Best Free Things To Do in Norfolk, Virginia

Welcome to the vibrant city of Norfolk, Virginia, where a rich maritime history meets with modern charm. While travel often comes with expenses, Norfolk gently offers many free things to do that allow you to experience the local culture, stunning breathtaking views, and create lasting memories. In this blog let’s go through the top free and budget-friendly things to do in Norfolk.

Top 15 Free Things To Do in Norfolk

Get ready with our curated list of free things to do in Norfolk guide and start experiencing Norfolk, where the best things in life are not only free but also leave you with priceless and unforgettable experiences.

1. Chrysler Museum of Art

Chrysler Museum of Art

The Chrysler Museum of Art is located between the border of downtown and the Ghent district of Norfolk, Virginia.

It has an absolutely fantastic collection of glass, sculpture statues, paintings, silver items, Roman and Egyptian antiquities, photography, and many more.

The great collection of historical glass, the modern and contemporary art will catch your attraction. This could be the best destination for those who enjoy fine art while traveling.

Its all-time great thing is that admission to the Crysler Art Museum is completely free for both locals and visitors.

2. Elizabeth River Trail

The Elizabeth River Trail is 10.5 miles long and situated on the west side of Norfolk which runs from Norfolk State University. The trail is known as ERT. 

To find this trail, parking is available outside of Harbor Park, behind the stadium. Than as your facing the water, you’ll see the trail entrance. It is a bicycle and walking trail along the Norfolk waterfront. The harbor view is pretty incredible and there are enough places to sit down and just enjoy the view.  

You can also visit the Historic Heartline Walking Tour, a 3.5-mile midtown of Elizabeth that is completely self-guided and free of cost. You can walk with your family or hike with your dog. Travelers who visit the trail can also experiment the food of the restaurants, visit museums, and go on a boat tour.

The Elizabeth River Trail allows you to enjoy the whole day here without spending a cent. 

3. MacArthur Memorial

The MacArthur Memorial is a historical museum that presents the honor to General of the Army Douglas MacArthur and veterans of World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.  If you are a WWII buff then you need to explore this. 

This memorial explains the story of Douglas MacArthur, his wife, and his parent’s life in detail. His personal and military life is clearly described in this museum.

The museum is full of artifacts and surrounded by MacArthur’s corn cob pipe, uniforms, medals, sunglasses, hat, jeep, and other items that tell his life story in a fairly comprehensive way.

The museum offers free admission and free parking for all which is a plus to add to your trip throughout Norfolk. But donating options are available here. If you want, you can donate.

4. MacArthur Center

The MacArthur Center of Norfolk, Virginia is a shopping mall with lots of shops, bars, and restaurants. The Center is located on Monticello Avenue, just west of Norfolk State University in downtown Norfolk. This mall is near General MacArthur’s memorial and museum. And this is the largest mall in the Hampton Roads Area!

It has three floors and a lot of fancy elevators that you can look out of. There are also a few dancing fountains. The range of shops and free wifi made it easy to get around. The mall is very nice and clean. You can easily spend a half day in this mall 

There is lots of parking at the MacArthur Center. The parking is not free, but it is great with only $1 or a very minimal charge.

5. Town Point Park

Town Point Park is a beautiful waterfront city park on the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Virginia, USA. It offers 7 acres of peaceful outdoor spaces.

The park hosts major award-winning festivals, outdoor concerts, and special events throughout the year.

You always find the park with a great waterfront and sunset view. You can explore several statues and relax on the park banches while walking. You can also jog through the park, lay out and read a book, eat easy to prepare lunch or enjoy the view of a running boat on the river. You can see some of the naval stations, destroyers in docks, the Nauticus, Bb-64, Waterside, etc. For children, there is a water fountain to run through in the hot weather.

There is no public parking though. You have to find parking at the parking garages across the street, then walk to the park and enjoy.

6. Slover Library

Slover Library

The Slover Library is located in Selden Market, next to the Hilton Hotel, within a short walk of Downtown Norfolk. The Library is generally free to access.

Slover Library is one of the most technologically advanced libraries in Virginia. It has an architecturally beautiful building. It has homework and learning centers for children, teens, and adults. Slover offers plenty of books, films, historical and genealogical resources, extensive children’s programs, teen programs, live music, a Maker’s Space Studio, video studio, lectures, classes, meeting space, cafe, and so many attractions.

The books of Slover Library are laid out neatly and organized extremely well. The Slover Library has more movies than you can probably watch in years and these are completely free for the public.

7. Ocean View Beach

Ocean View Beach is located in Virginia,  around the northern position of Norfolk all along the Chesapeake Bay beach.

The beach is trendy among travelers. It has crystal turquoise water and bright sand, and that’s why you don’t need special shoes.  There is also a huge opportunity to take different water activities such as catamarans or jet skis. 

It is suitable for all kinds of people and offers beach restaurants, changing rooms, showers, toilets, etc for travelers’ comfort.  Also, this beach park offers a sheltered picnic area and public restrooms for visitors to enjoy.  One of the best things about this beach is the lack of crowds, which adds to the overall tranquility and peacefulness of the experience.

Ocean View Beach is free of cost for all and easily accessible. The parking is free and It is very near to the road.

