Norfolk VA downtown

2021 Top 100 Best Places to Live In America Sponsored by: See homes for sale on Movoto by OJO

liv score
How We Calculate Our Data
Civics 38
Demographics 49
Economy 61
Education 55
Health 50
Housing 54
Infrastructure 52

#99. Norfolk, VA

Norfolk: population 248,416 … plus a whole lot of mermaids. A naval town with a rich military history, Norfolk, VA has a good dose of whimsy. Decorative mermaid statues are scattered throughout the city, making for an artsy scavenger hunt. According to folklore, mermaids serenaded soldiers, guiding their ships to safe shores. The siren’s call in Norfolk is still strong today, with a strong economy and a love for public art, beckoning residents and tourists to this southeastern Virginia city. The she-crab soup and Chesapeake Bay oysters are a tasty bonus. 

Top Colleges/Universities: Old Dominion University & Norfolk State University

Top Industries & Employers: Government, health care, social assistance, retail trade, and lodging and food services are top industries. 

Weekend Plans: Spend time on the water! You can kayak, sail, fish, go crabbing, swim or simply unfurl a towel and read a book at Norfolk’s beaches. Residents have a few beaches to choose from: Oceanview, East Beach and Willoughby. For free fun indoors, visit The Chrysler Museum of Art, which has 50 galleries and a glass studio where you can watch mesmerizing demonstrations

Favorite Place to Feast: In Norfolk’s hip Ghent neighborhood, Aw Shucks Raw Bar and Grill serves local seafood in a laid-back setting. 

Beloved Beverage: A custom cocktail from Four Eleven York! As part of the “Bartender’s Experience,” personalized drinks are crafted for guests after they answer a few questions. 

Outdoorsy Activity: Take sailing lessons with Sail Nauticus, a Norfolk-based, nonprofit sailing school. 

Rooftop Bar: Grain Rooftop Beer Garden, an open-air patio with fire pits, views of the Elizabeth River and more than 100 beers on tap. 

Why Your Pet Will Love It, Too: Many of the breweries have pet-friendly patios, so your leashed dog can join you for happy hour. 

Remote Work Perk: Rotate between coffee shops and bakeries when you need to step away from the home office for a quick pick-me-up. You’ve got plenty to choose from, including Elliot’s Fair Grounds in Ghent and Hummingbird Macarons and Desserts in the NEON district for rotating selections of macarons, plus sweet macaron ice-cream sandwiches. 

One More Thing … For a tasty history lesson, get an ice-cream cone at Doumar’s. This Norfolk institution claims to have invented the ice-cream cone in 1904. The waffle cone iron is still used today.

– Brittany Anas

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