The oceanside town of Norfolk is a scenic destination for anyone seeking watersports, culture, arts, and great shopping. Situated at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, Norfolk’s 144-mile waterfront allows travelers to go kayaking, swimming, or sailing with an incredible view of the bay.
This family-friendly destination is packed with restaurant and accommodation options, but knowing exactly where to stay in Norfolk can be tricky.
In this guide, we’ve included the six best neighborhoods in Norfolk, Virginia. We’ve got something for every travel style and budget, so you can easily find the best area for your trip!
- Where to Stay in Norfolk
- Norfolk Neighborhood Guide
- Norfolk’s Top 6 Neighborhoods to Stay in
- 1. Neon District – Best Place to Stay in Norfolk for Your First Visit
- 2. Ocean View – Where to Stay in Norfolk on a Budget
- 3. Ghent – Best Area in Norfolk for Couples or Avid Shoppers
- 4. Downtown Norfolk – Best Place to Stay in Norfolk for High Rollers
- 5. Near the Airport – Best Located Area in Norfolk for Families
- 6. Portsmouth – Best Area Near Norfolk for Adventure Seekers
- Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Norfolk
Want to find the best accommodation in Norfolk? These are our top recommendations for places to stay in Norfolk, Virginia!
Best Hotel in Norfolk – Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel
If you’re craving grandeur, fine dining, and sweeping views of the bay area, this hotel is your perfect pick. Hit up their outdoor pool or shop at their specialized boutiques for any of your travel needs.
Best Bed & Breakfast in Norfolk – Page House Inn
It doesn’t get more central than Page House Inn, situated right in the heart of Ghent. This charming boutique inn is surrounded by the best restaurants and shops the city has to offer.
Best Budget Hotel in Norfolk – Econo Lodge Little Creek
Looking for an affordable place to stay that’s still well-connected to the city center? This eco-lodge should tick every box off your list, providing reasonably priced rooms that come with all the modern amenities you could ever desire.
For first-time travelers, Norfolk’s Neon District (an acronym for the New Energy of Norfolk), the fondly-given nickname to the neighborhood just north of downtown, should be your top pick. Thanks to its close proximity to all the city’s best sites coupled with having the liveliest restaurants located within walking distance, the Neon District has it all.
The heart of the city, Downtown Norfolk is even more chock full of boutique establishments than its sister neighborhood, the Neon district, to the north. The popular neighborhood is also extremely well-connected to other areas in the city by public transportation so no destination is out of reach for a day trip.
The ultra-trendy neighborhood is a shopper’s haven, featuring everything from high-class boutiques to more vintage shops. Moreover, the area is filled with romantic parks and lined with charming streets that just call to be wandered down hand-in-hand by traveling lovers.
Located to the very east of the city, this area is well-connected to the city center without the hefty price tags of downtown digs. Ocean View is popular with young professionals, and it shows as the neighborhood is practically bursting with everything, from cafes to kayak rental shops.
Near the Airport
If you only have a few days to spend in Norfolk and don’t want to waste time and energy getting your tots from place to place, staying near the airport is a great option. The area is packed with hotels and restaurants catering to travelers so you can be sure to have everything you could need within reach.
Although not technically located in Norfolk, this last area on the list is still worth mentioning owing to its convenient location just south across the Elizabeth River. Portsmouth, part of the Greater Chesapeake Area, is nearly as popular with tourists as its northern neighbor due to all the historic landmarks close by.
Norfolk boasts a plethora of amazing areas to stay in no matter what your travel itinerary and party size. From the glitz and glam of the city center to the natural beauty of Ocean View and its wide shores, Norfolk offers lodgings for all interests.
For first-time visitors, the Neon District is the best place to stay. It’s full of cultural attractions, close to downtown, and has a stunning stretch of beach, so you’ll get to experience a bit of everything.
Speaking of Downtown – this is the best area to stay if you’ve got a little more to spend. Here you’ll find the highest concentration of boutique accommodation, five-star hotels, and top-class restaurants. It’s also well-connected to the rest of Norfolk, so you can easily explore the rest of the city. Ghent is another prominent neighborhood and is the best place to stay for couples and avid shoppers.
