When you come to a city like Charlotte there are so many things to do and see. Sticking to a budget gets tricky. Don’t worry! We have you covered with the best FREE things to do in Charlotte that are sure to make your stay more fun, without breaking the bank.
The Mint Museum is forward and fun with two locations in Charlotte. Check out the Mint Museum Uptown and view the famed Craft + Design collection, modern and contemporary art and many other outstanding collections. The Mint Museum Randolph houses an extensive collection of European and African art, ceramics and ancient American pieces. Admission is FREE every Wednesday evening between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Tickets are $6-15 all other times. Reserve your timed ticket online today!
From average farm boy to internationally renowned Christian pastor, experience the journey of Billy Graham through memorabilia, photos, multimedia presentations and interactive kiosks. The 40,000 square-foot barn-style facility rests on 20 acres of landscaped beauty. Guests can also visit the bookstore and restaurant or participate in tours of the Library, Memorial Prayer Garden and Graham homeplace. Admission is always FREE. The museum is open Monday – Saturday from 9:30 a.m to 5:00 p.m.
Enjoy a night of art, interaction and entertainment at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Every third Friday of the month, Bechtler hosts this FREE event as a way to unite the community while enjoying the beauty of art. Past events have included a live jazz band, a board game tournament and a painting event.
*August 2021 Update* At this time, the Bechtler By Night events have been paused to comply with state regulations. However, the modern art museum is currently offering FREE tours and events virtually.
The museum is still open for visitors Wednesday through Monday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Bechtler is part of the Blue Star Museums, meaning active duty military and their families always receive FREE admission. Admission for all other guests ranges from $5-9.
Enjoy FREE live music throughout the year at many outdoor venues around Charlotte. Here’s a top 5 FREE concerts currently taking place in Charlotte:
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has two beautiful conservation gardens and a large greenhouse right on campus. See carnivorous plants, desert succulents, a dinosaur garden and more at the McMillian Greenhouse. The Susie Harwood Garden not only features beautiful native and non-native plant life but also portrays several landscape designs and gardening styles. Don’t forget to visit the Van Landingham Glen, the inaugural portion of the Botanical Gardens. This greenspace originally acted as an outdoor classroom for students studying botany.
Do you know what makes a botanical garden different from a “regular” garden? Botanical gardens, like the one at UNC Charlotte, contain specially selected plant life to be used for education, conservation and research. Patrons can peruse the outdoor gardens and natural areas every day of the week from dusk until dawn. The greenhouse is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is always FREE to the public.
Runners, bikers and dog enthusiasts will love the Charlotte Greenway system. The greenway offers over 20 trails totaling nearly 60 miles, and it’s all FREE! These paved paths are specially designed for the comfort of pedestrians and for the preservation of natural plant life and wildlife. Beyond the beautiful Charlotte landscapes, you’ll find shopping centers, juice bars, farmers markets, parks and more along the Greenway. To view a full list of trails, locations, distances and greenway rules, check the Mecklenburg County Greenway Brochure. Mecklenburg County has big plans to continue adding miles of trails each year.
In 1779, a 12-year-old boy discovered a 17-pound gold nugget in Little Meadow Creek next to his father’s farm, located just east of Charlotte. This was the first documented gold find in the United States. Today, Reed Gold Mine still stands at the location of this first gold find and offers visitors a step back in time.
Guests can explore the grounds and see the historical structures, gold exhibits and mining equipment on display. Admission to the visitor center and property are FREE to the public Tuesday – Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Portions of the mine have been restored and can be viewed on a self-guided tour using a pamphlet from the visitors center until 4:30 p.m. each day. You can also enjoy gold panning from 9:00 a.m.to 4:00 p.m. (April – October) for a small $3 fee per pan. Guided tours of the restored mine are available for $2 per person. Plan your next visit online.
Enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors at Crowders Mountain State Park. Located just 30 miles west of downtown Charlotte, Crowders Mountain boasts nearly 50 miles of hiking trails that you and your four-legged friend (as long as they’re leased) can explore. This NC state park also allows kayaking and canoeing on Shorts Lake or rock climbing and bouldering on Crowders Mountain. Be sure to obtain the proper permits from the visitor’s center before heading out on an adventure. The park opens daily at 8:00 a.m. and closes at various times, depending on the season. Admission to Crowders Mountain State Park is always FREE.
The best way to experience the Historic Fourth Ward in Charlotte is by taking the self-guided walking tour created by Friends of the Fourth Ward. The neighborhood covers approximately 30 blocks between N Tryon St and N Graham St. The expansive 4th Ward Park sits in the middle with community playgrounds and walking paths throughout. Beyond the park, you’ll discover Victorian-style homes, Gothic Revival-style churches and more beautifully restored architecture. Download a FREE version of the walking tour online.
Book your nightly, weekly or monthly stay at Uptown Suites. We offer FREE EV charging stations, FREE high-speed Wi-Fi, FREE SHOWTIME®, a FREE 24/7 gym and more. Plus, Uptown Suites is pet-friendly. See all the great amenities offered at Uptown Suites in Charlotte and book your next vacation today!