25+ Family Friendly FREE Things to Do in Charlotte, NC

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Having fun with your family is always easier when you have free things to do! Charlotte, NC has a lot of options, from adventurous to educational. You don’t need expensive tickets to enjoy these activities, just bring your family and have a fantastic time, all without breaking the bank.

Free things to do in Charlotte, North Carolina for families.

Free Things to Do in Charlotte, NC

Finding something to do with your kids that doesn’t cost an astronomical amount in today’s economy can be difficult. Luckily, we gathered some of the best free things in Charlotte, NC that are both family-friendly and fun.

Things to Do at Reedy Creek Park and Nature Center in Charlotte

The Playground at Reedy Creek Park, Nature Center, and Preserve is so unique!

Outdoor movies in Charlotte, NC

There are LOTS of free outdoor movies happening in Charlotte, NC. What a great way to spend some free time with your family.

Free Things to Do Outdoors in Charlotte, NC

Pack your bag and explore the beautiful outdoors at Reedy Creek Park, Nature Center, & Preserve in Charlotte, NC. They regularly have free events where your kids can meet and greet with animals and learn about nature. Plus, they have a nature center that is indoors, so you can visit any time of year. You’ll also find these events at the Latta Nature Preserve, McDowell Nature Preserve and Center, and Stevens Creek, all of which are part of the Mecklenburg County Nature Centers and Preserves.

Village Park in Kannapolis, NC has a gorgeous park with lots of trees, a playground, a splash pad in the warmer months, a huge greenspace, a paved walking trail, and even a Venetian carousel (only $1.50) that is stunning!

Village Park Kannapolis

Village Park in Kannapolis, NC has a free splash pad, paved trails, lots of green space, and a pretty cheap pass to ride a train!

Speaking of splashpads, there are a lot of splashpads in Charlotte to visit. The majority of them are totally free. If splash pads are what you seek, just check out our list. Kidding Around Guide to Splash Pads in Charlotte, NC

Clarks Creek Splash pad in Charlotte, NC

You can also find an abundance of trails and greenways in Cabarrus County, many of which are paved. You’ll even find mountain biking on some of the trails.

Freedom Park is a beautiful park just outside of downtown Charlotte that has a huge playground area, shaded walking trails, and even a Play 60 NFL playground you can explore as well.

Head to Belmont, NC to check out the new tree house-themed playground at Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park along the Catawba River. Enjoy the beautiful wide, paved walking paths, and public dock where you can put in a canoe or kayak and enjoy the river. We love the bench swings along the dock! Pack a picnic and make a full-day adventure out of this free park.

Looking for a day outdoors? This one isn’t totally free but they offer a lot for cheap. Get a family membership for just $12 a month to Anne Springs Close Greenway In York County, SC, just south of Charlotte. The Greenway has hiking, biking, and paddle sports!

You can spend the day outdoors at the Anne Springs Close Greenway in York County, SC, only 25 minutes from Charlotte. Family memberships start at $12 per month.

The Anne Springs Close Greenway in York, South Carolina

Interested in the history of Charlotte? Take a self-guided tour through the Fourth Ward, with stunning historic homes painted in pinks, blues, greens, and purple. The tour is something you can do time and time again, picking out different areas to explore each time.

Take a stroll around the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens and enjoy the sights and smells of a beautifully maintained garden while teaching your little ones about plants and how to care for the environment.

Free Things to Do Indoors in Charlotte, NC

The Schiele Museum offers Free admission on the second Tuesday of each month from 4 – 8 pm, so you can explore all of the fun science exhibits, including dinosaurs, critters, and even a mineral exhibit.

Visit your local Home Depot on the first Saturday of each month for a FREE project. Projects are usually themed for upcoming holidays or seasons, and your kids can build and make something they will love.

Home Depot has a FREE kids workshop each month that your kids will love bonding with you over.

Home depot Kids Workshop

Cinergy Cinemas in Charlotte offers FREE sensory-friendly screenings of a kid-friendly movie one Saturday per month! The theatre will brighten lights, reduce sound, and make space for people to move, talk, dance, and sing during these movies.

Wednesday Night Live at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is from 5-9 and is an excellent option for parents with older children or children who love the arts to explore the exhibits, listen to live music, and participate in an available workshop. 

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Culture Arts+Culture always has free exhibits and demonstrations you can check out.

Head to ImaginON, where you will find a plethora of free, family-friendly events. They have specialized events for younger kids like storytime, music performances, puppet shows, and so much more! Check out the ImaginON calendar to find out what’s happening the day you want to visit.

Legos at ImaginOn

You will also find free events and storytime at all 20 of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries, many of which occur weekly and are a great way to socialize as a parent with young kids!

Check out a FREE Live Story Time at the Ballantyne Arts Center, part of the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. These events happen a couple of times a month and you will want to register ahead of time.

You will also find that the Mint Museum has Free admission on Wednesday Nights from 5-9. The exhibits feature permanent collections along with some rotating exhibitions. This is a great option to explore with older kids and teens who can learn while also enjoying the arts. They usually have a craft section set up on Wednesday night as well.

