Norfolk - Virginia Beach

The heart of the Hampton Roads area, this town is much more than a naval base. Views of Chesapeake Bay, a collection of historic neighborhoods, and its rich maritime history are worth exploring.

Norfolk (insider tip: don’t pronounce the “l”) is the second most populous city in the state behind Virginia Beach. And while summertime hordes invade the sandier cousin to the east, Norfolk offers more than just boardwalks and beach towels.

Thanks to some serious revitalization projects, you don’t have to wonder what there is to do in Norfolk. Home to one of NATO’s Strategic Command Headquarters, it should come as no surprise that the bay is filled with naval ships. You can, however, aboard the WWII-era battleship USS Wisconsin and tour it without being thrown in the brig. The nearby Waterside has gone through several identity crises over the last few decades, but what was once a barren shopping mall has been transformed to a hot spot for local breweries and restaurants.

Just off the water is the Ghent District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This well-kept, highly walkable area is home to some buildings in the Queen Anne, Colonial and Tudor Revival styles, and are visual reminders of Norfolk’s storied past. It’s not just high-brow history here, either; Doumar’s Cones & BBQ claims to have created the world’s first ice cream cone, and it still serves up nostalgic sweet treats.

Norfolk continues to evolve: rough bars and dives have given way to NEON (New Energy of Norfolk), which offer plenty of things to do at night in Norfolk. Anchored by the Chrysler Museum of Art and the Harrison Opera House, these few short blocks are great for checking out local muralist, improv comedy, and the local nightlife. If you time your visit right, on the first Friday of every month after March you can enjoy live music while you sip locally crafted suds.

Of course, there are more things to do in Norfolk. Check out one of our Norfolk vacation packages, or plan your own excursion to this charming city on Chesapeake Bay.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Norfolk - Virginia Beach

Are dogs allowed on Virginia Beach?

Dogs are welcome to frolic on the beach at any time during the off season. In the summer, stay north of 42nd Street or south of the Sandbridge area and plan your dog's visit between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Peak season visitors will want to limit dog walks on the boardwalk to mornings, while off-season pups are welcome anytime.

What makes Norfolk unique?

The city of Norfolk is home to a naval base that is the largest, not just in the United States, but in the world. The military isn't the only fleet that you'll see here, however, since Norfolk is also one of the top cruise ports in the nation.

How long is the Virginia Beach boardwalk?

The 28-foot wide Virginia Beach boardwalk stretches along 3 miles of the area's 35 miles (56.3 kilometers) of beaches. It's located in South East Virginia Beach north of the Rudee Inlet Bridge. When it was built in 1888, it covered just a few blocks, but over the years grew to its current 40-block stretch.