Downtown Norfolk's Top Outdoor Escapes

Looking for the perfect spot for a lunch break picnic, a gorgeous place to knock out some recess activities, or just some peaceful space to get a little fresh air? Downtown Norfolk may be the urban center of the city, but there are still plenty of great outdoor spaces to enjoy. 

1.) PNC Bank Plaza

The Vibe: Across from City Hall's plaza, a convenient set of tables set up for a quick lunch break with some city views.

Nearby Bites: Brickhouse Diner is just a block away, while Gourmet Gang and Subway are a few blocks away on Main Street.

2.) Dominion Tower Geometric Steps/Vantage Point

The Vibe: Let the kids (or yourself) get some energy out for recess up, down, and all over these steps with the beautiful backdrop of the Elizabeth River and impressive battleships. 

Nearby Bites: Cafe Crema and Tinto Wine & Cheese are both in the lobby of Dominion Tower, and Waterside Seafood Company is just next door at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside.

3.) Waterside Marina

The Vibe: Grab an outdoor table and take in the views of the Elizabeth River, sit on the pier and watch the boats go by, or jump around on the steps at the Blue Moon concert stage.

Nearby Bites: Waterside District houses many restaurants, including Chipotle, Blue Moon Taphouse, and more, as well as Stripers Waterside.

4.) TowneBank Fountain Park

The Vibe: Plenty of green space to run around in and shady trees to enjoy a picnic under while enjoying the sights of the Elizabeth River, and a bike repair station to get your trusty ride in tip-top condition.

Nearby Bites: Lizard Cafe at Prince Books, D'Egg Diner, Fruitive are all just across the street

5.) Nauticus Loop

The Vibe: The Battleship Wisconsin looms overhead as a historical backdrop for these perfectly physically distanced umbrella tables while fun music plays on the outdoor sound system.

Nearby Bites: Big Wisky Porch sits outside of Nauticus and serves delicious food from fish tacos to lumpia to fresh, hot beignets.

6.) Pagoda

The Vibe: The Pagoda is a peaceful oasis just off the Elizabeth River featuring a tranquil garden complete with winding walkways, gorgeous landscape, a peaceful fountain, and plenty of shaded seating. It is a serene and welcome break from the bustling city just a few blocks away.

Nearby Bites: The Pagoda is a quick walk away from Virginia Cheese Company and Cure Coffeehouse.

7.) Green Space in the Freemason District

The Vibe: A small, grassy park area nestled in historic Freemason district, perfect for some outdoor recess activities and a quick lunch break.

Nearby Bites: Freemason district is home to both Virginia Cheese Company and Cure Coffeehouse, two great lunch destinations with plenty of grab and go options.

8.) The Plot

The Vibe: Art everywhere. The Plot is just down the street from d'Art Center, Chrysler Museum of Art, and Chrysler Museum's Glass Studio, and is surrounded by the NEON District's many murals and other public art pieces. A great spot to have a quick bite while having a culture-filled afternoon.

Nearby Bites: Zeke's Beans & Bowls, La Brioche authentic French bakery, Hummingbird Macarons, and Cafe Milo are some favorites in the district. If you're visiting Chrysler Museum of Art, you can also grab takeaway from their restaurant, Wistera Cafe.

9.) Commercial Place Fountains

The Vibe: A secret, tucked away cut-through between Main Street to MacArthur Memorial featuring an architecturally interesting fountain and several benches with lots of shade. 

Nearby Bites: Gourmet Gang and Subway are at the Main Street side of Commercial Place for a quick and delicious sandwich or salad. 

10.) MacArthur Memorial

The Vibe: A peaceful green space with plenty of room to run around for some quick recess activities and shade-casting trees to relax under. 

Nearby Bites: MacArthur Memorial is just a block or so away from Selden Market, which houses The Stockpot Norfolk, Slide Thru #FAM, S'mores Amore, Vessel Craft Coffee, and d'Egg. MacArthur Center is also just across the street with it's complete food court and restaurant options.

11.) MacArthur Square

The Vibe: MacArthur Square offers free wifi for those looking to take an outdoor Zoom meeting or class. It is also a Tide Rail stop, which is easy to hop on to your next destination or enjoy some people watching.

Nearby Bites: MacArthur Square is across from Selden Market, which houses The Stockpot Norfolk, Slide Thru #FAM, S'mores Amore, Vessel Craft Coffee, and d'Egg. MacArthur Center is also just across the street with it's complete food court and restaurant options.

12.) Federal Building Plaza

The Vibe: Open space with city sights with dedicated picnic tables and public art piece "Ripples," made entirely of formed cement.

Nearby Bites: Grace O'Malley's Irish Pub and Restaurant is directly across the street, as well as Which Wich, Moe's, Famous Uncle Al's, and Pokey.

13.) The Elizabeth River Trail

The Vibe: 10.5 miles of beautiful trail perfect for walking, running, biking, and picnicking. 

Nearby Bites: The Elizabeth River Trail runs along Freemason District, Town Point Park, and beyond, making Downtown Norfolk a perfect spot to grab a bite. See all of Downtown Norfolk's restaurants here.