18 August 2022

Norfolk College Guide for Students

Welcome to your college experience in Norfolk, VA! Whether you’re enrolled at Old Dominion University or Norfolk State University—and regardless if you’re a first year student, transfer student or living local and commuting to campus, we’re glad you’re here. Norfolk is a melting pot of people, places and ideas, and it’s an ideal spot to call home during your time at college and perhaps after! 

Centrally located along the mid-Atlantic coast, with easy access from Norfolk International Airport, the Greyhound Bus Station, AMTRAK train station and two interstate highways, Norfolk is as easy to get to as it is to get around! Our summers are balmy, and our winters are mild, lending to an enjoyable atmosphere during all four seasons. The culture in Norfolk is diverse, vibrant and ever-changing, allowing the movers, shakers and future leaders (that’s you) to be part of a welcoming community and make it your own. At VisitNorfolk, we’re here to help you chart your course and explore as much of Norfolk as possible—on your campus and beyond—to truly experience the city that will help shape your memories and always welcome you back.

Transportation/Getting Around

There’s much to see and do, so plan on wandering out of the dorm and into some fun. Start by getting acquainted with Norfolk’s neighborhoods, each unique and worth checking out by foot or via bike or scooter. No car? No problem. Here are some options for getting around. 

University Shuttles

By now, you may already know that your university offers a free shuttle service for students. At ODU, Monarch Transit provides fixed-route bus service to all academic areas, residence halls, parking locations and athletic fields—plus on the weekends, they offer stops to destinations including Ghent. NSU’s shuttle service travels from the East Campus to the West Campus and even offers free shuttle service for students attending classes on both NSU and ODU campuses. In addition, there’s a weekend mall shuttle shuttle service transporting students at no charge to MacArthur Center and stores on Military Highway.

Ride the Tide

Norfolk’s very own light rail operates right by NSU at Harbor Park, taking travelers to destinations like Ghent, the Chrysler Museum of Art and the MacArthur Memorial. The light rail operates daily. Students at both NSU and ODU are encouraged to purchase an HRT (Hampton Roads Transit) GoPass365 so that you can ride any HRT light rail, bus or even ferry as many times as you want within the period of the pass and hours of operation. 

Bus Passes

HRT’s buses will take passengers just about anywhere they want or need to go, with multiple convenient stops along the way. Remember: a GoPass365 is valid for all of HRT’s transportation options, including the bus. HRT also offers Paratransit service for persons who, because of a disability, cannot utilize a fixed bus route service. Passengers who need to utilize the Paratransit service must fill out an application; once certified, riders can use the service for any purpose within the service area.

Bikes and Scooters

Courtesy of Pedego Bikes

If you brought your bike from home, you’ll be happy to know that Norfolk has nearly 60 miles of dedicated bike lanes and shared lane markings, giving you plenty of safe streets to pedal from Point A to B. If you didn’t bring a bike or want to go a tad faster, you can rent an electric bike from Pedego, located Downtown. Another great option is Lime E-Scooters and E-Bikes. Lime deploys up to 1,100 scooters and 500 e-bikes across the city. You can rent both through the Lime app, which will help you find vehicles near you and unlock them. Pricing for scooters and bikes is $3 per ride for the first six minutes, then $0.32 per minute after. We know you’re independent and ready to make your own choices as college students, but just a quick reminder from mom: don’t forget a helmet! 

Restaurants Near Campus


@hotdodu, Instagram

Students can find a plethora of dining options, most within walking distance on Monarch Way or in nearby Larchmont. Whether you’re looking for much-needed caffeine as you’re cramming for exams, a laid-back atmosphere to watch the game with friends or a new favorite weekend hangout spot, here are some of the best restaurants near ODU


Shake It Up Shakes

Hop on The Tide light rail for a quick ride Downtown. You’ll be immersed in a foodie paradise, all within walking distance. Spend some time browsing Selden Market, filled with locally-owned shops, plus dining options like Stockpot (healthy comfort food), Shake It Up Shakes (over-the-top ice cream confections) and S’Mores Amore (homemade marshmallows toasted on the spot). Play some games during dinner at Circuit Social, and get a healthy recovery smoothie at The Pit and the Peel

Free Activities

Norfolk Tour Company, courtesy of Downtown Norfolk Council

Living on a college budget isn’t the easiest, but here in Norfolk, that won’t stop you from living it up. Norfolk has many free activities to enjoy between classes and on the weekends. During the warmer months, head to Ocean View and East Beach for a day of relaxing. In spring and fall, enjoy a self-guided tour of Norfolk’s mural art in the NEON District, or join a tour with Norfolk Tour Company, offering free tours each month in addition to their paid tours. On cold or rainy days, spend an afternoon wandering through the Hermitage, d’Art Center and Chrysler Museum plus nearby Perry Glass Studio, which offers free glassblowing demonstrations at noon Wednesday through Sunday. All of these are free Norfolk museums worth getting to know. Finally, there’s a reason we’re called Mermaid City. Norfolk’s iconic mermaids, each with their own personality, can be found throughout the city. Go on a mermaid scavenger hunt to see how many you can find. In addition to these, many Norfolk attractions offer student discounts, so research before going, and bring your student ID along.

Quiet Places to Study

@coffeecrewoftwo, Instagram

When you’re cramming for a big exam or writing an important paper and your roommates are, well … not on the same page, you’ll want a quiet place to get the work done. Try one of Norfolk’s public libraries, including Slover, featuring computers and internet access, interactive displays, a design studio and a video production studio. If you need a pick-me-up, cozy up at one of these Norfolk coffee shops and buzz through your work with an extra shot of espresso. If you’re an outdoorsy type, head to one of Norfolk’s parks like TowneBank Fountain Park, Town Point Park or the Pagoda & Oriental Garden.

Ways to Stay Active

@latitudeclimbing, Instagram

College is about learning lots, making friends and having fun, but it’s also important to stay active. Physical activity is directly linked to mental and emotional wellness, all important aspects of your health to maintain during college and beyond. Spend some time walking or biking along the 10.5-mile Elizabeth River Trail, and get to know Norfolk better in the process. Climb to new heights at the city’s own rock-climbing gym, Latitude Climbing + Fitness. Explore our waterways by renting a kayak and paddling along the Lafayette River. Finally, check our events calendar for pop-up yoga happenings. Bonus: Some experiences involve baby goats!

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