Welcome to the Meeting and Event Planning Guide to Norfolk, written with meeting planners in mind. With lovely weather and abundant historical, cultural and recreational attractions, it's no wonder that Norfolk welcomes approximately two million visitors each year. A standout among convention destinations with a large number of Norfolk event venues, the invigorated city offers a compact, affordable and easily-managed seaside setting for meeting and convention groups. Travel to the area is a breeze with two-thirds of the U.S. population within one day's drive. Also convenient, the Norfolk International Airport is located only six miles away from the newly revitalized downtown area.
The spotlight of Norfolk's convention facilities is the Waterside Convention Connection, an alliance that provides 1,200 first-class rooms and suites, 55 meeting rooms and 121,000 square feet of convention space within a 10-block radius. Just steps away, the Norfolk Scope Arena offers an additional 85,000 square feet of meeting space.
Norfolk's distinctive essence can also be experienced at any one of many unique event spaces peppered throughout the city. The Chrysler Museum of Art offers a number of spectacular spaces for functions such as the Tiffany Gallery, which can accommodate groups up to 100 people and features the museum's exquisite collection of Tiffany glass. The museum also offers the 375-seat George M. and Linda H. Kaufman Theatre, featuring state-of-the-art, audio-visual equipment perfect for corporate meetings and presentations. For larger functions, the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center is an 80,000-square-foot waterfront facility that can accommodate up to 1,500 guests. With five breathtaking spaces overlooking Norfolk's historic waterway, the Celebration Center has been host to such prestigious events as the luncheon for His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; and the Sail Virginia Governor's Ball.
Norfolk serves as the North American headquarters for NATO and the corporate headquarters to a number of companies including Norfolk Southern, Landmark Communications, Dominion Enterprises, FHC Health Systems, Portfolio Recovery Associates and BlackHawk Products Group. Norfolk is also home to high-profile colleges and universities including Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University and Wesleyan College.
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 comprise the Hampton Roads Metropolitan Area. Other cities include 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 approximately 242,803 people, Norfolk is the Commonwealth of Virginia's 2nd 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 as "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 Norfolk History Museum at the Willoughby-Baylor House, are a testament to the city's prominent and multi-faceted role in American history.
As the heart of culture for the region, Norfolk is home to a thriving art scene that includes the Virginia Opera, Virginia Stage Company, Commonwealth Theatre Company, Hermitage Foundation Museum and Virginia Symphony. See pieces by renowned artists Renoir, Degas and Monet at the nationally-acclaimed Chrysler Museum of Art.
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. Or stop by Norfolk's surprisingly hip downtown core, featuring a theater district, upscale shopping, antique stores and a lively cruise port.
Beach lovers will enjoy Norfolk's close proximity to Virginia Beach. Only fifteen miles away, this quaint beach town offers more than 35 miles of waterfront property, numerous museums, shopping and over 200 restaurants, serving the freshest of local seafood.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Norfolk enjoys a subtropical climate characterized by moderate changes of season. The city is warm most days of the year with an average annual high temperature of 68°F and an annual average low temperature of 51°F. Summers in Norfolk can be quite humid with average temperatures frequently reaching the 90s, with July being the warmest and wettest month. Winters are generally mild with the coldest month being January. Norfolk sees snowfall every winter, averaging seven inches per season.
Although Norfolk benefits from a mild, pleasant climate year-round, the best time to visit is in either the spring or fall. With only modest precipitation, spring and fall are a great time to get outdoors and enjoy a stroll through the vibrant downtown district, a harbor cruise, or any of the many recreational activities of this scenic, seaside city.
The Virginia Beach Convention Center
Located just 12 miles southwest of Norfolk International Airport, the new $202.5 million Virginia Beach Convention Center adds yet another outstanding option for meeting and convention groups. Completed in 2007, the convention center has become a premier facility for the Hampton Roads Metropolitan Area offering easy access to the region's many historic and maritime attractions. Located just blocks away from the glistening sands of Virginia's shoreline, this first-class facility provides more than 500,000 square feet of space including a 150,000-square-foot column-free exhibit hall, 28,929 square feet of meeting rooms and a 31,029-square-foot ballroom.
