30 dates in Charlotte that will cost you approximately $0 this summer

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(Note: This post has recently been updated from its original publish date).

There’s nothing quite like a summer date night, but a free one? Yes, please.

Picnic in the parks

Take the blanket you’ve got thrown across the back of your couch, dig the sandwich stuff out of the fridge and get to it. Freedom Park, Romare Bearden, Fourth Ward Park and The Green are your best bet.

Get there: See a full list of Charlotte parks here

Freedom Park Charlotte

Sing karaoke at Jeff’s Bucket Shop

Because nothing says “Look how cool/laid back/confident I am” like singing at the top of your lungs to a crowd of drunk people.

Get there: 1601 Montford Drive

Jeff's Bucket Shop Charlotte

Play bar trivia

For the competitive pair. The tried and true favorite is often Angry Ale’s (hosted by Rozak of 106.5 on Tuesday nights at 8:30), but if that’s not your scene, try any of these other 18 options.

Get there: 1518 Montford Drive

Angry Ale's

Walk the greenways

No explanation necessary.

Get there: See a complete list of existing greenways here


Walk the Rail Trail

Walking the 4.5 mile trail along the Blue Line is free, but if you have a couple of bucks to spare, we’ve got 15 stops and 3 itineraries for you.

Get there: It runs from 7th Street Station in Uptown to New Bern Station in Sedgefield. Start at either end.


Hike Crowders Mountain

King’s Pinnacle is the go-to, but there are 11 other options that you can see here.

Get there: 522 Park Office Lane, Kings Mountain


Tour a brewery

Olde Meckelenburg Brewery and NoDa Brewing both offer free brewery tours. Olde Meck’s tours are at 2, 3 and 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays while NoDa’s tours are at 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

Get there: Olde Meck (4150 Yancey Road) and NoDa Brewing (2921 North Tryon)

NoDa Gordgeous

Watch planes take off

Really. Airport Overlook Park at Charlotte Douglas is a perfect date spot to hang out and drink beer (after dark – it’s kid heavy during the day and alcohol isn’t allowed. Whatever.). Open from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Get there: 6499 Old Dowd Road

airport overlook view charlotte

Get cultured at the Mint Museum

The Mint isn’t just a stuffy art museum; exhibits have included Viva Moschino!, Memes for Peace: Art, Advocacy, and Academic Achievement and Body Embellishment. Tour either location on Wednesdays from 6-9 p.m. for free.

Get there: Uptown location (500 South Tryon), Randolph Road location (2730 Randolph Road)

Mint Museum

Do a Fourth Ward Walking Tour

Show me someone who doesn’t think Fourth Ward feels like a completely different world and I’ll show you a liar. Take a walking tour, courtesy of Friends of Fourth Ward. Get the map and information at the Charlotte Visitor Info Center at 501 S. College St.


Photo via Austin Caine

Walk the Liberty Walk

Learn about the bronze plaques and statues that are scattered all over Uptown and finally learn that you have to stop saying that Charlotte has no history. Get the self-guided tour information and map at the Charlotte Visitor Info Center at 501 S. College Street.

Get there: Start at the intersection of West Martin Luther King Boulevard and South Tryon.


Experience an Open Mic Night at Puckett’s Farm Co.

Open Mic Night happens every Monday from 8:30-11:30 p.m. and there’s no cover. Good luck.

Get there: 2740 W. Sugar Creek Road

photo via Facebook

photo via Facebook

Do the NoDa Gallery Crawl

The crawls happen every 1st and 3rd Friday of the month from 6 to 9 p.m. Stops include McGill Rose Garden, Area 15, the 34th Street Lofts and the Sunshine Daydreams.

Get there: The crawl starts at the corner of North Davidson and 36th Street


Fire up Netflix and watch a movie filmed in Charlotte

Because sometimes love (or something like it) means never having to leave your living room. Prime examples include Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, The Hunger Games, Last of the Mohicans, Leatherheads, Shallow Hal and Richie Rich.

