A Travel Price Comparison for Virginia Norfolk vs. Shenandoah National Park for Backpackers, Families, Couples, and Attractions

Should you visit Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Norfolk

Norfolk is a authentic, blue collar, and maritime city. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is a beautiful, scenic, and breathtaking national park. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. It's also known for skiing, food, and hiking.

Norfolk and Shenandoah National Park: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to Skyline Drive
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Shenandoah National Park than Norfolk, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Shenandoah National Park is better known for its skiing, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Norfolk is more popular for its museums, nightlife, and shopping. Shenandoah National Park is more touristy than Norfolk and is popular for its local wildlife, dramatic viewpoints, and world class hiking trails. Also, Shenandoah National Park is famous for Skyline Drive. Norfolk is well known for its naval base and military presence.

How is Norfolk different from Shenandoah National Park?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Shenandoah National Park and Norfolk. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park Better for Skiing?

Norfolk
Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is a popular place for winter skiing. However, Norfolk is not a skiing destination.

Shenandoah National Park is a great destination for skiing with plenty areas to explore. You'll find skiing and snowboarding at nearby Massanutten Resort, which is near Harrisonburg, Virginia. It's a family-friendly setting with slopes that are classified as "easiest", "more difficult", and "most difficult".

Norfolk is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park?

Norfolk
Shenandoah National Park

Norfolk is a city with good options for its historical sights. However, Shenandoah National Park is not a good destination for its sights and museums.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Norfolk. There are some interesting museums in town like the Chrysler Museum, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, and the Norfolk Police and Fire Museum. You should also check out the Nauticus and the Battleship Wisconsin.

Shenandoah National Park offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. While most people spend their time outdoors enjoying the setting, there are museums in the area, as well as visitor centers that have exhibits and informative displays.

Is the Food Better in Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Norfolk
Shenandoah National Park

Both Norfolk and Shenandoah National Park offer a number of notable restaurants to choose from.

Norfolk offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. You'll find a decent collection of restaurants in the downtown area. Food options include local seafood, brunch, casual eateries, and fine dining.

Shenandoah National Park has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. There are several restaurants along skyline drive where you can pick up a casual meal like fried chicken, burgers, or pasta.

Is Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park Better for Nightlife?

Norfolk
Shenandoah National Park

Norfolk is a city with good options for its evening party scene. However, Shenandoah National Park is not a good destination for nightlife.

If you're looking for night time activities Norfolk has a few options to choose from. Downtown is where you'll find the most busy nightlife venues. The city has great breweries, and the live music scene has taken off. There are also lounges, dance clubs, and wine bars to choose from.

Most people don't head to Shenandoah National Park specifically for the nightlife scene, but you can find a few options. There are a number of breweries in the area, but most people enjoy stargazing and sitting by the campfire at night.


Is Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park Better for Hiking?

Norfolk
Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is a must-visit destination for its hiking experiences. However, Norfolk is not a hiking destination.

People visit Shenandoah National Park specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. There are more than 500 miles of trails in the park that pass through varied landscapes and take you to beautiful viewpoints. Visitors range from weekend visitors to long term hikers who come to experience the breathtaking beauty and serene setting.

Norfolk is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park?

Norfolk
Shenandoah National Park

Norfolk is a city with good options for its shopping areas. However, Shenandoah National Park is not a good destination for shopping.

Norfolk has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. There's a mix of shopping malls, local boutiques, farmer's markets, and shopping centers around town.

Shenandoah National Park is a good destination for shopping. There are a handful of gift shops along Skyline Drive were you can pick up souvenirs or t-shirts.

Is Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park Better for Families?

Norfolk
Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is a great destination for its family-friendly activities. Also, Norfolk is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

Shenandoah National Park is a very family-friendly place to visit. There are tons of kid-friendly hikes to overlooks or waterfalls. Kids will love scrambling over the rocks or running through the forest. There are also plenty of campgrounds where families can hang out, toast marshmallows and enjoy some quality time together.

Norfolk offers lots of family activities. The Norfolk Zoo is always a hit with kids. You should also visit the USS Wisconsin which offers tours, as well as the Douglas MacArthur Memorial Museum.


Is Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park Better for Couples?

Norfolk
Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is a great destination for romance. However, Norfolk is a city with minimal options for its romantic activities.

Couples visit Shenandoah National Park frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Couples who enjoy nature will love a visit to the park. There are beautiful views and scenic spots that will make for a wonderful and romantic trip. Hiking, biking, and exploring will fill your time with adventure and fun.

