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Portsmouth Virginia

Updated on May 10, 2014

One of the Seven Cities - Portsmouth Virginia

Portsmouth Virginia is one of the seven cities of Hampton Roads.

This Virginia community is located along the Elizabeth River, just across from Norfolk.

The city is a mix of shopping, museums, historical buildings, industrial complexes and residential neighborhoods.

About Portsmouth Virginia

Portsmouth is a Hampton Roads community along the Elizabeth River. Portsmouth is closely connected with Norfolk, both physically and in spirit.

The city is a mix of shopping, museums, historical buildings, industrial complexes and residential neighborhoods. Visitors will love the downtown waterfront with its visitor center, water ferries and long walkways. The view of Norfolk's waterside along the Elizabeth is spectacular. Portsmouth also has a waterside park which is extremely popular among residents.

Portsmouth is reachable from the other Hampton Roads cities by land and water. The route 264 tunnel is known for traffic backups although local residents take a variety of paths around rush hour traffic.

Portsmouth Museums

The Portsmouth Visitor Information Center is a good starting point before touring the nearby museums. The center is known for its convenient location, friendly staff, displays and abundance of informational brochures.Most of the museums in Olde Towne and along High Street are within a few minutes of the Visitor Information Center.

The Children's Museum of Virginia provides fun for kids of all ages. Exhibits include a planetarium, a rock-climbing wall, a giant bubble-making station, a real fire engine, a city bus and the Lancaster Antique Toy and Train Collection, one of the most notable model train collections in the world. The displays help kids learn about science, nature, art and other subjects in a fun setting. The Children's Museum of Virginia is located at 221 High Street.

The Courthouse Galleries is an art museum which includes two large galleries of exhibits. During Portsmouth's First Friday events, the Courthouse Galleries often host free musical entertainment. Another special event is the First Sunday of the month when educational programs such as gallery talks and seminars that complement the exhibits are held. The museum also hosts a range of art classes, lectures, poetry readings and book signings. The attraction is housed in a beautiful Greek-Revival building surrounded by a wrought-iron fence and nearly hidden behind massive oak trees that occupy its courtyard. The structure was built in 1846 and served as the Norfolk County Courthouse until 1960. The Courthouse Galleries is located at the corner of High and Court streets.

Lightship Portsmouth Museum is a popular stop in Olde Towne, located at the end of London Street on the waterfront. Visitors to the ship can board and see how the men of the Lightship Service lived during their many months at sea. The Lightship Portsmouth was commissioned in 1915 and has since been restored to its original condition. While in active service, the vessel anchored for months off the coastline, serving Hampton Roads as a vital navigational aid to mariners. In 1989, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum contains exhibits on naval history and local memorabilia The museum was established in 1949 within the nation's oldest shipyard in Norfolk. The Naval Shipyard Museum was later moved to the Portsmouth waterfront at High Street Landing on the Elizabeth River.

The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum contains two stories of sports and health exhibits. The attraction features information about nearly 300 past and present athletes. Special exhibits include a NASCAR simulator, baseball pitch speed test, and a sports broadcasting simulator. Fitness, nutrition, exercise and sports medicine is showcased in the Training Room. The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame is located at 206 High St.

Portsmouth Virginia Links

Portsmouth - Tidewater - Hampton Roads Virginia links

Olde Towne Portsmouth Farmers Market

The Olde Towne Portsmouth Farmer’s Market is located in the first block of Middle Street, between High and Queen Streets, adjacent to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame Museum. The market operates on first Saturdays through November The Farmer’s Market coincides with the First Saturday Olde Towne Business Association Flea Market that is held each month. Farmer’s Market items for sale often include fresh produce, flowers, plants, canned goods, baked goods, jams, breads, honey and more.

Ferries and Water Taxis

Ferries and water taxis carry passengers across the Elizabeth River between Portsmouth and Norfolk.

