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5 Free and Affordable Things to Do in Charlotte

What should you do with an extra day at the beginning or end of a business trip? If you’re in Charlotte, North Carolina – one of the fastest growing cities in the country – consider taking advantage of these excellent, free activities recommended by Charlotte-based photographer and business owner Bradley Rhyne.

Relax in the Google Fiber Space

The Google Fiber Space

While you may have heard that Google is trying to enter the market for domestic internet service, The Google Fiber Space in uptown Charlotte is another way one of the world’s largest technology companies envisions the future. Ditch the usual coffee shop and stop here instead to catch up on email or join a video chat. You can even reserve meeting space in the building if your team needs to host an event while in town.

Stroll down Brevard Court

Brevard Court

Outdoor shopping arcades got their start in Europe, but you can also find some exceptional examples in America. These hidden gems have managed to avoid overdevelopment and let you capture a taste of life in the early 1900s. At the turn of the 20th century, Brevard Court was an open-air trading post and part of the booming cotton market that was transforming Charlotte into an industrial powerhouse. Today, you can explore unique markets and restaurants that stand apart from the skyscrapers of the city’s modern skyline.

Visit a Local Museum

The Bechtler Museum

Charlotte is host to many fabulous museums, and several provide free access in the evenings after work. Take a break from the office to learn more about the larger role of North Carolina in American history and culture. The Bechtler Museum can satisfy your interest in modern art, but don’t forget the unique global collection of arts and crafts at the Mint Museum (pictured). A partial list is provided below.

  • Mint Museum of Craft and Design – free from 5 to 9 p.m. every Wednesday
  • Bechtler Museum of Modern Art – free from 5 to 9 p.m. on the third Friday of the month
  • Levine Museum of the New South – free from noon to 5 p.m. the first Sunday of the month
  • Schiele Museum of Natural History – free from 4 to 8 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month
  • President James K. Polk Historic Site — always free
  • McColl Center for Visual Art — always free

Hike Crowders Mountain

Crowders Mountain

Although you may not think of mountains when visiting Charlotte, this North Carolina state park is just a few miles away. Take advantage of that opening in your schedule to enjoy this scenic destination. Fishing, hiking and rock climbing are all on offer at Crowders Mountain. You could even extend your business trip over the weekend to camp under the stars. Take a closer look at the options in National’s Emerald Aisle if you think you might need the extra cargo space.

Enjoy a Brewery Tour

Craft brewery

The craft beer craze has taken hold in many parts of the country, and Charlotte is no exception – the city is ranked in the top 10 for its local beer scene. Charlotte is home to over two dozen breweries where you can literally get a taste of the local culture. Order a pint to go with dinner, or take advantage of a free tour.

Bradley recommends several that offer frequent tours without a reservation, whether you’ve got an open afternoon in your schedule or you’re in town for the weekend.

Explore the Open Air Markets

Open air market

Sure, you may not have a kitchen while you’re visiting, but don’t let that prevent you from enjoying some the produce and other food products available from local merchants. It’s a low-cost and low-pressure way to indulge your inner foodie without blowing through your per diem, plus you’ll be shopping like a local. Some of the best markets include Atherton Mill Market (pictured) and the 7th Street Public Market. Don’t forget to take home some goodies for friends and family!

Planning a business trip to Charlotte, North Carolina? Rent a car from Charlotte Douglas Airport.