If you’re traveling on a budget, check out Ocean View. It’s close to the city center and is also (obviously) right by the sea, giving visitors the best of both worlds. Downtown is just ten minutes away, but accommodation is a lot cheaper here as a result.
You’ll find suitable family accommodation dotted all over the city, but we recommend staying near the airport if you’re traveling with kids. You’ll never be too far from all the action, but basing yourself close to the airport means you can spend less time on the road and more time enjoying a fun-filled vacation.
Norfolk’s Top 6 Neighborhoods to Stay in
Now, let’s take a look at the best places to stay in Norfolk in more detail. We’ve included our top accommodation and activity picks in each, so you know exactly what to expect.
For first-time travelers, Norfolk’s Neon District (an acronym for the New Energy of Norfolk), is the best place to stay. It’s close to all the city’s best sights, and its lively restaurants are all just a short walk from each other.
From artisanal coffee shops to vintage boutiques, prepare to find streets covered in colorful art around nearly every corner. Officially considered Norfolk’s art district, this is the place to be to get your finger on the pulse of the city’s entertainment venues.
Top sites like the Chrysler Art Museum are also steps from this cultural hub, making it a pedestrian paradise for travelers.
Best Bed & Breakfast in the Neon District – The Inn at Four Eleven York
First-time travelers yearning for the charm of a traditional bed and breakfast with a modern twist will be thrilled to uncover The Inn at Four Eleven York.
This B&B provides its customers with well-lit suites decorated in a classic style, complete with sitting areas and fireplaces.
Its prime location means you’ll have everything at your fingertips. Chilling on their garden terrace can be the perfect ending to your day.
Swankiest Hotel in the Neon District – Wyndham Garden Norfolk Downtown
Placed right across the street from both Chrysler Hall and Norfolk Scope Arena, the Wyndham Garden Downtown is the place to be for first-time travelers who don’t mind splurging a little.
Soak up the ambiance at their restaurant or take advantage of their fully-equipped fitness center. If you want to live it up in extravagance for your first visit to Norfolk, then kicking back by their outdoor pool is just the activity for you.
Best Place for Large Groups in the Neon District – Residence Inn Norfolk Downtown
Regardless of whether you’re traveling with family or friends, the Residence Inn Norfolk Downtown is specialized in catering to larger groups. This all-suite hotel has accommodation large enough for whole households and offers a fully-equipped kitchen and a sitting area.
Enjoy their tasty breakfast buffet, chill out by their indoor pool, or soak up some bubbles in their hot tub. You can’t go wrong!
Things to See and Do in the Neon District:
- Spot some street art on the mural-painted boulevards.
- Watch an improv comedy show at Push Comedy Theatre.
- Buy a ticket to the Chrysler Museum of Art.
- Book a glass-blowing demo class.
- Be serenaded at Harrison Opera House.
- Support the local arts at Rutter Family Art Foundation.
- Splurge at MacArthur Center Mall.
- Stroll along City Hall Avenue, the heart of the city.
- Take a day trip to Virginia Beach.
- Patronize the Basilica of Saint Mary.
- Picnic at the Botetourt Gardens.
- Catch the bus or drive to the Naval Museum.
- Visit the Virginia Zoo.
- Walk around the campus of Old Dominion University.
2. Ocean View – Where to Stay in Norfolk on a Budget
This area is well-connected to the city center without the hefty price tags of downtown digs. Ocean View is popular with young professionals, and the neighborhood is practically bursting with everything from cafes to kayak rental shops.
Stretching from West Ocean View to East Ocean View, this area should be the top stop for anyone interested in watersports as the prices for those services are pretty hard to beat. This also makes it our top pick if you’re traveling the USA on a budget.
For visitors arriving by car, Ocean View is less than a 10-minute drive away from all the city’s best sites. What you compromise on location, you’ll more than make up for in savings and proximity to more aquatic activities.
