On average, Americans had 9.5 unused days of PTO at the end of 2021, according to a study by software company Qualtrics. Don’t let your vacation days fall into next year’s statistics. Everyone deserves a getaway. In fact, taking time for yourself is essential. According to a Forbes article, vacation time can increase mindfulness, improve heart health, reduce stress, boost brainpower and improve sleep—all benefits that play a huge factor in your overall health as well as your career.
Is Norfolk on your list of places to visit this year? If not, perhaps it should be. We’ve got the impeccable water views to help you unwind, the arts and culture to keep you engaged, a fabulous culinary scene to delight your tastebuds and more mermaids than you ever thought possible—all in one destination. Still undecided? Here are 10 reasons you should travel to Norfolk, VA.
1. We’ve got the water views you want.
Spend a beach day at Ocean View with the calm waves of the Chesapeake Bay lapping at your feet. Get out on the water via boat, cruise or kayak. Try fishing on the longest pier in North America or through a local fishing charter. Or, simply relax as you take in unmatched sunsets along the Elizabeth River or Chesapeake Bay.
2. Our culinary scene will rock your world.
Filled with a vibrant mix of chefs, farmers and bakers, Norfolk has blossomed into one of the Southeast’s most dynamic foodie destinations. The city’s captivating urban appeal and history lure visitors in, and the culinary creations keep them here. Being right on the coast means an abundance of fresh seafood served in both traditional and eclectic ways. But there’s also a myriad of eateries focused on anything from healthy fare to desserts to international cuisine. Check out our culinary series, City With Bite, for a closer look at some of Norfolk’s best restaurants.
3. Love live music? So do we.
The concert experiences in Norfolk vary as much as the types of music you’re into. Start with the NorVa, dubbed one of the nation’s best live music venues by Rolling Stone. There’s incredible jazz performances at The Attucks, originally known as the “Apollo of the South,” acoustic sets at Grain and a lineup of punk rock, garage rock and heavy metal at Norfolk Taphouse. Plus, there’s usually tunes to be heard on the weekends at many Norfolk breweries. See more places to hear live music here.
4. We’ve got cruises—the local kind.
Whether you’re into history, naval tours or dinner and dancing with DJ music, Norfolk has just the cruise for you. Book an experience with City Cruises Norfolk to see incredible views of the Norfolk harbor during a lunch, brunch, dinner, cocktail or moonlit cruise. Catch a beautiful sunset on the American Rover, or see the world’s largest naval base during a narrated Victory Rover cruise.
5. But we’ve also got the really big Cruise ship kind.
Carnival Cruise Line launches year-round sailings from Norfolk in February 2025. Passengers from around the country can enjoy six-day sailings to the Bahamas and eight-day Eastern Caribbean itineraries. Cruise itineraries from Norfolk include stops in Nassau, Freeport, Bimini and Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas; Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos Islands; and the Dominican Republic.
6. The shopping is one-of-a-kind.
Take, for instance, the always trending, ever evolving space of Selden Market. This hip and historic shopping hall features local artisans, chefs and pop-up shops featuring different vendors. There’s always something new to see and buy at Selden. But wait, there’s a bunch more. Norfolk Premium Outlets houses stores such as Banana Republic, Coach, Gap, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren and more. Nearby is the Swedish shopping destination IKEA. And the local shopping never disappoints at these beloved boutiques. Finally, visit our very own Mermaid Market, located in the Visitors Information Center, for all things local and charming.
7. Norfolk’s craft beer culture is hopping.
Get it? Okay, our jokes aren’t the best, but our brewery scene is. With multiple breweries in many of Norfolk’s neighborhoods, there’s a brew to match every mood. Learn more about each of Norfolk’s breweries here, and download our Brew Hop pass here, which makes it easy to explore the local beer scene.
8. You can Experience history here by ordering an ice cream cone.
Abe Doumar invented the very first waffle cone in 1904, and to this day, fresh waffles cones are being churned out and topped with ice cream for all to enjoy. A trip to Norfolk means a visit to Doumar’s nostalgic diner for at least a cone but perhaps a barbecue sandwich and a limeade too.
9. We’ve got art both inside and out.
Where else can you find culturally stimulating museums like the Chrysler Museum of Art and Perry Glass Studio, d’Art Center, Barry Art Museum, Hermitage Museum and Gardens and Glass Light Gallery, all within one city? Plus, in Norfolk’s NEON District, art is splashed throughout alleyways, along sidewalks and on the sides of buildings in vibrant, can’t-miss murals.
10. Mermaids are swimming throughout the city.
We dare you to find them all. More than simply a mascot, Norfolk’s mermaids are iconic to our city, reflecting themes of nautical adventure, civic pride, the diversity of our region and anything else artists could envision. Click here for a guide to the mermaids.