8.  Waterside:

The Waterside is a festival marketplace of Elizabeth River. It is located beside the Town Point Park and is just a few blocks from the downtown area.

In the heart of Norfolk, Virginia, Waterside offers a plethora of free activities that highlight the city’s maritime heritage and beautiful environment. You can simply walk along the riverside, watch boats go by, and enjoy the peaceful sound of the water lapping.

Explore the public art displays and sculptures scattered around Waterside. From maritime-themed sculptures to modern art pieces all are artistically enhanced in the outdoor gallery.

The Waterside District offers many free events for visitors. But check the free schedule before you go. From live music performances to community get-togethers, everything adds a lively touch to your visit.

9. Norfolk Botanical Garden

The Norfolk Botanical Garden is located at 6700 Azalea Garden Road, Norfolk, Virginia. It is a garden with an arboretum.

No matter the season, there is always something blooming in the Garden. The Norfolk Botanical Gardens is serene, peaceful, and idyllic for families to adventure around and enjoy the gorgeous landscape. It has a variety of plants and animals. You will be mesmerized by the butterfly house, bird boxes, the NATO tower, and the magic forest. There are lots of flowers, many paths, bridges, vignettes, and other attractions. The rose garden is spectacular with 450 different varieties of roses as well as other flowers and plants. The holiday lights of the Botanical Garden are highly recommended. 

The Norfolk Botanical Garden is a must-see destination for nature enthusiasts. Parking and navigation are pretty easy here. 

10. Armed Forces Memorial

Armed Forces Memorial

The Armed Forces Memorial is located near Nauticus and the USS Wisconsin in the newly renovated Town Point Park, between the Elizabeth River and Downtown Norfolk.

The memorial is a cost-free site. That is extremely special and unique for the rich military history. It is a small memorial that has plaques with words written by military personnel throughout different eras of military combat. History buffs will love this.

The Parking of Armed Forces Memorial is across the street. So walking is required.

11. Myers House

The Myers House location is 323 E Freemason St, Norfolk, VA 23510. It is a 19th-century Jewish merchant’s home. 

The Moses Myers House offers the interested viewer a part of the history of Norfolk. By visiting the Myers house you’ll learn about the Myers, prosperous Jewish family. You also learn the history of a successful founding family and their contributions to the city of Norfolk during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The house is beautiful and has tons of artifacts and gorgeous furniture. If you want to explore the museum in deep there are small group tours available by appointment.

The museum is open from 12 pm to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Admission to the museum is free and the tour is self-guided with placards in the room. There is a box for donations, if you wish you can donate. Parking is free at street parking meters on Sunday.

12. Mermaid Winery

The location of Mermaid Winery is the Palace Station Shops on 22nd Street in Norfolk in the Ghent neighborhood and at 4401 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach.

The Mermaid Winery is known for its wine club. It has a great selection of wines and foods. It provides a diverse selection of in-house label products, including the delightful Pink Claw Dragonfruit and Strawberry wines, as well as the Bordeaux-style Norfolk Express—a harmonious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. Other offerings include Siren’s White and Seaduxion Sparkling Rose.

There is plenty of parking and the facilities are simple and quaint.

13. USS Wisconsin (BB-64)

USS Wisconsin (BB-64)  was the second ship of the United States Navy and currently it is a museum ship. It is an Iowa-class battleship built for the United States Navy in 1940.

At the museum ship, you can see the historical setups in the sleeping berths and captain’s quarters. They did a wonderful job preserving the piece of history and documentation. There is a kid section in the museum that is informative and educational.

They offer a guided tour with an additional fee or you can just walk the ship on your own.

14. Pagoda & Oriental Garden

Pagoda & Oriental Garden

The Pagoda & Oriental Garden is located on the waterfront in Freemason Harbor and next to the USS Wisconsin. You found the garden on your walk on the Elizabeth River Trail.

This is a beautiful little Asian garden that was gifted by Taiwan in 1986 to Norfolk in the Spirit of Peace.

The garden is small but has a fair collection of colorful plants, sculptures, delightful water fountains, and a magnificent Koi pond. 

This gorgeous venue offers a unique romantic spot for weddings, receptions, rehearsal dinners, and life’s fun celebrations.

This is a free park open to the public; so take some time and enjoy!

15. Barry Art Museum

The Barry Art Museum is located at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA. 

You will find the museum with a collection of glass sculptures and American modernist paintings which are donated by Carolyn and Richard Barry. Barry Art Museum also had one of the best collections of dolls and a small display of Barbies. You also find paintings, glass art, paper art, abstract art, contemporary art, automatons, and more. It is one of the best local museums for kids.

Admission to the Barry Art Museum is free and the museum is open from 11 am to 5 pm on Tuesday through Friday and on weekends from noon to 5 pm.


Discover the wonder city of Norfolk Virginia, with its scenic waterfront, sprawling parks, and numerous cultural attractions. Norfolk has plenty of exciting activities and this guide will help you to showcase the city’s vibrant energy, culture, and beauty free of cost.

From the cultural history of Town Point Park to the natural beauty of the Elizabeth River Trail, Norfolk always offers the best free and cheap adventure for budget-minded visitors.

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