Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Norfolk, VA

  • Published 2022/12/02

Norfolk is a waterfront city in Southeast Virginia and an excellent destination for a budget-friendly getaway.

From outdoor recreation to cultural attractions and more, the city offers plenty of free things to do.

Norfolk is home to various free attractions, sightseeing opportunities, and fun activities for all ages.

It’s a testament that you don’t have to spend a fortune on an exciting and memorable experience.

If you’re ready to experience Norfolk, consider these free things to do in Norfolk, Virginia.

Appreciate Art at the Chrysler Museum

Exterior of the Chrysler Museum of Art

Sherry V Smith /

The Chrysler Museum of Art is one of the most famous museums in Norfolk, and for a good reason.

The museum is home to a wide variety of art, from paintings and sculptures to decorative arts and photography.

This art museum got its name after its founder, Walter Chrysler, and is one of the best art museums in the United States.

Walter Chrysler originally donated most of his extensive art collection to the museum, preserved and accessible to the public.

Art pieces in the Chrysler Museum of Art

James Kirkikis /

The museum offers free admission and is open during regular hours of operation.

If you’re looking for a place to appreciate art and culture, then the Chrysler Museum is definitely.

The museum is free to visit for Norfolk residents and offers discounts for students and military members.

The Chrysler Museum of Art is a must-see in Norfolk for its art collection and various art-related activities.

Atrium of the Chrysler Museum of Art

Alexanderstock23 /

Visit the Moses Myers House

Exterior of the Moses Myers House

Cathy1763, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Moses Myers House is a historical landmark in Norfolk worth visiting.

This elegant house was built in 1792 and served as the home of Moses Myers, one of the wealthiest men in the city at the time.

Moses Myers was an American entrepreneur who built the mansion to accommodate his growing family.

It was also built to show his prominence and success in the city.

Today, it’s a museum that offers free admission and provides visitors with an up-close look at the lifestyles of the wealthy Norfolk families of the past.

The house is open to the public as a museum and offers visitors a glimpse into life in the 1800s.

The museum is free to visit and is open from noon to late afternoon on weekends.

If you want to know Norfolk’s rich history, visit the Moses Myers House.

Check Out MacArthur Memorial

Statue of General Douglas MacArthur in front of the MacArthur Memorial

James Kirkikis /

The MacArthur Memorial is a museum in Norfolk that pays tribute to General Douglas MacArthur, a prominent figure in American history.

The memorial contains various exhibits that tell the story of General MacArthur’s life and career.

It’s a fascinating museum that provides an in-depth look at the life of one of the most influential military leaders in American history.

What’s interesting about the MacArthur Memorial is that it’s also the Norfolk city hall.

The building is an impressive sight, and it’s free to visit during regular hours of operation.

If you’re interested in American history, add the MacArthur Memorial to your list of places to visit while in Norfolk.

Take a Walk at the Elizabeth River Trail

The Elizabeth River Trail is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike.

This 10.5-mile trail goes through a paved path that runs along the river and offers beautiful water views and the city skyline.

There’s even a part of the trail where you go through a boardwalk that showcases stunning views of the beautiful Norfolk waterfront.

A trail is a great place for a peaceful stroll, a jog, or a bike ride, and there’s plenty of room for everyone.

The trail is also pet-friendly so you can bring your furry friend along for fun.

The Elizabeth River Trail is worth checking out if you’re looking for a free activity that offers a great view of Norfolk.

Watch a Baseball Game at Harbor Park

Exterior of Harbor Park

Sherry V Smith /

Harbor Park is a beautiful baseball stadium in Norfolk that’s home to the Norfolk Tides, a Minor League Baseball team.

The stadium is a fan favorite and offers an excellent experience for baseball fans of all ages.

What’s excellent about Harbor Park is that even if you don’t buy tickets to experience the actual games, there’s always something going on.

The park that surrounds the stadium is a great place to visit with the family, and admission is free.

Aerial view of Harbor Park's field

Kyle J Little /

The park has plenty of activities, from walking trails to picnic spots, making it the perfect place to spend an afternoon.

Harbor Park is a great place to visit, even if you’re not interested in baseball.

If you are a baseball fan, there’s no reason for you not to spend a minor portion of your travel budget on tickets to a game.

A baseball game at Harbor Park

User:B, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Browse the Selden Market

Exterior of Selden Market

Felix Mizioznikov /

Selden Market is a vibrant and eclectic shopping mall in Norfolk that offers a unique shopping and strolling experience.

Selden Market is home to various vendors, from local artisans to regional traders.

What’s excellent about Selden Market is that it’s constantly changing, with new vendors and products always popping up.

You should find something interesting at Selden Market, from jewelry to clothes and homeware.

You can go shopping for souvenirs and exciting items to take home or go window shopping and browse around.

Apart from shopping, the market also offers a variety of food options, from food trucks to sit-down restaurants.

There’s also a video game arcade where you can leave the kids to have a blast while you browse around the shops.

If you’re looking for a unique shopping experience, then Selden Market is a premier place to check out while in Norfolk.

Look for the Norfolk Mermaid Statues

Norfolk Mermaid Statue at the waterfront

Kyle J Little /

One of the free activities you can do in Norfolk is hunt for the Norfolk mermaid statues, or “mermaid hunting.

This is a fun scavenger hunt where you look for various Norfolk mermaid statues scattered around the city.

In 1999, attorney Peter Decker introduced the concept of a “Mermaid Parade.”

A Norfolk Mermaid Statue in front of a building

Ciara Kimsey /

Since then, the mermaid has become Norfolk’s signature symbol, with over 130 mermaid statues throughout the city.

These mermaids come in all shapes and sizes; some are even dressed for special occasions.

