7 Hidden Gems In COVA: Secret Local Spots

Shhh…these secret local spots in COVA are simply the ones we all seek out in any town, city, or state. Giving you the inside scoop on where to go, what to see, and how to get there when it comes to Coastal Virginia. When traveling to these areas, make sure you make a pit stop at each of these local gems. Make a memory, snap a photo, just keep it on the down low.

It’s not only a hidden gem…it’s quite possibly the highest. Travel 169 feet above the Elizabeth River, on top of the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge. It happens to be the tallest bridge in Coastal Virginia. Enjoy a stroll on the bridge’s trails as you gaze out over gorgeous sweeping views of the area and its landmarks. The mile-long bridge connects to the Chesapeake Colonial Trail system; so avid walkers can continue to explore the beauty of Chesapeake, like Historic South Norfolk. Located a few miles south of the larger city of Norfolk along the Southern Branch Elizabeth River, South Norfolk became an incorporated town in Norfolk County in 1919. Chesapeake has the small-town feeling, with downtown shopping to match. From Le Bebe Chic Boutique, which specializes in organic baby clothes and toys & handpicked boutique selections to Rodgers’ Puddings Retro Shop where Reggie Rodgers himself sells his award-winning product Rodgers’ Banana Pudding Sauce that is used to make a homemade banana pudding dessert. Chesapeake’s hidden gems are definitely one’s to be seen. LEARN MORE Grayson and Emmas Store
Franklin Southampton has a green thumb’s sweetest hidden gem. Don’t miss out on visiting Grayson & Emma’s Garden Spot, it’s the local’s go to spot for fresh vegetables, seafood, pimento cheese, gardening supplies and more! Located directly off Highway 58 in Courtland this locally owned “secret spot” is a great place to grab a quick bite to eat and grocery shop too! Additionally, check out this list for Shopping in Franklin! LEARN MORE 050
Who is the Norfolk Mermaid? Why are there Mermaid statues and Mermaid pictures and Mermaid things in Mermaid places all over Norfolk? Any seafaring maritime culture worth its salt knows that if you believe in mermaids, you’ll always be protected. Norfolk is still standing after almost 400 years, so thanks to those Mermaids, it’s still a really great place to visit. You’ll find life-size mermaid statues, created by local artists, scattered throughout the city. Paint your own mermaid souvenir at The Mermaid Factory in Ghent, or sip on a glass of wine at the state’s first and only urban winery, Mermaid Winery. LEARN MORE Fort Boykin Beach Smithfield Hidden Gem
Though Historic Fort Boykin is known for its rich history, the fort is also a favorite for Smithfield locals due to its gorgeous beach located at a point along Burwell’s Bay and the James River. The fort has been left in its natural state and so, like many hidden gems, there’s a bit of a trek, some of it downhill, to get to this one. Once you emerge from the wooded trail leading to the water, you’ll be stunned by the natural beauty and grateful for the seclusion. On the way out, look for Virginia’s oldest black walnut tree, which is over 200 years old, noted in the Remarkable Trees of Virginia Project, as well as the intact Civil War era earthworks, and the impressive view of the James River atop the fort’s bluff. The fort is free and open to public sunup until sundown; this is truly a hidden gem. LEARN MORE VB Hidden Gems - Old Beach Farmers Market
The Old Beach Farmers Market is a homegrown, year-round outdoor marketplace, set up just down the street from the boardwalk. From seasonal fruits and vegetables pulled straight from the Virginia Beach soil, to freshly caught seafood, eggs, coffee, handmade leather goods, soaps, jams and everything in between. Since it began in 2008, the market, operating out of the parking lot of Croc’s 19th Street Bistro in the ViBe Creative District, has helped launch many of the area’s staples such as Three Ships Coffee, The Stockpot and North End Bag Co. Hit the beach, then hit the town and check out these local gems. LEARN MORE Hidden Gems Collage
The Greater Williamsburg region is home to all types of hidden gems from shops to restaurants and fun places to go! Did you know that Williamsburg has its own beach for visitors to enjoy? Jamestown Beach Event Park offers a gorgeous landscape for you and your family! When it comes to shopping, there is really no where quirkier to shop in town than this little hidden gem shop called Quirks of Art. At Quirks of Art almost everything they sell is passionately handmade in America. Unique handcrafted works from over 400 artisans throughout the United States are on display. When looking to grub, if you want to eat where the locals eat, look no further than Shorty’s Diner. They are a family-owned and operated diner using its own family recipes where the motto is “Good Food, Large Portions, Small Prices!” Take a trip to Williamsburg, and be sure to check out these hidden spots. LEARN MORE Ghost Walk
Looking for a thrill? The Olde Town Ghost Walk in Portsmouth will definitely fill your void. Based upon the popular Jack-The-Ripper walks in London, guides take visitors to the haunted homes and mansions of Historic Olde Towne Portsmouth. Costumed actors tell the legends of ghostly visits and things that go bump in the night. The 45-minute tours depart the Trinity Episcopal Church graveyard at 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. and end at the Middle Street Park with cider and entertainment. Tickets are $10.00 per person. Plan this trip and get ghoulish in Portsmouth! LEARN MORE

Attractions | Chesapeake | COVA | Franklin Southampton | Norfolk | Portsmouth | Smithfield | Virginia Beach | Williamsburg