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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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)
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.