16 July 2024

The Best International Cuisine in Norfolk, VA (According to the Locals)

You will quickly find that Norfolk is a melting pot of cultures originating from its Naval base and large shipping port; resulting in lots of authentic international cuisine. With more independently owned restaurants per capita than almost any city in the US, it is difficult to highlight all the amazing international foods we have to offer so here are some local favorites to help get you started! 

La Brioche

Recently relocated to the heart of Norfolk’s Ghent District, La Brioche has quickly grown into a favorite French café among locals and visitors alike. Before moving to Norfolk from France, the bakery’s owner, Jacqueline, would consistently visit her sister in the 757 and ask, “where can I get a good croissant?” The simple question eventually sparked the idea for her and her husband to open a bakery of their own in Norfolk. Now the aroma of freshly baked bread will hit you as you open the front door while the owner’s personalities are overly welcoming. Find freshly baked croissants, chocolate and almond flavored eclairs, daily sandwich options and of course, classic warm baguettes to go. 

@_nomarama_, Instagram

Mr. Shawarma

Served cafeteria-style, Mr. Shawarma is arguably the best Middle Eastern street food in the area, offering fresh falafel, warm pita bread and flavored hummus including spicy Jalapeno Cilantro and Habanero Chili. You can also choose classic sauces to top your meal like Garlic Sauce, Tahini dressing and Amba Sauce (a pickled mango sauce with a mildly, spicy kick) to enhance the flavor palate and bring an extra richness to your dish. Not sure how to create the best tasting pita or bowl? Ask one of their friendly staff members for recommendations and they will be happy to help!

Yummy Wok

For many, Christmas dinner means ham or roast beef, gently carved at the family dinner table while festive trimmings adorn the table. For others, Yummy Wok is THE go-to place for a holiday meal, or any time of year, for that matter. Tucked away on Brandon Ave. just off Colley Ave. in the ever-walkable Ghent neighborhood, Yummy Wok serves up authentic (and delicious) Chinese fare such as Wonton soup, fried rice, chop suey, chow mein, lo mein and an endless list of meat dishes most days from lunch until 10 p.m. (10:30 p.m. on weekends.)

French Bakery & Delicatessen

This Lebanese deli and bakery has been family-owned-and-operated for the past 111 years serving traditional classic deli sandwiches that pair with some of the sweetest dessert treats. You will find owner, George Habid Jr., behind the counter keeping his family tradition alive by pouring his heart and soul into each customer’s order including their most known, melt-in-your-mouth, pastrami sandwiches. Each one is made with homemade french bread that is baked in the original stone oven. Inside you will find what feels like a simpler time with black-and-white family photos personalizing the walls, a retro Coca-Cola refrigerator and glass display cases showing off dozens of sweet treats. Local tip: the orange donuts are to die for and sell out quickly each day, so get there early!

Luce

Luce’s intimate setting that is paired with a contemporary twist on authentic Italian food makes it the ideal place for a romantic evening downtown. Their food profiles are exquisite, taking inspiration from both the northern and southern regions of Italy. Some of their favorites include Mushroom Toast (Portobello, white and cremini mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, truffle oil, porcini dust and Madera), Wild Boar Ragu (Ground Cinghiale ragu over our house made tagliatelle pasta topped with roasted pulled Cinghiale with rosemary infused oil) and of course, all the divine desserts. Their dessert menu is ever changing but to put it simply, it’s molto buono!

Crudo Nudo

At Crudo Nudo, you will find yourself asking, “should I nibble on a classic Catalan tapa (spinach, raisins and pine nuts), or dig into a plate full of Charred Spanish Octopus?” Lucky for you, Chef-owner, Eric Nelson has “A Taste of Spain” option on the menu that highlights the best tapas for sampling. Eric has always loved the simplistic flavor profiles of Spanish cuisine and wanted to share the culture’s food with his Norfolk community. You’ll find cod prepared several ways on the menu since this is Eric and his wife’s fish dish from their honeymoon in Spain. Don’t forget to quench your thirst with Spanish wines and chilled cervezas and to please your sweet tooth with espressos and crème de Catalan.

@heatheraee, Instagram

Grace O’Malleys Irish Pub

Norfolk’s only Irish pub, Grace O’Malley’s is centrally located in the heart of downtown and arguably the most authentic international restaurant in the city. Everything in the pub was shipped directly from Ireland; the mahogany woodwork, the light fixtures and even the tile. The owners were determined to give customers a true Irish experience and exceeded expectations with their imported atmosphere, authentic menu and live Irish performers of Gaelic song and dance – you truly feel like you’re in Ireland. Devour traditional dishes like Shepherd’s Pie, made with homemade Guinness brown gravy or their Corned Beef Irish Sub, made with their signature Paddy Old Irish Whiskey sauce. Pair your meal with Guinness and before you know it you’ll be saying, “Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!” 

Monastery Restaurant

This Czechoslovakian restaurant has lived on Granby Street for over 30 years, making it one of Norfolk’s oldest and most beloved restaurants. Its brick exterior and stained glass facade blend beautifully into Granby Street’s historic esthetic. Once you locate the restaurant, open the rustic wooden door and you will immediately feel like you stepped into a traditional European dining room. With its dark wooden modelings, dimmed chandeliers, wooden antique chairs, deep red table cloths paired with fresh smells of homemade goulash and owners Adolf and Anna welcoming you into their beloved establishment, you will no longer need to jump on a plane to get a taste of Eastern Europe. Their menu items are tantalizing, and classic dishes await like their La Raclette Valaisienne appetizer (crisped Raclette cheese served on a sizzling plate with lyonnaise potatoes, capers and thinly sliced pickles), Wiener Schnitzel, Cassoulet Maison (a rich, slow-cooked navy bean casserole containing beef, artisan ham and homemade smoked sausage which gives it a rich smoky flavor). End your meal with a sweet bite, a warm Palacinki which comes stuffed with seasonal fruit and cottage cheese.

