The cobblestone streets will draw you in; the neighborhood itself will enchant you, and the businesses will keep you coming back for more.
image | Rachel Jacobsen
Part of our series helping you find the right neighborhood for you, sponsored by Rose & Womble Realty Company.
I may be a little biased as a former resident of the Freemason district as well as current general manager of the neighborhood coffee shop, but there’s magic in this quaint little corner of downtown Norfolk.
Freemason holds an appeal of being halted in time with its old-world architecture and homes that have been painstakingly well preserved over hundreds of years, resulting in a place that was named one of the American Planning Association’s top ten neighborhoods in America in 2013. There is always a light breeze that brings a calming kind of quiet, gently ushering you to marvel in the welcoming embrace of each street. As you walk toward the water’s edge to watch the sailboats swim into their docks, you may find your pace slow to a relaxed saunter. That’s due to the palpable feeling of every day being just like that peaceful lull after a fulfilling brunch on a Sunday afternoon. That brunch ought to be enjoyed at Cure Coffeehouse on Botetourt Street, where you can easily become friends with the lively and friendly staff, chatting away while sipping on a beautifully crafted cup of coffee, bloody Mary, or local brew and indulge in a mouth-watering meal.
While you’re on that indulgence train, you would do well to treat yourself to a French macaron or twelve (I won’t tell anyone) at Hummingbird Macarons. Noted in Martha Stewart Living, it’s a cozy, confectionary dreamland for any occasion on the corner of Botetourt and Bute Street.
If you’re in the mood to celebrate, or it’s date-night, stop by Omar’s Carriage House for the romantic atmosphere and a meal that will make you fall in love over and over again. Have a bottle of wine and stay awhile. Voila! Cuisine International is another lovely option for dining for that special business or romantic dinner, and Machismo Burrito Bar has your burrito fix covered.
image | Christopher Bonney Photography
While we clearly love to eat in this town, make no mistake that the residents and visitors also love a good workout. Luckily enough My Yoga Spirit yoga studio not only promotes the health of your mind and body, but a sense of relationship with your teachers and community. It is a wonderful place to unwind, to challenge and strengthen your whole self, and to be part of a growing population of creative and impactful people. Freemason also boasts a YMCA with a wide array of programs for the entire family.
Take time to get a little lost in your stroll. There are hidden treasures around just about every corner. One such gem being the Pagoda and oriental garden, tucked away on the edge of the Freemason Harbor. It provides a curious intrigue as it holds a vastly different ambiance from the rest of the neighborhood. The Pagoda, an ornately decorated gift from the Taiwanese, has become a staple for patio meals, sunset viewings, weddings, and picnics. The well-manicured oriental gardens surrounding the structure house a Koi pond and idyllic spots to sit and read a book or imagine you’re on an international vacation.
Freemason is in an idyllic and convenient spot for pedestrians, bikers, and view-seekers. Resident Rob Lemieux says, “I like how easy it is to walk anywhere. It’s a mile to Ghent and half to downtown. You get the best of both worlds and I really like being on the water and seeing the fireworks for all the festivals.”
There’s something to be said for this little slice of the world and all of its wonder. Everyday I find myself smiling as I continue to discover something new I’ve found to love about it; and when you love something you want to shout it from the rooftops. So, drop your car off at the mall and spend a day with us watching the ships go by. Have a drink and enjoy that sigh of relaxation that Freemason is so eager to provide.