Get stunning travel pictures from the world's most exciting travel destinations in 8K quality without ever traveling! (Get started for free)

Norfolk Voyage: Navigating the Hot 'Hoods of this Virginia Coastal Gem

Norfolk Voyage: Navigating the Hot 'Hoods of this Virginia Coastal Gem - The Charming Waterside of Ghent

Of all Norfolk's funky neighborhoods, Ghent stands out for its vibrant waterside charm. Located along the Elizabeth River and close to the Chesapeake Bay, Ghent exudes laidback coastal vibes. Wander the brick sidewalks and you'll discover eclectic boutiques, cozy cafes, and quirky public art installations. It's the perfect place to embrace your inner hipster.

Ghent's main claim to waterside fame is the NEON (New Energy of Norfolk) District. Centered around an old railroad site, NEON contains studios, galleries, and eateries in repurposed warehouses. Don't miss Glass Light Hotel, with its ultra-modern glass facade overlooking the river. Grab a craft cocktail at Grain Rooftop Bar to soak in sunset views over downtown Norfolk. The NEON Mural Project adds over 80 colorful murals throughout the district.

For maritime history, tour the Battleship Wisconsin right on the waterfront. This retired warship saw action in WWII, the Korean War, and the Gulf War. History buffs won't want to miss the onboard tour covering all the intricacies of naval warfare.

To tap into Ghent's artsy side, browse the Chrysler Museum of Art's impressive collection spanning over 30 centuries. Don't skip the Perry Glass Studio, where you can watch master glassblowers crafting incredible works of art. The eclectic d'Art Center contains galleries, working artists' studios, and fun classes to spark your creativity.

Ghent offers no shortage of alfresco dining options to savor waterside settings. Grab an outdoor table at Luna Maya for Mexican fare and potent margaritas. Sit on the patio at Grace O'Malley's to bite into juicy burgers and down craft beers. For fresh seafood straight from the dock, book a table at Taste Unlimited Wine Bistro. Their wine list pairs perfectly with platters of oysters, crab cakes, and grilled catch of the day.

No visit to Ghent is complete without strolling the picturesque Hermitage Museum and Gardens. Paths wind past fountains, gazebos, and an on-site art museum housed in an early 20th century mansion. It's one of Norfolk's most romantic spots.

Norfolk Voyage: Navigating the Hot 'Hoods of this Virginia Coastal Gem - Cruising Through Downtown's Funky Arts District

If Ghent channels modern hipster vibes, downtown Norfolk offers an energetic mix of historic and contemporary arts. This compact district packs a creative punch, with performing arts venues, museums, indie galleries, and an exploding street art scene.

At the heart of it all sprawls the Chrysler Museum of Art. Beyond the neoclassical facade lies an expansive collection spanning ancient to modern masterpieces. Don't miss standouts like Monet's shimmering Water Lilies and the striking Glass Art Galleries. Sign up for glassblowing demos to glimpse resident artists at work. The nearby Perry Glass Studio offers more molten magic.

For performing arts, the Harrison Opera House impresses with lavish early 20th century architecture and acoustics. Catch anything from Broadway musicals to symphony performances within the soaring 2,500 seat auditorium. Down the street, the intimate Generic Theater serves up provocative experimental works in a cozy 99-seat black box setting.

The NEON District adds a healthy dose of funk. Burn off some energy at the indoor ropes course at the ICON complex. Then get your art fix touring the studios and galleries occupying former factories and warehouses. Don't miss Glass Light Hotel showcasing floor-to-ceiling glass art installations against river views.

Norfolk's street art scene captivates with colorful murals splashed across downtown. Take an art walk to spot fantastical creatures, uplifting messages of hope, and larger-than-life historical figures. Highlights include the sprawling mermaid mural at 214 Granby Street and the Martin Luther King Jr tribute on Brambleton Avenue. Many depict iconic Norfolk landmarks like the Titanic, MacArthur Memorial, and mermaids.

Lisa Smith, an art teacher from Richmond, described her experience: "I was blown away by Norfolk's incredible street art. Everywhere you turn, there's another amazing mural to photograph. It really showcases the city's creative spirit."

Noah Harris, a musician visiting from Austin, was also impressed: "The NEON District reminds me of the funky warehouse districts back home. I loved exploring the galleries and catching some great indie bands at Charlie's American Cafe. Downtown Norfolk has a vibrant, eclectic arts scene."