An artful design, the building blends the use of water, wood and natural light to create an awe-inspiring reflection of the area's coastal spirit. Beyond the convention center's breathtaking structure, meeting planners find an endless array of amenities and technology such as a 360-foot video wall, programmable LED lighting in the center's ballroom, wireless and wired high-speed Internet access, an on-site caterer and 2,230 free parking spaces.
Norfolk International Airport (ORF)
Approximate taxi fare: $21 USD
Roughly 10 miles from downtown Norfolk, Norfolk International Airport is the dominant airport in Southeast Virginia. Ranking in the top 65 of U.S. airports in terms of passengers served, the airport saw an average of 3.5 million passengers in 2008. The seven airlines operating out of Norfolk International Airport provide non-stop service to 26 destinations in the United States.
The airport's 400,000-square-foot main passenger terminal houses two concourses and 24 gates, while the 243,000-square-foot arrivals terminal, completed in 2002, provides state-of-the-art baggage claim and ground transportation facilities. Travelers can find dining options such as Phillips Seafood Restaurant and fast food chains in the passenger terminal. Norfolk International also features wireless Internet access throughout the terminal and a conference center for business travelers.
The airport completed construction of a nine-level parking facility in 2002. The facility has space for 2,859 short- and long-term parking spaces. An additional 4,700 parking spaces can be found among several other surface lots and garages, all within a short walk of the terminal.
Airline carriers serving Norfolk International Airport
Amtrak offers connecting bus service to Norfolk for passengers of the Northeast Regional route. Riders originating in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC or any station along the line can transfer to a connecting Thruway bus at the Newport News station for completion of their trip. Amtrak schedules two departures daily Saturday through Thursday, with three departures on Friday.
Getting around Norfolk and the surrounding region is a breeze. Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) operates a number of traditional bus, electric shuttle bus and paddle wheel ferry boat routes within and between Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Hampton, Newport News and Suffolk. HRT serves over one million riders per month. Beginning in September 2008, HRT will operate The Max, a system of seven bus routes running between Hampton Roads communities and major centers of employment. The Max will feature large, comfortable seats and free wireless Internet access for commuters. Also in the works is a regional light rail system known as The Tide. Scheduled to debut in 2010, The Tide will extend 7.4 miles through downtown Norfolk making 11 stops and connections with HRT bus service.
HRT runs 47 local and five express routes throughout the Hampton Roads region. With 25 routes servicing Norfolk, the area's many attractions are easily within reach. Bus fares are $1 for children, $1.50 for adults and $0.75 for seniors and people with disabilities. Fare for children under 38 inches tall is free. Both 10-Ride and multiple-day passes can be purchased.
Norfolk Electric Transit (NET) Shuttle Buses
NET buses run within the downtown area seven days a week on weekday and weekend routes. Routes offer access to a number of sites including Nauticus, the Harrison Opera House and the MacArthur Center. Fare is free.
HRT operates three, 150-passenger ferry boats between Portsmouth and the downtown Norfolk waterfront. Ferries run daily every 30 minutes. Fare is $1 for adults and $0.50 for seniors. Farecards for 30-day, five-day and three-day passes are available.
Carey VIP Airport Connection provides shared or individual service to and from Norfolk International Airport. The Shuttle is located outside of the baggage claim area at Norfolk International Airport. Fare from the airport to the downtown area is approximately $21 for one person and an extra $5 per person for up to three additional passengers.
Norfolk International Airport offers on-site car rental located in the new arrivals terminal. Rental car companies include Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty.
A number of taxi companies operate within Norfolk and out of Norfolk International Airport. Fare from the airport to the downtown area is approximately $35. Cabs can accommodate up to five passengers for the same price as one passenger.
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