Courier February Courier - Page 40

ATLANTIC COAST COMPASS Waterside District in Norfolk, Virginia Ships, shops and a tattoo If members of a group are fond of the TV series “NCIS,” they can find the real deal in Norfolk, Virginia. Home to the larg- est U.S. Navy base in the world, as well as one of NATO’s two Strategic Command Centers, the city will make anyone who loves the big guns (literally) giddy with delight. At Naval Station Norfolk, visitors can see aircraft carriers, destroyers and amphibious assault ships during year-round 45-minute tours conducted by actual naval personnel. As water is so much a part of life in Norfolk, it stands to reason that the annual Harborfest on the Downtown Waterfront takes pride of place. The three-day event (this year June 8–10) at Town Point Park includes activities ranging from a tall ships parade and a build-a-boat contest to the largest fireworks display on the East Coast. If you tell your group they’re going for a tattoo, you could be in danger of scaring some members off. Make sure they know it’s not a skin design that’s on the agenda but a band perfor- mance—as in the Virginia International Tattoo (this April 26–29). With a colorful collection of drummers, pipers, fifers and other musicians, it is the largest military show of its kind in the U.S. New to Norfolk as of last year is Norfolk Premium Outlets, where visitors can shop for brands such as Nike, Michael Kors and Tommy Hilfiger at 25 percent to 65 percent off. While not new, a revitalized Waterside District offers the best in national, regional and local restaurants in addition to live music and festivals. For more information, contact VisitNorfolk’s Melissa Hopper at mhopper@visitnorfolktoday.com or go to visitnorfolk.com. The Outer Banks’ history and highlights 38 February 2018 Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station on Hatteras Island In this scenic sand dunes and rolling surf of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station on Hatteras Island doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue trippingly. It does, however, offer groups a chance to see one of the few remaining sites in America chronicling the early U.S. Coast Guard and its incredible feats. There is even more reason to take your groups to Hatteras in 2018 as it marks the 100th anniversary of the Mirlo Rescue, a dramatic effort to save those on board the Mirlo, a British tanker, when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1918. The station and other surviving buildings from the late 18th century are in Rodanthe, the same Cape Hatteras village immortalized by Nicholas Sparks in his novels. This may be history, but the Outer Banks focuses on the present and future as well. Groups are welcome at the North Carolina Aquarium, which recently re-opened after a $6.5 million renovation. A main feature at the Roanoke Island- based attraction is an interactive Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation Center. If you plan to bring your group sometime in late this sum- mer or early fall, they can be among the first to experience the visitors center at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, which is currently undergoing a multimillion renovation. This will be the seventh year for the Outer Banks Seafood Festival, held the third Saturday in October. Celebrating the area’s local fishermen, seafood heritage and fresh Outer Banks seafood, it continues to be a favorite for group tours. For more information, reach out to Lorrie Love of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau at love@outerbanks.org or go to outerbanks.org.