Norfolk Voyage: Navigating the Hot 'Hoods of this Virginia Coastal Gem - Nature Lovers: Don't Miss the Botanical Gardens

At the heart lies the Rose Garden, ablaze in crimson, pink, and yellow blooms. Inhale the heavenly scents as you meander gravel paths framed by arching trellises and arbors. Nearby, don"™t miss the tranquil Japanese Garden showcasing granite lanterns, a bamboo grove, and gurgling streams.

The World of Wonders Children"™s Garden engages little ones with imaginative play spaces like a treehouse and pirate ship. Kids can also explore jungle and desert biomes showcasing cacti and carnivorous plants. Families appreciate the maze, butterfly house, and drop-in activities.

For horticulture buffs, the Bristow Butterfly Garden spotlights butterfly-friendly flowering plants. Stroll through meadows, wetlands, and woodlands habitats. Peak butterfly migration brings a kaleidoscope of winged beauties from April to October.

The Mary Payne Hogan Rhododendron Garden impresses in spring when over 700 rhododendron varieties erupt in vibrant blooms. Meandering pathways reveal new floral vistas around every bend. Visitors also enjoy the tranquility of the Mediterranean Garden, Alice J. Wergelius Reflection Pool, and Elizabeth River Overlook.

"The Norfolk Botanical Garden provided a peaceful escape from the city," said Jacob Wright, an accountant visiting from Baltimore. "Walking the trails, photographing flowers, and watching butterflies offered a relaxing change of pace from sightseeing. The diversity of gardens means there's always something new in bloom."

Rebecca Hill, a teacher from Virginia Beach, enjoys bringing her kids. "The interactive children's gardens like the maze and treehouse make learning about nature fun. It's become a family tradition to visit the butterfly house each summer and have a picnic by the koi ponds. The Norfolk Botanical Garden is an urban oasis."

Norfolk Voyage: Navigating the Hot 'Hoods of this Virginia Coastal Gem - Naval History Comes Alive at Nauticus Museum

Naval history springs to life at Nauticus, Norfolk"™s maritime-themed science center and museum located right on the downtown waterfront. Visitors can explore naval warfare, marine science, and seafaring history through interactive exhibits and naval artifacts.

One highlight is clambering aboard the Battleship Wisconsin, one of the largest battleships ever built by the US Navy. This revered warship saw action in World War II, the Korean War, and the Gulf War before retiring as a museum ship. Walk her decks to glimpse the inner workings of naval warfare. Peer down the barrels of the massive 16-inch guns and tour the cramped sleeping quarters used by over 2,500 sailors. Kids love trying out the hands-on gun turret simulator.

The USS Wisconsin is just one piece of Nauticus"™ extensive naval collection. Inside the museum, you"™ll come face-to-face with the imposing 14-foot screw from the Civil War ironclad CSS Virginia that wreaked havoc on Union ships. Other artifacts provide insights into the Hampton Roads region"™s pivotal role in naval history as home of the famous Civil War naval battle between the Monitor and Merrimack warships.

Nauticus also spotlights science with shark touch tanks, aquatic exhibits, and marine life shows at the Milwaukee Alewives Action Zone. Budding oceanographers can study marine mammals while admiring the crab tank and jellyfish habitats.

For sweeping views over the Norfolk harbor, ride the glass elevators up to the Observation Deck. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel spanning nearly 20 miles across the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

Visitors of all ages applaud Nauticus for sparking their interest in maritime history. As retired naval officer Frank James commented, "œWalking the decks of the Battleship Wisconsin took me back to my early days training aboard her. So many memories came flooding back of firing the guns and working in the engine room."

Amanda Chen, a high school student from Richmond, appreciated the hands-on exhibits. "œIt was cool to climb inside an actual warship gun turret and try firing at enemy ships on the simulator screen. I gained a new appreciation for just how cramped those sailors lived."

Her younger brother Thomas added, "œI loved touching the shark eggs and watching the jellyfish swim around. It got me excited about marine biology. The huge screw from the CSS Virginia was awesome too. Now I want to build my own ironclad ship model!"

Norfolk Voyage: Navigating the Hot 'Hoods of this Virginia Coastal Gem - Ocean Views and Fresh Seafood in Ocean View

Perched on the southern shores of the Chesapeake Bay, Norfolk's Ocean View neighborhood serves up incredible seafood with a side of spectacular waterfront views. Meandering along Shore Drive, visitors will discover laidback eateries specializing in the day's freshest catch. Savor crab cakes, oysters, shrimp, and more while gazing over the shimmering bay.