Best Cottage in Ocean View – Classic Chesapeake Bay Cottage
Stay at this delightful two-bedroom cottage, situated moments from the beach. With Ocean View Golf Course, Ocean View Community Park, and Ocean View Beach Park in the area, there’s no shortage of places to visit. Hang out on the wraparound porch, marvel at the ocean views from your large windows, or take advantage of the fully-equipped kitchen.
For travelers with cars, the cottage offers parking for up to four vehicles and is just a 10-minute drive from the city center.
Best Family-Friendly Place in Ocean View – Best Western Plus Holiday Sands Inn & Suites
For visitors traveling to Norfolk with kids, there’s not much more suitable than a stay at the Best Western. Wake up in your family suite to the sight and smell of the sea, as this hotel offers oceanside rooms as well as a huge outdoor pool for the kids to splash in.
Located within a short walk to Ocean View Beach, the Best Western also provides complimentary breakfast, the perfect way to begin any beach day.
Best Lodge in Ocean View – Econo Lodge Little Creek
Conveniently located across Shore Drive of Ocean View’s East Beach and just south of Little Creek, this lodge offers large rooms with all the amenities you could need. Every room comes equipped with a mini-fridge and microwave and there’s also free on-site parking along with complimentary breakfast daily.
Stay at Econo Lodge to make the most of your hard-earned dollars without any of the guilt!
Things to See and Do in Ocean View:
- Visit the Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek.
- Grab your beach bag and go for a swim at Ocean View Beach Park, Community Beach Park, or Sarah Constant Beach Park.
- Take in a round of golf at Ocean View Golf Course.
- Have dinner at a World of Good, a popular local haunt.
- Walk around Bay Oaks Park or Monkey Bottom Park.
- Have a drink at COVA Brewing Company or the Bold Miner Brewing Company.
- Order the surf ‘n’ turf at Longboards East Beach.
- Stroll around Bay Point Marina, Pelican’s Point Marina, or Cobb’s Marina.
- Eat some street food at Pavilion Park at East Beach.
- Take the kids to play at Pretty Lake Playground.
- Have a picnic at Captain’s Quarters Recreation.
- Go fishing at Ocean View’s Fishing Pier.
3. Ghent – Best Area in Norfolk for Couples or Avid Shoppers
The ultra-trendy neighborhood is a shopper’s haven, featuring everything from high-class boutiques to vintage shops. Moreover, the area is filled with romantic parks and lined with charming streets that are popular among traveling couples.
As equally popular with tourists as it is with the locals, don’t be surprised to see many of Ghent’s establishments packed with people around the clock.
Ghent is located near downtown, close to everything you need to take advantage of your time in Norfolk. The neighborhood is easily commutable by car or via public transport, so make it your top stop if you plan to take home some souvenirs.
Best Hotel near Ghent – SpringHill Suites by Marriott Norfolk Old Dominion University
With much to do within a short distance, the SpringHill Suites by Marriott is the perfect place to be.
Situated just northwest of Ghent, the old university is an excellent starting point for any traveler thanks to its proximity to all the shops, restaurants, and historical landmarks of the city. Make sure to try their complimentary continental breakfast to really kickstart your day.
Best Luxury Bed & Breakfast near Ghent – Page House Inn
Whether you come to Ghent to shop until you drop or just because you like living the high life, Page House Inn is the place for you. Featuring lush interior decoration and a huge garden terrace with a view of the bay, you won’t have to look any further to stay in the lap of luxury. Tuck into their delicious breakfast buffet to take advantage of the whole experience.
Things to See and Do in Ghent:
- Visit the unexpectedly wholesome Friendly Neighborhood Resting Wall.
- Picnic at Plum Point Park.
- Shop the day away at MacArthur Center.
- Mosey over to the Botanical Garden for the day.
- Sample the beer selection at Smartmouth Brewing Company.
- Check out the Nauticus Museum for some naval history.
- Sunbathe at Town Point Park.
- Hit up the Taiwanese Pagoda at the Oriental Garden.
- Pay your respects at MacArthur Memorial Museum.
- Book a cruise around the harbor.
- Stroll your way down Waterside Promenade.
- Order some pastries from The Bakehouse at Chelsea.
- Plan a day trip to Virginia Beach.