A Norfolk Mermaid Statue in front of IKEA

refrina /

The most notable statue is a mermaid fountain in Town Point Park, located at the edge of the Elizabeth River.

Mermaid hunting has become an unwritten tradition for tourists to find as many mermaids as possible.

If you want a fun and free activity in Norfolk, why not try looking for the Norfolk mermaid statues?

A Norfolk Mermaid Statue in front of an Asian store

Ciara Kimsey /

Appreciate Creative Murals at the Neon District

Norfolk’s Neon District is a vibrant and colorful art district that’s home to some of the best street art in the city.

The district is home to various murals, many of which were created by local artists.

What’s great about the district is that it’s constantly changing, with new murals being added all the time.

This district is also home to several art studios, galleries, restaurants, and cafes, besides murals.

The district is free to explore and makes for an exciting way to spend some time in Norfolk.

Some art studios, like d’Art Center, are free to visit.

The Neon District is an excellent place for art lovers, and it’s worth checking out while in Norfolk.

Witness the Beautiful Norfolk Waterfront at Town Point Park

Aerial view of Town Point Park

Kyle J Little /

Town Point Park is a beautiful waterfront park in Downtown Norfolk that offers views of the Elizabeth River.

The park is a great place to spend an afternoon, with plenty of benches and shady spots to relax.

What’s excellent about Town Point Park is that different events and activities always pop up.

There’s always something going on at Town Point Park, from outdoor movies to concerts and festivals.

Homecoming statue at Town Point Park

Anne Katherine Jones /

Since admission is free, the park is an excellent spot for families.

It’s also a fantastic place to enjoy the Norfolk waterfront without breaking the bank.

The park is also near several restaurants, cafes, and a children’s play area.

Town Point Park is worth a visit if you’re looking for a nice place to relax and take in the sights and sounds of Norfolk.

Welcome sign of Town Point Park

LittleT889, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy the Pagoda & Oriental Garden

Friendship pagoda at Pagoda & Oriental Garden

James Kirkikis /

The Pagoda & Oriental Garden is a beautiful garden in Norfolk that offers a variety of Asian-inspired gardens and structures.

The garden is also home to the Norfolk Peace Pagoda, which is a tribute to the city’s sister-city relationship with Nara, Japan.

The Pagoda is the centerpiece of the garden and is a beautiful sight.

The garden also features a replica of the Temple of Heaven and several smaller parks and ponds.

Flora at Pagoda & Oriental Garden

melissamn /

The Pagoda features a pond with African catfish, as well as a variety of trees and plants.

Walking through the garden is a peaceful experience and a great relaxing spot for families.

The Pagoda & Oriental Garden is a must-visit for nature lovers looking for peace away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Norfolk.

Aerial view of Pagoda & Oriental Garden

Kyle J Little /

Remember the Heroes at the Armed Forces Memorial

The Armed Forces Memorial is a 160-foot monument in Norfolk that honors the military service of men and women from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The memorial was dedicated in 1998 and featured a variety of monuments and statues, as well as a ceremonial plaza.

Visit the Armed Forces Memorial and pay tribute to the nation’s fallen heroes.

Read Your New Favorite Book at the Slover Library

Exterior of the Slover Library

Felix Mizioznikov /

The Slover Library is a beautiful neoclassical public library in downtown Norfolk.

It combines traditional functions with contemporary amenities, offering free books and materials the public can access.

You can find books, magazines, newspapers, and other reference materials.

The innovative design of the library interior creates a dynamic center for learning and creativity.

Likewise, the library features events like book clubs and lectures, some of which are free to attend.

They also have an in-house cafe that serves coffee, waffles, and other treats.

The Slover Library is worth checking out if you want a place to read, relax, and learn new things about different topics.

Discover the Art Collection at Hermitage Museum & Gardens

Exterior of Hermitage Museum & Gardens

Employee, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Hermitage Museum & Gardens is an art museum and garden in Norfolk.

This museum offers a variety of art and nature exhibits that are sure to please any art enthusiast.

The museum is home to an extensive collection of American and European Art and various local and regional works.

The museum also features a variety of interactive exhibits, as well as a garden filled with native plants and trees.

Special art programs for kids also make this museum a great family activity.

The Hermitage Museum & Gardens is worth checking out if you want something to do with the family.

Unwind at Ocean View Beach

Sunny day at Ocean View Beach

Brandon Gray /

Ocean View Beach is a beautiful beach in Norfolk that offers a variety of beach-related activities for visitors.

The beach is home to several sand volleyball courts, a playground, and a fishing pier.

Various food stalls are also available nearby Ocean View Beach Park, making it the perfect spot to spend a day with friends or family.

Aerial view of Ocean View Beach

Kyle J Little /

The beach is also pet-friendly so you can bring your furry friend for fun in the sun.

Ocean View Beach is a great place to visit when you’re looking for a fun and relaxing day at the beach.

Fishing pier at Ocean View Beach

Sherry V Smith /

Other Things to Do Nearby

The fun and free things to explore don’t stop at Norfolk.

Just a short drive away, you can explore other unique destinations that are not only worth the visit but are available for free.

Visit River Front Park

River Front Park is a beautiful park in Portsmouth, Virginia, 11 minutes from Norfolk.

Like any other park you come across, this one offers a variety of activities for locals and visitors alike.

The park is home to several gardens, a playground, and a riverfront trail.

There’s also a six-mile-long Riverwalk that stretches from the park to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

The River Front Park is worth visiting for a day if you want to see scenic views and explore other regional spots.

Final Thoughts

Norfolk is a worthy destination for anyone looking to explore and appreciate the beauty of Virginia.

The best part about Norfolk’s attractions is that they are accessible to the public for free.

If you visit Norfolk, plan thoroughly and add the free things in Norfolk, Virginia, to your budget-friendly list.

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