Home to the largest naval base in the world, and featuring a waterfront packed full of typical American food chains, docks, plenty of off-duty sailors, and enough waterfront taverns to fill any seedy novel, Norfolk, Virginia is the second largest city in the state behind Virginia Beach, located in the center of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. At first glance, this is not a tourist destination, and many people shrug it off due to the presence of the naval base, automatically assuming that there is nothing going on here above and beyond official military duties, but what many people fail to realize is that Norfolk is actually a major cultural hub for the state, with a thriving arts community, museums, operas, and plenty of cultural heritage to keep anyone entertained.
From the nearby historic district of Ghent, packed with historical homes interspersed with tree-lined streets looking like they are straight off of a postcard, to the various restaurants and bars of the downtown district, Norfolk is anything but ordinary. With access to the beaches of the Chesapeake Bay, the once-famous premier beach community known as Ocean View—now on the rise to one of the city’s most desired residential housing after years of slumbering in the shadows—and plenty of shopping opportunities, Norfolk is definitely a thriving city. Make no mistake, however; this is a typical American town, which means there's lots of well-known chains of stores and restaurants, but beyond that the city has close to 400 years of history since things first began developing here, making it one of the oldest sections of the United States. Not to mention, this is one of the best places in the world to get up close and personal with the largest naval vessels to sail the open seas, which by themselves are reason enough to come.
An independent city nestled in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia along the Atlantic Ocean near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Beach is the most populated city in Virg…