Most people don't think of Norfolk as a couple's destination. There are some nice hotels and several great parks and outdoor activities.

Is Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Norfolk
Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is a must-visit destination for backpackers. However, Norfolk is a city with minimal options for backpackers and budget travelers.

Shenandoah National Park is a mecca for backpackers and budget travelers. Backpackers love the hiking trails and backcountry camping. Many people head to the park to escape into nature and enjoy some low key time in a serene setting.

Norfolk is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. This is an often overlooked area for backpackers.

Is Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Norfolk
Shenandoah National Park

Norfolk is adequate for times when you don't have a car. However, Shenandoah National Park is not a good destination for its public transit.

Public transit is mostly limited in Norfolk. While there are buses, ferries, and even lightrail in the area, you really want to have a car to get around.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Shenandoah National Park. There's no real public transit in the park.


Is Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park a more walkable city?

Norfolk
Shenandoah National Park

Norfolk is a city with good options for its ease of walking around. However, Shenandoah National Park is not a good destination for its walkability.

Norfolk is a somewhat walkable city. Downtown is the most walkable part of the city.

Shenandoah National Park is not a walkable city. While there are plenty of hiking trails, a car is a must to reach most trailheads.

For even more information, also check out Is Norfolk Worth Visiting? and Is Shenandoah National Park Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Shenandoah National Park or Norfolk?

How long in Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park?

In either Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Shenandoah National Park than Norfolk because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Norfolk, and 3-5 days is enough time in Shenandoah National Park.

Families should spend more time in Shenandoah National Park than Norfolk. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Shenandoah National Park, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Shenandoah National Park than Norfolk. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Shenandoah National Park that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Shenandoah National Park than Norfolk if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Shenandoah National Park.


  • How many days in Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park? Ideal Length of Stay
    Norfolk 1-2 
    Shenandoah National Park 3-5

One day in Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park?

With food and shopping around the authentic city of Norfolk, there's plenty to do. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then one day is just the right amount of time to spend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

In Shenandoah National Park, you'll find skiing and food. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. This national park offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

A weekend in Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park?

With shopping and museums around the authentic destination of Norfolk, there's plenty to do. If you have a weekend, this city makes for a great vacation.A weekend is usually enough time to experience most activities. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

In Shenandoah National Park, you'll find food and skiing. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.


Five days in Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park?

You'll find museums and nightlife around the maritime city of Norfolk. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Shenandoah National Park is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Shenandoah National Park has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

A week in Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park?

Norfolk is a great place to explore. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Shenandoah National Park. Many people enjoy the food and skiing when visiting Shenandoah National Park. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Family-Friendly Tours to United States of America, The Best Wildlife Tours to United States of America, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in United States of America, and The Best Historical Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Shenandoah National Park or Norfolk?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Norfolk is $166, while the average daily cost in Shenandoah National Park is $125. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Norfolk and Shenandoah National Park in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Norfolk $84
    Shenandoah National Park $53
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Norfolk $168
    Shenandoah National Park $106
Compare Hotels in Norfolk and Shenandoah National Park

Looking for a hotel in Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Norfolk


Hotels in Shenandoah National Park


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Norfolk Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Norfolk $54
    Shenandoah National Park $70

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Norfolk

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Norfolk:

  • Bamville Transportation (Private & Airport Transfers): $275

Is it cheaper to fly into Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park?

Prices for flights to both Shenandoah National Park and Norfolk change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Norfolk $49
    Shenandoah National Park $28

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Norfolk

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Norfolk.

  • Norfolk Buffet Dinner Cruise : $101
  • Buffet Dinner Cruise: $101
  • Norfolk Mother's Day Signature Dinner Cruise: $119
  • Norfolk Father's Day Buffet Dinner Cruise: $126
  • Norfolk 4th of July Buffet Dinner Cruise: $182

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Norfolk $14
    Shenandoah National Park $34

Tours and Activities in Norfolk

Here are a few actual costs in Norfolk for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Electric Bike Rental Downtown Norfolk (self guided tour) : $60
  • Experience the season with a scavenger hunt in Norfolk with Holly Jolly Hunt: $20
  • Neon District Contemporary Art Walking Tour: $32
  • Norfolk Buffet Brunch Cruise : $95
  • Norfolk Father's Day Buffet Brunch Cruise: $104
  • Elizabeth River Candlelit Buffet Lunch Cruise: $76
  • Elizabeth River Sunday Buffet Brunch Cruise: $95
  • Virginia Zoo & Battleship Wisconsin Combo Ticket: $38
  • Skip the Line: Virginia Living Museum Admission Ticket: $22

