Wish You Were Here
Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel

Local outdoor sightseeing and recreational attractions include Norfolk Botanical Garden, located next to the airport; Virginia Zoological Park, on the banks of the Lafayette River; and Ocean View Beach. Fans of the visual and performing arts can check out the offerings at the Chrysler Museum of Art - which has a large collection of photography chronicling the Civil Rights Movement - the Granby Theater and the Harrison Opera House.

Shopping enthusiasts can head to Granby Row, the flea markets and antique shops in Historic Ghent, the Waterside Festival Marketplace or the one-million-sq. ft. MacArthur Center Mall.

RICHMOND

The highest capacity meeting facility in Virginia's capital city is the Greater Richmond Convention Center, with 178,159 sq. ft. of exhibit space, 80,000 sq. ft. of meeting and presentation space and a 30,550-sq. ft. ballroom.

An interesting Richmond landmark is the Bill "Bojangles" Robinson statue, located at the site of the city's first traffic light, which was a gift from the famous film star. The statue is located in Jackson Ward, a 40-block historically Black neighborhood that also includes the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, founded by a former slave in 1867, and the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. Two other local Black heritage attractions are the Maggie L. Walker National Historical Site, home of the first woman bank owner in the United States, and the new Virginia Civil Rights Memorial on Capitol Square.

A new downtown performing arts center called Richmond CenterStage is set to open in late 2009. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is undergoing a major expansion, also targeting for a late 2009 opening. Another new development is the Capital Trail, a scenic pedestrian and bicycle path connecting Jamestown, Williamsburg and Richmond along Route 5. The entire route is expected to be complete by 2012.

ROANOKE

The main meeting venue in this Blue Ridge Mountain destination is the Roanoke Civic Center, which contains 80,000 sq. ft. of meeting and exhibit space, a coliseum and a performing arts center. It also encompasses the new 46,000-sq. ft. Roanoke Special Events Center, which offers 10 meeting rooms and banquet accommodations for up to 3,000.

The Harrison Museum of African American Culture is located on the ground floor of Roanoke's first public high school for Black students. Visitors might also enjoy touring the Virginia Museum of Transportation, which includes an exhibit on African-American contributions to the development of the railroad. Booker T. Washington National Monument is located southeast of Roanoke in Hardy, Washington's birthplace.

One of Roanoke's top shopping and dining spots is the Historic Farmers' Market, which also is the site of Center on the Square, a cultural district that includes the Science Museum of Western Virginia, the History Museum of Western Virginia and the Mill Mountain Theatre. Art lovers can browse Art Museum of Western Virginia or the Taubman Museum of Art.

Other places to see include Mill Mountain Zoo, Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia's Explore Park and Elmwood Park, which holds the Taste of Blue Ridge Blues and Jazz Festival each September.

VIRGINIA BEACH

The Virginia Beach Convention Center is implementing a number of sustainability initiatives focused on recycling, waste reduction and water and energy conservation. The 516,000-sq. ft. facility has more than 150,000 sq. ft. of column-free exhibit space, nearly 29,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and a ballroom measuring more than 31,000 sq. ft.

There are more than 12,000 hotel rooms citywide, including over 3,500 committable hotel rooms within 2.5 miles of the convention center.

A notable African-American heritage site in Virginia Beach is Morning Star Baptist Church, one of the city's oldest remaining Black churches. For a further taste of area history, visitors can tour the historic Lynnhaven House, explore the Cape Henry Lighthouse and Memorial Park and take a stroll down the Virginia Legends Walk, lined with markers paying tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, Arthur Ashe, Booker T. Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Edgar Allen Poe and other famous Virginians.

A favorite spot along the city's 14 miles of public beach is the three-mile Boardwalk, where the action includes biking, rollerblading and nightly summer entertainment. The Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum is housed in the last remaining cottage on the Virginia Boardwalk.

Other major attractions include the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, Ocean Natal Air Station, the Military Aviation Museum, the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, the Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater and the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts. First Landing State Park, the Chesapeake Bay Center and the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge have facilities for outdoor recreational activities like hiking, fishing and kayaking. Several area visitor sites, including the Virginia Aquarium, the Chesapeake Bay Center and the Contemporary Art Center, offer space for after-hours events.

Top shopping venues include The Town Center - a complex featuring 17 city blocks of upscale retail and residential space - Lynnhaven Mall, Pembroke Mall, Hilltop Shopping Center and Atlantic Avenue.


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