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Entertaining yourself or your kids can be hard. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut with your plans. And going out can cost a fortune over time. But luckily there are many free activities you can do in Charlotte. From nature, to history, to art, “Charlotte’s Got A Lot”. If you’re looking for something fun and free to do then look no further! No of a great activity we didn’t include? Let us know!

15 Free Activities To Do In Charlotte

  • 1. Charlotte Liberty Walk

    Get outside, get some exercise, and learn a little something along the way. The Charlotte Liberty Walk is an educational opportunity via the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. It’s great for tourists, locals, and our school children to learn about the origins and development of Charlotte as well as how citizens were involved in the American Revolution.

    The Charlotte Liberty Walk brings the history of the Queen City to life in a unique new mobile format. None of Charlotte’s pre-revolutionary structures still exist today, but the Charlotte Liberty Walk App tour serves as an aid to help people visualize what the city was like during its early years throughout the American Revolution.

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  • 2. Trivia Nights

    There are several local bars and restaurants that host trivia nights on any and every subject. It’s a great way to get out with friends, feed that competitive nature, and win some prizes if you’re good enough! Plus coming up with a team name always provides some laughs. Favorites include Music Bingo at Devil’s Logic Brewing Company  (Thursdays at 7 pm), trivia at Kilted Buffalo (Mondays at 7 pm), and Mindless Minutia Trivia at Resident Culture (Wednesdays at 7 pm). But chance are a bar near you also participates in some sort of trivia, bingo, interactive game.

  • 3. The Billy Graham Library

    Located right off Billy Graham Parkway is the Billy Graham Library. This 40,000 square foot “experience” will teach you about the life and legacy of “America’s Pastor”. The library is free to visit and includes not just the Library, but the Homeplace, and Memorial Prayer Garden. If you plan on visiting it’s best to allow at least 1½ to 2 hours for the visit. We recommend you wear comfortable shoes.

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  • 4. McDowell Nature Center & Preserve

    McDowell Nature Center and Preserves is part of Mecklenburg County Parks & Rec. The Nature Center sits at the entrance to 1,132 acres of McDowell Nature Preserve which is the oldest preserve in Mecklenburg County protects mostly forested, rolling terrain along the banks of Lake Wylie.

    At the Nature Center, you will find live native animals, a discovery hall, and a gift shop. Visitors can stop and observe nature in action at the Ozone Garden check out the demonstration compost area, or enjoy a natural play area. The preserve, located on the banks of Lake Wylie, also features public boat ramps, fishing docks, playgrounds, picnic areas, and campgrounds.

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  • 5. Art Walks Charlotte

    ArtWalksCLT is a community engagement initiative to connect Charlotte to local public artworks and artists. There are multiple free self-guided artwalks that provide the specific location, artist info, story, key art terms, and an opportunity to make a connection to an artwork. Special artist art walks also happen from time to time where a local artist will be your guide. From art gazing in Charlotte’s neighborhoods to wandering down alleys and peeking around corners, each artwalk is an adventure full of discovery.

    There are 8 different walks you can take in various areas of the city. Get more info here

     

  • 6. Visit A Park or Greenway

    Mecklenburg County is home to more than 230 parks and facilities located on approximately 21,000 acres of parkland throughout Mecklenburg County. Additionally, There are currently 56 miles of developed greenway trails in Mecklenburg County just waiting for you to explore.  There are things like dog parks, tennis and other athletic courts, playgrounds, trails, and more. One of my favorite to visit is Freedom Park, I love walking by the lake in the spring!

    Get more info here

  • 7. First Friday Southend Gallery Crawl

    South End is full of fine art galleries in a wide array of styles, colorful public murals, and dozens of studio spaces where artists and artisans dream and create. And the first Friday of each month is your chance to explore and take in all this gorgeous artwork. Southend First Friday is an evening when galleries and shops are open extended hours, host special receptions, and host live painting and music. The event is free and family-friendly. Some galleries even have light refreshments and beverages provided.

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  • 8. James K. Polk Historic Site

    The 11th President was born in Mecklenburg County- James K. Polk. And his birthplace is open to the public. The James K. Polk Historic site is located just a few minutes outside of Charlotte in Pineville. The historic site sits on 21 of the original 150 acres owned by President Polk’s father, Samuel.

