Romare Bearden Park
In 2015, Charlotte netted a slew of impressive awards and rankings. It’s one of the top 10 fastest-growing cities in America, according to Forbes; it’s a top three moving destination, according to United Van Lines*; and it’s a top 20 best metro area for STEM professionals, according to WalletHub.com.
It’s quite clear Charlotte’s got it going on. It’s a city known for banking (it’s the second largest financial center in the nation, after New York), but finances are a bit boring, and there’s much more to see and do, so we’re not going to focus on that.
Of course, there are the dynamite professional sports teams, the Charlotte Hornets and the Carolina Panthers. There are city institutions such as the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, which is home to Broadway shows, national touring comedians, and the Charlotte Symphony. But maybe you’re not a season ticket holder. Or maybe you saw Kinky Boots last night at the Blumenthal and today you want to enjoy the city without spending the few sheckles you have. Charlotte has plenty to do for free and on the cheap. We’ve collected a few of our favorites here.
Post Properties Guide To Charlotte on a Budget
Charlotte’s brewery scene is on the rise. It got its first in 2009 with the opening of The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in South End. Today, there are nearly 20 breweries brewing the good stuff in the Charlotte area, and there’s more on the horizon. Brewery tours are a great way to spend an afternoon, and many of Charlotte’s best are conveniently located in one of two neighborhoods: NoDa (north of Davidson Street) and South End. If you’re in South End, we recommend checking out The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery or Triple C Brewing. In NoDa, definitely hit NoDa Brewing Company and Birdsong Brewing Co.
As a burgeoning southern metropolis, Charlotte is not short on culture. The good news is many of the city's finest museums have free entry days that allow you to flex your intellectual muscles without emptying your wallet.
The McColl Center for Art + Innovation is a nationally acclaimed contemporary art center, located in a historic, neo-Gothic church in Uptown Charlotte. The Center houses nine artist studios and more than 30,000 square feet of gallery space. The best part? Admission is completely free. Stop by open gallery hours for a guided tour. History buffs will want to visit the Levine Museum of the New South. Its exhibits detail the diverse history of the South since the Civil War, with a focus on Charlotte and the surrounding Carolina Piedmont. Admission is $8, but if you go on Sunday it’s free.
When you’re on a budget and looking for something to do, you can always head outside. Fortunately, Charlotte has several gardens and city parks. The Wing Haven Gardens & Bird Sanctuary is a three-acre garden in the heart of Charlotte, featuring vistas, formal gardens, and woodland areas. The garden emphasizes plantings for birds and other wildlife — providing cover, nesting sites, food, and water. In addition to seeing the beautiful flora, visitors frequently see birds and small wildlife on the property. Admission is $10 for adults and free for children under 10. For other garden spaces, check out the McGill Rose Garden (free admission Tuesday through Saturday) and Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden ($12.95 for adults).
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
If you’re looking for a place to relax, maybe have a picnic, overlooking the Charlotte cityscape, Romare Bearden Park is your spot. The five and a half acre park has two gardens (Maudell and Madeline) and offers fitness and cultural art programs during the year. Take a stoll and appreciate the public artwork, paintings and collages created by supervising artist Norie Sato.
So Charlotte has the big name sports teams, but if you want to go to those games it’s going to cost you. If you’re looking to take in a game, but not willing to fork over big bucks, you might want to check out some of Charlotte’s other professional sports teams.
Take a walk around Uptown and you’ll notice BB&T Ballpark, home to the Charlotte Knights minor league baseball team. The season runs April through September, and the home team is usually running promotions, making tickets super affordable. If baseball isn’t your thing, Charlotte also has the Charlotte Checkers minor league ice hockey team, the Charlotte Hounds Major League Lacrosse team, and the Charlotte Independence of the United Soccer League.
The Charlotte Checkers minor league hockey team
We can’t vouch for the quality of the schtick, but we can tell you that there’s rarely an off night in Charlotte’s active open mic scene. The Smelly Cat Comedy Open Mic goes down every Saturday from 7:30pm to 9pm at the Smelly Cat Coffeehouse. And there’s no cover. Also, check out Crown Station Pub’s stand-up comedy open mics Wednesday nights at 9pm and The Comedy Zone-Fort Mill’s LOL Thursdays Open Mics Thursday nights at 9 p.m. Both are free to the public. And who knows, maybe the spirit will move you and what began as a night of free entertainment will turn into a career in stand-up comedy. If that happens, please let us know and please post a video of your set.
On a budget or not, Charlotte has so much to do. That’s why we love being here. If you’re interested in making the move to town or you already live here and you’re looking to upgrade your digs, take a look at our communities in the area.
*North Carolina as a state is considered the third most popular destination among U.S. movers, according to United Van Lines’ 38th Annual National Movers Study.