Norfolk Airport Shuttle (t 757/963-0433, w http://www.onetransportationsolution.com) connects downtown Norfolk with Norfolk International Airport ($21), five miles northeast. Amtrak bus connections from Newport News, across the James River on the north shore, stop at W Bute Street at York Street, and Greyhound stops at 701 Monticello Ave. Norfolk’s convenient visitor centre, at exit 273 off I-64, is at 9401 Fourth View St (daily 9am–5pm; t 757/441-1852). Free NET buses provide transportation to major sites (Mon–Fri 6.30am–11pm, Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–8pm.

With far better accommodation options available nearby in Virginia Beach, there should be no need to resort to the usual chain hotels in Norfolk. Two exceptions are the pleasant Freemason Inn, 411 W York St (t 757/963-7000, w http://www.freemasoninn.com; $131–160), a four-unit B&B whose rooms offer fireplaces and jacuzzi tubs, with free on-site wine and cheese, and the good-value Governor Dinwiddie, 506 Dinwiddie St (t 757/392-1330, w http://www.governordinwiddiehotel.com; $101–130), in Portsmouth, whose rooms and suites variously offer DVD players, kitchens and in-room bars.

For dining, there’s inexpensive seafood with an Asian edge – seared tuna, ginger dumplings and fried shrimp – at Bardo, 430 W 21st St, (t 757/622-7362), and for a cheap taste of Americana, stop by Doumar’s, a 1950s-era drive-in restaurant at 1919 Monticello Ave, (t 757/627-4163), where white-hatted waitstaff bring the food to your car; it’s tops for barbecue, burgers and waffle-cone ice cream. Finally, in downtown Norfolk, the ornate 1913 Wells Theater, 110 E Tazewell St (t 757/627-1234, w http://www.vastage.com) puts on plays, musicals and the odd vaudeville show.

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