Get there: You tell me


Hang out at the lake

We’ve done the work for you and found and listed every public access point. Don’t forget your sunscreen.

Get there: 


Plant a tree

Do a little good, do a lot of flirting. See how you can get involved with Trees Charlotte here.

Get there: Find events and meeting points here

Queens Road West sun through trees

Experience the childlike joy that stepping on certain parts of The Green gives you

You’ll know what I’m talking about when you accidentally figure it out.

Get there: 400 South Tryon


Learn about Wells Fargo’s history

I don’t care if you’re a Bank of America person, a SunTrust person or a TD Bank person. A museum dedicated to a bank (complete with a stagecoach) is cool.

Get there: Three Wells Fargo aka 401 South Tryon. Learn more here


Go stroll

Like joyriding, but better. Here are 5 places to do it.

Get there: See the locations here


Walk the South End Gallery Crawl

The South End Gallery Crawl was recently named “The Best Artsy Place to Take a Date” by Charlotte Magazine. I concur. The itinerary is always changing, but it’s a great way to see the shops and galleries of South End.

Get there: Details are here


Eat free pizza at Elizabeth Billiards

Every Friday night, Elizabeth Billiards gives it members free pizza and that’s the key to securing a second date if we’re going to be honest here.

Get there: 1400 Central Avenue

Photo via Facebook

Photo via Facebook

Public Art Walking Tour and/or Scavenger Hunt

You could go on a self-guided public art tour before, but now, thanks to a map created by Arts & Science Council, you’ll have some background on what you’re looking at.  Or if you want to add a little bit of a competitive edge to your date, try your hand at the scavenger hunt, which gives you clues that lead you to 17 different pieces.

Get there: Arts & Science Council (227 West Trade Street)


Or if you like podcasts, take the podcast version of the tour

Just bring your earbud splitter. Learn more about the 45-minute podcast and download it here.

Get there: Arts & Science Council (227 West Trade Street)

Firebird statue

Tour Reed Gold Mine

The mine was the first spot in America to have a documented gold mine and until 1848, Charlotte led the nation’s gold production. Tour the mine for free from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Get there: 9621 Reed Mine Road, Midland

Reed Gold Mine

Photo via Reed Gold Mine

Go on a Ben Long-themed tour

Ben Long has risen to fame in Charlotte after studying fresco (a type of mural painting done on wet lime plaster) in Italy and came back to execute several frescoes in Charlotte. Good luck trying to figure out the meaning behind it all.

Get there: 

Go on a Plaza Midwood Tuesday Night Ride

You don’t have to be a pro to hang out on this casual 10-15 mile bike ride through Plaza Midwood. It starts at 8 p.m. at Common Market every Tuesday. If you want a slower pace, try the Sunday Slow Riders at 2 p.m. every Sunday.

[Agenda Story: Cancel the plans you don’t have on Tuesday and go on the Plaza Midwood Tuesday Night Ride]

Get there: 2007 Commonwealth Avenue

plaza midwood tuesday night ride


To be completely honest, I’ve never gone Geocaching, but from what I can gather, it’s a cell phone-based treasure hunt and there are over 4,000 items hidden in Charlotte.

Get there: That’s for you to figure out when you download the app

geocaching map charlotte

Tour Davidson, Rock Hill, Belmont or Matthews (all are under an hour away)

Each has their own unique thing that gives it its charm.

Get there: You tell me


Take in the exhibits at The Light Factory

The exhibits will both humble and inspire you and sometimes remind you how far we’ve come. Past exhibits include Local Stories and Eyes Open Slowly.

Get there: 1817 Central Avenue


Diane Arbus, Two Friends at Home, NYC, 1965. Gelatin silver print, 14” x 11”. Davidson College Art Gallery Purchase, © Estate of Diane Arbus.

Tour the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens

The 10 acres are home to one of the most diverse rhododendron gardens in the region, an Asian garden and Dinosaur’s Garden. 

Get there: 9090 Craver Road

UNCC Garden

Photo via Flickr

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