Kalin’s Chronicles: Girlfriend Getaway to Norfolk

Kalin & Erin of Visit NorfolkWhile covering the Norfolk JazzFest in Virginia, I realized the waterfront city is perfect for a weekend Girlfriend Getaway.  And even though the JazzFest is over, you can still visit during the Norfolk Latino Music Festival August 24, the Norfolk Indie Music & Arts Fest September 14, or the Norfolk Gospel & Jazz Celebration Weekend October 4 – 6.  So here are my suggestions for the perfect Girlfriend Getaway for fabulous food and fun.


Fly in early and check-in at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott  – just two short blocks from the waterfront and downtown attractions.  Then walk a few steps across the street to VisitNorfolk  for coupons and maps to the city’s neighborhoods and attractions.

Next, head over to the Ghent district for lunch at No Frill Bar & Grill.  The name doesn’t do it justice – menu items are huge and delicious, and served with friendly customer service.  I recommend their “Famous Meatloaf!”

Head back to the waterfront for a tour of Nauticus and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum – for a closer look at Norfolk’s history as the world’s largest naval station.

Then make a short trip over to the Chrysler Museum of Art’s Glass Studio for a glass-blowing class that will have you feeling just as artsy as the Ghent community.

You can carry your new glass over to Mermaid Winery for wine tasting at Norfolk’s only urban winery.  Walk through a very small “vineyard” into the entrance for an atmosphere perfect for wining and dining.

Try the “Elizabeth River” raspberry wine with your meal.  You may even catch “Movie Night on the Patio.”


Saturday is for shopping!  But you’ll need a good breakfast to fuel up first, so walk three blocks from the hotel to MacArthur Centre.  Have breakfast at Café Nordstrom, then hit the shops.

For more shopping, catch The Tide light rail at MacArthur Station to the Ghent district for eclectic buys at galleries, boutiques, consignment and antique shops.

After a long afternoon of shopping, enjoy a casual dinner and dessert at Doumar’s Barbeque – it’s home to the original waffle cone.  And you can watch Mr. Doumar himself make the cones on the original four-iron waffle machine, built in 1904.

Back at the hotel, get in a good nap and throw on one of your new buys before walking over to the waterfront for a Midnight party cruise on the Spirit of Norfolk.


Start your morning with a relaxing meditation class at the beautiful Norfolk Botanical Garden. This is the only site on my list where you’ll need a car.  Try Orange Peel Transportation,  which has great customer service with friendly and knowledgeable drivers.

Head back to the hotel for a quick shower and change, and then back to the Ghent district for Sunday Brunch at Press 626 Café & WineTry their “Pecan Pie Belgian Waffle.”

Before heading back to the airport, pick up a few Norfolk souvenirs at one of my favorite stores – Dollar Tree.  Norfolk is the company’s headquarters, so there are plenty of locations around town.  It’s a lot cheaper than shopping at the airport.

This itinerary let’s you see just enough of Norfolk to want to come back.  On your next visit, make time for a day trip to nearby Virginia Beach.  And remember:  Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness – Mark Twain.


Kalin Thomas is an award-winning multimedia journalist.  She is a former travel & lifestyle correspondent for CNN where she traveled to six continents, including Antarctica.  She is writing her book, Do You Know She’s Black?  The journey of CNN’s first black travel correspondent, for a 2015 debut.   For more, visit www.KalinThomas.com.