50 Free Things To Do In And Around Charlotte

by Jen Hall
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(Photo by Craig Jones/Getty Images)

(Photo by Craig Jones/Getty Images)

We’re all a little budget conscious these days and thankfully, Charlotte  offers a ton of free things to do! Let us help you plan your weekend with over 50 free things to do in Charlotte.

1. Fourth Ward Walking Tour In the late 1800s, Charlotte was divided into four political quadrants. In 1945 when the quadrants ceased to exist the Historic Fourth Ward remained in tact, boasting beautiful Victorian homes each with its own special history. Pick up a free map with information about Historic Fourth Ward at INFO!Charlotte at 330 South Tryon Street.

2. Alive After 5 The biggest after work party on Thursdays  is at the EpiCentre, Alive After  5! Starting at 5pm on Thursdays, all the bars, restaurants and shops in Charlotte’s EpiCentre come alive. Enjoy free live bands on the Pavilion as well as amazing views of uptown Charlotte.

3. Piedmont Town Center Live bands, tons of free gifts, and a good time can be expected when you visit the Piedmont Town Center.  This premiere venue is a great after-work location. Though beer and wine cost, the price is always well within reach.

4. UNCC Botanical Gardens Enjoy over 10-acres of beautiful flowers and foliage at the UNCC Botanical Gardens. Divided into three sections, the McMillan Greenhouse complex, the 3-acre Susie Harwood Garden, and the 7-acre Van Landingham Glen, each featuring nature at its most beautiful. Every garden offers eclectic visuals for every botanical taste. Orchids, tropical plants, wildflowers, and Asian gardens are only a sample of what there is to enjoy. Bring your camera and spend hours admiring the beauty.

5. Reedy Creek Nature Preserve Over 730 acres of lush landscapes, fishing, hiking trails . Also enjoy a Nature Center full of live, native animals to observe. Walk further and see the Backyard Habitat Garden which includes bird feeding stations, butterfly gardens, and a demonstration compost area.

6. Reed Gold Mine Just up the road in Midland, NC is one of the state’s notable Historic Sites. Reed Gold Mine, the location of the first documented gold find in the United States, was the prime location to look for the illusive mineral until the great Gold Rush to California. There’s no charge to tour the Mine or see the museum but to pan for your own gold costs $3.

7. ImaginOn Bring the kids for a day of fun and education at ImaginOn. This enormous children’s library is a key location for fun activity and learning. Enjoy the libraries large collection of children’s literature and interactive learning stations.  There are plenty of  DVD’s, CD’s, audiobooks, and computer stations for young technology lovers. The Loft a section for teens (12-18) features computers, hi speed internet, books, scripts, magazines and more.

8. Mecklenburg Public Libraries Spend your day with a good book, a wide selection of CDs and an even bigger selection of programs and activities at the Mecklenburg Public Library. With locations all over Charlotte and surrounding cities, you’re never far from being taken away to Narnia or Hogwarts.

9. Mallard Creek and Clark’s Creek Spanning more that 7 miles, Mallard Creek and Clark’s Creek make up Mecklenburg County’s  longest greenway. Located near and around UNC-Charlotte, these greenways are great for students who want to get away from the classroom or anyone looking for an enjoyable day outdoors. Whether you’re looking to rollerblade, jog, bike, skateboard or just take the dogs for a leisurely stroll, Mallard Creek and Clark’s Creek Greenways are the outdoor venue for you.

10. Irwin Creek and Stewart Creek Located in the center city area of Charlotte, these trails make up over 2 miles of a relaxing creek side walk. This greenway links several neighborhoods and parks, in and around Uptown Charlotte,  including Frazier Park, Wesley Heights neighborhood and Seversville Park. Amenities that can be found along the trail include soccer fields, playgrounds and a recreation center with a gymnasium at the Philip O. Berry Center. The  Irwin and Stewart Creek Greenway is great for biking, walking, jogging, roller blading or walking your dogs. Be sure to look out for the old railroad that runs along two portions of the trail, the three tunnels, the public art and the Children’s Memorial Walkway and Garden.

trans 50 Free Things To Do In And Around Charlotte 11. Met! Live Hang out at the Metropolitan in Uptown Charlotte for some free entertainment with some of the best local bands. Every Thursday in May it heats up at the Metropolitan, where you can see great Uptown skyline views and the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.

12. Village Tavern at 5 Hang out in South Park at Village Tavern at 5. Live bands will perform select Fridays throughout the summer giving you a great ambiance while hanging out with your friends.

