Winter can mean cold, gray days hunkered down indoors waiting for warm weather to return. But here in Norfolk, there are many things to do in winter. This cold weather season can mean a vibrant performing arts scene, visiting free museums, taking advantage of seasonal flavors at coffee shops and breweries or watching an exciting sporting event. There’s a small chance of snow here, but even without the white powdery fluff, Norfolk has a beautiful way of coming alive this time of year. Take advantage of this curated selection of 13 winter bucket list items to complete during your time in Norfolk.
1. Escape to the Tropics for the Day
Cold temperatures are here, and we can’t help but dream of a tropical island getaway. While you may not be able to hop on a plane this instant, you can check out Norfolk Botanical Garden’s Tropical House Display for a breath of warm air, towering palms and banana trees!
2. Attend a Hockey Game
Bundle up and cheer on our professional ECHL hockey team, the Norfolk Admirals, this winter. You can catch a game at the Norfolk Scope Arena located downtown. Freshly popped popcorn awaits you!
3. Devour She-Crab Soup
Winter months in Norfolk are not complete without a steaming bowl of she-crab soup. Restaurants serving this Southern classic each have their own unique twist to its flavoring, but generally, the soup consists of milk or heavy cream, crab or fish stock, crab meat and crab roe, with a small amount of dry sherry, making for a rich, warm meal during the coldest of days. We highly recommend indulging at Todd Jurich’s Bistro or Freemason Abbey.
4. Play at an Arcade
Relive those carefree days of yesteryear with classic arcade games plus favorites like skeeball and air hockey at Pixels Pints + Bytes. Enjoy pub classics and a beer as you travel back in time at this locally owned “barcade” in Ghent. Or, head Downtown to Circuit Social to test your skills at the classics like Mario Kart and Pac-Man or enjoy a round of Duckpin bowling. Pair your gaming with a local brew from one of their 48 self-serve taps, or snag a bite to eat from their all-American menu.
5. Take a Hot Yoga Class
Escape the cold for an hour with a rejuvenating and toasty session at Torch Yoga + Cycle. Whether you come for the cycling or the hot yoga, you’ll warm up in no time, channel your inner zen and leave the class nice and toasty, perhaps even appreciating the refreshing cold air outside.
6. See a Show
Norfolk has a great appreciation for the performing arts and what better way to get out of the house this winter and into a warm cozy theater than by attending a show. Norfolk is home to the Virginia Opera, Virginia Arts Festival, Virginia Symphony and make sure you check out Norfolk broadway shows at Chrysler Hall.
7. Caffeinate in a cozy cafe
If you’re in need of some like-minded energy or just a quieter place to sip a warm, tasty cup of coffee, pop into one of Norfolk’s delightful coffeeshops. Each one is unique and offers a warm atmosphere, friendly faces and any type of hot beverage—caffeinated or not—your heart desires on a chilly winter day. Plus, you can grab a housemade pastry or hot meal as you sip the day away.
8. Or Cozy Up with a Cup of Tea
Sometimes you just need a hot tasty beverage without a jolt of caffeine. Most of Norfolk’s coffee shops offer up delicious teas, so find one you love and take a sip. Need suggestions? Try Coalescence’s Rainier Tea, an organic tisane blend with peppermint flavors. Or, check out Vessel Craft Coffee’s selection, as their teas are sourced directly from family farms that use sustainable farming practices.
9. Visit a Free Museum
Norfolk is filled with museums, many of which are free to visit! Discover Norfolk’s maritime history at the Hampton Roads Naval History Museum; peruse paintings, dolls and glass art at the Barry Art Museum; or explore over 30,000 original works of art that span more than 5,000 years at Chrysler Museum of Art—all of which offer free admission every day.
10. Attend a Wine Tasting
A chilly day can quickly become warm after a few sips of delicious wine. Step into Mermaid Winery, Virginia’s only urban winery, or Vino Culture, a boutique wine shop located Downtown, for tastings of wines from around the world and around our state. Mermaid Winery has free tastings Fridays from 5–8 p.m., and Vino Culture offers tastings Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 1–5 p.m.
11. Catch a Flick at Norfolk’s Locally Owned Movie Theater
Home to Norfolk’s artistic cinema, the Naro is a cozy spot for catching films you may not see in theaters, as well as reliving some favorite classics. A cultural landmark in Norfolk, the Naro is also home to one of the world’s longest-running showings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, with regularly-scheduled showings since 1978.
12. Warm up with a Bowl of Ramen
There’s nothing quite as comforting and exciting as a bowl of ramen from Alkaline. Nearly all ingredients are made in house, resulting in an unparalleled flavor combination of broth, noodles and toppings. Along with their beloved bowls of ramen, Alkaline specializes in Asian sticky wings, stir fried green beans and miso butter cake.
13. Enjoy a winter beer
Stouts, porters and winter ales take center stage at Norfolk’s breweries this time of year. Lean in to the chilly season with an even chillier beer and enjoy those toasty notes that’ll warm you right up. COVA Brewing features tasty seasonal offerings such as Cookie Exchange stout, Winter Warmer, Coffee Shop coffee stout and Gold Foil oatmeal stout. Meanwhile, Reaver Beach NFK has on tap these winter favorites: Pour Over Loko Nitro Stout (brewed with Vessel coffee), Sunday Bunday cinnamon bun ale and Altbierior Motives with almonds, cacao nibs and coconut.