Located at Norfolk’s charming waterfront, the Waterside Festival Marketplace opened in 1983 as a project to revamp the declining downtown area. Today, Waterside Marketplace serves as a one stop attraction for dining, shopping, nightlife, sightseeing and exciting festivals.
Popular dining choices in the Waterside Festival Marketplace include the seafood restaurants, Joe’s Crab Shack and the Freemason Abbey Restaurant. Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub and Restaurant offers hearty authentic Irish foods like Shepherd’s pie, Reuben sandwiches, corned beef and Guinness beer. For tasty, authentic German meals and beer, the Bier Garden restaurant presents a good choice with its attractive outdoor setting. Diners can feast on delicious New York style pizzas, calzones and strombolis at Granby Street Pizza. The Vintage Kitchen serves up wholesome, all-American food.
Besides souvenir shops and specialty shops, the best shopping scenes in the Waterside Festival Marketplace include the Palace Shops Mall and the MacArthur Center. Featuring a lovely courtyard, gardens and name brand retailers, the Palace Shops also offer various specialty boutiques as well as antique, craft and gift shops. Shoppers will find a little of everything in the upscale MacArthur Center, which contains more than 160 stores, a food court and restaurants.
For lively nightlife options close to the Waterside Festival Marketplace, the Baxter’s Sports Lounge is a good choice. Located on Granby Street, Baxter’s is one of Norfolk’s largest and most popular bars. Also on Granby Street, the Jewish Mother is well known for its lively atmosphere and peppy music scene. The Big Easy Oyster Bar offers a vibrant New Orleans atmosphere with its live jazz music and Cajun cuisine. Snappers is a popular spot for Happy Hour. Guests will find a blend of local and international DJ music at the Granby Theater as well as the largest dance floor in the region. Additionally, Hell’s Kitchen and Jack Quinn’s Pub offers an energetic nightlife scene.
Since the Waterside Marketplace is within walking distance to many of Norfolk’s sightseeing attractions, visitors can explore sites like Nauticus, a maritime museum and science center. Here, guests can tour the deck of a battleship and see marine creatures like sharks and horseshoe crabs. Visitors may want to watch a baseball game at the Tides Harbor Park stadium or admire various local and national art works at the D’Art Center. Additionally, there are sightseeing cruises available in the marina area as well. Short ferry rides can be taken over to Portsmouth where visitors can also check out the Children’s Museum and the Sports Hall of Fame.
Several festivals and events are hosted annually in close proximity to the Waterfront Festival Marketplace. For one, the Marketplace is an excellent spot to watch July 4th fireworks. The most popular festival of the Waterside Festival Marketplace is Harborfest. Held every year to celebrate the area’s nautical heritage, Harborfest features many visiting ships and boats, maritime events, children’s activities and live entertainment. Other area festivals include the Jazz Festival, Virginia Wine Festival, the Great American Picnic and the Bayou Boogaloo and Cajun Food Festival.