- Stretch your legs along the Elizabeth River Trail.
- Grab a drink at Benchtop Brewing Company.
- Fill up on cheese snacks at The Birch Restaurant and Bar.
- Walk around Jeff Robertson Park.
4. Downtown Norfolk – Best Place to Stay in Norfolk for High Rollers
The heart of the city, Downtown Norfolk is packed with even more boutique establishments than its sister neighborhood, the Neon District. The popular neighborhood is also extremely well-connected to other areas by public transport, so no destination is out of reach for a day trip.
You can expect to stumble upon streets filled with fancy boutiques and five-star hotels catering to high-rolling travelers. Plus, there’s a wide list of other establishments specialized in food and entertainment.
Staying downtown is a must for first-timers who crave to be at the center of it all without having to rent a car or struggle to find public parking. Just be warned, staying anywhere City Hall Avenue, the city’s main street, might just cost you a pretty penny.
Best Value Hotel in Downtown Norfolk – Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel
This hotel complex has everything you could ask for, from specialized boutiques to lavish restaurants often featuring live entertainment.
As its name implies, the Sheraton is located along Norfolk’s gorgeous waterfront, lending for a fantastic view of the bay surrounding the area.
Ask the 24-hour concierge to book you a reservation for dinner or arrange a private kayak tour. Make sure to sample their delicious complimentary continental breakfast to start your day, or to hang out by their outdoor pool to wind down at the end. You’ll be glad you did!
Best Hotel for Ambience in Downtown Norfolk – Glass Light Hotel & Gallery, Autograph Collection
If you like your accommodation to be as eye-catching as it is comfortable, you can’t go wrong staying at Glass Light Hotel. Arguably downtown Norfolk’s trendiest boutique hotel, the hotel offers swanky suites with stunning views of the city less than a mile from Town Hall.
Gourmands who fancy French cuisine should check out the hotel’s beautifully decorated restaurant to try their culinary delights.
Best Hotel in Downtown Norfolk – Courtyard by Marriott Norfolk Downtown
For visitors looking for a hotel in Norfolk that has it all, there’s no better accommodation than the Courtyard by Marriott.
In its elegant restaurant, the hotel serves a buffet breakfast that simply can’t be passed up. Try out their indoor pool or their whirlpool after spending your day shopping at MacArthur Center Mall or touring the Chrysler Museum of Art, both just up the street.
Things to See and Do in Downtown Norfolk:
- Visit the Chrysler Museum of Art.
- Stop and smell the flowers at the Oriental Garden.
- While you’re there, order some French macarons at the Taiwanese Pagoda.
- Stroll the Elizabeth River Trail.
- Watch a glass-blowing demo at The Perry Class Studio.
- Venture up to the Botanical Garden.
- Have a picnic at Town Point Park.
- Take a tour of the Nauticus Museum.
- Check out the USS Wisconsin at the harbor.
- Go shopping down Plume Avenue.
- Get your tickets for the MacArthur Memorial Museum.
- Take a cruise of the area at the harbor.
- Wander down the Waterside Promenade.
- Take a boxing class at Norfolk Boxing & Fitness Center.
- Spend the day at Virginia Beach.
5. Near the Airport – Best Located Area in Norfolk for Families
If you only have a few days to spend in Norfolk and don’t want to waste time and energy getting from place to place, staying near the airport is a great option. The area is packed with hotels and restaurants catering to travelers, so you can have everything you could need within easy reach.
The airport itself is conveniently situated close to the city center so you’ll never stray too far from the action by staying in any of its family-oriented hotel chains.
Popular kid-friendly destinations, such as Virginia Beach, Ocean View Beach, and Norfolk’s city center, are within easy driving distance.
Best Suites Near the Airport – Residence Inn by Marriott Norfolk Airport
The Residence Inn Marriott Norfolk Airport is an all-suite hotel, meaning that every room is fully equipped with a kitchen plus a separate sitting area for dining. Thankfully, you won’t have to worry about whipping up breakfast as the hotel offers a piping hot continental version every morning.
After you’ve had some, why don’t you take a dip in the indoor swimming pool or hot tub for the ideal start or end of your day?