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Norfolk $10
    Shenandoah National Park $7.14

Sample the Local Flavors in Norfolk

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Norfolk:

  • Party Bike Pub Crawl in Downtown Norfolk: $30


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Norfolk and Shenandoah National Park, we can see that Norfolk is more expensive. And not only is Shenandoah National Park much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Shenandoah National Park would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Shenandoah National Park and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Norfolk would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Norfolk than you might in Shenandoah National Park.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Norfolk Expensive? and Is Shenandoah National Park Expensive?.



When is the best time to visit Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park in the Summer?

Both Shenandoah National Park and Norfolk during the summer are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to Norfolk in the summer for the family-friendly experiences. Furthermore, most visitors come to Shenandoah National Park for the hiking and the family-friendly experiences during these months.

In July, Norfolk is generally around the same temperature as Shenandoah National Park. Daily temperatures in Norfolk average around 79°F (26°C), and Shenandoah National Park fluctuates around 77°F (25°C).

It rains a lot this time of the year in Norfolk. Norfolk usually gets more rain in July than Shenandoah National Park. Norfolk gets 5.7 inches (145 mm) of rain, while Shenandoah National Park receives 3.4 inches (87 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Norfolk 79°F (26°C) 
    Shenandoah National Park 77°F (25°C)

Should I visit Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Norfolk and Shenandoah National Park. Most visitors come to Norfolk for the shopping scene during these months. Furthermore, the autumn months attract visitors to Shenandoah National Park because of the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

Norfolk is a little warmer than Shenandoah National Park in the autumn. The daily temperature in Norfolk averages around 62°F (16°C) in October, and Shenandoah National Park fluctuates around 56°F (13°C).

In October, Norfolk usually receives around the same amount of rain as Shenandoah National Park. Norfolk gets 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain, while Shenandoah National Park receives 3.3 inches (84 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Norfolk 62°F (16°C) 
    Shenandoah National Park 56°F (13°C)

Should I visit Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Norfolk as well as Shenandoah National Park. The winter months attract visitors to Norfolk because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Additionally, the skiing, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Shenandoah National Park this time of year.

It's quite cold in Shenandoah National Park in the winter. The weather in Norfolk can be very cold. In the winter, Norfolk is much warmer than Shenandoah National Park. Typically, the winter temperatures in Norfolk in January average around 39°F (4°C), and Shenandoah National Park averages at about 32°F (-0°C).

Norfolk usually gets more rain in January than Shenandoah National Park. Norfolk gets 3.3 inches (85 mm) of rain, while Shenandoah National Park receives 2.8 inches (70 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Norfolk 39°F (4°C) 
    Shenandoah National Park 32°F (-0°C)

Should I visit Norfolk or Shenandoah National Park in the Spring?

Both Shenandoah National Park and Norfolk are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. Also, many travelers come to Shenandoah National Park for the natural beauty.

In April, Norfolk is generally a little warmer than Shenandoah National Park. Daily temperatures in Norfolk average around 58°F (14°C), and Shenandoah National Park fluctuates around 54°F (12°C).

In April, Norfolk usually receives less rain than Shenandoah National Park. Norfolk gets 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain, while Shenandoah National Park receives 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Norfolk 58°F (14°C) 
    Shenandoah National Park 54°F (12°C)

Typical Weather for Shenandoah National Park and Norfolk

Norfolk Shenandoah National Park
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 39°F (4°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 32°F (-0°C) 2.8 inches (70 mm)
Feb 41°F (5°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 35°F (1°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Mar 49°F (10°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm) 44°F (7°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm)
Apr 58°F (14°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 54°F (12°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm)
May 67°F (19°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 63°F (17°C) 4 inches (102 mm)
Jun 74°F (24°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm) 72°F (22°C) 3.9 inches (100 mm)
Jul 79°F (26°C) 5.7 inches (145 mm) 77°F (25°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
Aug 78°F (25°C) 5.9 inches (150 mm) 75°F (24°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm)
Sep 72°F (22°C) 4.2 inches (107 mm) 68°F (20°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
Oct 62°F (16°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm) 56°F (13°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)
Nov 53°F (12°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 47°F (8°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Dec 44°F (7°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm) 36°F (2°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)