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Introduction

Norfolk is the second-largest city in Virginia. Norfolk has always been a Navy town, home to the world's largest naval base. But it is also known as a major cultural center, with world-class museums, opera, symphony, ballet and a vibrant arts community. In the last ten years or so, downtown area has experienced a major resurgence, with gourmet restaurants, shopping and attractions.

Town Point Park is a waterfront park area right downtown that hosts several festivals and events throughout the year. A new cruise terminal was just built in 2007 making Norfolk one of the top cruise ports in the country. Granby Street is the main downtown thoroughfare, lined with restaurants and bars.

Ghent is a historic district adjacent to downtown. Filled with historic homes, tree-lined streets and beautiful old churches, it is a good mix of residential and business. Colley Avenue and 21st Street are the main shopping and dining areas, with dozens of locally-owned boutiques, shops, antique stores, restaurants and bars. The Naro theater on Colley Avenue is the region's sole movie theater with indie flicks.

Ocean View is Norfolk's beach community, and features relatively uncrowded beaches on the Chesapeake Bay. During the '50s and '60s, Ocean View was in its prime and was a major beach destination for families and sailors. During the following decades, the beach community fell into a bit of a slump, succumbing to crime. The last five years, the city has been turning things around and now Ocean View is on its way to becoming one of the region's most sought after neighborhoods.

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Sights and Activities

  • Chrysler Museum of Art, One Memorial Place, ☎ +1 757 664-6200. Tu-Sa 10AM-5Pm, Su Noon-5PM. Walter Chrysler, Jr., son of the Chrysler automobile company founder, donated his art collection to Norfolk, the hometown of his wife. His donation along with other donors formed the collection of this museum. A large variety of art can be found in the museum, including paintings, glass, porcelain, clay, sculptures and photos. Art from different geographies are also present, such as African, Asian, Egyptian, Greek and Pre-Columbian/Mayan. A glass studio located in a separate building south of the museum hosts a free glass art demonstration daily at noon. Free.
  • Norfolk Botanical Garden.
  • Naval Station Tour. A 45-minute tour conducted by Naval personnel. See aircraft carriers and other huge ships.
  • Nauticus - National Maritime Center, One Waterside Drive. Naval Museum exhibits maritime artifacts. Next to it is the decommissioned USS Wisconsin (BB 64) battleship, now serving as a museum ship. Visitors get a self-guided tour the interiors of the ship such as sleeping quarter, medical bay, sonar room, mess hall, ship's convenience store and the main deck. Alternatively, visitors can pay extra for guided tour of the engine room, or to the bridge and captain's cabin (additional $20 per person). Entrance fee: Adults: $15.95, Children (Ages 4-12): $11.50, Children (Ages 3 and under): Free, Seniors (Age 55 and up) and AAA Adults: $14.95. edit

Spirit of Norfolk cruise / tour.

  • Virginia Zoo, 3500 Granby St, ☎ +1 757 441-2374. Daily 10AM-5PM.
  • MacArthur Memorial, 198 Bank St., ☎ +1 757-441-2965. Tuesday - Saturday 10:00am - 5:00pm Sunday 11:00am - 5:00pm Monday Closed. Free.
  • West Freemason Street Area Historic District (Along West Freemason Street, west of Bosch Street). 24 hours. National historic district with houses and churches in Federal, Greek Revival, Late Victorian and Gothic Revival styles. Free.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Weather

Norfolk has a humid subtropical climate with moderate changes of seasons. Spring arrives in March with mild days and cool nights, and by late May, the temperature has warmed up considerably to herald warm summer days. Summer temperatures can be unpleasantly hot, often topping 32 °C with high humidity. On average, July is the warmest month of the year, with the maximum average precipitation. Hurricanes and tropical storms usually brush Norfolk and only occasionally make landfalls in the area. Fall is marked by mild to warm days and cooler nights. Winter is usually mild in Norfolk, with the coldest days featuring lows near or slightly above freezing and highs between 8 and 13 °C. On average, the coldest month of the year is January. Norfolk's record high was 41 °C on August 7, 1918 and July 24 and 25, 2010, and record low was -19 °C recorded on January 21, 1985. Snow occurs sporadically, with an average annual accumulation of around 15 centimetres.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max8.5 °C9.8 °C14.4 °C19.4 °C24.1 °C28.3 °C30.2 °C29.5 °C26.4 °C20.8 °C16.2 °C11.2 °C
Avg Min-0.6 °C0.2 °C4.1 °C8.4 °C13.8 °C18.4 °C21.1 °C20.8 °C17.9 °C11.6 °C6.6 °C1.9 °C
Rainfall96 mm88.1 mm94 mm77.7 mm96.8 mm97 mm128.5 mm122.2 mm99.1 mm80 mm72.4 mm82 mm
Rain Days8.78.28.27.98.37.79.38.56.35.86.18.2

