Things to Know Before Moving to Norfolk Virginia

Table of Contents

What is Norfolk, VA Known For?

If you are a lover of Virginia, Norfolk is certainly a place that you should know more about. Strategically located on the Chesapeake Bay and the Elizabeth River, the city of Norfolk is a national maritime center boasting the headquarters of the world’s largest fleet of US-flagged vessels.

The long history of Norfolk, Virginia shows that people have loved this place for its beauty and natural advantages. Today, people enjoy Norfolk for its ocean view, being located between multiple bodies of water and as a transportation point between neighboring cities.

Norfolk, Virginia is an inviting cultural center offering endless opportunities for exploration. Map out an exciting adventure to get to know the city of Norfolk, from its strategic military position to its public art centers.

Ancient Virginia: Norfolk Before Colonization

The Chesepian tribe inhabited the Hampton Roads Region before Sir Walter Raleigh and other Europeans arrived from across the Atlantic Ocean. Their largest settlement, called Skicoke, was located around the present-day independent city of Norfolk.

It is difficult to know much about the Chesepian people because their settlement may have been wiped off the map before European explorers came. But, there have been archeological finds near present-day Downtown Norfolk that point to the people’s cultural center having been located there.

Norfolk Colonial Period 1607-1775

During the time when Virginia was a British colony, a royal decree sought to create an extensive network of shipping between the old and new worlds. With the strategic military advantages of having a deepwater port located on the Chesapeake Bay, Norfolk became a critical transportation point and one of the most prosperous cities in the colonies.

A City During The Revolutionary War

The final Royal Governor attempted to take the colony back from rebels from a base at Norfolk. Countless battles were fought throughout the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, and evidence can still be seen today.

Unfortunately, the fighting caused fires that destroyed much of Norfolk and slowed the economy for years during the early Virginia independence period. Then, the city continued on with the help of slave labor while also debating whether or not the state should end slavery altogether.

A Frontline Between The North and South

The Commonwealth of Virginia, Norfolk included, saw many important battles during the American Civil War because of its strategic military position between the north and south. The Norfolk Naval base was crucial during the war and you can still learn about these events around the city.

Norfolk in the 20th Century

After the war, Norfolk continued to be an important port city because it is located in a protected part of the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, Norfolk grew into the home of the world’s largest naval base during this period.

The navy has always put Norfolk on the map. This fact was truly solidified during the Second World War.

Modern Norfolk: A Jewell Of the Chesapeake Bay

With its many miles of bayfront property, Norfolk is still a place tied to the sea. Norfolk is the financial, urban, and cultural center of Hampton Roads, which is made up of several independent cities in Virginia and North Carolina.

Another name for the Hampton Roads region is the Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Newport News, VA-NC-MSA(Metropolitan Statistical Area). Norfolk is an excellent transportation point for the region and neighboring Virginia Beach.

If you want to visit the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News region, you can fly into Norfolk International Airport. It connects to many destinations in the US and is only seven miles from downtown Norfolk.

What To See And Do In Norfolk, Virginia

With many miles of riverfront and bayfront property, the Norfolk downtown waterfront is a beautiful place for visitors and locals alike. Any place on the map in Norfolk will have its special offerings for you to enjoy.

Norfolk’s central location on the map makes it ideal for seeing what this region has to offer. You might also have time to explore nearby cities, like Chesapeake to the south and Virginia Beach to the east.

Regardless of your goals for being in Norfolk, it is a place that will enchant you. Living here in Norfolk is great, you never run out of things to do and you can explore places that aren’t on the tourist map.

Downtown Norfolk

The central business district is a cultural center full of art galleries, live music, a vibrant restaurant scene, and more. Downtown Norfolk is a great place to live or visit where you can connect with many businesses and like-minded folks.

Granby street is a pedestrian-friendly area lined with 20th-century buildings. Living or visiting Granby street connects you with everything that is great about Norfolk.