Tamarind

Tucked among shopping malls in our Military Highway neighborhood, Tamarind is an unpretentious restaurant serving up the most authentic – and only – Indian street food in the area – Chaat. Chaat is an assorted savory snack typically served at every roadside track, from big outlets to small carts in India, Pakistan and rest of South Asia. Their menu may be intimidating to those who have never dipped their taste buds into Indian street food before, but rest assured, this family-owned and operated restaurant will guide you through any hesitations and answer any questions you may have. Try dishes like their Samosa, a crispy pastry stuffed with cumin potato, peas, coriander and served with tamarind and mint chutney, Gobi Manchurian, cauliflower coated in a Manchurian sauce which is made from scratch, or settle for a classic Curry Chicken with Rice. And while an Indian restaurant’s curry spiced air sparks memories of flavorsome meals, it’s their scrumptious homemade cuisine they purposely brought to Norfolk that will keep you coming back for more.

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15 July 2024

A Weekend in Downtown Norfolk

Downtown Norfolk is the perfect destination for a fun-filled weekend. It’s got with never-ending historic sites, attractions, a waterfront, tours and endless places to munch and mingle. Make sure you stop by the VisitNorfolk Visitor Center for free maps, guides and recommendations to help you make the most of your stay here. While you’re here, browse our Mermaid Market to find some Norfolk- and Virginia-centric gifts to remember the best moments.

While strolling through Downtown and visiting these destinations, you can check into the spots through our Discover Downtown Pass and earn your way to some Norfolk freebies. You will earn free swag for every five check-ins; no purchase required. Download the free pass here!

Friday 

3 p.m. Welcome to Norfolk

Courtesy of Pedego Bikes

Downtown Norfolk is filled with many attractions and shops, but one of the best parts is the city’s bikeability. Venture to Pedego bike shop, located within MacArthur Square, for electric bike rentals to explore our 12 tight-knit blocks—water views of the Elizabeth River,  the Cannonball TrailHarbor Park, the Battleship Wisconsin and Freemason District are all among the things you may see while rolling through our streets.

5:30 p.m. Rooftop Italian Cocktail

Once you’re tuckered out from pedaling, make your way to Leone’s on Granby Street for a pre-dinner cocktail. It’s Norfolk’s only Italian rooftop restaurant and offers sweeping views of Norfolk’s famous historic Granby Street. Cocktails are classics with an Italian twist: Mojito Italiano, Limoncello Martini and Margarita Italiano, for example. Wines and beers are available as well.

@leones_norfolk, Instagram

7 p.m. Dinner

@codex_va, Instagram

Next, head to Codex, a modern American eatery featuring a fabulous selection of farm-to-table dining that mixes upscale food and a resolutely casual vibe. They serve rare and hard-to-find beers and wines, as well as curated cocktails. Start out with oysters served with yuzu mignonette, or go for a twist on a Southern favorite like pimento cheese or a chicken liver tart with a pistachio crust. For entrees, you’ll find anything from freshly caught seafood to top-notch burgers.

Saturday

9 A.M. BREAKFAST and Coffee

Today will be busy, but fueling up at Stockpot will give you all the energy you need to make it through a full day of exploration. Stockpot’s menu is all about healthy comfort foods created with fresh ingredients that are full of nutrients. You won’t feel guilty eating options like their Southender, a rosemary biscuit with house-made sausage, pimento cheese, an over-easy egg and a side of strawberries. Their vegan chocolate oats bowl features cocoa-coconut overnight oats, sliced banana, honey and toasted hemp seed. 

10:30 a.m. Shopping

Now, onto shopping. One of Stockpot’s exits feeds you directly into Selden Market, an eclectic, historic shopping hall that features local artisans, chefs and new pop-up shops weekly. Because it is ever-changing, you’ll see new vendors each time you visit. Shoppers may find an assortment of offerings like handmade leather goods, unique jewelry, candles, international cuisine and more. 

1:30 p.m. Cheese for Lunch 

Now, head over to the Freemason District to grab one of the best baguette sandwiches in the city. Virginia Cheese Company offers lunchtime bites on fresh, locally made breads. Their Lemon Whipped Feta features turkey, bacon, tomato, arugula and lemon whipped feta served on a warm baguette. While we love their classic sandwiches, they are best known for their cut-to-order cheese counter. Their variety is endless and the best place to create a custom cheese board. They also sell wine, ciders, spreads, crackers and more! 

2:30 P.M. A COFFEE PICK-ME-UP

Neighboring The Virginia Cheese Co. is a Norfolk favorite, Cure Coffeehouse. Cure is a petite kitchen in historic Freemason District that turns out amazing coffee concoctions, pastries and more. They exclusively serve Counter Culture Coffee from Durham, N.C. and take pride in the shop’s comfortable, laid back and welcoming environment.

3 p.m. Tour a Historic Home

Now that you’re fully caffeinated, explore the Hunter House Victorian Museum built in 1894 for local merchant and banker James Wilson Hunter and his family. It was designed and built in the Richardsonian Romanesque style and serves as a rich example of Victorian decorative arts and architecture. Be sure to call ahead to schedule a tour. 

4 p.m. Explore the Elizabeth River Trail  

Walk or bike along the Elizabeth River Trail (ERT). This 10.5-mile urban trail takes you from Norfolk State University through Downtown, past the Battleship Wisconsin through the Freemason District all the way to the Lochhaven neighborhood where you will find the Hermitage Museum.

6 p.m. Tuxedo Dining

Time to slow down for the day and enjoy dinner and drinks. After freshening up, head to Gershwin’s, a swanky piano lounge along Granby Street. While there is no fancy dress code required, their wait staff dons tuxedos to coincides with their speakeasy scene. Gershwins serves up elevated dishes and specialty cocktails like their Grand Illumination, Makers Mark smoked directly in front of you with cherry wood. While your taste buds are relishing one of their New York Strip steak entrees, your earbuds will be humming to the tunes of Frank Sinatra or Cole Porter music. 

7:30 Rooftop Brews

Traveling Newlyweds for VisitNorfolk

Once the meal is complete, take a stroll down brightly-lit, historic Granby Street and make your way to Norfolk’s high-end rooftop beer garden, Grain. Grain has sweeping views of the Elizabeth River, a birds-eye view of Granby Street and a unique head-on perspective of the Downtown icon, the Battleship Wisconsin. Grain hosts live music as well, with live performers ranging from country to rock. While Grain has more than 50 beers on tap, know that they save spots for local breweries for you to try. 

