Being on a budget doesn’t mean you have to be housebound if you live in Charlotte. Residents of the Queen City can find awesome free events at a moment’s notice to satisfy any kind of interest. Whether you are looking to ditch your gym membership for a free workout or spend a fun-loving day enjoying entertainment on someone else’s dime, Charlotte has the activity for you and your budget. Check out these 11 free activities our city has to offer which will pad your wallet and fill your social calendar at the same time.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Re-center yourself with FREE yoga on the lawn at Pizza Peel in Plaza Midwood.
Get your mind and body ready to power through the week with FREE yoga on the lawn at Pizza Peel in Plaza Midwood. Pizza Peel created this free program as a way to give back to the community and bring people together to share their passion for yoga. Beginning at 6:00 p.m. every Monday, classes range in all levels of flow and are the perfect activity for beginners and experienced yogis. Instructors offer guidance and modifications throughout the workout, and class members get to enjoy the fresh air and outdoor class setting. If you decide to stay after class for a bite to eat, Pizza Peel offers 10% off all food to yoga participants – a great deal for those who worked up an appetite.
2. Brown bag your lunch and enjoy a FREE concert at Romare Bearden’s Music Box Lunch Series. (Tuesdays)
Need a break from your desk? Grab your lunch and head over to Romare Bearden Park where visitors can catch local musicians performing for FREE on Tuesdays. The Music Box Lunch Series is a summer series, beginning in May and ending in late August that gives Charlotte locals a reason to step away from the work day for a quick break and great music. Romare Bearden Park is also a great place for kids, so if you are a Charlotte mom looking for a summer activity, put this one on your list.
3. Stay active with one of the Queen City’s Brewery Run Clubs.
Charlotte’s running community has blown up in recent years and so has the local brewery scene. Why not bring the two together and make running a social thing? NoDa Brewing Company was the first brewery to sponsor a local run club where runners of all skill levels could meet up on Wednesday nights and run 1, 3 or 5 miles together. After the run, many stay for a drink making brewery run clubs one of the best ways to meet new people with the same passion for running. Now, five years after Noda Brewing started their run club, you can find a run club at almost every brewery in Charlotte on any day of the week, and running is always FREE! Many will also give runners a free or discounted beer after the run, so join up with a run club this week for some exercise and beers with new friends.
4. Take an "Art Break" at lunch with FREE museum tours. (Third Thursday of each month)
Have you always wanted to explore a Charlotte museum, but can’t spend the money to buy a ticket? You’re in luck, three of Charlotte’s most renowned art museums open their doors to the public for FREE on the third Thursday of every month. Enjoy a 30 minute guided tour of the Mint Museum, the Betchler Museum of Modern Art or the Gantt Center for African American Arts & Culture. See the work of some of Charlotte’s most historic artists and pick up new knowledge about your favorite pieces. Charlotte’s "Art Break" is ongoing all year and is an awesome way to spend your lunch break once a month.
5. Catch a FREE outdoor movie at Craft Tasting Room and Growler Shop. (Fridays)
Catch a FREE movie under the stars at Craft Tasting Room and Growler Shop every Friday night. Movies play every week throughout the months of April – October, and you can find the weekly schedule listed on Craft’s website. All movies start at sundown and are projected on a large white wall on the side of the building. Entrance is totally free and viewers can find seats on the Craft patio or on the grass around the patio.
Bring your own snacks or purchase food and beverages from Craft’s mouthwatering menu featuring flatbreads, charcuterie boards and cheese plates. If you’re looking for the perfect and affordable activity for your Friday night, definitely check out Craft.
6. Cool off at a summer splash pad.
One of the best things about the Queen City in the summer is the availability of many FREE splash pads around the city where the kids can play and cool off. Charlotte has at least six public splash pads that are a popular spot for parents and kids any day of the week. Parents can keep an eye on their little ones from parkside benches and sitting areas, and children can enjoy spraying fountains, pools of water and lots of space to run and play. Pack a picnic lunch and get your kids out of the house for free.
7. Take a behind the scenes tour of a local brewery.
Many Charlotte breweries give FREE behind the scenes brewery tours to curious customers wondering about the beer making process. Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and Legion Brewing host free tours on Saturdays and Sundays, while NoDa Brewing, Lenny Boy, the Unknown Brewing Company, D9 Brewing and Red Clay Ciderworks have specific days during the week when they offer free tours. If you didn’t see your favorite brewery on this list, it’s most likely they will give a free tour by request. Just give them a call and find out when you can take a look around.
8. Take your pooch on a date to one of Charlotte’s fantastic dog parks.
Pet-lovers in Charlotte are lucky to have a variety of dog parks at their disposal. If you and your pooch want to get out on a budget, take a trip to one of six off-the-leash dog parks the city has to offer. Davie Dog Park is Charlotte’s largest with five acres of fenced-in area for dogs, while Swaney Pointe Park at Ramsey Creek, Barkingham Park at Reedy Creek and Shuffletown Park provide four acres of off the leash area. Frazier Park and Ray’s Fetching Meadow offer an acre of land where your pup can romp and play. Most of these parks have separate areas for large and small dogs. These parks cost nothing to visit and are a great place to spend quality time with your four-legged friends. Not to mention, dog parks are a great place to meet new people too.
9. Stroll, run or bike the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.
A hot spot for walkers, runners and bikers, the Little Sugar Creek Greenway is the perfect way to take in Charlotte without spending a cent. The Greenway runs from Uptown Charlotte through Midtown to its southernmost point of Huntingtowne Farms Park. When completed, the Greenway is meant to provide 20 miles of winding trails and paved walkways through Charlotte, ending near the South Carolina state line. Some areas of the Greenway even wind by a few of Charlotte's best restaurants, so walkers can stop in for a light lunch and a cocktail if desired. The Little Sugar Creek Greenway is definitely a fantastic FREE spot to spend time with family or friends in Charlotte.
10. Check out a Charlotte festival.
No matter the season, it’s always easy to find a festival happening in Charlotte. Whether it is Festival in the Park at Freedom Park, Taste of Charlotte Uptown, The Charlotte Jazz Festival or Oktoberfest, the Queen City does a great job of hosting festivals that will appease almost any interests. Most Charlotte festivals are FREE to attend, so if you’re looking for something new to experience on a budget, head out to whatever festival is happening in town this month for some great people watching and entertainment.
11. Satisfy your inner botanist at the UNCC Botanical Gardens.
The Botanical Garden on the UNC Charlotte Campus is every nature lover's dream and an awesome FREE way to spend your day. The Garden is open each week Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Some of the best features of the UNCC Botanical Garden include laying your eyes on the carnivores plant the Venus Fly Trap, visiting the Desert Room which is full of exquisite and rare desert succulents, taking a walk through the Dinosaur Forest which is filled with ferns and real fossils and visiting the Orchid Room which hosts the largest collection of orchids in Charlotte.
What are some of your favorite FREE things to do in Charlotte? Let us know in the comments!