The Places You Can Go in Hampton
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“It’s better to swim in the sea below than to swing in the air and feed the crow.” —Benjamin Franklin commenting on Edward Blackbeard Teach, whose head was placed upon a stake at the mouth of the Hampton River in 1718.
A lot has changed here in Hampton since the Phish came to town in 2009, and a lot has stayed the same. I got tenure, marriage, and a night job promoting some of the entities detailed here. The mall near the Mothership was torn down, and a new mall was erected in its place. The new mall is newer than the old mall. But even though Monsoon’s Indian cuisine is delicious, and Ethereal Cupcakes’ cupcakes are sinfully divine, Peninsula Town Center is mainly chains, teenagers, and Axe Body Spray. The downtown streets continue to see revitalization as the Taphouse opened a new seafood restaurant, Conch & Bucket, which was recently visited by the camera crew from Bizarre Foods. Conch doesn’t have Tap’s 37 beers flowing, but it’s right next door and you can sample the same Devil Fish as Andrew Zimmern, check out and vote on some Coliseum-inspired posters, and pick up some Phish Maps from the exceedingly-talented Michael Hamad.
Gary McIntyre recently opened the Barking Dog, a hot dog joint in a marina that also serves gator, fish, veggie dishes, and good beer. Venture Kitchen is also new and features stiff drinks with the freshest ingredients and the best Beet-Za this side of Scranton. Some years back Phish ate at Musasi, and their sushi makes its way into my belly many a Saturday night. Nawab in Newport News is a must-go—especially for vegetarians. A trip to Hampton should always include a stop at the St. George Brewery and a hike in the Grandview Nature Preserve and/or Sandy Bottom Nature Park. Buckroe Beach has also seen some revitalization. After a day at the beach stop at Blend for some locally-roasted coffee and then scoot over to Heavens Pizza and say hi to Brian’s smoking hot girlfriend.
During the day on Saturday the second Mill Point Music Festival will be held for free and will be chock full of food trucks and beer. The festival will feature Natalie Cressman, the Hot Seats, and Tall Tall Trees. The Gin Baby jazz duo starts things off at 11:00, and Cressman will perform at 2:00. Located at the Saint George Brewery just five miles from the Coliseum, the festival plans to get you fed and beer’d and back to the Mothership in plenty of time for the Phish. On Sunday, Surrender to the Flow will put on another awesome Surrender to the Boat, which leaves from downtown Hampton.
If you don’t want to stay in Hampton, I recommend Norfolk over Virginia Beach. The downtown area has a good assortment of bars, restaurants, and things to do—including the NorVa, which was voted number one rock club in America. The Ghent neighborhood also houses local spots with good food—not to mention two new breweries. Many fans were forced to stay in Williamsburg in 2009, but those who didn’t should note the town is loaded with restaurants and sites to see. Hampton is a town full of history that had a tough bit of luck in the twentieth century but is coming into its own in a lot of ways. I hope you enjoy your stay.