va diaries: norfolk
Welcome to Norfolk (NAH-fuhk)
by Raven Hudson
I always dreamed of living a peaceful life by the sea, but I was conflicted because I also wanted to live in bustling urban setting with lots of history, art, and people. Little did I know that Norfolk, Virginia would fulfill all these wishes. Norfolk has a deep-rooted maritime culture, stemming all the way back to the first English settlers that landed close by in current day Virginia Beach before heading to Jamestown to establish the first English settlement in North America. It has virtually been a part of every major US war since the American Revolution, specifically because Norfolk Naval Station is the biggest naval base in the world.
As a result, we have a hodgepodge of people that have been brought by the military, and many stay here after serving and create small businesses that make Norfolk stand out amongst the area. Time recently named Norfolk (combined with Virginia Beach and Newport News) as the top city millennials are moving to in the United States. Our bustling arts district, unique and contemporary restaurants, revamping of the historical downtown area, and growing transportation system are just a few of the reasons attributed to this shift in growth and the reasons why I adore this place I call home.
Being a native Georgian from rural Emanuel County, moving to a major city like Norfolk was a major adjustment for me. I made one big move before to Athens, GA to attend UGA, and it changed my life. I quickly adapted and became an absolute Athenian to the core, knowing all the good spots to eat, shop, and explore. Using the knowledge that I gained in Athens, I decided that the best way to learn a new city is to thrift it! Go to every antique, thrift, vintage, and /or quirky store that a simple google search can help you find, and you will learn your city. Norfolk is old and dusty, and simply has some of the best untapped thrifting around. You can't go for a drive in the area and not pass a half a dozen antique stores with hours of entertainment to fill your day in each. In my first month in Norfolk, I had seen more of the city and met more locals than my brother had in the decade that he lived here before me.
If you ever get a chance to visit this wonderful city, I have a few recommendations to make the most out of your time. You should start in the New Energy of Norfolk district (NEON) where you'll find numerous murals and neon signs, an homage to the incredible glass art studios in town. Here you will also find quaint thrift stores, unique and fresh eats, and quirky little places like Quixotic Arts, which is featured above. This shop carries eclectic art and curiosities, including human skeletons, vintage coffins, spell books and tutorials, and dark witchy artwork. What more could you want? For the best vintage clothes in town, you'll have to visit the Echoes of Time costume and vintage shop. You can't miss their hearse right outside. You can get lost in here for days admiring their selection of hats and vintage clothing for all sizes. For coffee and exploring, be sure to check out the Freemason district, which is most recognizable for its cobblestone roads and hidden marinas.
City shots, styling, and writing by Raven Hudson.
Portraits by Blake Hudson, known only by the name "Boy."
All clothing thrifted in Norfolk. Overall dress deconstructed and revamped by Raven.