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Norfolk Travel Guide, Virginia

Just a few miles west of Virginia Beach is the city of Norfolk, an important seaport and naval base.

The city has a modern look and downtown is no longer dominated by old sailor bars but by elegant residences, museums, marinas and shops among which the Mac Arthur Center is the new downtown centerpiece. The millions worth shopping mall is not far from the riverfront and tourists do not have to go far to enjoy shopping in an exquisite mall, watch a movie at its 18-screen cinema or dine at one of its many restaurants. Downtown you'll find more than enough restaurants to satisfy your appetite, as well as diversions to satisfy your curiosity.

But the city’s revitalization started with another venue called The Waterside Festival Marketplace that was built in 1983. It was the main shopping center in town until the Mac Arthur Center opened; now people come here mainly in the evening to dine and have fun.

Since then a lot of new buildings have sprung and many others were restored. So now the city is shaped up for receiving tourists that have a wide option of places to visit. Among them are the state’s official zoo, its nicest art museum and a marvelous botanical garden.

But you don’t have to expect that everything is new downtown. Granted, plenty of history and heritage remains evident in historic houses like the Old City Hall that is now a museum.

Other entertainment options include a variety of cruises and they are all fun. You will have a hard time deciding which to choose.

There are the ones that take you on the Elizabeth River, Hampton Roads, and the Chesapeake Bay. There are three boats that offer cruises on this route and they part from Nauticus. Along the way you will be able to see a naval base. You can also see the Norfolk Naval Station if you decide for the Victory Rover cruises, but if you want to check out the aircraft carriers and other ships from close by take the Hampton Roads Transit tour while bearing in mind that for admission you need a picture ID if you are 18 or over.

Another much appreciated cruise is the Spirit of Norfolk that entertains passengers with good food and dancing but you can also choose a moonlight party cruise.

If you want to sail old style, the Carrie B is the best choice as it has the look of a 19th century Mississippi riverboat.

While in Norfolk don’t miss visiting the Town Point Park that hosts the Armed Forces Memorial and The Homecomer, a statue representing a sailor returning to his family. Another park is the relaxing and low-key Harbor Park, a 12,000 seat minor league baseball park.

Norfolk is ideal place for kicking back on excellent cruises, prowling the shops and galleries, and relaxing over a meal in one of many top-notch cafes and restaurants.

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