50 Charlotte date night ideas that clock in at $20 and under

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Date night is the best, especially when it’s cheap, and not everything in Charlotte has to make you wonder if your bank account can handle another swipe of your card.

Here are fifty ideas to get you started.

Bike through Plaza Midwood

Every Tuesday night at 8 p.m., a group of riders leaves Common Market for a casual 10-15 mile ride through the neighborhood. Details.

Free

Binge any of the movies filmed in Charlotte

Titles include The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, The Hunger Games, Leatherheads and Shallow Hal. Need more? Here’s a list of ten Charlotte staples (everything from Freedom Park to Pike’s Soda Shop) that have had their fifteen minutes of fame in Hollywood.

Free

Catch an outdoor movie

Every Friday night through the end of October, Craft will show a free movie (the lineup includes Stepbrothers, O Brother Where Are Thou and Clueless). Get there early to snag a seat on the patio before the show starts at sundown (usually around 8:30 or 9 p.m.). Details.

If you don’t mind spending a few bucks – or driving a little while – head to the Badin Road Drive-In for a double feature. Tickets are $7 each, and shows start at sundown. See the hidden gem that doubles as a perfect warm weather date night.

teenager thing to do Badin Road Drive-In

Free to $7

Cheer on the Knights

charlotte-knights

Photo by Brendan Wilhide

The season lasts through September, and each home game will have promotions like Thirsty Thursdays, Friday Night Fireworks, $1 hot dogs and, of course, Bark in the Ballpark. See the full schedule and promotions.

Starts at $8

Cool off in the pool

craft city social club

If you don’t have one or live in a complex with one, don’t worry – we’ve figured out to hack the system. Craft City Social Club opens its pool to the public every night and weekend, and you can always schedule a service in exchange for access at places like the Ritz. Here’s the full how-to.

Free to $20

Do a Fourth Ward walking tour

Friends of Fourth Ward have created a walking tour through the nostalgic-feeling neighborhood. Details.

Free

Tour wineries within driving distance of Charlotte

There are six wineries within an hour of Uptown, and most tastings are under $10 and include a complimentary glass. See the full list here.

Starts at $8

Eat as much sushi as you can handle

screaming-o-sushi-roll-at-pisces-charlotte

Pisces Sushi Bar & Lounge and Tin Tin Buffet and Restaurant both offer an all-you-can-eat deal. Pisces’ is $10 Monday through Saturday, while the $9.95 deal at Tin Tin is good Monday through Friday.

$9.95-$10

Want more and don’t care about a budget? Here are four places to get bottomless sushi.

Explore the art scenes in different neighborhoods

The NoDa Gallery Crawl happens every first and third Friday of the month from 6 to 9 p.m. with stops at spots like McGill Rose Garden, Area 15 and Sunshine Daydreams. Details.

South End also offers a free gallery crawl on the first Friday of every month with stops including Charlotte Art League Gallery & Studios and Lark & Key Gallery. Details.

Feel small when you see an IMAX movie at Discovery Place

Seeing a movie in IMAX format is already an experience in itself, but Discovery Place has the OMNIMAX dome, which just ups the ante. Movies rotate, so keep up with them hereDunkirk, Amazon Advenure and Secret Ocean are all playing now (August 1, 2017).

$10

Get a cheap meal from a Charlotte institution and understand what the fuss is about

Your best bet for this would be Mr. K’s or Price’s Chicken Coop, both in South End.

Dessert at Mr. K’s starts at $3 and you can get an entire quarter chicken for $6.85 from Price’s and understand why people don’t make it much further than the curb before they start eating it.

Starts at $3

Get nostalgic and spend a night playing the video games you grew up with

palmer street game bar

The old-school video games at both Abari and Palmer Street Game Bar are all free (and include classics like Mario Kart, Burgertime and Paperboy), which means you can blow your $20 on beer and food.

Free

Get sweaty at a free workout

There’s no shortage of free workouts at breweries around town that come in the form of run clubs, bike clubs and yoga classes. See a list of 23 here.

Free to $10

Geocaching

geocaching map charlotte

Get in on the world’s largest treasure hunt by downloading the free app. Each cache, or the item itself, has been hidden by another player (and there are 4,900+ in the area), so get hunting, and don’t forget to sign the book!

