GWS2017: Travel info

GWS2017 logo


Norfolk: A maritime hub at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

With origins going back to 1619, Norfolk (pronounced NOR-fok or NAW-fok by locals) is a city on and of the water.  Part of the Hampton Roads area where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, Norfolk has a compact, walkable, amenities-rich downtown that fronts on the Elizabeth River.  Here is where our conference hotel, the Marriott Waterside, is found.  The world's largest naval base, Naval Station Norfolk, is elsewhere in the city, as our headquarters of shipping companies, banks, and more.

Natural areas and historic sites nearby include Fort Monroe National Moument, Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Colonial National Historical Park (including historic Jamestown and Yorktown battlefield), Colonial Williamsburg, and, farther away, North Carolina's Outer Banks.


Getting to Norfolk and the Marriott Waterside

By air

Norfolk International Airport (ORF) is about 9 miles east of the downtown and the hotel.  There is no dedicated shuttle service to the Marriott, but James River Transportation (866-823-4626) offers 24-hour shuttle service to the hotel for $35.40 one-way (a fare that is good for 1–3 people, so it pays to arrange a ride with a friend or two).  The fare includes a 20% driver gratuity and taxes.   

Orange Peel Transportation offers a $40 round trip rate for GWS2017 conference attendees. Go to and complete the form, including your return date and time in the comments sections. Returns are offered on the hour. Within 24 hours you will receive a confirmation email, including airport arrival instructions and information on payment.

According to the website Tax Fare Finder, the one-way fare from the airport to the hotel ranges from $22–32 depending on traffic.

Driving directions from airport: Exit airport and take Norview Avenue.  Turn left on to VA 165 S (North Military Hwy) which becomes US 13 S.  Merge on to I-264 W towards Norfolk.  Take the E. City Hall Avenune exit (exit #10).  Turn left on to St. Pauls Boulevard and turn right on to E. Main Street.  Hotel will be on your right.


By rail

Amtrak serves Norfolk via its main eastern line from Boston and Washington, DC.  The station is not easily walkable to the Marriott, but you can take The Tide light rail line to the downtown near the hotel.


Getting around Norfolk

The Tide light rail line runs almost 8 miles through and beyond the downtown area.  The service is operated by Hampton Roads Transit, which also runs bus and ferry services.


Security considerations

Norfolk is a safe place to visit, but as in any city, conference attendees should be aware of their surroundings and keep to well-traveled streets after dark.

You should also use the same care with your valuables while in the conference hotel itself.  As a busy public venue, it is quite possible for non-registrants to circulate through the common areas of the hotel.  Keep your laptop, smart phone, and other valuables with you at all times.


Tips for cutting your travel costs

  • Stay over Saturday night. Some airlines drop fares for Saturday-night stayovers. If you are planning on arriving Sunday, April 2, consider coming a day early. You might save enough on airfare to more than cover the extra night’s room charge and your food for another day. You can also beat the long registration lines by registering on Sunday afternoon.
  • Consider a roomie. You can cut your hotel room costs in half by doubling up. If you don’t have someone to room with, check out our "Looking for a roommate?" webpage.
  • Room tax exemption for government employees.  Federal employees using Purchase Cards to pay for the hotel room are exempt from the state (but the local) portion of hotel room.  More information here.
  • Skip the rental car. Once you are at the Marriott, all the amenities you'll need are within walking distance.  All in all ... you don't need a rental car to get around!



Norfolk's climate is warm and humid, and average temperatures in April range from 66–76F (19–24C) with lows of 44–54 F (7–12C).  Rain can occur year-round, so you should come prepared with rain gear or an umbrella.

If you plan on participating in a field trip or service trip, check those pages for any special outerwear required.