One standout is Dockside Seafood Market and Restaurant. Visitors rave over feasts of snow crab legs, steamed shrimp, clam strips, and crab cakes made from owner Tommy McNuff's secret recipe. Watch fishing boats unload their haul while enjoying dockside dining on the open-air deck. For a casual bite, grab shrimp tacos or fish sandwiches from their takeaway counter.

Shorebreak Pizza offers creative seafood-topped pies baked in a wood-fired oven. Their signature Chesapeake combines lump crab meat, shrimp, artichokes, and Old Bay seasoning for a taste of Tidewater. Dine overlooking the Lynnhaven Inlet while sipping local craft brews. Don't miss happy hour with discounts on house wines and draft beers.

If you're looking for oceanfront ambiance, Waterman's Surfside Grille is the place. Located right on the beach, the multi-level deck provides panoramic water views. Watch breakers roll in as you dig into steamed Middle Peninsula oysters and jumbo lump crab cakes. Try their popular fish tacos stuffed with fried Atlantic cod. Wash it down with a Waterman's Hurricane cocktail garnished with a skewer of shrimp.

For picnic fare, swing by Ocean View Fishing Pier. Load up on fresh fish from their market like tuna steaks, mahi sandwiches, shrimp salad rolls, and homemade chowders. Claim a table on the 500-foot pier to watch anglers reeling in the day's catch as you dine. It's one of the best spots to soak in sunset views.

Visitors consistently applaud Ocean View's laidback seafood eateries. As Amy Chang from Richmond commented: "Sitting right on the water at Dockside was amazing. We feasted on huge platters of crab legs and fish fresh off the boats. And the prices were so reasonable!"

Lee Hammond from Pennsylvania added: "I loved how Shorebreak Pizza incorporated local seafood like lump crab and shrimp into creative pies. Eating pizza on their bay-view deck made the experience even better."

Grace Adams from Atlanta, visiting with her family, said: "My kids had a blast watching the fishing boats come in while we picnicked on the Ocean View Fishing Pier. And we couldn't get over the beautiful Chesapeake Bay sunsets!"

Norfolk Voyage: Navigating the Hot 'Hoods of this Virginia Coastal Gem - Take in the Harbor's Energy at Waterside District

Located right along Norfolk's downtown riverfront, Waterside District serves up waterfront dining, drinks, and entertainment with a side of the city's best skyline views. Visitors flock here to soak in the energetic vibe while gazing over the Elizabeth River and downtown Norfolk beyond.

By day, Waterside hums with activity. Marketplace shops sell everything from fashion to home décor. Relax over coffee and pastries at Blanchards Coffee Roasting Company or browse the stalls at the weekly farmers' market. Come evening, the entertainment heats up. Sip creative cocktails as live bands rock the outdoor Plaza Stage. Sing along as iconic lighted signage spells out "Norfolk" across the river.

Hungry? Waterside offers no shortage of dining options from upscale restaurants like Blue Moon TapHouse to more casual fare at Guy Fieri's Smokehouse. Sit on the open-air patio at Brick Anchor Brew-House for craft beers and brick oven pizzas. Spanish cuisine shines at La Bella Vista, while Commune offers global street food-inspired small plates.

Foodies also flock to the Greenies Oyster Bar for chargrilled oysters, shrimp po' boys, and other Nawlins' classics. As Atlanta visitor Tiana James shared, "I loved exploring the shops before settling on the Greenies patio for fresh raw oysters and Hurricane cocktails at sunset. The live music created such a fun vibe!"

Thrill-seekers make a beeline for thrilling games and rides like the carnival-style Merry Go Wheel offering unbeatable skyline views as you loop over the river. Take the exhilarating RipCord skydiving simulator for an adrenaline rush or try to conquer the ropes course.

Chicago resident Ryan Hill explained, "My teenage kids were obsessed with testing their nerves on Waterside's extreme rides. My daughter screamed the whole time on RipCord while my son braved the ropes course multiple times, loving every minute of it! Waterside provided entertainment for all ages."

Waterside also impresses families with free movie nights and interactive fountains. Let kids splash around as lively pop music plays. Later, cuddle up on the great lawn for anything from Moana sing-alongs to action flicks on the 40-foot screen.

Norfolk teacher Amanda James remarked, "It was so nice enjoying free family movies under the stars on balmy summer evenings. My kids loved frolicking in the dancing fountains before the show started. Waterside's relaxed vibe makes it a quintessential summer hangout."