Sunday

9 a.m. Morning Moment of Zen

Stroll the picturesque gardens that surround the Pagoda, a vibrant iconic Tawainese building located along the Elizabeth River Trail, where bamboo sways with the wind and water rushes through fountains, making for the perfect zen morning in the heart of Norfolk. 

@fourelevenyork, Instagram

10 a.m. Donut Forget to Brunch  

Once your morning walk is over, head to Four Eleven York for brunch, and bring your appetite! They put together some incredible classic brunch dishes like their French Toast made with housemade brioche topped with maple syrup. Their more unique meals like fried oyster Benedict features Wicked Salt oysters, crispy bok choy, English muffin and hollandaise. Oftentimes, Four Eleven treats guests to something truly special: their house-made doughnuts created in a variety of yummy flavors.

12:30 p.m. Explore a Historic Fort for Free

A final site to see, Fort Norfolk is the last remaining of 19 harborfront forts authorized in 1794 by President George Washington. In the Civil War, Confederate forces seized the fort and used its magazine to supply the CSS Virginia (Merrimack) during its battle with the USS Monitor. In 1862, the fort was recaptured by the Union Army and used as a prison. Guided tours are available from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. 

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01 July 2024

Things to do in Norfolk 4th of July Weekend

Whether you’re locally throwing a backyard barbecue with friends and family or traveling into the city for the long weekend, these are the best ways to celebrate the July 4th Weekend in Norfolk, VA.

Watch a Fireworks Show

4TH OF JULY GREAT AMERICAN PICNIC & FIREWORKS

Festevents is hosting its annual 4th of July Great American Picnic & Fireworks at Town Point Park. Relax on the lawn and enjoy an evening of class fare including hot dogs, hamburgers, barbecue, seafood, cotton candy and much more, along with live musical entertainment from military brass bands! Stick around until 9:30 p.m. for a spectacular fireworks display over the beautiful Elizabeth River!   

JULY 4 FIREWORKS CRUISE ON THE AMERICAN ROVER

Experience the mesmerizing Downtown Norfolk fireworks from the water as you embark on a 4th of July Fireworks Cruise on the American Rover. After a quick tour of the inner harbor, you’ll have an incredible view of the region’s best fireworks show. Plus, enjoy music on board with a live acoustic guitarist.

NORFOLK’S 4TH OF JULY FIREWORKS ABOARD THE VICTORY ROVER

Looking for a unique way to celebrate the 4th of July this year? If you’re hoping to catch Norfolk’s iconic fireworks display without pushing your way through the crowds, book a ticket aboard the Victory Rover for an up close and personal experience that you can share with family and friends. Watch the lights popping above you in complete comfort with their variety of comfortable seating options on the open-air upper deck. Before the show starts, enjoy a quick tour of the inner harbor where you can glimpse views of Olde Towne Portsmouth, Waterside, Town Point Park and more. After a quick tour of the inner harbor, you’ll have an incredible view of the region’s best fireworks show!

4th of July Fireworks Signature Dinner cruise

City Cruises’ Signature Norfolk 4th of July Fireworks Dinner Cruise is the ultimate way to kick off summer’s biggest celebration. The spectacular Norfolk fireworks will captivate you as you enjoy the show from your front row seats on the water. Savor a delicious, chef-prepared buffet and gorgeous views of Norfolk’s spectacular architecture while soaking in the beautiful summer weather.

Have a Beach Day in Ocean View

@m.blankenship, Instagram

Pack your cooler with the best refreshments, beach toys and towels and head to Ocean View, Norfolk’s beach neighborhood, for a day by the water! Enjoy the hottest summer holiday with your toes in the sand, drink in hand and your favorite beach vibe music. Because Norfolk’s beaches are along the Chesapeake Bay, the beaches in Ocean View offer calm waters and small waves, making it the perfect place for floating and a fantastic spot for smaller children to enjoy the water. 

Enjoy Classic Fare

Pendulum Fine Meats

What’s a backyard barbecue without grilling up some of the finest meats in town? Head to Pendulum Fine Meats where you can grab fresh ground beef for that juicy burger and creatively flavored sausage links. Step up your grilling game by throwing 60-day dry aged steaks (Porterhouse, Ribeye, and NY strips) onto the fire. They sell local wines and beers too!

Doumar’s

What is more American than enjoying a freshly scooped ice cream atop a waffle cone that was made on the world’s first waffle cone machine? Abe Doumar, founder of Doumar’s, invented the first ever waffle cone in 1904. To this day, the original four-iron waffle machine is still in use and cooking up warm waffle cones daily. Take the whole family, pup included, to this retro drive-in diner for a freshly made waffle cone and a scoop of your favorite ice cream flavor.

Barbecue

@redwoodsmoke, Instagram

Don’t feel like grilling? Leave it to the pros by heading to one of Norfolk’s tasty barbecue restaurants. Try Texas-inspired brisket from Redwood Smoke Shack or a pulled pork sandwich from Bar-Q, conveniently located at Bold Mariner Brewing Company.

Head to a Brewery 

@covabrewco, Instagram

Crack a cold one with friends and family at one of Norfolk’s beloved breweries. Sit and enjoy a brew at a beer garden at Maker’s Craft Brewery, or pick up a six-pack of craft beer for your Independence Day party! Don’t forget to check out our Brew Hop Pass for discounts as you taste your way through the city!

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27 June 2024

Hot Out? Best Things to Do Indoors in Norfolk, VA

Norfolk is known for its sprawling water views and outdoor activities, but when the weather or the mood calls for some indoor fun, we’ve got options! Whether you’re looking to sit down for a bite or a drink, explore some of Norfolk’s indoor attractions, create something new or shop for that perfect outfit or souvenir, you’ll have everything you need to spend a day indoors in Norfolk. Here are our picks for best things to do indoors in Norfolk.

Eat & Drink

Hot and humid?

A.W. Shucks

During the beloved summer months, Norfolk can bring some hot and steamy days where there’s nothing better than a light meal and place to cool off. For lunch or dinner, opt for fresh, local seafood at A.W. Shucks, or meander into Waterside District, where a plethora of foodie options are available with a view of the Elizabeth River. Dig in to creamy gelato at Strawberry Fields, where flavors are made fresh daily, then stop by Mermaid Winery and catch a buzz with a refreshing flight of white wines or visit COVA Brewing Company for an iced latte or cold beer.