Elizabeth River Ferry

Pedestrian ferry crossing the Elizabeth River between Portsmouth and Norfolk. Operates seven days a week, departing from High Street Landing and North Landing in Portsmouth and arriving at Waterside in Norfolk.

(757) 222-6100 | www.gohrt.com

Water Taxi

The water taxi carries passengers to Olde Towne Portsmouth and downtown Norfolk. Available seasonally, the Water Taxi also offers a 20-minute tour of the Portsmouth waterfront. To call for a ride or to arrange a charter, call 439-TAXI (8294)

Books about Hampton Roads Virginia

First Friday in Portsmouth

First Friday is a monthly event put on by local merchants & restaurants in Portsmouth’s Historic Olde Towne. Held the first Friday of each month, Olde Towne Portsmouth’s thriving arts & antiques community opens it’s doors along the 12 historic squares of High Street located between Effingham Street and the riverfront.

A loyal following of visitors attend and browse art galleries, antique shops and specialty stores. Activities include receptions, art exhibitions, food specials and other treats.

First Friday is held each month, rain or shine, year round and all events are free and open to the public. First Fridays are hosted by the Portsmouth Olde Towne Business Association.

Bide-A-Wee Golf Course in Portsmouth

Golf Digest has named Portsmouth's Bide-A-Wee Golf Course as the Best Muny Golf Course in Virginia. This designation was announced in the August 2009 Golf Digest article, "Public Golf: Best Muny in All 50 States". Golf Digest defines a "muny" golf course as a course owned by a city, town, county, or state.

Bide-A-Wee Golf Course, owned by the City of Portsmouth, is located at 1 Bide-A-Wee Lane off of Greenwood Drive in the Victory Village mixed-use development area. The course, which originally opened in 1956, closed in 1998 and underwent major renovations. Bide-A-Wee reopened in April 1999 as an 18-hole Tom Clark/Curtis Strange signature course.

In addition to being named Best Muny Golf Course in Virginia, Bide-A-Wee has been recognized, previously, with Golf Digest honors: In 2002, Golf Digest named Bide-A-Wee as the "Most Improved Golf Course in the United States" and in 2008, Golf Digest bestowed a 4-1/2-star rating on the course.

"We have known all along that Bide-A-Wee is an excellent golf facility. Now, to have Golf Digest select us as the best in Virginia is a tremendous honor and it is a great source of pride for the highly-dedicated and highly-skilled staff of Bide-A-Wee," said Bide-A-Wee's PGA golf professional Andy Giles.

For more information on Bide-A-Wee Golf Course, visit www.bideaweegolf.com.

Where is Hampton Roads Virginia?

The name "Hampton Roads" originated nearly four hundred years ago when Virginia was a British Colony. Hampton Roads refers to both a body of water and the region of land bordered by the Elizabeth and James Rivers, the Western edge of the Chesapeake Bay and the Virginia Beach waterfront.

The waterways of Hampton Roads create one of the world's biggest natural

harbors. The area is occupied by the United States Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force,

NASA, Marines, and Army facilities, shipyards, coal piers, waterfront property and beaches.

(U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Kendrick)
(U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Kendrick)

Coast Guard names Portsmouth "Coast Guard City"

In 2009, Coast Guard named Portsmouth as a Coast Guard City. The Coast Guard chose Portsmouth due to the city's nearly 200 years of support for the Coast Guard and the organizations that merged to form the Coast Guard in 1915.

The honorary distinction is indicative of the productive, ongoing relationship between the Portsmouth community and local Coast Guard units, including the 5th District, Atlantic Area, Base Portsmouth and Sector Hampton Roads.

source: USCG press release

photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard /Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Kendrick

Portsmouth Olde Towne Scottish Walk

The Annual Olde Towne Scottish Walk is a popular New Years event in Portsmouth. The walk includes the tuning of the pipes and a tour through Olde Towne to the foot of High Street. Other activities may include a flag raising ceremony, singing Auld Lang Syne, Lighted Boat Parade and special music in local pubs.

Portsmouth Guestbook

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