Nestled between the waters of the Elizabeth River and the Chesapeake Bay, the scenic port city of Norfolk, Virginia, has undergone a stunning urban renaissance. The decades-long renewal has reinvented Norfolk as a thriving hub for finance, culture, shopping, and entertainment while remaining true to the city's rich history and quaint Southern charm.
With the riverfront to the west and the bay to the north, the 96.3-square-mile city consists of 42.6 square miles of water. Centrally located along the mid-Atlantic coast, Norfolk is one of nine independent cities and seven counties that make up coastal Virginia. The other cities are Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, Poquoson, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg. The oldest of the nine cities, Norfolk is widely considered the historic, urban, and financial center of the region.
With a population of nearly 250,000 people, Norfolk is the Commonwealth of Virginia's second-largest incorporated city. Dating back 400 years, the port city of Norfolk played a significant role in American history. Recognized for its easy access to water, the region had long been a strategic military and trading center for the New World. By 1775, Norfolk had already become Virginia's most prosperous city, and it continued to expand with the city's annexation of the nearby naval base in 1923.
Today, Norfolk's naval base is the largest in the world, earning the city the nickname "the Navy Capital." Norfolk's numerous historic, maritime, and patriotic offerings, such as the Cannonball Trail, Fort Norfolk, Historic Ghent, the MacArthur Memorial, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, and the Norfolk History Museum at the Willoughby-Baylor House, are a testament to its prominent and multifaceted role in American history. As the heart of culture for the region, Norfolk is home to a thriving art scene that includes d'Art Center, the Virginia Opera, Virginia Arts Festival, Virginia Stage Company, Hermitage Museum, and Virginia Symphony Orchestra. See pieces by renowned artists Renoir, Degas, and Monet at the nationally acclaimed Chrysler Museum of Art and check out the newest addition to the arts scene, the Chrysler Glass Studio.
Beyond the arts, Norfolk offers a number of attractions that reveal the area's charm and natural beauty. Take a stroll through 155 acres of azaleas, roses, and more at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. Experience Norfolk's maritime history at Nauticus, a 120,000-square-foot maritime-themed science center designed to resemble a military ship, and tour the Battleship Wisconsin, one of the largest and last battleships ever built by the U.S. Navy. Or stop by Norfolk's surprisingly hip downtown core, which features the NEON arts district, upscale shopping, antique stores, and a lively cruise port.