Norfolk in 36 Hours
Visiting the city, but short on time? No worries! We have compiled all of the must-do things to do, eat and explore in Norfolk, Virginia.
Start your exploration of the city at VisitNorfolk, the Convention & Visitors Bureau, located at 232 East Main Street in downtown Norfolk. Pick up free brochures, maps, calendars, a visitor guide and more! Stroll around the streets of downtown, check out MacArthur Center or hop on Virginia’s first light rail system to see some sites by train. For dinner, try one of the many chef-owned restaurants along Granby Street, or “restaurant row,” such as the award-winning Byrd & Baldwin Bros. Steakhouse which serves only grain-fed Midwestern all natural beef aged on site. Looking for seafood? At Todd Jurich’s Bistro, you’ll find the best local oysters, salmon and tuna.
Rolling Stone magazine readers recently voted The NorVa, located in downtown Norfolk, as the number one Venue That Rocks the hardest in a poll ranking top live music spots in the United States. The NorVA, known by music enthusiasts for offering an intimate venue with world-class performances, also ranked number 16 on a list of the 20 Best Big Rooms in another Rolling Stone magazine poll.
Move on to historic Ghent for breakfast at the Handsome Biscuit. Try over 10 different biscuit sandwiches made from sweet potatoes. Eating with both hands will not even handle the size of this biscuit. Spend the rest of the morning & afternoon antiquing in the Historic Ghent area. Some of the most popular hot spots are La Marche, Morgan House Antiques Gallery and Three Swallows Imports. Break for lunch at the popular No Frill Grill featuring chef-created lunch specials & delicious homemade desserts. After lunch, head over to Doumar’s for ice cream. Abe Doumar created the first waffle cone at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis.
Spend the rest of the afternoon at the Chrysler Museum of Art & Glass Studio. The museum has nearly 100 galleries for 30,000 works of art from around the world. The Chrysler Museum Glass Studio, which is open, sits adjacent to the Chrysler Museum of Art in a modern, 7,000-square-foot building and supports artists working in a variety of glassmaking processes, including blown glass, casting, fusing, flameworking and cold working. The facility is the only one of its kind in the entire Mid-Atlantic region and spotlights Chrysler’s extensive glass collection. For dinner, circle back to Ghent and try Bardo on 21st Street. This Asian-style restaurant-lounge takes a whimsical view of Buddhist philosophy in its menu and surroundings. Bardo offers some of the most unique, specially crafted cocktails in the area including the “Yuzurita” drink made with Tanteo jalapeno & yuzu lime juice. Or another house favorite -“Devinity 7” made with fresh Spud Ginger Lemongrass, muddled ginger, cucumber, lemon, house-made lavender bitters and soda.
Insiders know historic Ghent is a hot spot for the best wine & beer in town. There you will find Virginia’s first urban winery, Mermaid Winery, Smartmouth Brewing Company and O’Connor Brewing Company. Stop in and have a beer at Norfolk’s first gastropub, the Public House on Colley Avenue or the uber-hip Birch Bar which sells craft European beer and cheese. Make your last stop Press 626 Café & Wine Bar which boasts one of the world’s best wine lists according to Wine Spectator magazine.
Wake up for a mouth-watering brunch at 456 Fish on Granby Street in downtown Norfolk. Try a Potato Chip Encrusted Crab Cake sandwich, Blackened Tuna Salad, 456 She Crab or the popular Seafood Frittata. Sail across the Elizabeth River on the American Rover Sailing Cruise. This majestic, three-masted tall ship, modeled after the cargo schooners that once sailed the Chesapeake Bay, leaves from the downtown Norfolk pier for a narrated two-hour harbor cruise. Or Board the Victory Rover Naval Base Cruise for a two-hour narrated cruise which offers the fastest way to see destroyers, frigates, nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers at Norfolk Naval Station.
Before leaving town, see one of the largest collections of azaleas, camellias, roses and rhododendrons on the East Coast at Norfolk Botanical Garden. Experience 155 glorious acres by guided tours on foot, tram or boat.
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