Things to EXPLORE around Charlotte

Tara Boucher  |  April 13, 2023


Things to EXPLORE around Charlotte

Free and Cheap Things to Do in Charlotte

Wow, there are SO many wonderful things to do and explore in this great city of Charotte!!  Not to mention the sporting events we have.... Carolina Panthers, our Minor League Baseball team The Charlotte Knights and now we have our professional soccer team Charlotte Football Club.

Budget friendly? Never fear. Charlotte has plenty of activities that don't cost a dime. We've curated a list of free and cheap things to do in the city. Many options listed here are priced under $10, keeping your focus on the memories.

Save on top museums and attractions with the Explore CLT Pass.


  1. Charlotte is home to farmers marketsboth large and small. From the airport to Uptown, Dilworth to Camp North End, find the market nearest to you and discover the season’s freshest fruits and vegetables, flowers, plants and local crafts.
  2. For a more hands-on experience with your fruit and veg, there are many area farms and orchards that offer pick-your-own opportunities. Hunter Farmin Weddington, Hodges Family Farm in East Charlotte, Wise Acres Organic Farm in Indian Trail, The Ivy Place in Lancaster and Windy Hill Orchard in Fort Mill are just a few of the places you can pick tomatoes, apples, pumpkins, berries and more.
  3. Use this guideto create your own Charlotte Mural Tour in all corners of the city or spend a day taking selfies in front of Charlotte’s Public Art.
  4. Take advantage of the deals found through Explore Charlotte Marketplacefor 1-, 2- and 3-day passes offering discounted entry to museums, gardens and the Raptor Center and discounts on beer and merchandise at various breweries.
  5. Many of Charlotte’s finest museums offer free daysto tour. Wednesday Night Live features Mint Museum UptownBechtler Museum of Modern Art and The Harvey B. Gantt Center and often includes live entertainment and programming.
  6. Charlotte Mecklenburg Librarieshost free events such as family storytimes, author lectures and film screenings. Search by location to find an event that piques your interest.
  7. Craft beer aficionados can explore the many flavors to be found along NoDa’s Craft Beer Trail. Save money on your next brewery adventure with the Charlotte Brew Badge.
  8. Charlotte has a plethora of parks. Whether you’re looking for playgrounds or pickle ball courts, nature trails or dog runs, you can find the one that fits your fancy and make a day of the outdoors.
  9. When the days are long and hot, nothing cools off quite like the inside at a bowling alley. Kids are eligible for free summertime bowlingat Sports Connection Charlotte and Stars and Strikes Concord.
  10. You can laugh until your ribs ache and not bust your budget when you take a class or attend a show put on by CATCH Improv.
  11. Test your knowledge at free trivia. Brewers at 4001 Yancey has music bingo on Mondays, Free Range Brewinghosts trivia on Tuesdays and Rhino Market in NoDa has music bingo on Wednesdays and general trivia on Thursdays.
  12. Have yourself a Light Rail Day. Start anywhere along the line and hop off for easy access to some of Charlotte’s most happening neighborhoods. Hop back on to keep exploring.
  13. 13. Grab your bike, scooter or running shoes and use theCLT Trail Guideto navigate Charlotte’s greenways and trails full of wildlife, history and sculptures.
  14. See where some of your local television shows are made by taking a PBS Charlotte Studio Tour.
  15. Make a splash at one of Mecklenburg County’s public pools, lakes and spraygrounds. Most are open Memorial Day to Labor Day, but Ray’s Splash Planetis open all year long.
  16. Visit the Faerie Village and create your own faerie houses and forts at Latta Nature Preservealong the Audubon Trail.
  17. Enjoy live music at one of the many free concerts and music showsCharlotte has to offer during the summer.
  18. Pack a basket and blanket and find a perfect picnic spotfor you and your friends, family or special sweetheart.
  19. Gather your team and choose a night to test your knowledge, as Charlotte boasts multiple Trivia Nights throughout the city, including Mondays at Sir Edmond Halley’s, Tuesdays at Common Market South Endand Wednesdays at Tipsy Burro.
  20. Choose your own adventure on the U.S. Whitewater Center Adventure Trailand pay only the parking fee for a full day of fun.
  21. Bring your mountain bike or hiking shoes and explore the beautiful 2,100 acres of Anne Springs Close Greenway.
  22. For just a few dollars, enjoy a night of live music at The Evening Museon Monday Open Mic Night.
  23. 23. Mingle with the alpacas and take selfies with the llamas on a tour of Good Karma Ranch.
  24. Lend a hand by volunteering. Organizations like HandsOn Charlotteand Share Charlotte offer hundreds of opportunities, searchable by interests, locations and skills, that connect you with causes that need a hand.
  25. Treat yourself to gardens full of lush flowers, bushes and trees, all planted to attract birds at Wing Haven Gardens & Bird Sanctuary.