13. Freedom Park With just under 100 acres of land, Freedom Park is one of Charlotte’s most popular and exciting parks. With its own 3 mile lake and an assortment of yearly activities, Freedom Park is the best family friendly place to go. This park is home to Festival In The Park every year in late September, as well as many disease ‘walks’. It also boasts tons of parks, tennis courts, paved paths, volleyball courts and playgrounds. Freedom Park is located on East Blvd in Charlotte.

14. Tailgate at Doghouse WFNZ runs a tailgate prior to Carolina Panthers home games at the station’s “Doghouse” located near Bank of America Stadium at 401 W. Morehead St., Charlotte, NC, 28202.

15. The Mint Museum The Mint Museum Uptown houses the internationally-renowned Mint Museum of Craft + Design, as well as outstanding collections of American, contemporary, and European art. Admission is free on Wednesdays from 5-9pm. For more information and to visit the website click here

16. Gold Rush Trolley Uptown Charlotte has so much to offer, and now you can enjoy the beautiful view at no cost. CATS provides Uptown workers and visitors a free trolley service for getting around. The Gold Rush trolley service offers two circulating lines in Center City. The Gold Rush trolleys stop at marked bus stops every 12 minutes from 6:40a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

17. Crowder’s Mountain Do you love to hike, camp, fish and climb? If so, Crowder’s Mountain is the place for you! Crowders Mountain State Park offers a wealth of activities for all ages: rock climbing, back country camping, hiking, fishing, picnicking, canoeing, bird watching, educational programs, and more! Crowder’s Mountain is open all year round, so come with friends and family and enjoy all that Crowder’s has to offer. For more information click here

18. Wells Fargo Museum Open  Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the Wells Fargo Museum offers its visitors a glimpse into the history of the banking industry, as well as the gold mining industry in North Carolina. Models include an 1889 Wachovia Bank branch from Winston-Salem, as well as a model of a rare Concord stagecoach, built in the mid-19th century. Admission is free. 401 S. Tryon Street. (704) 715-1866

19. Billy Graham Library The Billy Graham Library is located at 4330 Westmont Drive, Charlotte. Open Monday-Saturday 9:30 a.m. -5 p.m. Visitors can explore the Library, Homeplace and Memorial Prayer Garden. There is a restaurant on site- the Graham Brothers Dairy Bar. No outside food or drinks allowed.

20. Concord Mills Located in Concord, North Carolina, Concord Mills,  houses a variety of entertainment such as; AMC Theatres, Nascar Speedpark, Dave and Busters and the Sea Life Aquarium. The mall also features premiere stores such as The Disney Store Outlet, Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse, and Express just to name a few. With many different restaurants to choose from you can’t go wrong. Have your own Concord Mills day and treat the family to hours and hours of fun, fashion, and food! Located at 8111 Concord Mills Boulevard, Concord NC 28027 (704) 979-3000 trans 50 Free Things To Do In And Around Charlotte

21. Stanly County Museum With so many different cultures and catalysts creating history in this “land between the rivers,” the Stanly County Museum has a unique collection of artifacts—from examples of Native American art and pottery to restored pioneer homes. We invite you to discover the rich heritage that is Stanly County, North Carolina! Admission is free. To visit the website click here 

22. Farmer’s Markets North Carolina Farm Fresh is a directory of pick-your-own farms, roadside farm markets, and farmers markets throughout North Carolina. It is designed to help the consumer, find the freshest locally grown fruits, vegetables, Christmas trees, ornamental plants, flowers, and herbs Hours of operation: Sunday 12:30 pm-6 pm, May thru August; Tuesday – Saturday 8 am-6 pm, April thru September; Tuesday – Saturday 8 am-5 pm, October thru March For more information click here 

23. Frank Liske Park 230 acres of open space, including a 10-acre lake for fishing and paddle boats, miniature golf, plenty of playgrounds, picnic shelters, amphitheater, fitness trail and walking trails. Also included are a barn suitable for meetings, family reunions and more;an 11-field soccer complex, lighted softball fields; lighted tennis courts; horseshoe pits and volleyball courts. 4001 Stough Road, Concord Call 704-920-2701

24. Park Rd Park This 122 acre park boasts a surplus of recreational options. With 12 lighted tennis courts, 8 basketball courts, 6 baseball/softball fields, an 11 acre lake, and 2 playgrounds. Park Road Park  promises to be a terrific resource for good ole family fun. This recreational facility is located on Park Road is the south Charlotte area.

