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. 11. Met! Live Hang out at the Metropolitan in Uptown Charlotte for some free entertainment with some of the best local bands. Every Thursday 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 Tuesdays 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 6:56 a.m. to 6:05 p.m.
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. NC Transportation Museum The North Carolina Transportation Museum is located on the site of what was once Southern Railway Company’s largest steam locomotive repair facility. The site features an authentic train depot, antique automobiles, and a 37-bay Roundhouse that includes 25 locomotives, dozens of rail cars and other exhibit areas. The museum offers seasonal train rides, guided tours for scheduled groups, and special events scheduled throughout the year. For more info click here
19. Gallery L at The Public Library Gallery L at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County’s Main Branch features rotating exhibits. Visitors may view the art collections during the library’s main hours. 310 N. Tryon Street Charlotte, NC 28202 704-416-0100
20. Concord Mills Located in Concord, North Carolina, Concord Mills, houses a variety of entertainment such as; AMC Theatres, Nascar Speedpark, and Dave and Busters. 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
21. Stanley 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, geneological newletters, 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
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, Sunday 1:30pm-4:30, 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. Gallery Patone 287 Pantone 278 is a contemporary art gallery founded in 2009 by Marc Gustafson. Marc opened his gallery out of a desire to engage people in the appreciation and enjoyment of contemporary art and his sense for the need to encourage emerging artists to develop lasting relationships with seasoned and nascent collectors. Located at 1710 Camden Charlotte, NC 28203 10am to 5:30pm, Tuesday through Saturday For more info click here
36. NoDa NoDa is now 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. The Light Factory The Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film is one of only four museums for photography and film in the United States. The Light Factory specializes in exhibiting independent film and nurturing emerging video-based storytelling. The Light Factory is located inside Spirit Square at the intersection of N. College and E. Seventh Streets in Center City Charlotte. 345 North College St. Charlotte, NC 28202 Hours: Monday through Saturday – 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sunday – 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Call 704-333-9755 , or click here to visit the site.
38. Historic Latta Plantation Today, Historic Latta Plantation is still operated by Latta Place, Inc. In addition to daily tours, Latta offers 35 special events each year, five themed summer day camps, home school programs, workshops, educational field trips, and daily tours year-round. The 12,000 school children that visit the site annually are able to participate in unique interactive historical programming, visit rare and endangered breeds of historic livestock, see the process of growing short-staple cotton first hand, visit our honeybee exhibit, and much more! Click here for more info.
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
40. Ribbon Walk Nature Preserve Ribbon Walk 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)
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. Swing Dance Lessons-Open Door Studios Open Door Studios provides a unique offering of adult and youth dance and fitness classes. Classes are taught by professionals with extensive backgrounds in education and performance. First Lesson is free! Located at 1318-D Central Avenue Charlotte NC 28025 Call 704 576 5034 for more info. Click here for more info
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.