Exploring a city like Charlotte, North Carolina, doesn’t have to cost a fortune if you know where to look. The key is to build time in your itinerary to check out places that don’t charge an admission fee. As you plan your upcoming vacation in the Piedmont, include some of these free things to do in Charlotte, N.C., to stretch your budget and fill your days.
- Reed Gold Mine
In 1799, someone found gold on John Reed’s property and forever changed the life of the man who owned it. Today, Reed Gold Mine remains a historic site where you can see partially reconstructed gold mines and learn more about the first documented discovery of gold in the region. There’s no charge for admission, but there is a fee for panning at the site.
- Have a Picnic in Freedom Park
Located near the Myers Park neighborhood, Freedom Park is a 98-acre urban oasis. Bring the whole family, and pick out a grassy spot for a picnic. If you don’t mind sharing the space with crowds, show up for a seasonal festival.
If you’d rather burn off some energy, check out the recreation grounds. Play a pickup game of basketball or practice America’s national pastime on a baseball field. There are also miles of trails designed for walking or biking. You can even bring along the dog to join you on an afternoon stroll.
- Listen to Live Music at Romare Bearden Park
Romare Bearden Park hosts a seasonal music festival called the Music Box Lunch series. It’s the perfect break in the middle of the workday, but visitors are also welcome. Bring your lunch, find a place to sit and settle in for a quick concert.
- Catch an Exhibit at a Museum
Despite its reputation as a technology haven, Charlotte has an impressive art scene. You can catch a glimpse of it on a free mini-tour. Three museums offer these short tours once each month. Check with their websites for specific dates and times.
These museums are part of the Levine Center for the Arts. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art features collections of mid-century modern art. At the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, discover a treasure trove of African American art. Explore international works of art at the Mint Museum Uptown.
- Cool Off at a Splash Pad
Summers heat up in Charlotte, and that’s the perfect time to take the kids to a public splash pad. You’ll find six spots in the city: First Ward Park, Cordelia Park, The Green, Latta Park, Romare Bearden Park and Veterans Park.
Parents can supervise from a park bench or sunbathe on the green. You’ll also find other amenities like playgrounds, walking trails and recreation fields if you want to burn off some energy.
- Relax in the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens
You feel like you walk into another world at the University of North Carolina Charlotte Botanical Gardens. Stroll through the lush grounds, or find a place to sit and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Before you go, check out the Venus flytrap, the collection of desert succulents or the splendid orchids on display.
Whether you like the rush of the race track or the serenity of an art gallery, there’s no shortage of things to do in Charlotte. When you include free activities in your schedule and choose a vacation rental instead of a hotel, you can maximize your budget and comfort to make the most out of your time in the area.