We have our own ferryboat ride right here, connecting two cities by something other than a toll tunnel or a bridge. It may be a short ride, but it is still romantic, not to mention cheap, eco-friendly and fun.
Here are the top ten reasons you should ride the Elizabeth River Ferry:
1. Protest the tolls
If you live on the Portsmouth side of the river, you don’t have to drive all the way around to avoid the tolls. Parking is FREE in downtown Portsmouth on weekends.
Weekday commuters who take the ferry to Norfolk at least three times a week can qualify for an assigned parking space at Traffix’s Park & Sail lot.
2. Get dropped off at Waterside
If you’re coming from Portsmouth, the ferry drops you off at Waterside, which is going to be fabulous some day (we hope). The dock is steps from Town Point Park and the foot of Granby Street. You can even walk to MacArthur Center for some shopping. Anytime there are thousands of people congregating in downtown Norfolk, it is so much more relaxing to take the ferry. I don’t need to tell you about all the doings in Norfolk. Just read the AltDaily.
3. Give Portsmouth a try
If you’re coming from Norfolk, you can get off at the foot of High Street. Walk up to the Children’s Museum of Virginia (kids love the ferry), Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, and lots of excellent restaurants along or near High Street. The Portsmouth Olde Towne Farmer’s Market is at High Street and Court Street on Saturday morning. There is an excellent coffee shop, called The Coffee Shoppe (what’s with all the old-timey e’s on the end of words around here?) right on the way. This stop is also close to the NTelos Wireless Pavilion, with concerts and free movies for families.
4. There’s a lot more in Portsmouth than you think
If you’re coming from Norfolk, you can get also get off at North Landing. You can walk historic Olde Towne (there’s those e’s again) where there is charm all over the place and more excellent restaurants.
Our favorite is 757 Crave of the Harbor in the marina. This place is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is delicious, and every seat in the house has a view.
5. Hop a ride on something better than a rickshaw
If you don’t feel like walking or if you have difficulty walking, call Jim at Olde Towne Courtesy Shuttle in Portsmouth, 757-355-0478. He will pick you up in a classy golf cart at either of the ferry stops and take you where you want to go downtown.
6. You can bring your bike along
You can take your bike on the ferry. If you are committed to lowering green house gas, reducing your carbon footprint, or just love to ride, wheel your bike on board. Portsmouth just received a bronze medal from the League of American Bicyclists for “its investment in safety, education, infrastructure and pro-cycling policies.” Norfolk bicyclists, come on over and see what’s going on.
7. It’s a cheap ride
The Elizabeth River Ferry is part of our own HRT. It costs $1.75 for a one-way ride, half of that for seniors and the disabled. Kids under 38” tall are free. Your Go Pass works on the ferry too.
8. It’s pretty
The three ferries are cute and photo worthy. They have paddlewheels, which may or may not actually propel the boats. The staff (or seamen, seawomen, seapeople?) is young and friendly and will wait for you if you are one minute late, running down the ramp and yelling for them to hold up. The view is spectacular, day or night.
9. Ride to a Tides game in style
The HRT adjusts the ferry’s route and schedule so that people on the Portsmouth side can ride the ferry from the North Landing stop to Harbor Park. The boat leaves every 30 minutes beginning one hour before game time and continues until the game is done.
10. You might see something like this
It was a beautiful evening last August when we went down to the North Landing in Portsmouth to experience Gospelrama 2013. Two full days and evenings of gospel music from near and far, free and open to all. The ferryboat came in and we wondered why there weren’t more people listening to the wonderful music right on the river.
You may remember that my husband, the retired financial analyst, does not like paying the tunnel tolls. That very same husband loves riding the ferry between Portsmouth and Waterside in Norfolk. Sometimes we will ride on over to Waterside, stay on the ferry and ride on back to High Street in Portsmouth to feel the breeze on the upper deck, watch the boats go by, and hold hands.
For more info on the Elizabeth River Ferry, click here.