Free

Go hiking

There are 22 trails within 90 minutes of Charlotte, which means you have no reason to keep those sneakers in the closet. See them here.

Free

Go on a scavenger hunt of Uptown’s public art

Seventeen clues at seventeen stops. Good luck. Get the game here.

Free

Go on a walk

Here are 5 places that were practically made to just stroll through.

Free

Go paddleboating in University

Throw it way back with Dave’s Paddleboats, open through September.

$10 

Go to a $3 movie (seriously)

Head up to Matthews’ Cinemark Movies 10, where weeknight movies are just $3. Current showings (August 1, 2017) include The Book of Henry and The Mummy.

$3. Are you kidding me?

Hang out at the lake

lake-norman-at-davidson

Here’s every free public access point, mapped.

Free

Have a blissfully cheap meal

Challenge yourself to get your breakfast, lunch or dinner for $5 or less. Yes, at places like Rhino Market, Le’s Sandwiches & Café and Pinky’s, it’s definitely possible.

[Related: 15 places to get breakfast, lunch and dinner for $5]

Head to Sabor for more tacos than you can handle

Tuesday is Taco Tuesday at Sabor, and each one will run you just a dollar, which leaves you with plenty of room for a healthy serving of chips and salsa (free salsa bar, anyone?).

Starts at $1

Hit a few golf balls

Topgolf has taken over Charlotte with its futuristic, self-tracking golf balls, but with it has come bay rentals that aren’t cheap. Luckily, there are 5 old school driving ranges to satisfy that itch without breaking the bank, including the Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course Driving Range ($4-$9), Golf Depot ($6-$15) and the Leatherman Golf Learning Center ($6-$15).

See a full breakdown of all five, along with pricing and hours, here.

Starts at $4

Hop on a bike and ride through town on two wheels instead of four

Charlotte B-cycle

Finally try out the B-cycle system you’ve been meaning to do. Each 24-hour day pass is $8. Get the low-down on how the program works and then sample these routes.

$8

Indulge in a wine & cheese pairing

photo via Facebook

It sounds and feels fancy, only it doesn’t hurt to hand over your credit card when you partake in Common Market Plaza Midwood’s Tuesday wine and cheese tasting. Wine is $5 for four samples while a build-your-own cheese plate, loaded with three types of cheese, fruit, crackers and jam will run you $6. Details.

$5$6 or $11

Learn something at Science on the Rocks

Themes change monthly, but every third Friday of the month, you’re guaranteed to feel like a kid again while you explore the museum – only this time, you’ll have a beer in your hand. See the lineup.

$8 in advance, $10 at the door

Learn that Charlotte does, in fact, have history with the Liberty Walk

The self-guided tour teaches you about everything from the origins and development of Charlotte to the stories behind the statues all over Uptown. Details.

Free

Nab a slice of pizza at Elizabeth Billiards

Members get free pizza every Friday night at this Plaza Midwood staple (1400 Central Avenue).

Free

Picnic in the parks

Freedom Park, Romare Bearden and the Green are your best bets, but you can see a full list of your choices here.

Free

Play bar trivia

We’ve done your research for you – here are the city’s 25 best bar trivia spots, sorted by day.

Free

Ponder the meanings of Ben Long’s frescoes

After studying fresco in Italy (a type of painting done on wet lime plaster), Long came back to produce several in Uptown.

Free

Pretend you know what you’re talking about when you do a wine tasting

Every Thursday night, South End’s Vin Master offers a wine tasting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and while prices vary, most clock in at below $15. Don’t sleep on the $5 tasting on August 10, but see the full schedule here.

Starts at $5

Reconnect with your inner kid and hang out at the city’s spraygrounds

Romare Bearden, The Green, First Ward Park and more all have free spraygrounds complete with things like spitting fish statues and covers for when it’s just too hot. See the full guide to eight of them.

Free

See a free concert

Most of the city’s free outdoor music series run through the summer before wrapping up in September. Here’s the full lineup.

Can’t choose? Agenda picks: Alive After Five (every Thursday through September 14 at the EpiCentre), Bearden Music Series (August 12, September 23) and Movie & Music at Brass Tap (every Friday).

