For a fun-filled getaway, an Amtrak trip to Norfolk offers the chance to feel pampered and cultured while indulging in excellent food and drinks. Skip the traffic and enjoy the pastoral views as you bypass the hassle and expense of driving into the city and parking; from the train station, you can easily access the Tide, which is Norfolk’s light rail system and a reliable way to get just about anywhere in the city.
Where to Stay in Norfolk
The Glass Light Hotel & Gallery is a charming boutique hotel in downtown Norfolk. Approximately a mile from the Norfolk Amtrak station, this gorgeous hotel is housed in a historic building that is over a century old. Use this as your weekend getaway home base and access the rest of the city by Uber or by The Tide Light Rail system.
From the lobby to the guest rooms and suites, restaurant, lounge, and bar, you’ll be astounded by the impressive works of art from emerging and renowned artists throughout the hotel. Additionally, each room in the hotel is accented with conversation-starting art pieces from a global array of glass artists.
Glass Light Restaurant, Photo Credit: Aniesia Williams, @iamaniesia
This historic property includes art gallery space, too. At the Glass Light restaurant, dine on French-inspired dishes that showcase local ingredients, or wind down at the Atrium Lounge or Glass Light Bar with drinks and light fare.
What to Do in Norfolk
Norfolk offers a wide range of activities for every interest. Selden Market is the best place to go for one-of-a-kind shopping and where you’ll discover Black-owned businesses with products and services that surprise and delight. KOR Vintage, Sugar & Grace Co., and Pure Lagos are can’t-miss shops. On 21st Street, you’ll find NYFO Boutique, 2nd Act Consignment, and Nomad’s Clothing Exchange.
Chrysler Museum of Art, Photo Credit: Aniesia Williams, @iamaniesia
Perhaps the best-known museum in Norfolk is the Chrysler Museum of Art, with varied collections that include everything from African art objects to Civil War photography and glass art. Stop by Gallerie Ukwensi, an art gallery that showcases the work of Ukwensi Chappell and fellow artists. For more local art, keep an eye out for the public murals throughout Norfolk, which spotlight emerging and established artists; of note is Magazine Lane’s new Black Lives Matter mural in Norfolk’s official arts district, the vibrant NEON District.
Battleship Wisconsin & Nauticus Museum, Photo Credit: Andrew Richard
At the Nauticus Museum on Waterside Drive, all-ages exhibits and activities combine maritime science with military and industrial applications for a unique and engaging experience. As part of your admission to the Nauticus, you also get access to the next-door Battleship Wisconsin, one of the largest and last battleships ever built by the U.S. Navy, now decommissioned and open for tours.
Norfolk Botanical Garden, Photo Credit: Norfolk Botanical Garden
At the Norfolk Botanical Garden, explore well-manicured gardens as well as lush areas allowed to grow naturally. The garden is open 365 days a year and is famous for its extensive collections of camellias, azaleas, and roses; in fact, the oldest collection of flowers was started with azaleas planted by dozens of Black women as part of an early Works Progress Administration project. It’s always a good time to visit, as there are seasonal gardens for winter, spring, summer, and fall, plus family-friendly children’s gardens.
Where to Eat in Norfolk
Like many other cities that thrive on tourism, there are a multitude of great places to eat in Norfolk. Whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or anything in between, there are some stand-out restaurants to explore.
The Stockpot in Selden Market offers delicious home-style meals that feature gluten-free and vegan dishes, and they serve breakfast all day. aLatte Cafe, where they roast their own coffee beans, will no doubt impress even the most discerning coffee-drinker; they also serve handcrafted smoothies, lemonades, and a wide range of teas in addition to espresso beverages.
Photo Credit: Nicole Nussbaum
Stop by Hilton Norfolk The Main near the waterfront for brunch dishes that can’t be beaten, like shrimp and grits, french toast, waffles, and omelets. The hotel has three distinct restaurants within, including a brew-centric rooftop restaurant that offers incredible views of Nauticus Museum, Battleship Wisconsin, and the Elizabeth River.
At lunch time, swing by Hell’s Kitchen on Granby Street for pizza, sandwiches, mozzarella sticks, and wings, crêpes from Lamia’s Crêpes in downtown Norfolk, creative sandwiches from Cure Coffeehouse in the Freemason District, pokė bowls from Zeke’s, or burgers from Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint.
Brothers, Photo Credit: Aniesia Williams, @iamaniesia
Wherever you go for breakfast or lunch, you’ve got to make time for dinner at Brothers. Here, an NBA referee returns to his hometown with elegantly casual dining that showcases the best steak and seafood dishes prepared with creativity and a true passion for culinary excitement.
Norfolk’s embrace of art, culture, history, shopping, and more provides visitors with a great opportunity to get away from it all for a few days, and Amtrak takes all the hassles out of making travel plans. Discover why Norfolk remains such a popular vacation destination among travelers throughout the region, and book your trip to this inviting city today.