Girlwithherviews Norfolk Va over to Portsmouth VA on the elizabeth harbour ferry
Exploring,  Travel

Things to do in Norfolk, Virginia When It’s Raining

My plane landed in Norfolk to flash flood and tornado warnings. What was supposed to be a sunny weekend suddenly turned in to non stop rain and thunderstorms. You probably think I’m going to sit here and tell you stay in your hotel until the rain stops. But rain don’t stop the show around here! Get an umbrella or raincoat, put on some shoes and head out to explore. Rain doesn’t have to get in the way of you having a good time while on vacation. 

Eat & Drink

Want to find out about a place? try out the food. Schedule a food tour or you can try different places on your own. It’s up to you how adventurous you want to be with your tastebuds. The Waterside district has a lot of great restaurants to choose from. 


  • Museums are a great way to pass the time on a rainy day. I spent hours in the Chrysler Museum of Art! The Chrysler Museum also has a glass studio, they were having a free glass blowing class but I missed it.
  • Another great attraction is Nauticus; its a Naval History museum. Norfolk is a coastal town and with a rich maritime history. There is so much to see in museums, take your time and read the information about the artists and their artwork. 
  • Another great location to explore is the Neon District, this area is classified as the art district. There are more than 80 works of art and murals scattered around for you to see.
  • The Elizabeth River ferry is also a great way to explore, I caught the ferry from Norfolk over to Portsmouth and there was a little festival going on. There was a live band and food and drink vendors scattered around the harbour front. * If the weather is too bad the ferry will not be running so keep that in mind. 
  • The Elizabeth River trail happened to conveniently be steps away from my hotel, so I took advantage of that. It’s a riverfront trail spanning 10.5 miles along the waterfront. I saw about 4.5 of those 10.5 miles, there are points of interest along the way that you can stop at. If you are not interested in any of the attractions you can just enjoy the views and being in nature. 

Related: How Not To Be The Worlds Most Annoying Traveler


Shopping is an indoor activity most of the time, so this will get you out of the rain and give you something to pass the time. MacArthur mall is a great option with a variety of shops to choose from. They had a mini art gallery at the time, I don’t know if this is a year round thing. I spent my time here browsing the shops, picked up a few things in Sephora, then got a manicure and pedicure. Once I was done, I stopped into the food court and grabbed a bite to eat then ubered back to the hotel. 

On Another day I also found a really cool thrift shop nearby and spent some time browsing. I scored a really cool limited edition NASA windbreaker for my brother and it only cost me $8. I spent the rest of the time browsing through the old books and jewelry.  

Related: How To Travel With A Full Time Job


If you’re really not down for traversing the town when its raining, its perfectly okay to chill at your hotel all day. I spent one of my days mostly chilling at the hotel, ordered room service and watched TV. If my hotel had a spa, I would have had a full on spa day too. 

Take A Drive

On a day when the weather was particularly bad and did not look like it would stop raining at all. I made the last minute decision to go to Virginia Beach. It was totally worth it! The weather in Virginia Beach was great and there was a lot going on. I spent some time browsing the shops, walked the boardwalk and did some people watching on the beach. 

*Bonus* Spot The Mermaids

Mermaids have been the signature symbol of Norfolk since 2002. There are a ton of mermaid sculptures scattered around the city; 130 to be exact. Each sculpture is designed and painted by a different artist, so there are lots of variations. See how many you can spot while making your way around town. I saw 5 of 130 mermaids during my weekend stay.

This goes to show that a rainy day doesn’t have to be boring or wasted. With a little bit of preparation you can still have a great time and explore a new place. When you are on vacation and the weather sucks what kinds of things do you do? 


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