Gay Country Rank: 23/50
Being one of the world's largest and busiest port cities, Norfolk is the financial and legal center of southeastern Virginia. Norfolk, nearly surrounded by the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, is located near the southern border of Virginia, 18 miles west of the Atlantic Ocean and about 200 miles southeast of Washington, D.C. Immediately north is Chesapeake Bay and west is Hampton Roads, the natural channel through which the waters of the James River and its tributaries flow into the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Norfolk is situated at the mouth of the James, Elizabeth, and Nansemond rivers.
Norfolk usually has mild winters and sunny, warm autumns and springs. The long hot summers are often interrupted by cool periods as a result of the northeasterly winds off the Atlantic Ocean. Waves of extreme cold are rare, and often winters have no measurable snow. All in all, Norfolk's climate was ranked as "one of the most desirable in the nation" by the National Weather Service.
Norfolk is a coastal Virginia town that is considered part of the larger Hampton Roads metro area. It is known as being a diverse city with a strong maritime heritage, a friendly coastal vibe, welcoming people and plenty to see and do, including lots of natural outdoor beauty. Norfolk is home to intriguing historical attractions, world-class museums, delicious restaurants, and unique retail shops. You will find it easy to reach all that Norfolk has to offer; most places are within a short walking distance, car or train ride.
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Local Expert: Gay Scene in Norfolk
Norfolk is home to a vibrant LGBTQ scene, filled with history, events and plenty of entertainment! Norfolk has a huge array of festivals, exhibitions, theatres, shows and events to enjoy throughout the year. For 30 years, Norfolk has hosted the Annual Hampton Roads PrideFest, showing that this community has grown into such a vital part of the city's culture.
At the LGBTQ Life Center, there is always a place to find what you are looking for, from information about the community to special events like yoga or speed friending. The Center offers a variety of services including support groups, events, health resources, education and training programs, network opportunities and more.
PFLAG Norfolk is the city's local chapter of the national PFLAG organization, which is the largest grassroots organization of its kind in the country. PFLAG is well-known for its mission of supporting LGBTQ people, friends, family, and allies across the country in a wide variety of ways. With 500 chapters and more than 200,000 members in the United States, PFLAG plays a critical and important role in providing advocacy, support, and resources to the LGBTQ community.
PrideFest is the largest annual LGBT festival in Virginia and the City of Norfolk's largest one-day festival. PrideFest combines entertainment, vendors, and fun activities for all ages. PrideFest attracts thousands of visitors and brings together local residents, families, community leaders, civic organizations, and businesses to unite the LGBT and allied communities in support of inclusion, dignity and equality of all people.
Since 2011, the Pride Boat Parade continues to be a highlight of PrideFest. Norfolk is proud to host the only Pride Boat Parade in the country celebrating their connections with the 300 year maritime history of their port cities. Town Point Park, nestled on the riverbanks of the Elizabeth River, provides a unique setting for boaters to be part of this event.
MUST EAT Norfolk Gay-Friendly Dining
It's Norfolk's diverse geography that gives it such a wonderful array of food and drink ingredients. The city has many bars and restaurants that heat things up as the sun goes down.
Filled with a vibrant mix of chefs, farmers, bakers, and seafood, Norfolk has blossomed into one of the South's most dynamic foodie destinations. The city's captivating urban appeal and history lure visitors in, and the culinary creations keep them here. From fresh interpretations of traditional favorites to more adventurous modern fare, Norfolk serves up its own take on Southern Classics. Norfolk is also known for our delicious and unique brunch scene. From pillowy soft savory biscuits to fluffy pancakes topped with delicious syrup, brunch in Norfolk never disappoints.
Located in a beautiful 138-year-old church, The Freemason Abbey Restaurant & Tavern is a dramatic setting for traditional American cuisine, including seasonal seafood. The Freemason Abbey is an appropriate eating venue for any meal occasion, from a four-course dinner to a cocktail or two after a day on the beach.
MUST VISIT Norfolk Gay-Friendly Bars & Nightlife
Framed by the Elizabeth River and Chesapeake Bay in Eastern Virginia, Norfolk offers the intrepid gay local and traveler a lot, from rich historic traditions to happening nightlife destinations. The neighborhood surrounding Granby Street represents the heart of the city, and has been a popular nightlife hot spot and a hip gay destination since the 1970s. Redevelopment efforts over the past five years have brought successful theaters, restaurants and businesses to the historic commercial district.
Downtown Norfolk and its surrounding neighborhoods offer breweries with tasting rooms, beer bars, lounges, chef-owned restaurants and nightclubs galore. It's no secret that this city loves live music, Norfolk was named one of the Best Small College Towns with the Best Music Scenes. Nightlife is never in short supply downtown Norfolk. Between restaurants and bars, live entertainment, and special events, there’s always something happening. From live music venues to low-key late-night hangouts, Norfolk delivers whatever you and your friends are in the mood for.
The Spirit of Norfolk is a great option for nightly dinner and dance cruises, as well as the occasional late-night drag show cruise.
MJs Tavern is a popular neighborhood bar, with a mixed clientele that’s open for lunch, dinner, and brunch on the weekends. The Wave is a late-night dance club with a younger vibe. 37th and Zen hosts a mixed crowd and some interesting entertainment offerings, from Goth to kink, as well as karaoke and drag shows. The Rainbow Cactus Company is a popular LGBTQ nightclub featuring DJs & dancing, as well as drag shows, dancers, karaoke, pool & live bands. It's a great spot to spend a night out dancing and having fun with old friends – and meeting new ones.