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by Michael C. Lowe | August 01, 2011
Wine and Dine

Wine from Virginia Wine Month

October officially is Virginia Wine Month and features nearly 100 festivals, wine dinners and special events -- including grape stompings, cheese tastings and live music -- across more than 190 wineries.

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Coastal Virginia
This month, the Tide light-rail system will begin service in Norfolk, along the Elizabeth River. Trips from the starting point at Newtown Road to the terminus at Eastern Virginia Medical Center will take less than 30 minutes. A single ride will cost $1.50, while a day pass with unlimited transfers will run $3.50.

The Norfolk Jazz Festival will celebrate its 30th anniversary next July. The event, which offers 12 hours of music over two days, features a mix of local, regional and nationally recognized musicians.

The new Peninsula Town Center in Hampton, near the Hampton Roads Convention Center, features retail options and gastronomic offerings from sushi to steak to burritos. Other attractions include a bowling alley and Cine­bistro, a dine-in movie theater offering leather recliners and American fare, such as lump blue crab cakes with pan-roasted asparagus.

Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport opened a new $13.8 million concourse in May 2010. The airport is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Williamsburg.

Meeting Hotels
Properties in Hampton include the 320-room Howard Johnson Plaza and Conference Center; 295-room Embassy Suites Hampton Roads Hotel, Spa & Convention Center; 289-room Best Western Plus Coliseum & Suites, and 177-room Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina.

Hotels in Newport News include the 256-room Newport News Marriott City Center, 182-room Omni Newport News Hotel and 150-room Point Plaza Suites at City Center.

Norfolk hotels include the 468-room Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel, 405-room Norfolk Waterside Marriott, 247-room Hilton Norfolk Airport, 208-room Norfolk Airport Hotel and 204-room Crowne Plaza Norfolk.

For more detailed hotel and venue information, visit mcvenues.com.

Convention Centers
Hampton Roads Convention Center; exhibit space, 320,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 33; (757) 722-1222

Norfolk Scope; exhibit space, approximately 85,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 17; (757) 664-6464

Hampton Coli­seum; total exhibit space, 84,827 square feet; number of on-site meeting rooms, three; (757) 838-5650

Airport Transit
Newport News/Williamsburg Interna­tional Airport, about 13 miles from downtown Newport News and downtown Hampton. Transfer cost by taxi to Hampton Roads Convention Center, approximately $25. Transfer cost by taxi to downtown Newport News, approximately $30

Norfolk International Airport, about 10 miles from downtown Norfolk. Transfer cost by taxi, $17-$20

Taxes
Hampton: local tax, 8%; state tax, 5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13%

Newport News: local tax, 7.5%; state tax 5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12.5%

Norfolk: local tax, 8% plus $2 per room per night.

Group Venues
The Mariners' Museum features artifacts pulled from the Titanic, an extensive collection of model ships and some 92 figureheads that once graced the bows of sailing vessels. The 63,500-square-foot property can be rented by groups. (757) 296-2222

Planners seeking a night on the waterfront can rent the 80,000-square-foot Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center for up to 1,500 guests in Norfolk. The venue features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Elizabeth River and sits adjacent to the Battleship Wisconsin, a World War II-era cruiser that is open to visitors. (757) 664-1074

Dining Out
Set in a 138-year-old former Presby­terian church, the Freemason Abbey Restaurant and Tavern in Norfolk now offers tradition­al American fare (they've got the BLT down to an art here) in a newly renovated interior. The church's original stone façade still serves as the restaurant's main entryway. (757) 622-3966

Contact
Hampton Convention & Vis­itor Bureau, (757) 722-1222

Newport News Tourism Develop­ment Office,
 (757) 926-1400

VisitNorfolk, (757) 664-6620