The Best (Free) Places to Hang Out Near ODU

Enjoying ODU Off-Campus Life on a Budget

When you’re in college, you’re likely attracted to two things: fun and free-99. We totally get that! To help you enjoy your college experience, we’ve put together this list of top free off-campus spots great for relaxation, recreation, and much more. Let us know if we missed any! Without further ado: The Things to Do Around ODU.

MacArthur Center

Wandering the MacArthur Center

Located in the heart of Norfolk, the MacArthur Center is one of the most popular places for students to unwind and enjoy the lively environment.

The beautiful mall features three levels of popular stores including Apple, Banana Republic, Barnes and Noble, Fossil, GameStop, Talbots, and even a Regal Cinema movie theater! There are also great food options like Starbucks, Cinnabon, Firehouse Subs, and California Pizza Kitchen to name a few.

Near ODU

One of the other great perks of the MacArthur Center is its location. Providing the cheapest parking in the area ($1 an hour!), it’s within easy walking distance of Slover Library, the Waterside District, and much more.


Near ODU

Climbing Mount Trashmore

While the name may seem suspect, Mount Trashmore is one of the favorite recreational spots for locals. Yes, it used to be a literal mountain of trash, but now it has been transformed in to a sprawling green space covering 165 acres with running trails, exercise equipment, a skatepark, two lakes, and family playgrounds.

Mount Trashmore is a place for people who like to exercise (yes, the hill will kick your butt) or for those who just want to take a nice walk and enjoy fresh air and happy faces. Parking is free, and the whole park is open for enjoyment at no charge.


Near ODU

Nightlife at the Waterside District and Town Point Park

Located only about 10 minutes down the road from the heart of ODU’s campus, the Waterside District is one of the newest attractions in the Norfolk area. Located on Norfolk’s beautiful waterfront, the Waterside District features a delicious array of food options (including an unbelievable dessert shop…), a constant stream of exciting outdoor events, and a well-kept green space along the water’s edge.

We recommend parking at the MacArthur Center about 3 blocks over, which costs $1 an hour. Take a look at their website and see what’s going on and what events you can go enjoy for free!


Near ODU

Studying Off-Campus at the Slover Library

It’s been said that studying off-campus is a must if you want to keep your sanity during your four years at college, but finding the right spot is a different struggle entirely. Coffee shops get too crowded or too loud, and if you don’t have a friend with amazing off-campus housing, you can join the unfortunate stream of people who get trapped on campus with no escape.

Or you could also go to Norfolk’s Slover Library! This iconic landmark is a masterpiece of architecture and design. Half of the building is built in a timeless, classy style featuring lots of pillars, marble, and beautifully stained wood, perfect for the scholar. The other half is a glowing, open space filled with a variety of individual and group work stations to fit your needs. WiFi is free, and so is Norfolk’s best spot for getting your study on.

The MacArthur Center across the street provides parking for $1 an hour.


Near ODU

Classic Recreation at Lafayette Park

Finally, if you just want classic park to enjoy on a nice day, you should check out Lafayette Park, located about 5 minutes down the road from ODU. The park provides open grass areas great for cookouts, frisbie, soccer, football, as well as several basketball courts and tennis courts. It also provides a great place for exercise with its paved running trails.

Our favorite part? It’s free! Unless you wander into the zoo next door of course.