Rural Mom Travels: Norfolk Ghent District

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Nestled between the midtown and downtown tunnels, hugging the Elizabeth River, the Ghent District in Norfolk offers visitors hope. Hope that history can triumph over the rage of the industrial machine. Hope that charming, picturesque neighborhoods are not merely trivial anecdotes in Norman Rockwell magazines, but still are pulsating epicenters for residents and tourists alike.

There is a current racing just below the surface – this is an area barely containing its brilliance and buoyancy.

Norfolk Ghent District

Every step along the streets of the Ghent District delivers a constant stream of eye-candy from Colonial and Queen Anne architecture to river front views or lush sprawling landscapes and parks. Shopping and dining locations cluster along Colley Avenue and 21st Street. Within the span of a mile you can visit the Chrysler Museum of Art to view a breath-taking collection, peruse an eclectic collection of vintage and specialty shops, and then grab a glass of vino and relax on the patio of the Mermaid Winery on West 22nd Street.

After the ambiance of the area snags you, the food will keep you rooted with an endless array of cuisine options from barbecue and waffle cones at the historic Doumar’s on Monticello Avenue to upscale bistros like the Green Onion on Colley Avenue where lobster rolls and pan-seared duck breast steal the limelight.

When you’ve had your fill, a visit to Nauticus for an interactive experience with Navy history and a tour of the Battleship Wisconsin will take you back in time and tickle your aquatic senses. If the sea doesn’t speak to you, the Harrison Opera House on Virginia Beach Blvd may carry the right tune.

Norfolk Ghent District

Cultural activities add to the merriment including the popular Stockley Gardens Spring Arts Festival hosted in Stockley Gardens Park along Olney Road and the Annual Virginia Beer Festival which takes place on the waterfront just outside the Ghent District in downtown Norfolk. The Naro Theater on Colley Avenue provides a steady community gathering place year round where visitors can experience new Indie films and live music.

If you have a day to spend or a week to relax, there’s absolutely no shortage of local culture and cuisine to crave in Norfolk’s Ghent District. The real challenge is tearing yourself away when it’s time to leave and scrambling to carve out time to visit again.

Yes Virginia, there is a magical vacation spot. One that will supply you with rich experiences and a wistful hope of return!

Norfolk Ghent District

Find more information on local Norfolk attractions and events at

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Tags: artisan, travel
Barb Webb. Founder and Editor of Rural Mom, is an author and sustainable living expert nesting in Appalachian Kentucky. When she’s not chasing chickens around the farm or engaging in mock Jedi battles, she’s writing about country living and artisan culture.
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