Kids Eat FREE!

Looking for Kids Eat Free deals in Charlotte, NC? These restaurants offer meal deals throughout the week, so you can save a little money on your kid’s meal while indulging in some delicious food! 

Kids Eat Free Charlotte, NC

Kids Eat FREE throughout the week at these Charlotte, NC area restaurants.

Seasonal Free Things to Do

These seasonal things to do near Charlotte, NC are completely free! You’ll find fun summer activities like spraygrounds and flower fields in addition to winter activities like holiday lights and sledding.

Free Summer Activities in Charlotte, NC

These Apple Store Classes and Camps for Kids are FREE. Your kids will learn design, inventing, and other STEAM-style lessons at this summer camp.

You can explore the Draper WMA Sunflower Fields at the end of June, the beginning of July each year. The fields are filled with sunflowers that you can take epic photos with. Just please, pack out what you pack in!

Draper Sunflower Fields in York County, SC has 24 acres of gorgeous sunflowers you can visit each summer!

Draper wma sunflower fields

Spraygrounds: Free Water Fun!

You will find nine spraygrounds operated by the Mecklenburg Parks and Rec that are a pretty great way to beat the heat. One of the most popular, Veterans Park, even has a cover so your little ones won’t get burned while they run around in the water.

Romare Bearden is another noteworthy park since it’s located on the outskirts of the city skyline, so you have an amazing view!

First Ward Park is right beside Discovery Place, so you can add a visit to the sprayground after visiting the science center.

Splash pads near Charlotte, NC

Here’s our full guide to Splash Pads in Charlotte with more than 20 options!

Winter in Charlotte, NC: Free Activities

Though Charlotte doesn’t see much snow, just west in Western North Carolina you can check out these places for FREE sledding near Charlotte if you’re looking to take a day trip!

You’re in for a treat at this epic light display in Christmas Town USA! McAdenville, NC is home to a town that lights up during the holiday season, with almost every home participating for miles.

If you need a boost to your holiday spirit, check out the FREE display of lights at the Celebration of Lights in Kannapolis, NC. Seeing the lights are free, and there is even a firework display and tree lighting on opening night!

Celebration of Lights in Kannapolis, North Carolina

The Celebration of Lights has thousands of lights, a Venetian Carousel, train rides, and more!

Free Events! Charlotte, NC

Wondering what’s happening for free? Well, wonder no longer. These events are FREE.


tue28may10:30 amtue11:00 amImaginON Family StorytimeImaginON, 300 East Seventh Street Charlotte NC 2820210:30 am - 11:00 am(GMT-04:00) Price:Free

tue28may5:30 pmtue6:30 pmBMY Free Piano Classes @ Northern Regional CenterNorthern Regional Center, 18121 Old Statesville Road5:30 pm - 6:30 pm(GMT-04:00) Price:Free

wed29may9:30 amwed10:00 amImaginON Baby StorytimeImaginON, 300 East Seventh Street Charlotte NC 282029:30 am - 10:00 am(GMT-04:00) Price:Free

wed29may10:30 amwed11:00 amImaginON Family StorytimeImaginON, 300 East Seventh Street Charlotte NC 2820210:30 am - 11:00 am(GMT-04:00) Price:Free

wed29may5:00 pmwed9:00 pmFree Admission Wednesdays at the Mint MuseumMint Museum, 500 South Tryon Street Charlotte, NC 282025:00 pm - 9:00 pm(GMT-04:00) Price:Free

wed29may7:30 pmwed11:30 pmMovies in the GardenMonday Night Garden Co., 2217 S Tryon Street7:30 pm - 11:30 pm(GMT-04:00) Price:Free Admission

thu30may10:30 amthu11:00 amImaginON Family StorytimeImaginON, 300 East Seventh Street Charlotte NC 2820210:30 am - 11:00 am(GMT-04:00) Price:Free

thu30may2:00 pmthu3:00 pmPlaytime at ImaginONImaginON, 300 East Seventh Street Charlotte NC 282022:00 pm - 3:00 pm(GMT-04:00) Price:Free

thu30may7:00 pmthu10:00 pmSummer Concert SeriesDowntown York, 55 N Congress St, York, SC 297457:00 pm - 10:00 pm(GMT-04:00) Price:Free Admission

fri31may10:30 amfri11:00 amImaginON Family StorytimeImaginON, 300 East Seventh Street Charlotte NC 2820210:30 am - 11:00 am(GMT-04:00) Price:Free

Stuck at Home? Free Fun With What You Have!

Sometimes, we all get stuck at home because of the weather or just don’t feel like leaving the house today (we don’t judge). These 25+ Things to Do When You’re Stuck at Home are just what you need to make the day special with the things you already have on hand.

Things to Do in Charlotte, NC

Don’t miss our full guide to things to do in Charlotte, NC!

About the Author
Erin is a Greenville, South Carolina native who loves taking her two young daughters on adventures around the Upstate. Erin enjoys gardening, hiking, and dabbling in DIY projects. Her favorite things to do with her husband and kids include sensory activities, swimming, playing with their dogs, and exploring the local state and national parks.

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