Norfolk Voyage: Navigating the Hot 'Hoods of this Virginia Coastal Gem - Beach Vibes and Brews in Virginia Beach

Looking to soak up some sun, surf, and craft brews? Then make tracks for the laidback beaches and breweries of Virginia Beach. Alongside pristine Atlantic waves, visitors will discover an exploding craft beer scene spinning out innovative India Pale Ales, fruit-infused sours, coffee porters, and more.

One standout is Back Bay Brewing Company. Sip their flagship Whale Tale Pale Ale and munch brick oven pizzas on the tasting room's beachy back patio. Their specialty Beach Barn sour ale mixes tart citrus with sea salt, conjuring carefree summer vibes. Organize a group brewery tour or play bocce ball on the lawn after sampling flights of their small-batch brews.

If you're seeking stunning oceanfront views with your pint, head to Commonwealth Brewing Company. This expansive taproom sits right on the boardwalk overlooking frothy waves. Quaff anything from their crisp Kolsch to bold Russian imperial stouts as you gaze over the sea. Soak in an incredible sunset while downing a tangerine-infused sour ale. Commonwealth also plates up tasty tacos and flatbreads to pair with their brews.

For family-friendly vibes, Reaver Beach Brewing Company can't be beat. Kids scamper around the grassy yard while adults sample juicy IPAs like Give Me S'more and Strawberry Shortcake on the covered patio. Savor wood-fired pizzas from the on-site food truck. There's even a life-sized Jenga game for everyone to enjoy.

Local surfer Cole James appreciates Beach Brewing's chill atmosphere after a day catching waves. As he shared, "Nothing beats kicking back on Commonwealth's oceanfront patio after surfing all day. Their refreshing Kolsch really hits the spot on a hot summer day. You can't beat those perfect sunset views either!"

Beach visitor Karen Murphy from Richmond explained, "I loved how Reaver Beach makes craft brews approachable for the whole family. My kids had a blast playing yard games while my husband and I sampled amazing fruit-flavored beers on the patio. It encapsulated the best of the Virginia Beach vibe."

Atlanta resident Tyler Hill remarked, "Back Bay Brewing was the highlight of my Virginia Beach visit. Their sour beers totally impressed me. The lively crowd playing bocce ball outside created such a fun, community atmosphere. And the pizzas coming fresh from the brick oven were insane!"

Norfolk Voyage: Navigating the Hot 'Hoods of this Virginia Coastal Gem - Sun, Surf, and Street Art in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach captivates with over 20 miles of sandy Atlantic beaches perfect for surfing, sunbathing, and encountering vibrant street art. While the classic beach scene draws many, the city's colorful murals and sculptures bring an extra dash of creativity to any seaside getaway.

Venture just off the main drag of Atlantic Avenue to spot fantastical mermaids swimming across brick walls, larger-than-life sea turtles, and surreal, dreamlike visions blending ocean motifs with imaginative worlds. One of the most iconic works is the colossal King Neptune sculpture lording over the beach near 31st Street. This 30-foot tall figure seems straight out of myth, with flowing beard and trident in hand.

The ViBe Creative District near 17th Street is another hot spot, containing over 30 diverse murals. Don't miss the massive mural at 19th Street and Cypress Avenue depicting King Neptune, mermaids, and other marine life against a swirling blue backdrop. Nearby, an abstract work at 1811 Cypress Ave combines bold geometrics with ocean themes.

For a dose of history, check out the sprawling 2420 Atlantic Avenue mural chronicling Virginia Beach's journey from Native American lands to today's resort destination. It captures key moments like the arrival of the English settlers, the founding of Princess Anne County, the opening of the Cavalier Hotel, and the city's 1963 incorporation.

Those like local artist Amy Chang appreciate Virginia Beach's willingness to embrace public art. As she shared, "œI'm impressed by the sheer diversity and talent evident in Virginia Beach's street art scene. The murals showcase quirky, dreamlike visions alongside pieces anchored in regional history. It adds an extra layer of vibrancy to any beach day."

Beach visitor parasite was also drawn to the art. As he explained, "I stumbled upon stunning murals just blocks from the boardwalk that I never would have discovered otherwise. That gigantic King Neptune sculpture blew my mind too. Virginia Beach's creativity makes it so much more than your average beach town."

Even those not normally into art can find themselves moved by Virginia Beach's installations. As New Jersey tourist Michael Hill admitted: "I'm not hugely into art, but I was still blown away by that massive ocean mural. Its larger-than-life designs pull you into an imaginative world tinged with mythology. The street art alone is worth a trip here."

Get stunning travel pictures from the world's most exciting travel destinations in 8K quality without ever traveling! (Get started for free)

More Posts from