05 July 2022

Best Outdoor Things to Do in Norfolk, VA

With an abundance of outdoor activities, Norfolk is the perfect destination to enjoy some sunshine. From exploring our gardens to setting sail along the Chesapeake Bay, there is a variety for you to explore. You won’t want to miss these unique ways to get outside!

Parks and Gardens

Elizabeth River Trail

The Elizabeth River Trail (locally known as the ERT) is a 10.5-mile biking and pedestrian urban trail that will satisfy the highly active. No bike? No problem. Pedego Electric Bikes are available to rent Downtown, so get ready to cruise along as you enjoy some fantastic scenery.

Poplar Hall Park

Poplar Hall Park Disc Golf Course is one of Norfolk’s several public parks. Friends and family can enjoy the park with a picnic and toss the frisbee, but if you’re ready to get competitive, the frisbee course awaits. 

Norfolk Botanical Garden

The beautiful Norfolk Botanical Garden has over 60 themed gardens on the property, and there is always something to explore. Most blooms can be spotted during the spring and summer months, but make sure to check out their year-round gardens too. The WOW Children’s Garden features world-themed splash fountains, plus a nature walk through Plant Safari habitat gardens.

Hermitage Museum and Gardens

The Hermitage Museum and Gardens offers visitors a dose of history, art and horticulture all in one spot. With the Hermitage sitting right on the Lafayette River, it’s a perfect backdrop for a day spent outdoors! During the warmer months, be sure to check out their Sunsets on the River concert series for an evening of outdoor entertainment including local music, food trucks, art, local craft beer and wine. Best of all, they allow your well-behaved dog to join in on the fun!

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Eat and Drink

The mild weather in Norfolk allows foodies to enjoy patios and rooftops from March to November. Plus, Norfolk’s wonderful selection of breweries are equipped with patios and beer gardens that make for the perfect afternoon outing. 

On the Water

Norfolk has 144 miles of shoreline! Needless to say, there is no shortage of water access. Check out these various ways to enjoy the water in Norfolk!


With the Elizabeth River and the Chesapeake Bay running along its west and north borders, Norfolk is the ideal home for Nauticus sailing school and its informative boating excursions. Sign up for a weekend course emphasizing on-the-water instruction and earn a U.S. Sailing Basic Keelboat certification.


The Chesapeake Bay is home to a whole host of saltwater fish including flounder, cobia, croaker, red drum and striper. Norfolk has two fishing piers–the Ocean View Fishing Pier and Willoughby Fishing Pier–both of which are open around the clock. So, drop your line in the water and see what’s biting!

Tours and Guides

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Cannonball Trail

This self-guided tour marks 400 years of Norfolk and American history. The Cannonball Trail winds along the shoreline of the Elizabeth River and through the districts of Downtown Norfolk. Pay attention to the historic sites noted on this tour for bonus history lessons on this walking trail adventure!

Must-See Outdoor Public Art

Norfolk’s public art not only distinguishes us from other cities, but it also brings great awareness to our community’s values. Giant sculptures, iron statues and a life-sized kaleidoscope are all pieces that are scattered throughout our city for your enjoyment. While there are more than 50 pieces of public art (and counting), we’ve rounded up the must-see pieces for you.


Experience Norfolk in a whole new light with guided tours from Norfolk Tour Company. Explore Norfolk’s most haunted houses and theaters or enjoy the colors of the murals in the NEON District. Walk the city and learn more about its unique history with a tour through Historic Freemason or the “Underground River: Black History Tour on the ERT.”

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