    You can visit for free and see a museum with exhibits on life in this area during Polk’s childhood, Polk’s rise to fame through politics, the Mexican-American War, and temporary exhibits on a range of topics. You can also take guided tours of the historic cabins on the grounds and experience a small nature trail (temporarily closed for construction), a historically-inspired kitchen garden, and a picnic area.
    On the property is also a relocated cemetery where Polk’s grandmother is buried along with other family members who lived and died nearby in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    Get more info here

  • 9. Charlotte Douglas International Airport Overlook

    Watch the planes take off and land at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport Overlook. Located at 7300 Airport Overlook Dr, Charlotte, NC 28208 the overlook is an outdoor overlook spot with benches facing the airport runway to view plane landings & take-offs with the skyline as a backdrop. It’s a great place to bring your kids, a date, or a picnic. During the spring and summer, you will often find food trucks on-site as well.

     

  • 10. Reed Gold Mine

    Reed Gold Mine is the site of the first documented gold discovery in the United States. In fact, North Carolina led the nation in gold production until 1848, when it was eclipsed by the great rush to California. Today you can visit Reed Gold Mine. There is an underground mine is open for self-guided tours, historic structures, a visitor center, trails, monuments, and outdoor exhibits. Admission is free though there is a $3 charge if you want to pan for gold.

    Get more info here

  • 11. ImaginOn

    ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center is a one-of-a-kind youth destination right here in Charlotte. ImaginOn is a collaborative effort between the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Children’s Theatre of Charlotte resulting in a 102,000-square-foot facility. In fact it was recently ranked by Livability.com as the No. 1 children’s library in the United States. ImaginOn, which is visited by more than 300,000 people annually, features two state-of-the-art theatres, a dedicated library space for kids 11 and under, four multi-use classrooms, a teen-only library, a multimedia production studio, and an interactive exhibit space.

    Get more info here

  • 12. UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens

    UNC Charlotte is home to Botanical Gardens featuring three garden sites- two outdoor and one greenhouse. The gardens feature sixteen collections, including the rare Titan Arum. The outdoor gardens are open and available for visitors during daylight hours while the Greenhouse is generally open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Admission to the Greenhouse and Gardens is free.

    The Greenhouse and 10 acres of outdoor gardens offer the largest diversity of plants in one location in Charlotte. The McMillan Greenhouse contains exotic plants year-round. These include orchids, desert plants, carnivorous plants, spice and fruit plants, and a kaleidoscope of tropical ferns, vines, flowers, and shrubs. The Susie Harwood Garden has a year-round interest as well, including camellias, winter-blooming plants, spring bulbs, and flowering trees and shrubs, azaleas, water plants, Japanese maples, a mosaic patio, an Asian garden, and the unique Mellichamp Natives Terrace. The Van Landingham Glen is especially lovely in early to mid-spring when wildflowers and rhododendrons are blooming. Additionally, Glen’s woodland atmosphere and an extensive collection of native plants can be appreciated in any season. (description taken from UNC Charlotte)

    Get more info here

  • 13. Visit The Mint Museum

    Did you know you can visit the Mint Museum for free? Both the Mint Museum Uptown & Randolph are open to the public for free on Wednesday evenings from 5-9pm. This is made possible by Publix Super Markets Charities, Bank of America, and Mint Museum Auxiliary.

    Get more info here

     

  • 14. McColl Center for Art and Innovation

    The McColl Center is a contemporary art space located in the former Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Uptown Charlotte. It is home to individual artist studios, more than 5,000 square feet of exhibition space, and multiple common-use spaces, including a studio for large-scale sculpture fabrication. The visiting public is welcome to connect with contemporary art and artists through exhibitions and public programs.

    Get more info here

  • 15. McGill Rose Garden

    The McGrill Rose Garden is a popular wedding venue but on days where they aren’t hosting events it operates as a public rose garden. McGill is located at 940 N Davidson St. Dogs are permitted and must be on a leash. There is no admission fee but donations to the McGill Rose Garden Foundation are greatly appreciated. There is also a wine bar on site called Rosie’s Wine Bar.

    Get more info here