Likewise, the entire downtown is wonderful to get to know. Take your time, mark some of your favorite places on a map, and feel like a local.

Town Point Park

This seven-acre downtown waterfront park is on the banks of the Elizabeth River. Town Point Park is a perfect break from the city where you can spend a quiet moment gazing at the ships sailing by right in Downtown Norfolk.

You can find this park on a map be looking at places near the river and downtown. It is a great walk with plenty of sights to see on the way.

A popular activity in this park is to bring a picnic and enjoy the river views. This is a way to see another side of Norfolk in a more relaxed and quiet atmosphere.

Norfolk Neon District

Home to some of the best artists in Virginia, this district is a great place to experience fine and performing arts. The renowned Chrysler Museum is located here and is a working glass studio where you can view the creative process from start to finish.

If you love walks that show you the creativity of a city, the Neon District’s sidewalks are a great place for you. The map here is full of galleries and other creative spaces for you to enjoy.

This district is fairly new to the city, and it’s not the world’s largest art display. But, this is an exciting time to see a blossoming arts scene up close and personal, without any of the pretentiousness that can be found in some of the more established districts.

Ocean View, Norfolk

If beach vacation vibes are something you love, this section of Norfolk, Virginia might be the place for you. This part of the city is comprised of seven miles of bayfront property with residential homes and businesses.

If you head south and Virginia Beach doesn’t appeal to you, this area of Norfolk might be more pleasant. It doesn’t have all the fanfare you can see in Virginia Beach, and it can feel more humble and relaxed.

Unsurprisingly, restaurants in this part of Norfolk are famous for their seafood. Being so close on the map to the ocean makes it a perfect setting to enjoy the day’s fresh catch.

Norfolk Botanical Garden

Plant lovers and anyone who appreciates beauty will feel happy in the largest botanical garden in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Norfolk Botanical Garden is a point of pride for the city, featuring flowers, shrubs, trees, bushes, grasses, and other delights from around the world.

You’ll need a map to explore all the wonders of the Norfolk Botanical Garden in all its glory. You can even take a boat or tram tour of Norfolk Botanical Garden, or go walking, with a guided tour or on a bicycle.

Inside the Norfolk Botanical Garden, you can get lost amongst beautiful blooms, stunning foliage, and tasteful exhibits. A trip to the Norfolk Botanical Garden is a must for any visitor to the city.

Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center

Located at One Waterside Drive, this cruise ship terminal’s multifunctional space hosts special events, museums, and incredible views. This is an amazing place to visit in Norfolk, whether you are taking a cruise on the high seas, coming for an event, or just having some free time to spend in a meaningful way.

Norfolk is a popular embarkation point for cruises in the ocean nearby. These cruises go all over the map, but mostly take place during the summer.

This center was created to give cruise passengers more of a chance to get to know Norfolk. It is a great place to explore at any time of year, featuring indoor and outdoor activities.

Live Music In Norfolk

Norfolk is home to the Virginia Symphony which plays all over the commonwealth. Music lovers will appreciate that Norfolk supports such a fine example of culture.

In the end, Norfolk is a great city to enjoy the performing arts in all forms. Overall, there is no shortage of beautiful experiences in Norfolk.

In Norfolk, you get some of the great music that comes from the Blue Ridge Mountains. Even in old times, musicians would come from the hills to entertain the merchants at the port, and this tradition continues today.

Theater Scene In Virginia: Norfolk

The Virginia Stage Company was started in 1978 by Hampton Roads residents who wanted to make live theater part of the cultural events calendar. They perform in the gorgeous Wells Theater in the center of Norfolk.

Also, you might be interested in taking in the Virginia Opera while you are in the city. `This organization puts on amazing performances throughout the year that will take your breath away like nothing else in Norfolk.

This theater troupe puts on different shows throughout the year. Check to see what is playing now and you might have one of your favorites to go see, or you could discover something new and exciting.

Old Dominion University

At the heart of Norfolk learning and academia is Old Dominion. It started out as the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary and has grown to be one of the largest universities in Virginia.

