Speed date your local districts

The ViBe and NEON districts offer distinctive and captivating experiences, certain to leave a lasting impression. 

The NEON District of Norfolk and the ViBe District of Virginia Beach are two vibrant and bustling hubs that highlight the diversity of local culture. These areas provide enthralling and distinctive experiences, which have become popular destinations for residents and tourists alike in Hampton Roads. The ViBe District, with its local art galleries and farm-to-table restaurants, contrasts the NEON District, which is well-known for its spectacular neon lights, bustling nightlife and lively entertainment scene.


ViBe District

A visit to the ViBe District is a definitive change of scenery from other areas of Virginia Beach. Here, community and creativity meld together in charming murals and neighborhood art galleries that dot the sidewalks. The ViBe District offers a variety of dining alternatives, from quaint cafes to farm-to-table restaurants, there’s something for everyone.

The district allows local creatives to inspire one another, while serving as a thriving hub for numerous creative enterprises on the Oceanfront. Visitors can experience the vibe at one of the district’s monthly First Fridays, Second Saturdays and VB Flea events. They can watch homegrown ideas come to life at the Virginia Beach Art Center’s active local artist studios and world-class exhibitions at Virginia MOCA or sample regional fare at the weekly Old Beach Farmers Market.

Near Virginia Beach’s coastline is a small women-owned ceramic studio and store called Jars of Dust. They offer handmade, heirloom ceramics to the community and beyond, as well as pottery classes for all skill levels. The storefront, tucked away in a secluded nook, houses all their available ceramics, and you may even observe a mug being manufactured from scratch as you shop for one. 

“The ViBe District of Virginia Beach is rich, vibrant and community-oriented. From the annual mural festival and weekly farmers market to the local small businesses and restaurants that pepper the streets, we, at Jars of Dust, are incredibly thankful to be located in such an eclectic corner of Virginia!” Head of Marketing, Lakota Rich, said.

“We love being able to connect with our community and offer not only unique ceramics that will last a lifetime, but also experiences and memories for families, friends and loved ones to come and enjoy together!” Rich said.

North End Bag Co., a hand-crafting canvas and leather goods store, has been in business in the ViBe District since 2012.

 “The neighborhood is composed of different artists, creators and business owners that work together to bring the community something exciting and fun. As the ‘Alley,’ we have brought The Flea Market to the district: a well curated, vintage/artist market that brings light to other creators and artists in our community,” manager Kendall Viera said.

Viera mentioned that with their business, they feel super lucky to be right in the middle of it all, and get to share their passion and knowledge of goods with the community.

 “Our shop really caters to all your senses, from the smell of leather, the sound of the machines, to touch of our materials. You are submerged when you walk through the door, standing in the showroom, you also get to see the production happening in our workshop in real time,” Viera said.


NEON District

Previously known as “Auto Row,” the NEON district received its name from a plethora of classic car dealerships that lined the streets, illuminating it with neon lights. Downtown Norfolk now has a new influx of local passion and creativity thanks to this district, which stands for New Energy of Norfolk. It started with a small number of invested residents and quickly expanded into a thriving living canvas showcasing culture, cuisine and craftsmen.

While studio-based organizations like d’Art Center and the Rutter Family Art Foundation give artists a venue to build, create and present, long-standing cultural institutions such as the Chrysler Museum of Art and Harrison Opera House serve as the district’s cultural pillars. 

The NEON District provides distinctive cultural experiences. Visitors can see a live glass-working demonstration, a muralist at work, watch an improv comedy show at Push Comedy Theater, get a tattoo and eat at an eccentric restaurant all within a few short blocks.

La Brioche, a gastronomic delicacy situated in the heart of the NEON District, is renowned for its delicious French pastries that are all prepared daily. The aroma of freshly baked delicacies–pastries, danishes, sandwiches and chocolate candies–wafts through the air and beckons passersby. It provides an ideal place to have a leisurely brunch, or to pick up a quick treat, because of its warm ambiance. La Brioche is a must-visit restaurant whether you’re a Francophile or just a foodie.

 “What we like about the district is that you find art everywhere, great energies, friendly customers and neighbors, and a small downtown with a great sense of community, EVERYTHING!” La Brioche owners Jacqueline and Yvan Devulder said.

“Our chef Yvan Devulder is very serious about ingredients and recipes in order to provide everyday high quality and the best taste of France. We have a lot of customers familiar with France and Europe due to the navy base as we have been in Norfolk for four wonderful years, thanks to everyone here,” Jacqueline said.

Another great business in the NEON District is Ghent Grab & Go. This business is a family-run convenience store that provides everything you need, even desserts like Dole Whip, as well as fresh salads, wraps, smoothies, a coffee bar and unusual beer and wine selections. 

“Our theme is ‘around the world in 60 seconds,’ and we try to bring flavors from around the world together at our store with quality and convenience in mind,” owner Dee Perera said.

By Houda Touchen