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Perched between the James River, the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, this coastal community shares its maritime charms with unabashed pride. Anchored by the world’s largest naval base, Norfolk appears perpetually busy, but the city cleans up nice, impressing newcomers with top-notch tours, glossy museums and a thriving arts scene.
First on any itinerary? A guided tour of the navy base, which is home to planes, aircraft carriers, destroyers and historic buildings. Downtown, climb aboard The USS Wisconsin, a battleship docked beside the Nauticus science center. Here you can learn about sharks, tsunamis and maritime commerce. On the nearby waterfront, sign up for a sun-splashed harbor cruise.
If nautical attractions don’t float your boat (sorry), the Chrysler Museum of Art may prove more enticing. Reopened in 2014 after a stylish revamp, the Chrysler earns kudos for its collection of 10,000+ glass objects, including pieces of Tiffany blown glass. Galleries, theaters and performance halls dot downtown and nearby Ghent, which offers a strollable collection of neighborhood eateries and watering holes.