The Greater Norfolk area is known as Hampton Roads. It’s a land-rich area of more than 2,900 square miles, nearly 1.6 million people, and composed of numerous independent cities and counties such as Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Newport News, and Hampton.

This view from space in July 1996 shows portions of each of the Seven Cities of Hampton Roads surrounding the harbor of Hampton Roads, framed in the center by the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel visible to the east (top) and the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel to the west (bottom) near the mouths of the James River and the Nansemond River, which comes in from the south (on the right). Below that, the 4 mile-long James River Bridge is also clearly visible. The 3 branches of the Elizabeth River run into the harbor from the south (upper and center right). NASA photograph

This diverse area is bordered on the south by the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to the east the Eastern Shore of Virginia by way of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, to the north by the Richmond and Washington D.C./Arlington areas and the rural areas of Suffolk to the west.

However, its dominating feature is water that ranges from the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay to numerous rivers (James, York and Elizabeth to mention three) and dozens of tributaries, ponds and the Great Dismal Swamp. All these are enjoyed, in one way or another, by residents and vistors to the area.

Visitors to the Hampton Roads area have seemingly unlimited choices depending on their interest in beauty, history, cultural life, water, environment and fun. Dining can be casual or formal, seafood, poultry, meat or vegetarian in Colonial, local, American or international styles.  One of the area's favorite festivals is The Neptune Festival in Virginia Beach at the end of September.

Click the picture above to see some breathtaking sand sculptures of the Neptune Festival.

No destination is more than an hour away by car---most are a few minutes. There are the cities of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson, Franklin, Chesapeake and Williamsburg. Then there are the counties of James City, York, Southampton, Isle of Wight, Gloucester and Surry. Or if you prefer smaller scales there are the towns of Smithfield, Surry and Wakefield.

Click for Chesapeake Bay Information

The area is known worldwide for its historical sites (Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown) but equally impressive are its modern attractions that include Busch Gardens (Williamsburg), the Air and Space Museum (Hampton), National Maritime Center (Nauticus) (Norfolk), and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center (Virginia Beach).