At Old Dominion University you can witness cutting-edge research and academic progress in true Norfolk fashion. The campus is situated between the Elizabeth River and the Lafayette River, about five miles from downtown Norfolk.

Getting a map of the campus can help you explore and see if you like it for your future studies. Spending a day here can be fun, watching students and faculty move about their lives.

Norfolk Tides Baseball

Norfolk is a wonderful place to take in the great American pastime at a minor league baseball stadium. These are summertime, light-hearted events in the city for any age.

If you look on a map, the baseball stadium is just to the east of downtown, on the banks of the Elizabeth River. If you go to see a game, you might want to walk down to the river and see if there are any good pubs or restaurants to try.

Norfolk and the whole Hampton Roads metropolitan area is the largest such area that isn’t on the map of the major professional sports leagues. This means that they take their minor league baseball more seriously than other places, and it can be a great experience for anyone to see.

Nauticus National Maritime Center

With its long history as an important port, it makes sense that the independent city of Norfolk would have one of the best maritime museums in the world. The National Maritime Center is a science center and museum situated on the Elizabeth River.

You can learn all about the long history of ships in Norfolk at the National Maritime Center. You will be right at sea level, just outside the Chesapeake Bay and the ocean beyond that.

The National Maritime Center is a great place for kids and adults alike to explore in Norfolk. The national maritime center is certainly worth a stop to learn all about how Virginia became such an important place.

Waterside Festival Marketplace

This promenade on the Elizabeth River is full of shops, restaurants, and bars to spend an enjoyable time in Norfolk. It has great views of the Elizabeth River, including walking and cycle paths.

No matter the weather, the marketplace is a great place to get some exercise and do some shopping. It has many indoor areas to adventure into, and you might find a secret spot on the map that you fall in love with.

You can find some of the best local crafts in the marketplace. This could be a perfect place to buy a gift for your friends and loved ones.

The Hampton Roads Metropolitan Area

If you have enough time, you can explore outside the city and take in Hampton Roads, or Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Newport News, VA-NC-MSA. Virginia has seven counties and North Carolina has two counties in the Hampton Roads Metropolitan Area.

The Chesapeake Bay, Elizabeth River, and other bodies of water give this area its interesting character and long history with boats. Each independent city has its own special quirks that you can spend a lifetime getting to know.

You’ll find there are not too many land borders between independent cities. This fact makes bridges and waterways traditional routes of traveling through each riverfront and bayfront property.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Neighboring Virginia Beach is a resort area with miles of beaches and hundreds of hotels located 19 miles east of Norfolk. While it is the most populous city in Virginia, its character is more suburban.

Many residents of the Hampton Roads Metropolitan Area and around the country flock to Virginia Beach for vacations every year. Sometimes experiencing high winds and waves, Virginia Beach is home to the East Coast Surfing Championships.

Norfolk and neighboring Virginia Beach make up a great combination of city life and vacation life. Because the two are so close on the map, Virginia Beach is served by the Norfolk International Airport.

Chesapeake, Virginia

Continuing on the map of Hampton Roads, we come to Virginia’s second-largest city. There is plenty of riverfronts and bayfront property in Chesapeake, including part of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

It shares land borders with Norfolk and Portsmouth of Hampton Roads. Virginia’s second-largest city by population is worth a visit while you are in Norfolk.

Overall, Chesapeake is known for its rural nature. You can find many working farms and large pieces of property here.

Portsmouth, Virginia

Moving along in our tour of the independent cities in Hampton Roads, we come to Portsmouth. It has a population of 97,00 puts it below Virginia’s second-largest city, Chesapeake, Norfolk, and neighboring Virginia Beach.

In the Olde Town of Portsmouth, you can find some of the greatest examples of historic homes in the Norfolk area. Here, you might check your map for some antique stores and other fun activities.

