace.co, Instagram 

Breathe in those fall scents

Sugar and Grace Co., located within Selden Market, offers a bounty of autumnal scents like pumpkin apple latte candle. They also offer candle making workshops throughout the season, so grab a friend, create a fall scented candle and label it as you like.

Explore the Elizabeth River Trail (ERT)

As cooler temperatures make their debut in Virginia, strolling the ERT is much more enjoyable. Whether you walk, bike, run or picnic along the ERT, relax your day away by listening to the swaying of the fall leaves. For chillier days, don’t forget to treat yourself to a City With Bite sweatshirt from our Mermaid Market, just two blocks off of the trail across from the Marriott Waterside hotel.  

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08 September 2022

The Ultimate Guide to Seafood in Norfolk

From the Chesapeake Bay to the Elizabeth River, Norfolk is surrounded by water; we have 144 miles of shoreline to be exact. This means an abundance of fresh seafood is available in our restaurants. You can find seafood in almost every form, including raw, grilled, baked, sautéed, boiled and fried to please everyone’s seafood flavor palate. Below are the best seafood restaurants in Norfolk.

Downtown

456 Fish

456 Fish, located downtown on Norfolk’s “restaurant row,” is famous for its potato chip-crusted crab cake. The entrée is served with a huge scoop of garlic whipped potatoes, locally sourced vegetables and a special “Inner Beauty” remoulade.

Freemason Abbey 

Freemason Abbey encompasses three pillars of our city: astounding art, rich history and a thriving culinary scene. The building that Freemason is housed in was once a church and dates back to 1873, making it one of the oldest establishments in the city. You will see that the restaurant’s stained glass windows are stunning works of art and original to the building. The seafood here is celebrated and awarded. Most popular is their award-winning she crab soup. Another scrumptious dish is the seafood fantasia (shrimp and sea scallops sautéed with peppers and onions, tossed with linguini in a white wine Old Bay cream sauce and topped with lump crab meat). 

@saltinenorfolk, Instagram

Saltine

Hilton Norfolk’s The Main hotel houses three restaurants including the popular seafood restaurant Saltine, located at street level. Saltine offers an airy, open environment, with garage door windows that open to the main streets of downtown Norfolk. We recommend their VA Blue Crab Cake appetizer served with a celeriac remoulade and their whole roasted stuffed trout served with scallop mousse line, succotash, pickled watermelon rind relish and watermelon molasses.

Todd Jurich’s Bistro

This downtown bistro has been open since 1992 and offers rotating seasonal menus. Chef Todd Jurich uses only the freshest ingredients from local vegetable gardens and Virginia produce farms. The Bistro holds the Triple AAA Four Diamond Award and serves hand-harvested oysters from Virginia’s Eastern Shore that are served on the half shell, fried or in his famous oyster stew. 

Norfolk Seafood Company & Big Easy Oyster Bar

A bi-level seafood restaurant that is tucked away off Granby Street is Big Easy, as locals call it. They have a speakeasy-style atmosphere in their downstairs dining room with a full mahogany bar and a more upscale scene on the upper level. No matter which floor you dine on, their menu offers seafood with a cajun creole twist.  

@feastforks, Instagram

Stripers

With beautiful, sweeping views of the Elizabeth River, Stripers offers a variety of fresh catch seafood inside the Waterside District. Their outdoor patio makes for the best ambiance when slurping down an oyster or snacking on their bacon-wrapped scallops. Entrees range from light mahi tacos to more filling dishes like their seafood pasta (shrimp, scallops, mussels, tomatoes and spinach in a white wine butter sauce over penne pasta and served with toasted bread). 

Historic Ghent

@poplo231, Instagram

AW Shucks Raw Bar and Grill

Located in the heart of Norfolk’s Ghent neighborhood, AW Shucks is an unpretentious, shanty seafood restaurant where locals can be found. Their laid-back atmosphere makes slurping down a fresh oyster most enjoyable. Their seafood selection is endless, and their raw bar is extensive with locally caught oysters, shrimp, crab, clams and mussels.

@crudonudo_nfk, Instagram

Crudo Nudo

Take advantage of the stunningly spectacular prepared raw fish (crudo) available at this Ghent restaurant that specializes in Spanish tapas. Choose from raw salmon, tuna or bay scallop, each prepared in a special blend of oils and seasonings. Prefer cooked over crudo? They’re well known for their octopus with marinated white beans, mussels with chorizo and saffron broth, or sautéed shrimp or calamari.

OFF THE HOOK

Off the Hook’s casual atmosphere makes a great place for family dinners. They have fresh, raw, steamed and fried seafood. Some of their offerings include crab dip, mussels, seared sesame tuna, shrimp and fish tacos, crab cakes, seaside fettuccine and more. For the land lovers, Off the Hook has a great selection of meat entrees.

Railroad District

The Fishin’ Pig

Known for both seafood and barbecue, The Fishin’ Pig couples the finest from land and sea to offer a menu that’s pleasing to all. Their seafood appetizers include Better Than Bang Bang Shrimp and blacked ahi tuna. Entree favorites are creole baked salmon, Billy’s seafood platter, Caribbean jerk redfish, plus baskets with either fried Alaskan pollock or catfish. Finally, their delicious shrimp, catfish or blackened tuna can be found on tacos, salads and sandwiches.

Ocean View and East Beach

Longboards East Beach

Longboards sits on the docks of East Beach Marina, where their Hawaiian tiki decor will make you want to relax and sip a Mai Tai all day long. Their seafood dishes range from fish tacos and seafood platters to their big fish sandwich (fried, wild-caught Atlantic cod, lettuce and tomato topped with sunset remoulade sauce). Or, go all in with their crab and bacon burger.

Stony’s Dockside Bar & Grill

Looking for a water view with your seafood? Then head to Stony’s! They have a great screened-in outdoor space to keep the summertime buzzing of bugs away from you while you dive into their seafood mac and cheese (lobster, scallops, crab and shrimp tossed in cajun cream sauce). Also a hit with the locals is their fresh catch sandwich!

Captain Groovy’s Raw Bar & Grill

Dive down into the local culture to discover the buried treasure known as Captain Groovy’s, a haven for the hungry, thirsty and sandy. Their breezy atmosphere, friendly staff and appetizing morsels have earned a place in the hearts and taste buds of locals and visitors alike.

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