The Travel Feature

The Home of My Home by the Sea, Hampton, VA.


Big things come from small places. I’m sure Allen Iverson would agree. Who thought that a hall of fame basketball career would come from a small city on the southeastern tip of the Virginia peninsula on the Chesapeake Bay? Hampton, Virginia, may be unknown to many, but those who value their countries history know to never overlook it. The first place to offer free public education, the first training ground for astronauts, the first continuous English speaking settlement and many other national foundations prove Hampton surely lives up to its logo and slogan, “America’s First”.

One of Hampton’s biggest assets, Hampton University, sits right over the front of the water directly across the bridge from the unique downtown area. Formerly known as Hampton Institute, Hampton University, one of the top ranked HBCUs, is just one of the many commodities of Hampton, Virginia. However, Hampton University’s national reputation and prestige is sometimes said to overshadow the national prestige of the city itself. I spoke with Taylor Wilson, waiter of downtown Hampton restaurant Taphouse and 28 year Hampton resident, about the attention of Hampton University possibly surpassing that of the city where he lives. “It hasn’t happened yet,” Taylor immediately stated. “It probably will. When the President of the school was our mayor, that’s when it started getting out of hand.”

Needless to say, General Samuel Armstrong’s foundation of Hampton Institute did a lot for Hampton, Virginia. Tourists enjoy going to see the school, Langley Air Field, and many more landmarks that have lasted throughout the years including Fort Monroe, which President Obama officially named a National Monument on November 1, 2011.

As historic as it is beautiful, Hampton’s scenery of old brick structures and whistling wind chill by the quiet, tranquil sea can be enough to pacify the Incredible Hulk. Blue and white school colors by the blue and white tide suggest a pleasant flow of consistency by the bridge where the settlers landed.

Staying downtown near the waves to avoid any rough, dangerous, or drug addicted local miscreants, I’d find for the most part that Hampton, Virginia is a friendly, harmless atmosphere where enjoyment is sometimes scarce, but not far. Your favorite entertainer’s are bound to visit the Coliseum and Mary Helen’s macaroni and cheese will make you feel right at home.

Two days ago, I sat down in Kente’s, an African themed restaurant, and enjoyed great food while I enjoyed the atmosphere of African cloths, glasses, paintings, and reruns of Good Times on the television. Nothing makes me feel more at home, and nothing makes me feel more African-American than sitting in the same room with JJ, Michael, Flo, James, and Thelma. However, while they may have been forced to eat Thelma’s cooking on the TV screen, the meal I had was much better than that. Bright pink rows of carefully grilled Salmon over a delicious bed of dirty African rice next to homemade green beans made my day at Kente’s a memorable one. Home themed restaurants like this are what make Hampton, Virginia a noteworthy place on the map for homesick gluttons like me.

Amongst those who spoke to me, the lines of short buildings over cobblestone roads said, “Hampton is not big and fancy. We don’t need flashy signs, fast nightlife or showy attractions to stand out from the bunch, but we’re home to many and welcome everyone else. We live in a place with neighborhoods of people who all know one another, and love the city they live in. There’s no one to impress, and nobody in the way of your relaxation. Sit down. Kick off ya shoes, and stay a while.”

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