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Getting There

By Plane

Norfolk International Airport (ORF) offers flights to/from Chicago, Washington, D.C., Houston, Charlotte, Dallas, Miami, New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Nashville, Orlando, Tampa, Las Vegas and Philadelphia.

By Train

Amtrak runs one daily passenger train into the 3 Norfolk train station via the Northeast Regional route. An alternative way into Norfolk is another spur of the Northeast Regional route which terminates at Newport News. Amtrak runs Thruway buses from the 4 Newport News train station to Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

By Car

Hampton Roads is only second in the state to the suburbs of Washington, D.C. such as Fairfax County and other outlying areas for horrendous traffic especially during the summer season when many tourists throughout the United States and Canada flock to the beaches of Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Be aware of the alternative of I-664/Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel instead of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, where back ups of more than 40-50 minutes usually occur, long before rush hour even begins.

Route 460 is an alternative to the heavily used I-64 route. 460 extends from Petersburg, VA (just south of Richmond, VA) to Chesapeake (a suburb city to the Hampton Roads area) and you can easily connect from 460 onto the major beltway at the I-664 and I-64 interchange.

Interstate 64 will bring you to Norfolk from points west.

By Bus

Check Greyhound buses for options. The Greyhound station is located in downtown Norfolk. In addition, there are Chinatown buses that run through Norfolk. These buses come from New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C., and other locations in the Northeastern USA.

By Boat

Norfolk is accessible by private boats via the Intracoastal Waterway, from the Elizabeth River and the Chesapeake Bay. Overnight docking is available at Waterside Marina in downtown Norfolk.

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Getting Around

By Car

If you must drive around the city, a good map and/or a local with knowledge of the roads is an absolute necessity. Stay on interstates for as long as possible, for once you leave, any signage is the responsibility of the city, not VDOT, and it shows. If your directions tell you to follow US 58, US 460 or state route 337 through the city, be prepared for a nerve-wracking drive. Directional signage (i.e., US 460 east, turn left) is virtually non-existent, and what signage does exist is more often than not inadequate or even incorrect. If there is a difference between signage and a map, the map is correct. Routes can and do change direction and shoot off onto side streets at a moment's notice, often without any signage advising travelers as to which road to follow. It is much easier than you might think to miss a turn and end up in a dangerous area.

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) operates the bus service in Norfolk. There are many routes in Norfolk, and the service can get you to almost any spot in Norfolk. Most buses run seven days a week early morning to late evening, and are relatively reliable. The current fare is $1.75 for a single trip. $4.00 will get you an all-day pass which is usable on buses, the ferry, and Tide Light Rail. Bus drivers do not carry cash, so be sure to bring the exact fare for each rider.

Hampton Roads Transit runs a passenger ferry from Portsmouth. Service is seven days a week and runs every half hour with more frequent service during rush hours. The fare is $1.75 one way, and $4.00 for an all-day pass. The ferry's crew does not carry cash, so be sure to bring the exact fare for each rider.

There is also a privately run boat taxi that will take you around the Norfolk and Portsmouth waterfronts. The fare is 7 dollars per person. Call 757-439-8294 and the captain will pick you up anywhere on the waterfront.

Since August 2011, HRT has operated the Tide Light Rail, a starter light rail line extending from the Newtown area at the Norfolk/Virginia Beach border to Downtown Norfolk and Sentara Hospital by the Midtown Tunnel. The Tide runs seven days a week every half hour with service increasing to every ten minutes during rush hours. The Tide is air-conditioned and has free WiFi access.

