If you live, have lived, or have visited the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, chances are you have seen the outstanding changes made in Norfolk. Once regarded as a simple Navy town and a stop on the way to the beach or the more historical areas of the state, Norfolk is fast becoming an impressive metropolitan city. A lively cultural calendar, increased interest from major corporations, and the presence of NATO make Norfolk a city to watch in the future, for potential businesses and residences.
If you have never been to Norfolk, or merely drove through on the way to somewhere else, you should definitely consider a stay. Here are just five reasons to love Norfolk.
1) Growing downtown area There used to be a time, friends have told me, when people were reluctant to go downtown, as it had little to offer in the way of shopping and recreation. In the last five years, however, those same people have changed their tunes! Norfolk is steadily developing the downtown area to be more consumer friendly. The MacArthur Center, one of the city's largest shopping complexes, sits in the heart of an area revitalized by incoming boutiques, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Buildings on the perimeter are being renovated to accommodate urban, loft living, while corporations headquartered nearby encouraged the influx of employees to become residential neighbors. To have everything within walking distance - goods, services, churches, and recreation - makes Norfolk a very convenient place to live.
2) Sophisticated dining options With the growth of the downtown area, Norfolk is quickly vying other localities in Hampton Roads for dining honors. From nationally-renowned restaurant chains like Shula's Steakhouse to legendary eateries like Doumar's Cones and BBQ, Norfolk has just about every style of cuisine foodies can enjoy. Eclectic fusion dining, cozy coffeehouses, and savory ethnic restaurants await the famished here.
3) Family friendly activities One can only spend so much time at the beach! A trip to Norfolk offers visitors (and residents) many options for family-friendly entertainment. Recent additions to the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk have made this park a growing local attraction, while the Waterside complex offers visitor a casual day of food and fun along the Elizabeth River. Nauticus, Norfolk's own nautical museum, gives visitors the opportunity to experience life under the sea and on the deck of the mighty USS Wisconsin.
4) The Norfolk Tides Did you know Norfolk is home to a professional sports team? The Norfolk Tides are AAA baseball at its best! Boasting one of the most beautiful ballparks on the East Coast, the Norfolk Tides are farm team to the New York Mets, and have delighted sports fans for several years. Many former Tides have gone on to successful careers with the MLB, and it is always fun to watch games and see tomorrow's sports stars playing today.
5) Year-round festivals Town Point Park in Norfolk is always busy, hosting festivals throughout the year on grassy lawns overlooking the Elizabeth River. From live jazz and reggae music, celebrations of Virginia wine and lowcountry cuisine, to the annual Fourth of July fireworks, Norfolk knows how to entertain.
The next time you consider a visit to Virginia, come to Norfolk and fall in love with this diverse, growing city.
Kathryn Lively is a freelance travel writer and editor. She writes for the Norfolk Convention and Visitors Bureau of Norfolk, Virginia and the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance, serving the business development needs of fifteen localities in the Hampton Roads area.