Summer is in full swing around our house! We are loving spending our summer pool hopping and enjoying lots of watermelon. But I am already feeling a little burnt out of packing pool bags and lathering sunscreen. So I polled our Smarty crew for their favorite FREE summer activities, to break up our pool days. Here’s our list from the experts themselves.
1. Uptown Historical Tour – Whenever people ask me what to do in Charlotte, this is one of the first things I mention. Few people realize how historical Charlotte really is. I recommend doing the Historical Tour, The Green, and the Gold Rush Trolley together for a fun-filled day. You can read about my guide from last year, here.
2. The Green Uptown – One of our favorite spots is the Green Uptown. The park is beautiful; the splashpad is rarely crowded; there are shaded benches for Mom and the perfect spot for a picnic. Bring a lunch or enjoy one of the restaurants right next to the Green.
3. Gold Rush Trolley – A free ride around Uptown in an air-conditioned trolley. The kids love it! A great addition to a day in Uptown.
4. Free Night at the Mint – On Wednesdays from 5-9 pm the Mint Museum is free! I love the idea of visiting the museum for free because I don’t feel obligated/guilty if we have a tantrum after only 15 minutes of proper museum behavior. It’s a wonderful museum and a great opportunity to teach your children about art.
5. Duke Energy Explorium – I have heard great things about the Explorium. It is a great way to have fun while educating your children about energy and engineering. It is always free to visit but they also offer some great fun, free summer activities. Check it out here.
6. Summer Concert Series at Blakeney – Since I live Uptown, I just barely venture down to the Blakeney Shopping Center. That place is a blast. We are itching to get out to their Summer Concert Series held each Friday and Saturday. Grab dinner and enjoy fun music amid fireflies. Sounds dreamy.
7. Blakeney Splashpad – While we are at it, we will likely try out the Splashpark in the shopping center. It looks like a good time for kids of all ages, with a fun climbing ground for older kids.
8. Food Truck Friday in the SouthEnd – In my neck of the woods, I love this Food Truck Friday ritual. My favorite spot is always the King of Pops cart. Try it out. The food is delicious and the atmosphere is wonderful.
9. Food Truck Wednesday in SouthPark – The food trucks have hit SouthPark! You can read Jen’s review here.
10. Birkdale Village Splashpad – I am shocked at how many of my South Charlotte friends haven’t ventured up to Birkdale Village, especially in the summer. We love their splashpad. I’d venture to say its great for kids up to about 8? Maybe older. It’s in the middle of wonderful shops and restaurants so it’s a win-win for Moms and kids. We like to grab Bad Daddy’s and a Nothing Bundt Cake and set up shop for the day at the splashpad. Smarty Mom Jen V. said she loves it because it’s gated, sunny but shaded and has great benches for Moms!
11. Jetton Park – After leaving California I am always itching for that beach feel. Lake Norman has totally curbed my beach craving. I love Jetton Park. You can walk to a lookout over the lake and enjoy a fun playground while you are at it. A fun place to check out while you are in Huntersville. Be prepared – no swimming from this beach entrance.
12. AMF Free Summer Bowling – AMF is offering FREE bowling for kids on weekdays this summer. We are definitely taking advantage of this steal!
13. Reed Gold Mine – Did you know that the first gold found in America was discovered right up the street? Me neither. More than $1 million was recovered each year in NC until the gold rush took finders to California. Fascinating! The Reed Gold Mine now offers a guided tour through part of the underground mine and pieces of gold to view. You can even pan for gold for $3. We can’t wait to check this out!
14. Splashpads – Charlotte offers quite a few splashparks. Some of our favorites are Latta Park, Nevin Park and Veteran’s Park.
15. Ray’s Splash Planet – On those occasional rainy days, Ray’s Splash Planet is a lifesaver!
16. Reading Prizes – Are your kids on a reading plan for the summer? If so, they can earn reading prizes for each book they complete from various book stores around town. I love this idea – thanks to our Smarty friends at Charlotte on the Cheap for this tip!
17. Imaginon – ImaginOn is a family favorite! We like to take the train (it drops off right at the entrance of the library) and pop into the 7th Street Market after for lunch. It’s a great outing! The library is also offering free performances on Tuesday but tickets go fast so be sure to sign up!
18. UNCC Botanical Gardens – I’ve been meaning to check this place out for ages. You can learn more about it here and of course, it’s free!
19. Beatty’s Ford Park – This splashpad can be a little bit of a trek for people in South Charlotte (it’s located in Denver, NC) but definitely worth the drive. Not only is it a splashpad but it also overlooks the access area to Lake Norman. A different outing to see the beauty around us here in Charlotte.
20. Summer Movies $1 or Less – One of my favorite memories as a kid is going to a matinee in the summer. Cheryl’s list has a great rundown of cheap (or free) movies for kids in the Charlotte region!
What are your favorite summer outings? We would love to add to our list! Happy summer everyone!