For a rundown on events, pick up a copy of Veer Magazine (www.veermag.com), a weekly paper free at the visitor information offices, most hotel lobbies, and the Waterside. The "Daily Break" section in the local rag, The Virginian-Pilot (www.pilotonline.com), is also a good source.
The Performing Arts
From opera to riverside rock concerts, Norfolk has a wider array of performing arts than any city in the state, and the choices keep growing.
If your brow is high, the Virginia Stage Company (tel. 757/627-1234; www.vastage.com) puts on dramas and musicals from October through April in the Wells Theatre, 110 Tazewell St. (tel. 757/627-6988), at Monticello Avenue opposite the MacArthur Center. Built in 1913, this restored Beaux Arts gem is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Virginia Symphony (tel. 757/892-6366; www.virginiasymphony.org) often plays at Chrysler Hall, Charlotte Street and St. Paul's Boulevard, and the Virginia Opera (www.vaopera.org) sings at the Harrison Opera House, 160 E. Virginia Beach Blvd. at Llewellyn Avenue (tel. 757/623-1223).
Chrysler Hall and the Harrison Opera House are part of the Norfolk SCOPE complex (tel. 757/664-6464; www.sevenvenues.com), which also includes the futuristic Norfolk SCOPE Arena, Brambleton Avenue and St. Paul's Boulevard, which seats 12,000 for the circus, ice shows, sports, concerts, and other events.
Norfolk SCOPE also manages the restored Attucks Theatre, on Church Street at Virginia Beach Boulevard (tel. 757/664-6464; www.attuckstheatre.org), which was built by African-American entrepreneurs in 1919 and named for Crispus Attucks, a black man who was the first American patriot to die in the Revolutionary War. Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, and many other famous musicians performed here from the 1920s through the early 1950s, when it was among a row of nightclubs, restaurants, and stores on Church Street that comprised one of the liveliest African-American neighborhoods in the segregated South. Today you might hear the Preservation Hall Jazz Band or Jerry "The Iceman" Butler.
Town Park, between the Waterside and NAUTICUS on the Elizabeth River, is the scene of constant outdoor entertainment during the warm months, most sponsored by Norfolk Festevents (tel. 757/441-2345; www.festeventsva.org). These include Friday night concerts, the annual Norfolk Harborfest in June, Cingular Norfolk Jazz Festival in July, and the Cingular Town Point Virginia Wine Festival in October.
The Best Time to Be Entertained -- The best time to be entertained in Norfolk -- or anywhere in Hampton Roads, for that matter -- is during the Virginia Arts Festival (www.virginiaartsfest.com) from mid-April through mid-May. That's when the likes of Itzhak Perlman, the Martha Graham Dance Company, and the Tokyo String Quartet appear at venues from Williamsburg to Virginia Beach. Call tel. 877/741-2787 or 757/282-2800 for information, 757/671-8100 for tickets. Adding to the fun, the arts festival coincides with Norfolk's International Azalea Festival.
The Bar & Club Scene
Most grownup club action these days is found along Granby Street between Main and Charlotte streets, where some of the many restaurants and bars have live music. Take a stroll any night, especially on weekends, and you're bound to hear tunes to your liking. Check out Scotty Quixx, 436 Granby St. (tel. 757/625-0008), and Hell's Kitchen, 124 Granby St. (tel. 757/624-1906). Because the scene changes significantly from night to night depending on which bands are playing where, pick up a copy of the local alternative newspaper, Veer Magazine (www.veermag.com), which will give a good rundown of what's going on when you're here.
A block to the east, opposite the MacArthur Center, the Norva Theater, 317 Monticello Ave. (tel. 757/627-4547; www.thenorva.com), hosts rock, reggae, and other bands. With lounges overlooking the stage from three levels, it's more a big club than a theater these days.
Once the center of Norfolk nightlife, the Waterside Festival Marketplace attracts a mostly young after-dark crowd these days. Here you'll find Jillian's (tel. 757/624-9100), a noisy emporium with a restaurant, sports bar, billiards and electronic games, and a dance club with music to thrill the soul of any 18-year-old. I like to stroll through the Waterside to see what's going on, and then head over to Granby Street.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.