20 Things to Do in Charlotte Under $20

BY GoodCall

20 Things to Do in Charlotte Under $20


Take it from the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority: “Charlotte’s got a lot.” But you don’t have to spend a lot to experience the best of what Charlotte has to offer. From family-friendly to ultra-hip, here are 20 ways to have a blast in the Queen City without spending a king’s ransom.

1. Stroll Wing Haven gardens

Cost: $10 adults; children free
Yelp Rating: 4.5/5
Web site: www.winghavengardens.org
Retreat from the bustle of urban life into the calming botanical beauty of this custom garden and bird sanctuary. Fountains, benches and isolated alcoves offer you plenty of peace and quiet.

 2. Host your own pub crawl…

Devote a day to sampling Charlotte’s top hops. There are dozens of breweries in the Queen City, many of which are in walking distance, or just a short Light Rail ride, from each other.

3. …or take “America’s #1 Brewery Tour”

Cost: $10 adults; children free
Yelp Rating: 4/5
Web site: www.oldemeckbrew.com
The distinction goes to Olde Mecklenberg Brewery, voted as such by USA Today 10Best readers in 2014. Enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at how award-winning beer is brewed at Charlotte’s largest, oldest brewery, and treat yourself to a sample.

4. Visit the U.S. National Whitewater Center

Cost: Free admission; $5 parking; $5 raft rental fee; activity prices vary
Yelp Rating: 4.5/5
Web site: www.usnwc.org
The Whitewater Center is the perfect venue for the outdoorsy and the adventurous, where you can conquer a variety of activities on more than 1,300 acres. It’s also a great place to people watch, even if you don’t participate.


5. Hike Crowder’s Mountain State Park

Cost: Free admission; $5 canoe rental
Yelp Rating:
Web site: www.ncparks.gov/crowders-mountain-state-park
Pick the trail best suited to your ability, and traverse it to the top for a view that’s worth every step. Canoeing, fishing, rock climbing and picnicking is also permitted – and recommended.


6. Catch a Charlotte Knights baseball game

Cost: Starting at $8
Yelp Rating: 4.5/5
Web site: http://www.bbtballparkcharlotte.com
Cheer on the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. $18 gets you a box seat. $8 gets you access to the standing-room-only “Homerun Hill,” which many fans say is the best “seat” in the house.


7. Relive the ’80s at Abari Game Bar

Cost: $1 membership fee
Yelp Rating: 4/5
Web site: www.abarigamebar.com
Charlotte’s first arcade + bar hybrid features all the best arcade classics from the Reagan era, plus the best in local craft beers on tap. Pop a quarter into Ms. Pac-Man, and see if you’ve still got it.

8. Get your science on at Discovery Place

Cost: $17 adult; $15 senior and military; $13 child
Yelp Rating: 4/5
Web site: www.discoveryplace.org
Discovery Place is an interactive so-much-more-than-a-museum, where people of all ages can discover the wonders of technology and nature. New exhibits every few months will keep you coming back for more.

9. Get your science and party on at Science on the Rocks

Cost: $10 in advance; $12 at the door
Yelp Rating: 5/5
Web site: https://science.discoveryplace.org/programs-and-classes/science-on-the-rocks
Every third Friday of the month, Discovery Place transforms each floor of the museum with activities, costume contests, bars, and music for the 21-and-over crowd, where adults will feel like kids again.


10. Race into the NASCAR Hall of Fame

Cost: $19.95/adults; $17.95 military; $12.95 children; free for children younger than 5
Yelp Rating: 4.5/5
Web site: www.nascarhall.com
It’s a shrine to the history, heritage, and future of the sport, but you don’t have to be a fan to have a blast here. This all-ages venue features  hands-on activities, including a breathtaking race simulator and pit crew changing station.


11. Go plane-spotting at Airport Overlook Park

Cost: Free
Yelp Rating: 4.5/5
It’s the best spot in town to watch planes take off and land. It’s a great place to bring the kids; there are even park benches and picnic tables if you want to have lunch. Insider tip: Early evening is the best time to visit, as plane traffic is heavier than midday.

12. Museums, Museums, Museums

There are so many places in Charlotte for you to get your culture on: Bechtler Museum of Modern Art,   The Mint Museum,  The Light Factory, The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts, and The Levine Museum of the New South, to name a few. You can visit each one for less than $20 (many of them are free).

13. Experience the Billy Graham Library

Cost: Free
Yelp Rating: 5/5
Web Site: www.billygrahamlibrary.org
TripAdvisor’s “#1 sight to visit in Charlotte” is so much more than a library. It’s a 40,000-square-foot experience where you’ll discover the life and legacy of “America’s Pastor” Billy Graham through a variety of activities, exhibits, and tours, including a stroll through Graham’s meticulously restored childhood home.

14. Take a bike tour of the greenway

Cost: Free
Yelp Rating: 4.5/5
Web site: www.mecknc.gov/parkandrec/greenways
There are 37 miles of developed (and 150 miles of undeveloped) greenways in Mecklenburg County—get peddling. Don’t own a bike? Rent one from Charlotte’s B-Cycle bike share program for $8 per day.


15. Take in the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra

Cost: Free community concerts; $5-$14 Summer Pops series (free for children)
Yelp Rating: 5/5
Web site: www.charlottesymphony.org
As the largest and most active professional performing arts organization in the central Carolinas, the symphony plays approximately 100 performances each season, and many of them are free.


16. Unwind after work at Alive After Five

Cost: Free
Yelp Rating: 3.5/5
Web site: www.aliveafterfives.com
Held at multiple venues throughout the summer, Alive after Five is an oversized, outdoor happy hour where young professionals let loose after a day at the office. Enjoy live music and local beer, and get the weekend started one day early.

17. Romare Bearden’s “Party in the Park” 

Cost: Free
This free, live music series features different genres of music, performed against the backdrop of Romare Bearden Park’s majestic fountain and a breathtaking view of the Uptown Charlotte Skyline. Bring your dog and pack your picnic basket (don’t forget the wine).

18. Dance it up at Knocturnal

Cost: Free ($5 if you’re younger than 21)
Yelp Rating: 4.5/5
Web site: www.snugrock.com
Charlotte’s eclectic nightlife staple, Snug Harbor, kicks your week off right with “the dopest Monday night party this side of the Mason-Dixon Line.” “Knocturnal” is a weekly hip-hop oriented event featuring local underground artists, rap battles, and plenty of dancing.


19. Enjoy a free lunch at the NoDA Company Store

Cost: Free
Yelp Rating: 4.5/5
Web site: www.thecompanystorenoda.com
Yes, there is such a thing as one, and it happens here every Sunday. Enjoy it while lounging on a porch swing in the garden, and make sure to try one of the house-made sangrias – $6 per glass, and so worth it.

20. Take a public art walking tour

Cost: Free
From sculptures and paintings to fountains and benches, Uptown Charlotte is fortunate to enjoy a vibrant collection of public art that tells its story. Download the accompanying map and 45-minute podcast here, and you’re off and learning.