25. James Dowd House Built in 1879 by Confederate Captain James C. Dowd, this two-story Victorian house is best known locally for its role during World War I as headquarters for the US Army at Camp Greene, a military training base. Today the house is furnished and has exhibits documenting its role during World War I. Located 2216 Monument Street Charlotte NC 28208 Phone: 704-398-2260 For more info click here

26. Heritage Room Of Monroe The Heritage Room of Monroe features books and files of local history and families, genealogical newsletters, scrapbooks, and military and civil war information, obituaries, and church and school files. Hours: Monday and Wednesday 10am-3pm and Thursday 10pm-1pm Located at Old Union County Courthouse, First Floor Monroe NC 28111 For more info call 704. 289. 6737

27. Charlotte Jewish Historical Society The Society collects, records, documents and preserves the history of the Charlotte Jewish community. The collection includes a photo archive and an extensive video oral history collection. Located at 5007 Providence Road Charlotte NC 28226 Admission is free Click here for more info

28. Lake Norman Boating Visit Lake Norman where your business and recreation is our pleasure! Whatever your desire, find it outside your door in Lake Norman! For more information on rentals, dining, and hotels click here

29. Duke Energy’s Energy Explorium Located at our McGuire Nuclear Station, Duke Energy’s Energy Explorium offers educational and fun activities for everyone interested in learning more about electricity generation and Lake Norman. Visitors can: * Take a virtual tour of McGuire Nuclear Station, *Play interactive games and learn to use energy wisely, Convert their own energy into enough electricity to power a television, * Watch a movie about Lake Norman and the community, Walk a mile-long nature trail along the shore of Lake Norman and explore the wonders of the Piedmont’s environment. Click here for more information

30. Gaston County Museum of Art The main building of the Museum — the historic Hoffman Hotel (1852) — houses permanent galleries and temporary exhibits featuring regional history and local and national art. A modern Carriage house contains North Carolina’s largest public collection of horse drawn vehicles. Located at 131 West Main Street Dallas NC 28034  Call 704-922-7681 24-Hour INFO-LINE 704-852-6025 for more information trans 50 Free Things To Do In And Around Charlotte

31. The Charlotte Shakespeare Festival Picnic under the stars as magic, romance, drama, and comedy all collide in the wonderful works of William Shakespeare. Collaborative Arts presents their annual Shakespeare Festival in uptown Charlotte. Performances take place outdoors at The Green (400 S. Tryon Street) Thursday through Saturday nights at 8pm and Sundays at 6:30pm. Admission is free, but a minimum donation of $5 per person is suggested. Free performance workshops for ages 8+ are offered on Sundays at 5pm.

32. Hickory Museum Of Art Come view exhibits , paintings and more! Daily admission is free! Location: 243 3rd Avenue Northeast Hickory, NC 28601-5168 (828) 327-8576 Hours: Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 AM – 4 PM, Sundays 1 PM – 4 PM. Closed on Mondays and Holidays Click here to view website

33. Catawba County Museum of History The Catawba County Museum of History offers testimony to the hardy settlers of the Catawba River Valley and their resourceful descendants who carved a world-renowned furniture and textile empire out of the backwoods. Admission is free, call 828.465.0383, to visit the website click here Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9am-4pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.

34. Summer Concert Series at Blakeney Grab your family and friends and join us for a summer night of great entertainment. Enjoy the sounds of Jazz, Acoustic, Blues and R&B every Friday and Saturday night from 7pm – 10pm! For more info click here

35. The Rock Hill Outdoor Center The Rock Hill Outdoor Center consists of nearly 250 acres containing various amenities including the Giordana Velodrome, Novant Health BMX Supercross Track and Piedmont Medical Center Trail. Just south of Charlotte, this park offers lots of unique options for free family entertainment. For more information click here.

36. NoDa NoDa is the home to the City’s best collection of galleries and performance venues; some of the funkiest full service restaurants including authentic Cajun cooking, Southwest cuisine, a Creative pizza eatery and more! Noda is located at the North Davidson Street at 36th Street just two miles North of Uptown Charlotte. Click here for more info.

37. Airport Overlook Park For the airplane enthusiast, or anyone looking for something different to do, stop by Airport Overlook Park. Located at  4355 Airport Overlook Drive, Charlotte, the park allows visitors an opportunity to watch aircraft taking off and landing from the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

38. Museum of York County Every Sunday, the Museum of York County waives its admission fee to allow visitors to explore this little museum free of charge. From far out in space to your own backyard, the Museum of York County covers a little bit of everything. Visit their website for more information.