Best Suites Near the Airport – Hampton Inn & Suites Norfolk-Airport
Hampton Inn & Suites Norfolk-Airport is managed by the Hilton hotel empire. Rooms are large, comfy, and furnished with work desks for professional travelers or digital nomads.
The giant complex also features a gym, an indoor pool, and an on-site gift shop. It’s a short drive away to top sites, such as the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.
For added convenience, the hotel also provides a free shuttle bus to and from the airport.
Best Hotel Near the Airport – Delta Hotels by Marriott Norfolk Airport
Surrounded by the headquarters of airline and tech giants such as Boeing, Northop Grumman, and Nextel, this elegant hotel provides stylish accommodation in a convenient location.
Your suite will contain everything you could need, and the free airport shuttle will help you get there with ease. They also provide free breakfast and complimentary on-site parking for families arriving by car.
Things to See and Do Near the Airport:
- Stroll around Norfolk’s Botanical Garden.
- Picnic at Azalea Acres Park.
- Snack on the surf-and-turf at Ocean Blue Seafood Restaurant.
- Dig into some meat at Aberdeen Barn Steakhouse.
- Take in the natural beauty of Lake Lawson Park.
- Shop until you drop at Norfolk Premium Outlets.
- Visit the Naval Academy, just a few minutes away.
- Get in some swings at Eagle Haven Golf Course.
- Drive to the city center to take in some sights.
- Venture to the Virginia Zoo.
- Relax in Diamond Springs Gardenwood Park.
- Buy some tickets to Harrison Opera House.
6. Portsmouth – Best Area Near Norfolk for Adventure Seekers
Although not technically located in Norfolk, this last area on the list is still worth mentioning due to its convenient location just across the Elizabeth River. Portsmouth, part of the Greater Chesapeake Area, is nearly as popular with tourists as its northern neighbor due to all the historic landmarks close by.
Its water-adjacent location isn’t to be taken for granted either as many hotels feature rooms with panoramic oceanside views. For fans of water sports, make sure to hire a kayak for the day to really take in the scenic atmosphere up close.
Best Place to Stay in Portsmouth – Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel
At the Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel, you get to experience the best of both cities. This oceanside hotel offers each of its guests an excellent view of the Elizabeth River and tasty seafood at its on-site restaurant, Foggy Point Bar.
Take a dip in the pool or jump in the hot tub to start your day. If you’re visiting Norfolk in winter, bag yourself a room with a fireplace to stay extra warm and cozy.
Things to See and Do in Portsmouth:
- Visit the National Maritime Center.
- Go kayaking on the Elizabeth River.
- Check out the view at Port Norfolk Beach Reflection Park.
- Rent a boat at Culpeppers Boat House.
- Get some grub at Fish & Slips Marina Raw Bar & Grill.
- Book a tour at the Naval Shipyard Museum.
- Join the navy’s fleet at the floating Lightship Portsmouth Museum.
- Snap a picture of the Hog Island Lens Display.
- Go to a concert at the Atlantic Union Bank Pavilion’s outdoor amphitheater.
- Get some work done at The IncuHub, a popular coworking space.
- Have a picnic at Columbia Park.
- Take a ferry across to downtown Norfolk.
- Stroll around the marina at Portsmouth Port.
- Drive through the underwater Downtown Tunnel connecting Portsmouth to Norfolk.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Norfolk
Whether you’re headed to Norfolk for work or for pleasure, there is much to see and do in this charming seaside town. For history buffs and art enthusiasts, the Neon District, Ghent, and the city center provide the best access to all of Norfolk’s top cultural attractions.
For travelers who don’t mind being a bit far from the action to save a few bucks, Ocean View offers accommodation that’s about as water-adjacent as you can get in Norfolk. Fans of water or adventure sports would also do well to stay near Ocean View since it has some of the best waves in the region. Families, especially those not arriving by car, would be best to stay close to the airport as most hotels also have a free shuttle bus service.
Wherever you decide to stay in Norfolk, you should have no fear as there are plenty of options for every type of budget so you’re sure to find your perfect fit.
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