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Norfolk is one of the longest ‘established’ locations of our surrounding areas. It was founded as the “Towne of lower Norfolk County” in August 1682, in 1736 it was granted borough status, and in 1845 with a population greater than 10,000 it was incorporated as a city. It went from a 50 acre town to what it is now, 61.86 square miles and now boasts a population of over 246,000. It is home to the world’s largest Naval Base and is the North American Headquarters for NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). USA Today has deemed Norfolk as one of the top 10 booming downtowns.
Norfolk Station Norfolk: Established in 1917 and was a 1.6 million dollar project for the 5th Naval Headquarters. By 1918 there were 34,000 enlisted men at the base to help with the war. It covers approximately 3,400 acres and is now consistently home to well over 80,000 active duty service members. NOB (Norfolk Operating Base) hosts personnel from the Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, and the Coast Guard. It supports 75 ships and 134 aircrafts along 14 piers, and 11 aircraft hangars. They complete around 100,000 flight operations a year with an average of 275 per day at the rate of 1 every 6 minutes.
Norfolk is full of history, art, and music. We have the privilege of being home to the Virginia Opera, the Virginia Symphony, the Virginia Ballet Company, and the Commonwealth Theatre Company. Norfolk has several amazing venues that play host to various artists such as Chrysler Hall, the Harrison Opera House, the Scope Arena, and The Norva- which was voted the best small venue in the country by Rolling Stones Magazine. There are also many museums that are a great place to visit such as the MacArthur Memorial, Hermitage Museum and Gardens, Nauticus, and the impressive Chrysler Museum of Art.
Almost every weekend in the spring and summer, Town Point Park in the Waterside area of Norfolk hosts different types of festivals annually. Some of these include, but are not limited to, the Virginia Wine Festival (held twice a year), the Beer Festival, Harborfest, the Norfolk In-Water Boat Show, the Virginia Children’s Festival, Opera in the PArk, 4th of July Great American Picnic, Norfolk Latino Festival, the Bayou Boogaloo, and the Jazz Festival. Vendors of all types come out and show off their services to the community at these events also.
Important “staples” of the Norfolk community include:
U.S.S. Wisconsin- located near waterside, and part of the Nauticus Museum. It’s an enormous retired Navy battleship that is open to the public to go on and tour.
The Norfolk Botanical Garden is a 175 acre visual splendor with its vast sprawling gardens and paths. It features a butterfly greenhouse, a children’s garden, educational classes, picnic areas, 12 miles of walking paths, and benches scattered around the property to stop and take in all of the beauty around.
The Spirit of Norfolk- a yacht that offers lunch, brunch, and dinner cruises around the Elizabeth River The tickets include beautiful views, food and beverage choices, and live music during your voyage.
Sports Teams- Norfolk is home to 2 minor league sports teams: The Norfolk Tides which are a farm team of the Baltimore Orioles and make Harbor Park Stadium their home, as well as the Norfolk Admirals that play at the Scope, and who’s parent club is the Nashville Predators.
The Mermaids- There are more than 100 different mermaid statues mounted at various places all around Norfolk. They are considered a ‘mascot’ for the city.
Doumars- Doumars is one of hundreds of great restaurants scattered around the city. The Doumar family just happens to have had prevalence in the Norfolk community since the 1907. Abe Doumar was accredited with the invention of the ice cream cone and the very first ice cream cone maker. He and his brother, George, began with cone stands and in the 1920s expanded their business to become a full diner in 1934 on Monticello Avenue, where it remains today.
Waterside- the Waterside district has been around since 1983, however, it just recently received a 40 million dollar facelift. It’s a 135,000 square foot two story building that overlooks the Elizabeth River and features 14 restaurants. It’s designed to be a fluid space where you can roam freely from bar, to restaurant, to cafe, to dessert bakery all in one condensed area. They often hold free concerts and host special events.