RAINY OR COLD?

@alkalineva, Instagram

Looking to get cozy during a cold or rainy day? Try some of our favorite comfort food restaurants! Indulge in authentic ramen at Alkaline, grab made-from-scratch soups and rosemary biscuits at The Stockpot Norfolk, warm up with the spices of Indian Chaat street food at Tamarind or take a seat at Grilled Cheese Bistro with one of their gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Foodie tip: Enhance your grilled cheese with an order of fresh tomato bisque.

Explore

Museums

Chrysler Museum of Art

Discover Norfolk’s maritime history at the Hampton Roads Naval History Museum located inside Nauticus on the second floor, peruse paintings, dolls and glass art at the Barry Art Museum, view a permanent collection of objects representing 30 countries at the Hermitage Museum & Gardens, or explore over 30,000 original works of art that span more than 5,000 years at Chrysler Museum of Art. All venues offer free admission every day.

Performance Venues

Wells Theatre

Later in the day, you can catch live music at The NorVA, named the No. 1 concert venue in the country by a 2013 Rolling Stone readers’ poll. Or, you can watch local artists shine while enjoying a tasty craft beer at Smartmouth Brewing Company’s warehouse entertainment space. Check out the latest musical, comedy and theater performances at some of Norfolk’s top venues including Chrysler Hall, Harrison Opera House, Attucks Theatre, Wells Theatre or Little Theatre of Norfolk.

Indoor Fitness

If you’re wanting to get active, try Latitude Climbing + Fitness, where adults can participate in bouldering and yoga while kiddos can tire themselves out in the kids’ corner or throughout the gym with your supervision.

Sit Back and Watch

@tiffagtv, Instagram

Finally, kick back and relax while watching a Norfolk Admirals hockey game at Scope Arena, or enjoy an Indie film at the NARO Expanded Cinema.

Create

Chrysler Museum Perry Glass Studio

Feeling creative? Make your way to the Chrysler Museum’s Perry Glass Studio for a glass blowing class, or catch a free demonstration every Tuesday through Sunday at noon. If playing with fire isn’t your thing, paint and decorate your very own Norfolk mermaid at the Mermaid Factory, or get your hands dirty throwing clay at All Hands Pottery. Plant lovers will delight in building their own bouquets or picking up a new plant baby at Nine-Twenty-Two (formerly Horticulture Design Co.) Check out their open workshops to create something fun like a tabletop garden or kokedama (Japanese moss ball).

The creativity doesn’t stop there. You can paint your own pottery at Color Me Mine, design a beautiful wooden sign for your home or office at Board & Brush or delight in a combination or painting plus wine at Pinot’s Palette.

Shop

Malls, Outlets and Markets

Treat yourself to unique shopping at Selden Market, a historic indoor arcade where you will find a mix of local businesses that specialize in everything from handmade leather goods and jewelry to soy candles and streetwear fashion. Across the street, be sure to check out MacArthur Center mall, offering a full movie theater for your entertainment.

Out toward the Norfolk International Airport you’ll find the 331,000-square-foot IKEA where you can wander through Swedish home furnishings until your heart’s content. Nearby, Norfolk Premium Outlets features the styles and brands you like at prices you’ll love.

Shop Local

Less Than

Head to Ghent where you’ll find a lovely collection of locally owned shops. Texture is great for gifts, baby items, home decor, women’s clothing and accessories. Decorum Furniture has all the home furnishings you need, plus a fantastic gift shop with unique wares. Kitsch is the place to go for locally and regionally made jewelry, wall art, greeting cards, accessories, baby items and decor. Less Than inspires us to put a green foot forward with their eco-friendly and sustainable home products. White Rabbit is the go-to for secondhand children’s and baby clothing, plus brand new kid gifts. Le Marche is a French-forward boutique with plates and serving ware, home decor, child and baby items and gourmet chocolates and nibbles.

The NEON District offers opportunities to buy plants at Plant Norfolk, while Downtown is home to Selden Market and, of course, all the original Norfolk and Virginia souvenirs you could want at VisitNorfolk’s own Mermaid Market.

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20 June 2024

Ways to Enjoy the Water When Visiting Norfolk

Summer is the perfect time to make a splash with a visit to Norfolk, one of the world’s great port cities. With the Chesapeake Bay and gorgeous rivers in our backyard and 144 miles of shoreline, you’re never far from the water in Norfolk. Here are a few great things to do on the water during your visit.

Go Sailing

@lisadenoia, Instagram

The Sail Nauticus First Sail experience is an introduction to sailing in a casual setting. Up to three students and an instructor will learn how to harness the winds and steer the boat on a course. All students will receive online access to Chapter 1 of a U.S. Sailing book after signing up. If you are wondering what it takes to sail and want to learn more, this is the course for you! It’s a great way to unwind or just give yourself a unique experience.

Have a Beach Day

@suemangan, Instagram

Ready for a swim? Norfolk has three beaches in the laid-back Ocean View and East Beach neighborhood that are perfect for swimming, lounging and building sand castles. Public beach access includes Sarah Constant Beach Park, just east of 4th View Street, Community Beach Park and Ocean View Beach Park, farther east near Norfolk Avenue. 

Cruise Away for Brunch, Lunch or Dinner

See incredible views of the Norfolk Harbor and the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet aboard City Cruises Norfolk. Enjoy a delicious buffet and specialty drinks. Then, dance to DJ entertainment or relax on the rooftop lounge. It all adds up to the perfect Norfolk experience. Available year-round from Downtown Norfolk, City Cruises offers lunch, brunch, dinner, cocktail, moonlit cruises and more. 

Go Fishing!

@gabriella_hoffman, Instagram

No matter what your choice of the fresh catch may be, you’re sure to find it in the nearby Chesapeake Bay, home to a host of saltwater fish, including trout, flounder, cobia, croaker, red drum and striper. The Ocean View Fishing Pier offers a unique and enjoyable experience, with fishing license included in the cost of admission, equipment available for rent, on-site facilities and restaurant and head boat excursions departing once or twice daily. 

