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Norfolk’s Hippest Neighborhood: Ghent In 6 Steps

Mystic Mermaid

Photo by Susan Griggs

Shop for unique to Norfolk items at this Ghent shop, Mystic Mermaid.

From its beginnings as a planned suburb to today’s hub of entertainment, shopping and cuisine to the beautiful Victorian era architecture, Ghent is one of Norfolk’s favorite neighborhoods.

Ghent is located just southwest of downtown Norfolk and is both an easy drive and bus ride away. A 20-minute car ride will get you to the center of Ghent. If you care to go the public transportation route, take the 8 Tidewater towards Salter & Princess Anne.

Step 1: The Historic Naro Expanded Cinema
Naro Cinema offers off-street parking and is an easy five-minute walk from the bus stop (just follow Hampton toward Maury Ave, make a right and turn left at Colley Ave). Naro Cinema is located at 1507 Colley Avenue and the cinema will be on your left as you walk from the bus stop.

With its broad marquee, Naro Cinema looks right out of a 1950s movie. Today, independent films are shown, often followed by a discourse afterwards with film experts. The cinema opened in 1936 as the Colley Theatre, and was revitalized in the 1970s. Today, the bright NARO lights above the marquee beckon visitors and stand as a landmark of Ghent.

Step 2: Stockley Gardens
A 15-minute walk south along Colley Avenue will bring you to Stockley Gardens (follow Colley Avenue. Make a left at Boissevain Avenue and a right at Stockley Gardens).

Walk along the tree-lined promenade surrounded by some of Ghent’s famed Victorian homes. A center square with benches and a garden provide the perfect resting stop. If you happen to visit in the fall or spring, be sure to attend the Stockley Gardens Art Festival. Usually held during a weekend in mid-October and mid-May, Stockley Gardens Festivals feature artists along the garden promenade with local, handmade goods for sale as well as fine art in a plethora of mediums.

Step 3: Baker’s Crust
For lunch after your park jaunt, look no further than Baker’s Crust. Walk towards Boissevain Avenue and make a right at Redgate Avenue. From there, turn left onto Colonial Avenue. Walk several blocks until you see 21st Street then make a right, but don’t miss the beautiful sunflower mural as you pass by. Baker’s Crust is located at 330 West 21st St. and is located within The Palace Shoppes.

Baker’s Crust is a Virginian institution with several varieties of homemade bread. Look no further than a croque madame, topped with a fried egg and cheese, or a spa veggie sandwich on multigrain bread. Finish off with a blended mocha-coco-loco, a dream blend of coffee, chocolate sauce and coconut syrup finished with a sprinkle of coconut flakes, whipped cream and cocoa for a refreshing treat.

Step 4: Mystic Mermaid
From Baker’s Crust, walk across the parking lot and stop into Mystic Mermaid. Norfolk’s city symbol is the mermaid (you may have noticed Norfolk’s collection throughout the city). While it might be hard to take a life-size replica home, visitors can pick up a variety of mermaid souvenirs at Mystic Mermaid

Step 5: Color Me Mine
If Ghent’s artist community has you inspired, look no further than Color Me Mine for a chance to create your own masterpiece. Paint a mug, plate or set of dishes. To get there, head back towards Naro Cinema. Color Me Mine will be on your left on Colley Avenue.
 

Don’t forget that pottery needs to be fired in a kiln at Color Me Mine before your masterpiece can go home, so plan to pick up your piece five days later.

 

Step 6: BARDO
After all your hard work pottery painting, relax and enjoy a glass of wine at BARDO. To get there, walk up Manteo Street and turn right on 21st.

BARDO Edibles + Elixirs will both surprise your palate and quench your thirst. The deep red interior and black tablecloths offset the stunning work-of-art dishes that BARDO’s talented chefs create.

Gaze out BARDO’s wall of windows that wraps around the corner along busy 21st street. Be sure to take your time and sip a TE cocktail, a refreshing mix of Sprite, pomegranate juice and vanilla and mango vodka. Enjoy a dinner of pad Thai noodles with peanuts or blackened scallops as you relax in the Zen atmosphere of this Ghent gem. BARDO is a great way to end your adventures in Norfolk, taking in the sights and sounds and reveling in your afternoon experience of eclectic, artistic and historical Ghent.

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