11 FREE and CHEAP Things to do in CHARLOTTE | Charlotte On The Cheap

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FREE and CHEAP Things to do in CHARLOTTE. From parks and museums to indoor water parks, Charlotte's got a lot. Come visit and see Charlotte on the cheap!

Whether you live in Charlotte, or you're just visiting, there is no reason to spend an arm and a leg on plans for the day! I like spending time outside with the kids, having a picnic at the park, or just walking around and taking pictures. There are many places in Charlotte to do just that! Also, I love that Charlotte has free admission to some of its museums and nature preserves.

FREE and Cheap things to do in Charlotte NC

If you're looking for an educational field trip that won't cost you a dime, look no further! From learning about 109 bird species at Reedy Creek Park to diving into history at a gold mine, Charlotte's got you covered.

Free and Cheap Things to do in Charlotte | Charlotte on the Cheap

North Carolina Transportation Museum

Free admission to the museum, but they do charge for special events {like A Day Out with Thomas} and to ride the train {but it's totally worth it}. Home of an authentic train depot, plus tons of antique automobiles, the transportation museum is perfect for the whole family. Check out the rail cars, locomotives, and other exhibits while you're there.

Freedom Park

Free to visit all the time, Charlotte's Freedom Park has so much for the family to do! Whether you're hitting the tennis courts or the trails, you'll also enjoy the well-kept gardens and other amenities. Pack a lunch and make a day of it. My kids ask to run the practice football field all the time.

Reedy Creek Park and Nature Preserve

This is one of our favorite day trip locations. With over 10 miles of trails, ponds, a fishing pier, playgrounds, and even horseshoe pits, there are tons of things to keep you busy for hours!

Charlotte has so many amazing parks and greenways! 

Reed Gold Mine

Free admission and tour, and only $2 to pan for gold, Reed Gold Mine is the first documented gold find in the entire country! Visit to get a rich history lesson and to have a fun time.

The Green

A prominent landmark in Uptown Charlotte, you'll see a unique blend of landscaping and artwork. A frequent picnic spot, The Green is also a great place to take photos. There's a giant fish fountain, along with checkers tables, and there are several sculptures to look at. It's literary-themed, so you'll see sculptures of giant books and pages and bright signs with intersections of authors' names.

If nothing else, it's great for people-watching right in the middle of Uptown. It's a nice little patch of relaxation right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle.

Ray's Splash Pad

The perfect place to beat the heat. Ray's Splash Pad is a one-of-a-kind waterpark that is owned and operated by the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation that is open to the public, although residents of Mecklenburg County do receive discount admission and membership.

Discovery Place and Discovery Place Kids

Great places to visit with kids. Discovery Place Kids is in Huntersville {they also have one in Rockingham, NC} and are geared toward young children. DPK has activities that foster imagination and make learning fun in this interactive museum. Discovery Place offers school-age children hands-on learning opportunities that give them a greater understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in a fun, interactive, and informal setting.


A unique experience. ImaginOn features two state-of-the-art theatre spaces, a dedicated library space for youth 11 and under, four multi-use classrooms, a teen-only library, a multimedia production studio, and an interactive exhibit space. Can we say “AMAZING!”?

Charlotte Nature Museum

A great nature museum for all ages. Charlotte Nature Museum visitors may walk among free-flying butterflies, observe live animals, buzz around with insects or hang out in the natural world. Daily offerings include puppet shows and hands-on activities that provide the opportunity for structured learning and informal play for the young and old alike.

Billy Graham Library

We always enjoy visiting the Billy Graham Library. The Library combines iconic memorabilia and multimedia technology to transport visitors into the life and faith of the beloved evangelist, Billy Graham. Our favorite time to visit is around Christmas when they host a live nativity. It is definitely a sight to behold.

Historic Latta Plantation

Perfect for a day outdoors, Latta Plantation is a living history farm located with the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve. Although Latta Plantation is a non-profit, they work closely with Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation since they operate within the Nature Preserve. Latta offers numerous activities throughout the year for school groups, homeschooling groups, Summer Camps, and more.

While not completely free, I found this list of 101 Fun Things to do in Charlotte extremely fascinating! Also, keep an eye out for this website which lists free events each week for Charlotte.

Have you visited Charlotte? What are your favorite activities when you visit?

Looking for more road trip ideas? Check out The Best Road Trips Around the Globe!

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  1. Charlotte looks really interesting – I’ve seen the airport but next time we use it as a hub between destinations I may take a day’s break before flying out again there’s a lot to see.

    1. There really is! SO many great parks and green spaces in the area. It’s definitely a great place for a layover if you’re able to leave the airport!

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