9 Ways to Celebrate Summer in Hampton Roads
With the winter months behind us, it’s easy to carry that Netflix-binging, hibernating sort of mindset into summer. However, the sun is working overtime, prolonging the days to gallivant around Coastal Virginia. Here are 9 ways to make the most of the hottest season in Hampton Roads:
1. Fest like a local.
Whether you’re craving Cajun food, strawberries, wine or the sultry tunes of smooth jazz, you’re bound to find a festival themed to your heart’s desire. Festevents.org will get you started, or you can check our online events calendar for more ideas! Here’s a guide to summer food festivals in Hampton Roads.
2. Get a little crabby.
If anything defines summer, it’s a bushel of steamed, Old-Bay seasoned crabs staring at me on a newspaper-lined table with my cracking tools nearby and an ice-cold, crisp brew or glass of wine within arm’s reach. Seafood markets haul in fresh crabs daily; just make sure to call your local fishmonger to get the skinny! Welton’s Seafood Market in Norfolk or Dockside Seafood Market in Virginia Beach are great places to start your hunt. Pair crabs with wine here.
3. Drink like a local.
Breweries don’t have to be reserved for you and your buds—more often than not the whole family can come! And don’t fret about dinner; food trucks often park outside to accompany your brews. So bring your pals, your kids, pups and growlers, and make it an all-day affair!
4. Feast like a local.
I’ve lost count of the many scrumptious food trucks found in our area. Good thing there are organized rodeos! Food truck network Eat The Streets 757 does the work for you in organizing a number of monthly meetups. Every third Tuesday, come out to MOCA night for free museum admission, live music and the grub. Whole Foods hosts a rodeo every second Sunday of the month. Every first and third Wednesday, find food trucks on The Great Bridge Waterways in Chesapeake. Then on the second and fourth Wednesday, you can get your food truck fix at Oyster Point in Newport News.
5. Shop to support the locals.
Looking for an intriguing homemade soap or that star ingredient for your dinner this evening? Local markets are the place to be. For starters, Virginia Beach has Old Beach Farmers Market located at the oceanfront, Williamsburg’s farmers market is located in Merchants Square, and Norfolk hosts Five Points Community Market. Then when you want to get straight to the source, visit local farmers for produce, honey or berries straight from the vine. BuyLocalHamptonRoads.org provides a list of farms.
6. Take a Norfolk food tour.
It’s no secret that Norfolk is becoming a foodie destination. Set aside a day solely for your appetite. Begin with breakfast at Handsome Biscuit. Caffeinate at Café Stella with a lavender latte, and snack on a sugary confection. Get a gooey sandwich from Grilled Cheese Bistro for lunch. Stroll over to Colley Avenue for homemade gelato at Strawberry Fields. Grab pre-dinner drinks at Saint Germain. Have a dreamy dinner at LeGrand Kitchen, then make sure you get late night drinks and goat cheese truffles at The Birch.
7. Read like a local.
Take a couple days out of the summer (or on your food tour) to immerse in some literature among the confines of a lovely new library. Norfolk’s Slover Library opened at the start of 2015. Aside from being a sheer spectacle, the Slover is one of the most innovative of its kind complete with a Mac computer room, genealogy resources, more than 100 access computers and a bistro, among other features.
8. Make it your goal to try all of the nearly 100 ice cream flavors at Handel’s.
When the temperature climbs into the 90s, cooling off becomes a pastime of its own and all the more reason to indulge in ice cream at Handel’s in Virginia Beach. A personal favorite of mine is Key Lime Pie, made of zingy key lime ice cream mixed with pieces of pie crust. While most people deem vanilla or chocolate as their go-to flavor, mine is banana, and Handel’s does a spiffy job with this one, too.
9. Music lovers, take it outside.
Grab your lawn chairs or blankets, and sit beneath the stars on the Lafayette River. Hermitage Museum & Gardens hosts Sunsets on the River, a summer concert series that goes down every other Thursday from May through July and includes live music, food trucks and a cash bar. Bring a picnic, and get ready to wind down by the glistening water.