Board and Tour a Tall Ship

Jennifer Collins Photography for VisitNorfolk

Want to get a lay of the land from the water? Then you’ll want to set sail aboard Norfolk’s own tall sailing ship, the American Rover. This three-masted topsail schooner with its familiar red “tanbark” sails has been a signature sight along the Elizabeth River and Hampton Roads Harbor since 1986, offering one-and-a-half and two-hour narrated Harbor or Sunset Cruises, April through October. 

Step off the Garden Path

@madnessjackson, Instagram

Norfolk Botanical Garden offers more than strolls through beautiful landscapes. This must-see attraction also offers Sunset Kayaking guided tours along Lake Whitehurst. Enjoy a relaxing paddle with experienced guides as you explore the world of plants and animals inhabiting the shores and waters. Kayaks, paddles and safety equipment is provided. No experience necessary. Visit their website for details and tour schedules. 

Cruise by the Base

The Victory Rover is your front row seat to the U.S. Navy’s Norfolk-based fleet. Departing from a berth just a short walk along the Downtown Norfolk Harbor from Nauticus, the Victory Rover offers a 2-hour narrated naval base tour. Passengers will witness the majesty of the Navy’s aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, guided missile cruisers and other vessels that make up the world’s most powerful sea-going armada. 

Partake in sunsets on the river

The Hermitage Museum & Gardens is simply the place to be on Thursday nights during the summer. Guest can enjoy live music, interactive activities, drinks for purchase, dinner from a variety of food trucks and the beauty of the grounds.

Rent a Boat

@electrifiedmarina, Instagram

Take the opportunity to be your own captain when you rent a vessel for a couple hours through Electrified Marina. Pack a picnic and enjoy this environmentally green way to celebrate a special occasion, admire stunning waterfront homes and experience a diverse array of boats or simply catch a sunrise or sunset out on the water

Keep Calm and Paddle On

@norfolkkayaks, Instagram

Norfolk Kayak Rentals offers a unique way to explore the beautiful Lafayette River. Spend some time bird watching, seeing fish jump out of the water and perhaps meeting some other friendly paddlers as you enjoy a fun experience for all ages!

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18 June 2024

Best Outdoor Things to Do in Norfolk, VA

With an abundance of outdoor activities, Norfolk is the perfect destination to enjoy some sunshine. From exploring our gardens to setting sail along the Chesapeake Bay, there is a variety for you to explore. You won’t want to miss these top outdoors things to do in Norfolk, VA.

Gardens

Norfolk is home to plenty of lush green spaces, including the largest botanical garden in Virginia. No matter what time of year you’re visiting, there’s a beautiful assortment of greenery to peruse at these locally loved gardens.

HERMITAGE MUSEUM AND GARDENS

The Hermitage Museum and Gardens offers visitors a dose of history, art and horticulture all in one spot. With the Hermitage sitting right on the Lafayette River, it’s a perfect backdrop for a day spent outdoors! During the warmer months, be sure to check out the museum’s Sunsets on the River concert series for an evening of outdoor entertainment including local music, food trucks, art, local craft beer and wine. Best of all, your well-behaved dog can join in on the fun!

NORFOLK BOTANICAL GARDEN

The beautiful Norfolk Botanical Garden has over 60 themed gardens on the property, and there is always something to explore. Most blooms can be spotted during the spring and summer months, but make sure to check out their year-round gardens too. The WOW Children’s Garden features world-themed splash fountains, plus a nature walk through Plant Safari habitat gardens.

Trails

Taking the road less traveled is certainly an option. But when there’s well-established trails featuring historic points of interest, restaurants, breweries and wildlife nearby, we say it’s okay to stick to the path. Explore these trails as you get to know more about Norfolk’s past and present!

CANNONBALL TRAIL

This self-guided tour marks 400 years of Norfolk and American history. The Cannonball Trail winds along the shoreline of the Elizabeth River and through the districts of Downtown Norfolk. Pay attention to the historic sites noted on this tour for bonus history lessons on this walking trail adventure!

Elizabeth River Trail

The Elizabeth River Trail (ERT) is a 10.5-mile biking and pedestrian urban trail that will satisfy the highly active. No bike? No problem. Pedego Electric Bikes are available to rent Downtown, so get ready to cruise along as you enjoy some fantastic scenery.

On the Water

Some of the best outdoor things to do in Norfolk aren’t on dry land. Did you know that Norfolk has 144 miles of shoreline? We’re home to the Chesapeake Bay, plus the Elizabeth and Lafayette Rivers, which equals no shortage of water activities, whether you feel like being active, exploring via boat or simply relaxing on the sand.

Beaching

Did you know that Norfolk has its very own sandy beach? The areas of Ocean View and East Beach are your gateway to beach days, sandcastles, water activities, seafood and gorgeous sunsets. These beaches are perfectly situated on the Chesapeake Bay where warm waters and gentler waves make it ideal for families. Here are ideas for things to do in Ocean View, Norfolk.

Kayaking

There’s arguably no better way to reconnect with nature than by paddling out on a kayak tour to explore the gentle rivers and quiet coves which some of Norfolk’s most beautiful wildlife calls home. Rent a vessel through Norfolk Kayak Tours, embark on a guided journey at the Norfolk Botanical Garden, or BYOK (bring your own kayak) to paddle off from a public launch.

Fishing

Bordered almost entirely by water and home to the longest fishing pier in North America, Norfolk is geographically positioned for the ultimate fishing trip. No matter what your choice of fresh catch may be, you’re sure to find it in the nearby Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean or Elizabeth River. Norfolk’s mild climate and wide variety of aquatic life have made the region’s waterways one of the top fishing destinations in the world. Thousands of visitors flock to the area’s shores each year in search of the perfect fishing trip.

Sailing

With the Elizabeth River and the Chesapeake Bay running along its west and north borders, Norfolk is the ideal home for sailing. Still learning? Check out Sail Nauticus and its informative boating excursions. Sign up for a weekend course emphasizing on-the-water instruction and earn a U.S. Sailing Basic Keelboat certification.

Tours on Water

Sometimes it’s nice just to sit back, relax and let someone else be your guide for the day. Here are some tours you can sign up for if you’re looking to learn more about Norfolk’s history, see the city line from a new point of view or perhaps indulge in a scrumptious buffet, cocktails and dancing.