  26. You don’t need to lay out a bunch of bills to have a good time at Pins Mechanical Company. Many activities (patio pong, giant Jenga, skee-ball and arcade games, to name a few) are always free.
  27. Retrace Billy Graham’s dynamic journey from humble farm boy to “America’s Pastor” at the Billy Graham Library.
  28. Explore the cool mines and try your hand at panning for gold at Reed Gold Mine.
  29. Take a guided tour of the James K. Polk Historic Site, including log cabins, nature trail and 18th century cemetery, as you learn about our country’s 11th president.
  30. Take the kids to the library created just for them. ImaginOnhas activity spaces that encourage kids of all ages to explore and learn.
  31. A popular spot for families, photographers and plane enthusiasts, the Charlotte Douglas International Airport Overlookwill give you a free front-row seat to watch airplanes take off and land.
  32. Explore all 10 acres of one of Charlotte’s prettiest outdoor gardens at the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, complete with a sensory garden and gigantic orchids.
  33. Many breweries in the Charlottearea have started offering free tours for a behind-the-scenes look. Find foeders, barrels and fermenters and become an aficionado of Charlotte’s favorite beverage.
  34. Go for a hike at nearby Crowders Mountainto the west of Charlotte or Morrow Mountain to the east.
  35. Dig deeper into Charlotte’s history and learn how residents influenced the American Revolution on a Charlotte Liberty Walk.
  36. Food Truck Fridays are a hit, with gatherings happening at Resident Culture BrewingNoDa Brewing Companyand Old Town Rock Hill, or the monthly Black Food Truck Fridays.
  37. Charlotte hosts many parades and festivals that are free or low-cost. Ones not-to-miss are Juneteenth Festival of the CarolinasCharlotte Pride Festival and ParadeDurag FestFestival of IndiaFestival in the Parkand Yiasou Greek Festival.
  38. There’s always something interesting happening at Camp North End. This 76-acre converted industrial complex hosts regular vendors, cafes and art installations along with pop-up art, markets, food trucks and festivals. It’s free to wander around, play games and snap pictures, so take your time taking in the sights and history of this unique campus.
  39. Enjoy movies in the great outdoors summer to fall at the Outdoor Cinema Series in CorneliusMovies in the Park in Huntersville, or Movies on the Green at Promenade on Providence.
  40. Take a Joy Ride, a pedal-assist electric bike that makes exploring easier. Zip along one of the many nearby sections of the Carolina Thread Trail, tour the beautiful Johnson C. Smith Universitycampus, meander through Uptown or wind your way through Freedom Park.
  41. Put on your best walking shoes and learn about Charlotte on foot by joining a Walking Tour.
  42. Mini Golf at Frankie’s Fun Parkis entertaining for kids and full of nostalgia for grown-ups. Cost is just $10 per player - with children 3 and under playing for free when accompanied by a paying adult.
  43. Pickleball is rising in popularity for good reason. It’s fun, active and low cost. Because of this popularity, Mecklenburg County has added many pickleball courts to its public parksthat are open to people of all skill levels.
  44. Another feature Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation keeps improving on is its free nature centers. Check out the brand new Quest at Latta Nature Preserveand Stevens Creek Nature Center that join the ranks of McDowell Park and Reedy Creek Park. Don’t forget to explore the trails surrounding the centers to put newfound knowledge into practice.
  45. Trade cash for quarters and get your arcade game fix at Video Game World- Huntersville or Super Abari Game Bar. New and retro games are available to play for as low at 25 cents a pop.
  46. Wander the McGill Rose Gardenwhile enjoying a glass of wine or coffee from Rosie’s Wine Bar. This hidden gem tucked off North Davidson Street offers respite and relaxation amidst blooming vines and bushes.
  47. The Schiele Museum of Natural History & Planetariumin Gastonia is one of the most informative and affordable museums in the region. Admission is under $10 for adults and youth and provides entry to indoor and outdoor exhibits. A membership brings the cost per visit down even more and allows free entry into science centers across the country through the ASTC reciprocal program.
  48. Disc Golfis fun, refreshing and open for all at the brand new Eastway Regional Recreation Center.
  49. Get a crew together for some high-energy laser tag. Games at Frankie’s Fun Parkare just $9 per person and a two-story laser tag match is only $34 for a four-person team at Stars and Strikes in Concord.
  50. More friendly, communal games can be played at any of several Game Night meetup groupsheld at various locations throughout Charlotte. Most meetups are free or the low cost of a soda, beer or appetizer.

So depending on the weather, either get outside and enjoy the plentiful outdoor activities or if it's not a great weather day, plan an indoor day and still enjoy time with your family and friends!

( Sprinkle)

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