Free

See how the behind-the-scenes works of your favorite brewery

Chances are, your favorite brewery offers a free tour. Details:

Birdsong Brewing: Tours available upon request. Fill out this form.
D9 Brewing: 6 to 8 p.m. every Friday. Go.
Legion Brewing: Go2 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.
Lenny Boy Brewing Co.: 6 p.m. every Thursday. Go.
NoDa Brewing:: 6 p.m. every Thursday and Friday, 4 p.m. every Saturday and 3 p.m. every Sunday. Go.
Olde Mecklenburg Brewery: 
2, 3 and 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Go.
Unknown Brewing: 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday and Friday. Go.

Free

Sing your heart out

There’s no shortage of places to sing karaoke, regardless of what night of the week it is. For a full rundown of times and vibes, see our guide to the city’s karaoke scene.

Monday: Jeff’s Bucket Shop, NoDa 101, Seoul Food Meat Company
Tuesday:
 8.2.0, Jeff’s Bucket ShopNoDa 101Seoul Food Meat Company
Wednesday: 8.2.0Jeff’s Bucket ShopNoDa 101, Petra’s, Russell’s Pub N Grill, Seoul Food Meat Company, Steamers Sports Pub
Thursday: 8.2.0, Bradshaw Social House, Jeff’s Bucket ShopNoDa 101, Seoul Food Meat Company, Steamers Sports Pub
Friday: 8.2.0Jeff’s Bucket Shop, NoDa 101, Russell’s Pub N Grill, Seoul Food Meat Company, Steamers Sports Pub
Saturday: 8.2.0Jeff’s Bucket Shop, Lucky Lou’s Tavern, NoDa 101Seoul Food Meat Company, Steamers Sports Pub
Sunday: 8.2.0Jeff’s Bucket Shop, NoDa 101, Seoul Food Meat Company, Snug Harbor

Free to $1

Spend some time with animals

There are twelve places you can volunteer with everything from cats and dogs to parrots and vultures. See them all here.

Free

Spend your lunch break in the park

Meet at Romare Bearden on any given Tuesday or Friday through the end of August for a free performance from artists like Nate Brown (8/4), Cory Wells (8/11) and Mike Waters (8/25) between noon and 1:30 p.m. Details.

Free

Stop and smell the flowers

McGill Rose Garden

There are plenty of gardens open to the public, including the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens and McGill Rose Garden.

Free

Take a walking tour of Uptown

Get the stories behind landmarks Uptown – here’s the map.

Free

Take in the exhibits at The Light Factory

Keep up with exhibits here. Exhibits have included Of Women By Women, Heightened Perspectives and Lilith.

Free

Take the dogs to the park

There are 6 off-leash dog parks in the area – see pictures, a map and the Agenda’s insight into the pros and cons of each here.

Free

Throw a few axes

Lumberjaxe, Charlotte’s first axe-throwing bar, hasn’t moved into its home at 933 Louise Avenue yet, but they’re so excited to introduce the sport to Charlotte that they’re hosting free pop-up events all over the city this summer. Keep up with the calendar of events on Facebook.

[Related: Axe-throwing bars are a thing, and there’s one coming to Charlotte this fall]

Free

Tour a literal gold mine

Reed Gold Mine

via web

Reed Gold Mine was the first documented gold mine in America until 1848. Tour it for free from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Go.

Free

Tour the Mint Museum

Mint Museum

Every Wednesday from 5 to 9 p.m., tours of both location (Randolph and Uptown) are free. Details.

Free

Visit the Charlotte Museum of History

Did you know we had one? Find it, along with exhibitions like Solving the Rock House Mysteries, Charlotte Neighborhoods and Keeping Watch on Water: Looking Back out our City of Creeks, on Shamrock Drive. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit.

$10

Volunteer

Ditch the dinner and drinks, and give back to the community. Here are 10 of the most original ways to do it, including trail building and riding bikes with underserved children.

Watch planes take off

airport overlook view charlotte

It’s kid-heavy during the day, but it’s open until 10:30 p.m. seven days a week. Find it at 6499 Old Dowd Road.

Free

Walk the greenways

sugar-creek-greenway

See a map of all 35+ miles of developed greenways here.

Free

Walk the Rail Trail

Spectrum

Best for cool summer nights. If you’ve got a couple of bucks, we’ve got 15 spots and 3 itineraries to do.

Free

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Kylie Moore

Writer doubling as a travel, wine, and Oxford Comma enthusiast.