While Norfolk has the Norfolk Naval Base, Portsmouth is home to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. This fact is because Portsmouth is located on multiple bodies of water, such as the Elizabeth River.

Norfolk Naval Base

The Norfolk Naval Base is the world’s largest naval station, and it is a huge part of the culture and economy of Norfolk, Virginia. Located on the map near multiple bodies of water, the base protects many miles to the north, south, and east.

The Naval Station at Norfolk also affects the infrastructure of neighboring Virginia Beach. Some tourists might stay in the hotels in Virginia Beach while they visit family at the Norfolk Base.

Having the world’s largest naval station is a large pa

part of the character of Norfolk. Many of the residents of Norfolk are veterans or have close ties with the Navy.

Maersk Line and The World's Largest Fleet

Much of the shipping that goes on in the world is controlled by Maersk Line, Limited, located in Norfolk. Maersk Line, Limited, with the world’s largest fleet of US-flagged trading vessels has a huge impact on the economy of Norfolk.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO) North American Headquarters

Due to being located on the Chesapeake Bay, Norfolk was chosen as one of two Strategic Command headquarters for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization patrols and commands troops all over the Atlantic from the independent city of Norfolk.

Where Is Norfolk On The Map?

Norfolk is on the southeastern corner of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The city has land borders with neighboring Virginia Beach and Virginia’s second-largest city, Chesapeake to the south.

Located to the north across the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay you find Newport News. These cities on the map make up much of the population of Virginia Beach–Norfolk–Newport News, VA–NC, MSA, with Virginia Beach being the most highly populated city.

To put it another way, Chesapeake is to the south and Virginia Beach is to the east of Norfolk. Moreover, this Virginia city is one of the most important to be able to locate on a map.

Virginia: Norfolk and Seven Counties of Hampton Roads

Looking at the map, Norfolk is in Virginia and also in the Hampton Roads area. Hampton Roads is made from seven counties in Virginia, including:

  • Gloucester County
  • Isle of Wight County
  • James City County
  • Mathews County
  • Southampton County
  • York County
  • Surry County

Strangely, Norfolk is an independent city, not belonging to any Virginia county. This can be confusing for some people, so just remember that Norfolk is an independent city in Virginia, with no county.

Transportation In The City

Automobiles are the preferred transportation method in Norfolk, but with a map, you can find your way around on public transportation, too. Being located near multiple bodies of water means that there is an extensive network of bridges and tunnels connecting one area to the next.

The Norfolk light rail, called the tide, connects various points on the map, mainly in the south of the city, including:

  • Eastern Virginia Medical School
  • Norfolk Business District
  • Norfolk State University
  • Newtown Road

The light rail is about 14 miles long and was the first in Virginia when it opened in 2011. Norfolk as a city is fairly walkable and has a goal to become more friendly to pedestrians.

Virginia: Norfolk and Its Extensive Network of Bridges

When you see a map of Norfolk, you probably notice the multiple bodies of water first. These all need to be crossed to get from point A to point B, so Norfolk has developed many bridges and tunnels.

All of these bridges can get confusing, but if you study a map you can start to understand them. Overall, be sure not to miss a bridge if you need to get across some body of water.

Norfolk International Airport

The Norfolk International Airport(symbol ORF) connects the regions around Norfolk with the rest of the country. The Norfolk International Airport is located in the north of the city, almost to the beach.

From the Norfolk International Airport, you can reach 36 different locations around the USA. In fact, the Norfolk International Airport is considered the major airport for the region.

Many places on the map can be accessed with direct or connecting flights from Norfolk. It may not be the world’s largest airport, but it is a relatively calm one compared with others.

Why Would You Like To Live In Norfolk, Virginia

There are many reasons why people love living in Norfolk, Virginia. It offers timeless charm, kind locals, and outstanding tourist destinations. If you’re thinking about buying a house in Norfolk, it gives you the chance to remodel it the way you want it to be. You can easily reach out to a local Norfolk kitchen and bathroom remodeling company and start the remodeling process.


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