The fare is $1.75 one way, and $4.00 for an all-day pass which is usable on the Tide, the ferry and HRT buses. All-day passes, multiple-day passes, single ride and multiple ride tickets are sold at vending machines, which are located at every station. The ticket vending machines accept cash, debit cards and credit cards. The light rail is operated on the honor system, meaning that there is no one to check your ticket before you get on the Tide. However, the trains are monitored by uniformed police officers who will check for tickets. Riding the light rail without a valid ticket can cost you a $250 fine.

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Eat

  • Doumar's in Ghent on Monticello Avenue is known as the birthplace of the ice cream cone. The vintage drive-thru still remains. Try an ice cream cone or banana shake.
  • Todd Jurich's Bistro - casual elegance, an upscale restaurant two blocks from waterside(they do not require suit and tie). They have a four diamond award for their food and an award of excellence from Wine Spectator. For a deal, Todd's Bistro appears on every one of Norfolk's Restaurant Weeks.
  • Cracker's Little Bar Bistro, 821 W 21 St (Ghent Area), ☎ +1 757 640-0200. Daily 5PM-2AM. This tiny joint serves amazing tapas (appetizer-sized plates) and a wide variety of fun martinis. There's only about 7 tables in the entire place, plus bar seating. If you go, I suggest going right at 5PM, else you can't be sure you'll be seated right away. Two people can try a bunch of different tapas (try the filet with mashed potatoes), have a few martinis, leave a great tip, and spend less than $50. $4-9 per plate.
  • Vintage Kitchen located at the bottom of the Dominion Tower has been voted one of the best restaurants in the entire region. The chef-owned eatery specializes in using ingredients local to Virginia, such as Smithfield ham, peanuts, strawberries, cheeses and vegetables from local farmers.
  • A.W. Shucks is tucked behind a mini-mall Ghent, but it is a popular restaurant and watering hole with great burgers, seafood and beer selection.
  • No Frill Bar and Grill on Spotswood Ave in Ghent features inexpensive, yet delicious American cuisine with numerous vegetarian options and a good selection of alcoholic beverages.
  • The Pagoda Restaurant and Tea House, 265 W Tazewell St. An American restaurant located inside a Chinese structure donated by Taiwanese government. The garden is also landscaped in oriental style.

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Drink

Three sections of Norfolk have concentrations of bars and nightclubs: Ghent, Granby Street, and the Waterside Festival Marketplace. Ghent is the most laid-back, Granby Street is a trendy place for dates, and the Waterside is the wild place for the kids. Just follow the noise.

  • Charlie's American Cafe - 4024 Granby Street. A cafe by day, and nighttime music venue and club that hosts independent music artists.

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Sleep

Norfolk's good hotels are clustered downtown and near the airport.

  • Norfolk Airport Hilton, 1500 N Military Hwy. 248 deluxe guest rooms. 15 meeting rooms. 3 restaurants.
  • Ramada Norfolk Airport, 1450 N Military Hwy, ☎ +1 757 466-7474.
  • Ramada Limited Norfolk, 515 N Military Hwy, ☎ +1 757 461-1880.
  • Sheraton Norfolk Waterside, 777 Waterside Dr (Downtown). The only downtown hotel on the waterfront. Connected to the Waterside Festival Marketplace. Moderate walk to the cruise terminal. Request a water view.
  • Newport News Marriott at City Center, 740 Town Center Drive, ☎ +1 757 873-9299.
  • Norfolk Waterside Marriott, 235 E Main St, ☎ +1 757 627-4200. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Set in the heart of the historic district, this award-winning Norfolk hotel is just steps away from the vibrant, revitalized waterfront.
  • Norfolk Marriott Chesapeake, 725 Woodlake Dr, ☎ +1 757 523-1500. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon.
  • Residence Inn by Marriott Norfolk Downtown, 227 W Brambleton Ave, ☎ +1 757-842-6216.
  • SpringHill Suites by Marriott Norfolk Old Dominion University, 4500 Hampton Blvd, ☎ +1 757-423-4100.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Accommodation in Norfolk (Virginia)

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This is version 13. Last edited at 13:19 on Jun 14, 19 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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