American Rover

Norfolk’s own tall sailing ship, the American Rover is a three-masted topsail schooner with “tanbark” sails. They offer two-hour narrated harbor tours and sunset cruises April through October embarking from Waterside Marina on the Downtown Norfolk waterfront. Once on board, guests can choose to hoist a sail with the crew, take a turn at the helm or just sit back and enjoy the scenic view. The sunset cruise also features live, acoustical entertainment.

City Cruises Norfolk

See incredible views of the Norfolk harbor and the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet aboard City Cruises Norfolk. Enjoy delicious new menus and specialty drinks. Then, dance to DJ entertainment or relax on the new rooftop lounge. It all adds up to the perfect Norfolk experience. Cruising year-round from downtown Norfolk, Spirit offers lunch, brunch, dinner, cocktail, moonlit cruises and more.

Victory Rover

Experience the most popular way to see the world’s largest naval base and the Port of Virginia. Two-hour cruises depart daily from Nauticus, home of the Battleship Wisconsin, in Downtown Norfolk. Cruise past the vessels that ensure our freedom—destroyers, cruisers, submarines, aircraft carriers and more. A fascinating fact and fun-filled narration is provided. 

Tours on Land

There’s plenty to see, do and learn off the water as well! Take a self-guided tour of Norfolk’s incredible public art murals, or join a guided tour to learn more about Norfolk’s history, art, architecture and more!

Norfolk Tour Company

Experience Norfolk in a whole new light with guided tours from Norfolk Tour Company. Explore Norfolk’s most haunted houses and theatres or enjoy the colors of the murals in the NEON District. Walk the city and learn more about its unique history with a tour through Historic Freemason or the “Underground River: Black History Tour on the ERT.”

Public Art Murals

With self-guided tours aplenty and even guided tours focused on Norfolk’s NEON District, our city’s burgeoning arts scene provides a platform for a multitude of artists to create public murals on local businesses showcasing 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.

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13 June 2024

Best Eats in Ocean View and East Beach

Ocean View and East Beach are best known for their beaches, but the food scene in this neighborhood is equally worth the exploration. From local seafood to finger-licking barbecue and amazing international dishes in between, Ocean View has some great options. Here are some of our favorite restaurants in Ocean View, Norfolk.

Bar-q

@bar_q , Instagram

Southern wraparound porches will catch your eye when you drive by Bar-Q’s location nestled inside Bold Mariner Brewing Company. Your attention will quickly divert to the oversized meat smoker that resides in their parking lot. Next, the aromas of freshly smoked meat will have your mouth watering almost instantly while you debate what to order on their à la carte menu. We highly suggest filling up a platter with their moist brisket, fall-off-the-bone ribs, rich mac and cheese, spicy (but not too spicy) jalapeño and cheddar links and classic cornbread. Pit master Jayme Campbell is a barbecue pro who embraces his creative side and on occasion hosts BBQ Sushi Nights at the brewery. 

Captain Groovy’s Raw Bar and Grill 

A telltale sign a restaurant is well loved is when their parking lot is always full. Captain Groovy’s has quite the local following and attracts lots of attention around happy hour–one of the best in Norfolk! Crowds keep coming back for their fresh seafood platters, raw bar and Southern-style seafood dishes including their low country boil and seafood creole. They have a laid back atmosphere, plenty of outdoor seating, and they’re just a stone’s throw away from the beach. 

Jessy’s Tienda y Taqueria

What better way to end a beach day than with homemade tortilla chips dipped in fresh salsa while sipping a cold cerveza or margarita? Jessy’s has been slinging out delicious Mexican tacos years and even made their debut on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives back in 2017. Jessy’s also doubles as a tienda, a convenience shop for all your Mexican dish needs. They sell carne asada and chorizo in their butcher shop section, hot peppers and Mexican spices in their grocery section and even have a fresh baked goods area where you can indulge in a sweet assortment of Mexican pastries. So, go hungry and we promise you will leave full and happy.

Oceanview Diner

Chow down at the beach’s all-American coastal diner. They have delicious classics on the menu including steak and eggs and chicken and waffles. Don’t forget to also check out their specials board of daily seafood dishes for other options.

Longboards East Beach

For a combination of fantastic water views and made-to-order meals, head to Longboards. Their menu boasts favorites like crab mac and cheese, she crab soup, Longboards nachos and almost famous wings. Plus, their daily specials (including weekend specials too!) will give you something new to look forward to every time you visit.

Karla’s Beach House

Make yourself right at home at Karla’s Beach House when you dine in for breakfast or lunch. Start the day with a selection from the restaurant’s menu of Beach House Bowls, omelettes, egg dishes, combos or healthy options. Lean toward the sweeter side with high-stacked pancakes or blueberry French toast right off the griddle. Lunchtime calls for a selection of wraps, salads, sandwiches and burgers, plus classic starters like onion rings, mozzarella sticks and lumpia.

Ocean View Fishing Pier Restaurant 

The Ocean View Fishing Pier Restaurant, an icon to this neighborhood, sits high in the air offering views of the Chesapeake Bay for miles. Adirondack high top seats that parallel the Chesapeake Bay invite you to sip on a summer cocktail, enjoy some seafood and look for dolphins out on the water.

Stony’s Dockside Bar and Grill

Stony’s was established in 2019 by New Jersey natives Stony and Laura Johnson. Serving up soups and salads, pizzas and a long list of delicious appetizers like Rhode Island calamari, crispy oysters Rockafeller, pizzas, handhelds and tacos at lunch, Stony’s is also known for its wings, burgers and seafood entrees such as teriyaki glazed salmon and fish and chips. Don’t miss the tacos and tempting desserts in this beautiful dockside location that offers the best of the Ocean View atmosphere.

Our People’s Soulful Seafood

Located at 943 E. Ocean View Ave, Our People’s Soulful Seafood lives up to its name by serving up seafood platters, shrimp tacos, a fish/shrimp/grits dish, crawfish pasta and the can’t-miss chicken chunks and waffles. Opt for a side of Old Bay fries, yams, collards or fried okra for the full experience.