39. Ada Jenkins Center Volunteer! Unforeseen circumstances can place people of all walks of life at risk. The Ada Jenkins Center is dedicated to improving the quality of life for those in crisis. Through partnership, collaborations, and volunteer mobilization, The Center has grown rapidly to become a well-respected model for community centers in the region. Helping someone else is a personally fulfilling way to make a difference. Volunteer your time, it’s free and well worth the effort. For more info click here

trans 50 Free Things To Do In And Around Charlotte40. Ribbonwalk Nature Preserve Ribbonwalk Nature Preserve is a 188-acre urban forest, located in north central Mecklenburg County only four miles from center city Charlotte. The preserve protects a diversity of forest and wetland habitats, including one of the oldest American beech tree groves in the region. (4601 Nevin Rd Charlotte, NC 28269)

trans 50 Free Things To Do In And Around Charlotte 41. Charlotte Symphony Summer Pops Concert A summertime tradition, each year the Charlotte Symphony performs five weeks of sensational concerts under the stars at Symphony Park. So grab some food, family, and friends and enjoy the Symphony under the stars. Children under 18 – FREE. Click here for more information.

42. Power Yoga at Dharma Lounge Free yoga at the Dharma Lounge provides all the benefits of a high-priced yoga class – experienced instructors, a calming space, and camaraderie among fellow yogis – without the drain on your wallet.  Free power yoga is one of the ways Dharma has focused on giving back to its community, and the space is actually quite suited for this ancient spiritual practice. Tuesdays at 6:30. Located at 1440 S Tryon St # 105 Charlotte, NC 28203-4263, call  (704) 334-8336 for more info

43. James K. Polk State Historic Site  Open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m.  to 5 p.m. the James K. Polk State Historic Site allows visitors to learn a little bit more about our 11th president. Located on land owned by Polk’s parents, the site expands on various points of his administration. Admission is free. Visit their website for more information.

44. Renaissance Park Renaissance Park is a Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Facility managed by Ratcliffe Golf Services, Inc. Renaissance Park also has a snack Bar Picnic Area, covered Bike trails, golf course, 18 Hole Soccer Fields , 3 Volleyball Courts, Outdoor, 10 tennis Courts, outdoor, 17 Softball Diamond.  Located at 1525 West Tyvola Road, Charlotte NC (704) 357-3373.

45. Parades Head uptown with the family and enjoy a parade. Pick your street-side location and celebrate the holidays. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Saint Patty’s Day,  or MLK Day, you’re sure to be amazed by the costumes, decorative floats, and the talented marching bands.

46. Christmas Town, USA Get into the holiday spirit by taking a short drive to Christmas Town. Each year the quiet little town of McAdenville comes alive in true Yuletide fashion. With more than 350 trees, upwards of 200 wreaths, and a multitude of homes and businesses all adorned in a warm holiday glow, Christmas Town is an experience not to be missed.  McAdenville is located just west of Charlotte and is easily accessible from Interstate 85 and U.S. 29-74.

47. Hornets Nest Park 140 acres that include: a 4-field lighted tournament softball complex, an 18-hole disc golf course, 12 lighted tennis courts, 7 horseshoe pits, 8 picnic shelters, 2 Playgrounds, a BMX bicycle track, 2 Full court basketball court, 2 Sand Volleyball Courts, and a lake with fishing pier make Hornets Nest Park your recreation destination for the summer! Bring the family, meet with friends, or plan a romantic rendezvous. Located at 6301 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte, NC.

48. The Green The Green is uptown Charlotte’s magical little secret. This pocket park is located on south Tryon, nestled between the Charlotte Convention Center and the Mint Museum. Fantasy fish fountains, whimsical sounds, and ripe greenery are only a few of this location’s most attractive features.  Large bronze book sculptures and quotes from famous authors advocate literacy. When looking for a place to sit and catch up on your reading, look no further.

49. Movies in the Park Catch a film under the stars. What better way to enjoy the summer evenings than to spend them being entertained at your leisure. The Kannapolis Parks and Recreation Department hosts their annual Movies in the Park. Free. All movies start approx 8:45 p.m. Village Park, 700 W. C St., Kannapolis. 704-920-4343.

50. Festival  in the Park 3 festive days to promote, share, and stimulate interest in the arts. It’s an opportunity for over 180 artists to actively display their creative works. Enjoy original paintings, sculptures, pottery, clothing, and more. Performance artists grace the stages throughout the festival with original works of dramatics, poetry, and music. Click here for more information.

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