Everybody who loves boats should spend time in Norfolk, VA. Perched along the Elizabeth River’s shoreline, you witness a dazzling parade of nautical vessels from paddle wheel ferries, private yachts and sailboats to sleek cruise ships and massive Navy destroyers. The dramatic city skyline serves as a gorgeous backdrop for all the maritime activity.
This 400-year-old port was first visited by European settlers in 1607 when three British ships ended their trans-Atlantic crossing at Cape Henry, then scooted upriver to build Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in America. Established in 1682, Norfolk quickly emerged as a strategic military point to protect the southern entrance of the Chesapeake Bay during colonial times to the present. With the world’s largest naval base and NATO headquarters, it remains the transportation, military, financial and cultural hub for the Hampton Roads area.
Along with military might, Norfolk has a vibrant cultural scene with world-class arts and entertainment venues, museums, unique historical sites and a diverse culinary climate. At the center of the action is the newly renovated Waterside District, where nearly $40 million in upgrades created a riverside showpiece for nightlife, concerts, festivals, shopping and sports. Dining options seem unlimited, but do not leave town without tasting the deliciously briny local oysters.
Across the Elizabeth River to the south is Norfolk’s little sister city, Portsmouth, which is a bit less busy but has its own urban groove with charming streets, historic houses, vintage shops and unique cafés and pubs. It’s an ideal springboard for day trips out of the city to nearby beaches, parks and natural attractions with outdoor activities for all ages.
WHERE TO DOCK
Located in the heart of Norfolk at the new Waterside District, this marina has upgraded power and 20 foot deep floating docks that accommodate megayachts up to 270 feet.
Little Creek Marina
Recently under new ownership and management, this Chesapeake Bay marina has over 120 slips, all with floating docks and 30 and 50 amp power. They offer amenities such as free WiFi, bathroom, shower and laundry facilities, fish cleaning stations and various restaurants including the popular Cutty Sark located next door. You can even overlook a unique view of the Naval base directly across Little Creek.
WHERE TO DINE
Visit a rooftop beer garden with elevated pub fare and 100+ brews
on tap. Its energetic vibe is accented with pool tables, shuffleboard, open air patio, fire pits and an unforgettable view of Norfolk’s waterfront.
Indulge in the region’s best seafood served in a gorgeous historic building with exposed brick, soft vintage lighting, mosaic tile floors and elegant décor. It’s located in Norfolk’s downtown district a few blocks off the river.
Still Worldly Eclectic Tapas
Step back in time to Portsmouth’s Prohibition era of bootleggers, rum runners and flappers at this subterranean speakeasy, but stay tuned to the present with craft cocktails and innovative modern dishes.
Fish & Slips Marina Raw Bar & Grill
You might come for an amazing view of Norfolk at this second-floor restaurant above a marina’s ship store, but you’ll stay for the casual vibe and good food served from breakfast until late dinner.