OV Beach Tavern

Tuck in for tater tot nachos, chili cheese waffle fries, fried pickles and lumpia pickled pepper poppers for apps, then move on to a salad or rice bowl for a little balance. Or, check out the chef’s monthly specials which can include Caesar wraps, buffalo chicken taquitos and more. Located at 9659 1. View St. just across from the water.

Other eats

Don’t sleep on other OV favorites such as Lola’s Beach Cantina at 4035 E. Ocean View Ave., Swell Charcoal Grill and Raw Bar at 1159 W. Ocean View Ave. and the Azalea Inn & Time Out Sports Bar at 2344 E. Little Creek Rd.

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22 May 2024

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

@feloniouschef, Instagram

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. 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

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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.

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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22 May 2024

Family Activities in Norfolk, VA

Looking for family-friendly fun in Norfolk? Look no further. Norfolk is the perfect place for you and the kids to explore, learn, seek adventure and make some unforgettable memories together. From outdoor adventures and educational opportunities to spectacular sporting events, there’s no shortage of fun for all ages in Norfolk.

Explore and Inspire

Battleship Wisconsin and Nauticus

Spend the day exploring Nauticus, a maritime museum and discovery center. Nauticus is also home to the Battleship Wisconsin, one of the last and largest battleships built by the U.S. Navy. Explore the decks and depths of the ship, and don’t forget to take a family photo!

@justinrinivahome, Instagram

Norfolk Botanical Garden

There are opportunities to grow and learn at Norfolk Botanical Garden all year round! The World of Wonder (WOW) Children’s Garden offers opportunities for learning and exploration for family members of all ages. Explore edible plants at Discovery Peak, and take a nature walk through Plant Safari habitat gardens. In warmer months, cool off in the world-themed splash fountains. Daily activities include guided and self-guided discovery stations, scavenger hunts, crafts and walking tours.

@downtown757, Instagram

Slover Library

You could easily spend an entire morning or afternoon in Slover’s Youth Library. The second floor section features a playscape for ages 0–2, KidZone for ages 3–6, early literacy gaming computers and tablets, children’s art studio, picture books, juvenile fiction and nonfiction and more. Not only does Slover have an amazing selection of activities for kids, but they also have some great kids’ programming to take part in. Babygarten features fun songs, playful movement activities, colorful toys, board books and parent resources geared to little ones up to 24 months. Their Toddler Time is geared to ages 2–4 and features rhyming, music, movement and books.

VIRGINIA ZOO

Giraffes, zebras and tigers, oh my! Learn about animals from all over the world as you walk among Australian wallabies and their joeys, spot Africa’s majestic rhinos, lions and cheetahs, admire slithering reptiles, and play with goats at the Zoo Farm. The Virginia Zoo is home to over 700 species, which gives something for everyone in the family to enjoy!

On the Water

Jennifer Collins Photography for VisitNorfolk

American Rover

Looking for a way to get out on the water? Harbor cruises on the American Rover are most popular for children and families. Lend a hand setting the sails, take a turn at the helm, or simply sit back and enjoy the cruise as the captain points out the highlights of the harbor: the Downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth skylines, Battleship Wisconsin, private shipyards and more.

Groups may also see navy ships, tugboats, mega-yachts and the occasional dolphin! Whether you’re a Norfolk local or you’re visiting for the first time, you’re sure to learn something about the harbor on this interesting tour. Your captain shares history and facts during the first hour, and you can just enjoy the tranquility of sailing during the second hour.

Enjoy a comfortable seat on the top deck, or explore the below-deck lounge, featuring a bar and a ship’s store. There’s something for everyone on this cruise.

City Cruises Norfolk

Book a brunch, lunch or dinner cruise for a meal with unprecedented views. Enjoy amazing views of the mighty Atlantic Fleet while cruising along the Elizabeth River. Lunch cruises have a casual yet festive atmosphere, making them ideal for the whole family. A Signature Dinner Cruise gives you the chance to dine, dance and play games in City Cruises’ lounge spaces as well as catch spectacular views of the mighty ships and submarines of the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet from the skyline deck. 

Sail Nauticus

Ready to set sail? Our gorgeous Elizabeth River is the perfect place for sailing, whether you’re a first-timer or a pro. Sail Nauticus offers two U.S. Sailing Courses: First Sails, a fun, informal two-hour sail to test the waters and Learn to Sail, a weekend-long course where you can train, study and be guided through the process to earn your Keelboat Certification.

Norfolk Kayak Rentals

Paddle your way to adventure during a kayak excursion on the Lafayette River. Even the tiniest members of your family can relax along these calm waters as you row, row, row your boats along. Choose from a single or tandem kayak, depending on your group’s size and ability. All rentals come with a United States Coast Guard-approved life vest. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and sunglasses, and be on the lookout for some beautiful water birds native to Norfolk.

Victory Rover Naval Base Cruises

For a bit of education sprinkled in with a memorable sightseeing tour, book a cruise on the Victory Rover. You’ll get a great tour of the world’s largest naval base, Naval Station Norfolk. The tour will showcase aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, guided missile cruisers and more!

Bus Tours

New for 2024: take the Norfolk Naval Station Bus Tour from $20. Get on board for an approximately 50 minute to one hour guided bus tour of Naval Station Norfolk – the world’s largest Naval installation. Our tour guide will provide a “Navy-approved” tour that includes the homes of the 1907 Jamestown Exposition, Chambers Field Air Station, the ships of the fleet and much more.

Learn More and Book Now

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Beach Day

Spend a day making sand castles, soaking up the sun and spotting dolphins in the distance. Enjoy local seafood while overlooking the Chesapeake Bay at the Ocean View Pier Restaurant. Don’t want to leave the beach? Pack a picnic with food from Taste, they have several locations throughout the city.

EAT AND DRINK

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Breweries

With a diverse cuisine scene in Norfolk, it is easy to please everyone’s palates. Our family-friendly breweries are eager to entertain you. Most have a lineup of food trucks planned during the weekends, along with live music. Some even offer board games and/or yard games for the whole family to enjoy together.

