Experiencing Charlotte’s rich culture, creative makers and outdoor spaces doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. The Queen City offers a diverse assortment of free fun from art crawls to outdoor concerts and lots in between. Here are ten of our top free things to do in Charlotte!
1. Front Porch Sundays in South End
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m on the first Sunday of every month from April to November, dozens of local vendors and food trucks come together to create a pop-up festival at 2151 Hawkins Street behind Sycamore Brewing and a few steps away from the Rail Trail. This market and block party features 60 vendors slinging varies wares, lots of food trucks, live music, adult bevs, fitness booths, pet adoptions and more. See the official Facebook page here for the remaining 2019 dates and more info.
2. Public Art Walking Tour
Charlotte’s Arts & Science Council has created a fun, interactive way for locals and visitors to experience the interesting public art in the city’s center. A free 45-minute podcast will lead you through the streets of Uptown and give tidbits on the history of Charlotte and its art. There’s even a scavenger hunt for the kids and kids at heart. More info, a downloadable map, and the podcast for this self-guided tour can be found here.
3. Mint Museum Wednesdays
Art lovers, collectors and creators, the Mint Museum (both Randolph and Uptown) opens its doors sans admission on Wednesday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Take advantage of this weekly opportunity to peruse the Mint’s extensive collections and gorgeous spaces at no cost. Make your next date night dinner and a museum!
4. South End Gallery Crawl
On the first Friday evening of every month, many South End galleries (and often other retail spaces) extend their hours to welcome crawlers to explore their collections with music, food and drinks — and a chance to meet the artists. Unless you fall in love with a piece of art, the crawl is free and in close proximity to the bustling nightlife of South End. Sounds like a perfect Friday to us! Find more info here.
5. Party in the Park at Romare Bearden Park
Head uptown to the beautiful Romare Bearden Park to Party In The Park, a free concert series two Wednesdays a month from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. This season features many musical genres and concludes on September 18, so check the website for the remaining lineup, pack your picnic and find your spot in the park.
6. Luski Gallery and Sculpture Garden
Don’t overlook the gem that is Foundation for the Carolinas‘s art collection. Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. see pieces collected from around the world by art patrons and philanthropists Isaac and the late Sonia Luski. The sparkling glasswork, vibrant colors and the standout giant cat painting attract thousands of visitors a year. Don’t miss the vertical garden by French botanical artist Patrick Blanc that acts as the backdrop to the sculpture garden on the fourth-floor terrace. The gallery periodically hosts private events, so call (704) 973-4500 to make sure they’re open.
7. River Jam at U.S. National Whitewater Center
The U.S. National Whitewater Center has a lot more going on than just whitewater. River Jam, which runs from May through September, has become a favorite free activity that brings together live music, fabulous food and drinks, and outdoor adventure. A talent-packed lineup of acts hits the stage every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from May to September. The concerts start at 7 p.m. and end at 10 p.m., but you’ll probably want to make a day out of it! Parking at the complex is $5.
8. Bechtler By Night
Mix the open galleries together with interactive art activities, live music and a full bar and you’ve got Bechtler By Night. All four floors of the museum are open for viewing — free of charge — from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the third Friday of every month. Check their website for upcoming dates and come experience the Bechtler after hours.
9. Charlotte’s Greenways
Ditch the car and pick a section of the impressive 52 miles of developed greenways in Mecklenburg County! Exploring the greenway system is a fun and healthy way to do good for the environment and spend some quality time in nature.
10. Cocktails in the Courtyard at Duke Mansion
Ok, so the cocktails aren’t free, but admission to this lovely event is. Guests receive a beautifully drawn map in the shape of a fan (and we thank you for that, Duke Mansion!) and are encouraged to explore the maze of gardens on the mansion property. They’ve extended this program through August, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, but the gardens are free and open for strolling during daylight hours nearly every day. Call the front desk at (704) 714-4400 to make sure no private events are happening when you visit.
Put away your wallets and get exploring, Charlotte!
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