Few corners of the country can rival South Hampton Roads for its exceptional quality of life and sheer diversity — from Norfolk’s gleaming skyscrapers and massive aircraft carriers to the seafoam that rushes to meet the white sands of Virginia Beach. South­side, as the locals prefer to call it, draws together a number of cities and towns: Chesapeake, Isle of Wight County, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach.

Regardless of your age or your walk of life, South Hampton Roads can meet your ideals of atmosphere, convenience, natural beauty, and urban amenities. Historic sites, fine museums, world-class cultural attractions, lush parks, and outstanding recreational amenities as well as thriving employment centers and farms in the country are all connected by a superb transportation network.

The majority of people who call southside home have chosen to settle in the major population centers of Norfolk and Portsmouth. However, just a short drive south unfolds the open fields, panoramic countryside, and unpaved roads of Small Town, USA. The city of Chesapeake is microcosm of the wide range of settings you will find in South Hampton Roads, including long-established neighborhoods in historic downtown districts, quaint farm houses set back from scenic country roads, modern condominiums, and luxurious planned communities with championship golf courses or breathtaking lake views.

While the Isle of Wight County and the southern cities of Chesapeake and Suffolk have been slower to develop from their rural roots, nearby Virginia Beach has emerged as Virginia’s largest city and one of the fastest-growing in the entire nation. Virginia Beach has matured from a vacation destination into a major center for business, industry and commerce, attracting visitors to its entertainment spots, retail centers, and Atlantic Ocean beaches.

The service and tourism industries, along with the port and military activity, form the traditional anchors of the local economy. In more recent years, growing numbers of manufacturers, financial services firms, and distributors have joined the ranks of long-established enterprises. The products manufactured in South Hampton Roads are as diverse as the region itself, from Ford trucks, Canon copiers, and Stihl chain saws to Smithfield hams, Lipton tea, and Planters peanut snacks.

The leading port cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth are important players in international trade, claiming fine deep-water harbors and one of the world’s busiest ports. Norfolk is home to a strong concentration of military operations, including the world’s largest naval base, the headquarters for the North American Treaty Organization, and the U.S. Atlantic Command — second only to the Pentagon in power. To this impressive list, Portsmouth adds the Navy’s second largest hospital, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Atlantic headquarters, and the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

As the focal point of southside tourist trade, Virginia Beach draws millions of visitors each year to its resort atmosphere. Mixing beautiful streetscapes with a dynamic business community and cultural attractions, Virginia Beach offers a rare dimension of livability. And while Williamsburg on the peninsula may be the most celebrated of the area’s historic attractions, don’t overlook Smithfield. As one of Virginia’s original eight shires, Smithfield is a popular showcase for many of the region’s finest pre-Revolutionary War homes, including the Windsor Castle built in 1750. Smithfield also draws regional and national visitors to its collection of quaint antique shops.

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