Ice Cream and Gelato

I scream, you scream. One thing is for sure; we can all scream for ice cream because there’s no shortage of shops in Norfolk. Doumar’s is a great spot to show the kids the world’s first waffle cone machine and give them that classic diner experience of yesteryear. Lolly’s is always a hit with pure joy mixed right into every batch. Finally, Strawberry Fields is Ghent’s beloved gelato shop known for experimenting with some wildly wonderful flavors. See more ice cream and gelato shops here.

SPORTS

Norfolk Tides Baseball

Norfolk is home to the Norfolk Tides, which always makes for a memorable outing. Head to Harbor Park for loaded franks for the kids and local beers for the adults as you cheer on the home team. Keep an eye out for themed nights featuring special activities like costumed characters, fireworks or a chance to run the bases after the game!

@layton.lovell, Instagram

Norfolk Admirals Hockey

Gather your crew for a hockey game as you cheer on the Admirals, a professional ice hockey team in the ECHL based in Norfolk. Meet the mascots, cheer on the team and soak in an exciting night of fun. Little hockey fans can join Salty’s Kids Club to get exclusive team swag, enjoy fun events and meet other young Admirals fans!

Hotels

Hilton Norfolk The Main

When it’s time to unwind, you and your family can relax, watch a movie or perhaps swim in a pool inside one of Norfolk’s conveniently-located hotels. Some hotels offer deals on connecting rooms, free breakfast and more. Check out the deals here.

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21 May 2024

LGBTQIA+ Norfolk Weekend Getaway

Norfolk, Virginia is a uniquely diverse city made up of many cultures and ethnicities. Norfolk is also rich in LGBTQIA+ history, having been shaped by countless individuals and moments, from the post-WWII Lavender Scare (in which many individuals lost their federal jobs because they were—or were assumed—to be LGBT) to the first ever Pride celebration in 1986 to the inclusive city of today in which all are welcome.

Whether you’re here during June when a lineup of Pride Month events take center stage (including the popular Hampton Roads Pride Festival featuring the country’s only Pride boat parade) or you’re exploring Norfolk any time of the year, know that you are welcome. Here’s a suggested itinerary of places to go and things to see and do to experience the most of Norfolk’s LBGTQIA+ community.

Friday Evening

Dinner

@blancafoodandwine, Instagram

After you’ve checked into your hotel and had a chance to refresh, head over to Norfolk’s Riverview neighborhood for dinner at Blanca Food + Wine. Along with a cozy, intimate atmosphere, you’ll find thoughtful plates inspired by the rustic cooking of France, Spain and Italy. You’ll also want to scope out their old world-focused wine list. Owner/Chef Courtney White pours her heart and soul into this restaurant, and her carefully crafted menu speaks to her raw talent and cultured experiences. 

After-Dinner Drinks + Fun

@jgr757, Instagram

Walk over to MJ’s Tavern, just a few steps away from Blanca, for post-dinner drinks and entertainment. MJ’s is a cornerstone of the LGBTQIA+ community since opening its doors in 2012. This late-night tavern hosts DJs, themed parties, trivia, karaoke and more! They also host a phenomenal brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. featuring individual quiches, crab cake Benedicts, French toast and more.

Saturday

Drag Brunch

Start your morning slow and easy by visiting one of Norfolk’s local coffee shops. Once you’re perked up, head to 37th & Zen, a longtime staple in Norfolk’s gay community. The restaurant hosts popular drag brunches every Saturday and Sunday, so purchase your tickets early, dress to impress, and get ready for a rowdy good time.

Shopping

Image courtesy of DNC

What would a weekend away be without some shopping? Norfolk is home to boutiques, antique shops and outlets. Head to Selden Market for some local fare, where you will discover a rotating lineup of the city’s up-and-coming concepts in retail, food and more. Don’t forget to stop by VisitNorfolk’s own Mermaid Market for Pride-themed apparel and goods.

@norfolkcandle, Instagram

Looking to support LGBTQIA+ shops while in town? Check out Velvet WitchKitsch or a pop-up market where you’ll find LGBTQIA-owned Norfolk Candle Co. The catchy titles will catch your eye, but the scents of these popular soy candles will have you coming back for more.

Artful Excursion

Stroll the sunlit streets of the NEON District, which is home to over 70 works of public art. Building-sized murals and art installations trickle the streets and pay ode to local and touring artists who have so creatively decorated every inch of this neighborhood. The creativity of the murals ranges from oversized bees on bicycles that can be spotted along Magazine Lane, to men and women in uniform elegantly painted to pay tribute to our local military heritage. Once you’ve explored the painted streets of Norfolk, head over to the Chrysler Museum of Art, a museum compiled of 30,000 objects spanning over 5,000 years!

Dinner

@johnnyccdc, Instagram

Granby Street comes alive at night with its marquee dotted archways and ample restaurant options. Often referred to as ‘Restaurant Row,’ Granby Street is full of renovated historic buildings that boast menus from around the world, from local fresh seafood to Italian trattorias. Gershwins, a swanky piano lounge with glamourous 1920s vibes, is the perfect spot for a pre-dinner cocktail or an enjoyable meal.

Dancing

Head to The Wave, the largest LGBTQ+ dance club in this region for decades. A proud supporter of diversity, equity and inclusion, The Wave features multiple dance floors with DJs and plenty of space to mix, mingle and show off your moves.

Sunday

Brunch

@hotdodu, Instagram

Start the day in the very best way with brunch at Hair of the Dog. Their brunch never disappoints with options like an eggs Benedict flight, pancakes, waffles, Nashville chicken sandwiches and more. Plus, during certain times of the year, you can partake in a special Pride flight of mimosas!

Explore the Outdoors

@fredwrose, Instagram

With an abundance of outdoor activities, Norfolk is the perfect destination to enjoy some sunshine. From exploring our gardens to setting sail along the Chesapeake Bay or taking a leisurely stroll or bike ride along the Elizabeth River Trail, there is a variety for you to explore. See Norfolk’s top outdoor activities.

Lunch (Plus Dessert)

@bar_q_desserts, Instagram

Head to East Beach for some irresistible barbecue from Bar-Q where you can indulge in a platter of their moist brisket, fall-off-the-bone ribs, rich mac and cheese, classic cornbread and more. Follow it up with a dessert from Bar-Q Desserts, serving up a luscious assortment of sweets. Proceeds from their Pride-themed desserts benefit Hampton Roads Pride.

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