Year in Review: Hampton’s New and Noteworthy in 2023

Bay Shore Hotel in Hampton designated with first Virginia ‘Green Book’ Historic Marker

A series of new plaques attached to historical highway markers to commemorate sites featured in Virginia’s Green Book, a travel guide for Black Americans during the time when local and state Jim Crow laws legalized racial segregation, was unveiled.

The first marker is located at the original site for the Bay Shore Hotel, a popular vacation destination in Hampton for mid-century Black Americans to feel welcome & safe, at Buckroe Beach in Hampton (330 S Resort Blvd, Hampton, VA 23664).

This is one of numerous Historic Markers in Hampton you can look for during your travels.

Hampton’s Magnolia House Inn, named one of the best Black-owned stays around the world

The Magnolia House Inn is a Bed & Breakfast in Hampton, Virginia was featured in Travel + Leisure Magazine as “18 Amazing Black-owned Hotels Around the World.

The Magnolia House Inn owners have created a lane of their own as they trailblaze Black owned hospitality within the Coastal Virginia area. The inn is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks.

New Businesses know Hampton is the place to be!

In 2023 Hampton welcomed new businesses & expanded locations, including Latitude Climbing, SeeWhich Books, Smoothie Shop, Crown Jeweler’s, U Rock Art, Frank’s Monster Munchies, Canvas Social Cuisine, McAlister Deli, Qdoba, Panera Bread, and more!

Sightseeing Cruises on the Hampton Queen

The Hampton Queen has brought sightseeing cruises back to downtown Hampton! Covering over 20 points of interest and over 400 years of history from the founding of Jamestown in 1607 to current Norfolk Naval Base, this relaxing 2-hour cruise is climate controlled for your comfort and has some great outdoor space to enjoy the harbor breezes. With daily tours available in season, and holiday specials being planned, this is quickly becoming a must for any visitor.

Hampton Queen sightseeing cruise beside battleship on the Hampton River

The vessel, operated by Hampton Roads Harbor Tours, was recruited to the city by the Hampton Convention and Visitors Bureau following the departure of “Miss Hampton II” in 2021. That boat ran similar sightseeing tours for more than 30 years before the longtime owners sold the vessel to a person in Delaware.

New, Expanded, & Award-Winning Events in Hampton

You can always find fun upcoming events on our calendar, but this year we saw some impressive growth for area events.

The Mosaic Festival in April was started in 2023 to unify multiple area events happening in Hampton, including: Hampton History Museum’s Heritage Day, the City’s International Children’s Festival, and Earth Day events. This festival celebrates our diverse history, cultures, and the environment’s impact on us all through dance, traditional music, visual art, storytelling, demonstrators, food, crafts and unique vendors.

The Hampton Jazz Festival returned in June 2023 for an incredible three days at the Hampton Coliseum. Despite its hiatus due to the pandemic, this year’s Jazz Festival’s return was highly anticipated and had about 20,000 attendees for the festival.

The Supernova International Ska Festival (September) was named as a Top 10 indie festivals for 2023 by the Grammy Awards, adding that Supernova is “a masterclass in multigenerational heroes in ska and far, far beyond, with performances by acts such as Fishbone, Sister Nancy, the Toasters, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra and the Untouchables.”

Hampton Holly Days (December), which is known for our city’s holiday parade, has grown to add a 2-day market to the festivities.

The Hampton History Museum unveiled their new exhibit “Teetotalers and Moonshiners, and Hampton’s Prohibition Story.” The exhibition continues through February 4, 2024.

“On November 1, 1916, Virginia breweries and distilleries closed their doors as the state began a grand experiment in Prohibition. From that date until 1933, state inspectors and federal agents attempted to stem the flow of illicit alcohol to a thirsty populace. In many ways, Hampton’s relationship with alcohol mirrors Virginia’s as a whole. But, Hampton’s own Prohibition story differs in distinct and unexpected ways. This exhibit combines content from the Library of Virginia with research and artifacts from the Hampton History Museum on the local experience.”

Hampton is an Award-Winning City

In September, USA Artistic Swimming bestowed its Community Award upon the City of Hampton in recognition of its invaluable support in hosting the highly anticipated 2023 Junior Olympic Championship at the Hampton Virginia Aquaplex. This award underscores the Hampton CVB’s dedication to promoting and facilitating world-class sporting events.

In November, the Hampton CVB was awarded two Pinnacle Awards by the Public Relations Society of America, Hampton Roads Chapter. The Hampton CVB won an award for Best Digital Platform for its Black History Site Pass, which is a mobile phone tour that highlights the various Black history sites in Hampton. Additionally, the Hampton CVB won an Events and Observances Pinnacle Award for the marketing and promotion of the 2022 Hampton Virginia Aquaplex grand opening event.  

In addition, the Hampton CVB and the Hampton Roads Convention Center received ConventionSouth Readers’ Choice Awards. Both the Hampton CVB and the Hampton Roads Convention Center were two of 24 winners of the award in Virginia. 

See Press Release

New Black History Sites Pass Launched & Awarded

The new (and award-winning) Hampton Black History Site Pass allows users to check in on their smartphones at the city’s historic museums and sites.

Sign up for the free pass and revel at Hampton’s Black historic sites, which tell a powerful story of perseverance, heritage and pride.

Hampton was named an All-America City (again)

Hampton was named an All-America City by the National Civic League, one of the top 10 in the country! The award highlights communities that involve and engage their residents. This year had a focus on youth voices in the community.

This is the fourth time Hampton has been designated an All-America City, with previous wins in 1972, 2002, and 2014.

Ready to experience all that Hampton has to offer? Check out the Sea to Stars Pass, a discounted package of Hampton’s top attractions: