Jody Mace

I am a freelance writer in Charlotte, North Carolina who writes for magazines and websites. Find me at Google+

May 272015

elemental art party
Haylo Healing Arts Lounge, at 1111 Central Avenue, presents Elemental Art Party: For the Fire Within on Saturday, May 30th, 2015, from 6:00 p.m. to midnight. During the event, over 20 artists will be creating pieces of work on the theme of fire. The finished artwork will be displayed in the gallery through June 30th. In addition, live fire performers will be performing. You might see fire eaters, hoopers, twirlers, spinners and dancers. The event is free but gratuities will be accepted by the fire performers. Also at the event will be a DJ, an “intention setting ceremony” and free beer. This event is strictly for those age 18 and older. No kids, no pets.

The Plaza Midwood Spring Art Crawl will be taking place at the same time, and free Cruise Carts will be available to shuttle you back and forth.

May 272015

Buffalo Soldiers
Historic Latta Plantation, at 5225 Sample Road in Huntersville, is presenting a free living history day on Saturday, May 30th, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This day of demonstrations and discussion focuses on the Buffalo Soldiers and their lives during and after the Civil War. The Buffalo Soldiers were established by Congress as the first peacetime all African American regiments in the U.S. Army. Learn about their significance and enjoy an open house tour. Admission is free to this event.

May 272015
 May 27, 2015  Posted by  Affiliate, Shopping 4 Responses »

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Massage60- or 90-Minute Hot-Stone Solo or Couples Massage at Custom Therapy Massage (Up to 56% Off)
FamilyTournament Show with Dinner for a Child or Adult with Optional VIP Package at Medieval Times (Up to 43% Off)
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East Asian Cuisine$18 for $30 Worth of Sushi and Pan-Asian Fare for Dinner at Emzy Sushi Bar and Asian Kitchen
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Magazine & Newspaper1-Year Subscription to Cosmopolitan Magazine
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Full-Service RestaurantTapas and Martinis for Two People; or $30 to Spend on Food and Drink ($24 for $44)
Retail$40 for Billiards Supplies and Accessories ($20 for $40)
EntertainmentHorseback Riding Lessons or Farm Tour ($73 for $105)
ServicesOne or Two Oil Changes or One Computer Diagnostics Session ($29 for $59)
Fitness/ActiveGym Membership and Fitness Classes ($65 for $150)
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Entertainment1 Week of Kids' Art Camp ($99 for $175)
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Charlotte on the Cheap works with many of these companies as an affiliate partner. When you purchase a deal from this page or other pages on Charlotte on the Cheap, you’re helping to keep the website rolling and able to share all the free events with you. Thank you!

May 272015
 May 27, 2015  Posted by  Free Events, Kids No Responses »

charlotte meck free swimming
Your kids can have fun in the Charlotte area this summer without putting a hurting to your wallet. Most of these activities are free, and the ones that aren’t are dirt cheap. Follow the links for details on each. Bookmark this page and keep checking back. There will be more added. Do you know of other free or cheap things for kids to do this summer? Email and let me know. This is the 2015 list. Have you subscribed to Charlotte on the Cheap’s daily emails yet?

  • Roller Skating: Skate For Free is a national program that allows kids to roller skate for free this summer in many rinks across the country. Two rinks in Gastonia are participating. If you follow the above link, you can see the details for each.
  • Bowling: Ten Park Lanes allows kids to bowl for free all summer. Shoe rental is required.
  • Free Swim Lessons: Charlotte’s two public outdoor pools, Cordelia Pool at 2100 N. Davidson Street, and Double Oaks Pool, at 1200 Newland Road,  offer free swimming lessons throughout the summer, and Ray’s Splash Planet offers free lessons all year. Follow the link for details on registering.
  • Microsoft Summer Camp: The Microsoft Store offers free game designing and game coding summer camps for kids this summer, but you need to sign up in advance, and space is limited. Here’s the info on the four-day camps.
  • Reed Gold Mine: Reed Gold Mine, just a short drive away in Midland, is a great outing for kids. It’s free to tour the mine. Pay just $3 to pan for gold.
  • Carolina Place: Family Fun Days are held at Center Court every other Wednesday. Magic, animals, music, more. Free.
  • Dan Nicholas Park: Also a short drive away, Dan Nicholas Park in Salisbury is definitely worth a visit or two this summer. Everything there is either free or just a couple bucks, including an old-fashioned carousel, a mini-train ride, sprayground, nature center, paddle boats, mini golf, animals, and gem mining. A bucket of gems is $7.
  • Drop-in Day Camp at Gaston County Museum: Gaston County is offering a free drop-in day camp for kids age 5-12 on Thursday mornings starting June 11. Kids will learn about life in the 1800s through hands-on activities. Follow the above link for all the details.
  • Get discounts: Use Groupon to find discounts on everything from bounce houses to trampoline parks to summer camps to water parks.
  • Cheap pools and free spraygrounds : Charlotte Park and Rec’s spraygrounds and swimming pools opened for weekends and will be open every day of the week starting The spraygrounds are free and the swimming pools cost just $1 to visit. Follow the link for information on the two swimming pools and five spraygrounds.
  • Free outdoor movies: Once again, several Charlotte area locations are showing free outdoor movies this summer. They’re mostly in parks and start when it gets dark. Get there early, though, so you can get a good spot for your blanket. These movies are a great way to relax outside with your kids as the evening (hopefully) cools off. List of free outdoor movies around Charlotte area.
  • $1 (or less!) Weekday Morning Movies : Many Charlotte area movie theaters are offering weekday movies for $1 or less for kids. Follow the above link for details.
  • Summer Reading Programs: Check back soon!
  • Kidgits Summer Camp at Concord Mills: Check back soon!
  • Outdoor concerts: Free summer concerts are held all over the Charlotte area. These are family-friendly and sometimes include special activities for kids like face-painting and bounce houses. Check out the list of free outdoor concerts in the Charlotte area.

  • Terrific Tuesdays at ImaginOn:
    ImaginOn is presenting free performances for kids on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Although they are free, tickets are required and they go quickly. You can reserve the tickets online. Follow the link.
  • Libraries: Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries offer free activities and events for all kids, from babies up through teens. Search their events listings for dates, time, ages, and the type of event your child is interested in. You’ll find crafts, story times, performances, and much more.
  • Free crafts and projects: Michaels, Lakeshore Learning, Lowes, and Home Depot all offer regularly scheduled free crafts and projects for kids on Saturdays.
  • Schiele Museum: The second Tuesday of every month, Schiele Museum in Gastonia is free from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. It’s also free the fourth Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. This nature museum is a popular one with kids.
  • Energy Explorium: Always free to visit, Energy Explorium at McGuire Nuclear Station in Huntersville gives kids a chance to learn about energy, weather, the environment and nature through interactive activities at the visitor’s center. There’s a mile-long walking trail along the shore of Lake Norman and a picnic area.
  • Nature Centers: Charlotte Mecklenburg Parks and Recreation operates three nature centers, each within a nature preserve, Reedy Creek, McDowell and Latta Plantation. They’re free to visit.
  • ImaginOn: ImaginOn is a joint project of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. It contains the Spangler Children’s Library and presents dynamic shows for kids of all ages. Although tickets are require for theatre presentations, visiting ImaginOn is always free and there’s plenty to do. Young children play dress-up and stage impromptu performances and teens create movies. This summer, the exhibit Adventures with Clifford, the Big Red Dog invites kids to explore the world of Clifford and his friends with fun, hands-on activities and adventures.
  • Lego Mini-Build: The first Tuesday of every month, the LEGO Store in Concord Mills holds a free mini-build for kids, who get to build a little model and take it home with them.
  • Greenways: Mecklenburg County maintains over 35 miles of developed greenways, and more are on the way. The greenways run along creeks and are a great place to walk and ride bikes. Some offer much-needed shade in the summer too.
  • UNCC Botanical Gardens: UNCC Botanical Gardens include two outdoor gardens to explore, and a greenhouse. Kids love the butterfly terrrace, Asian Garden, bridges and ponds with waterfalls. It’s free to visit.
  • Even more free stuff: Every Sunday night, Charlotte on the Cheap publishes a free event list for the week. Learn about festivals, special events, free food, and more. Subscribe to the email list, and follow on Facebook and Twitter so you don’t miss a thing.
May 262015

party in the park mint museum randolph
Mint Museum Randolph, at 2730 Randolph Road, is hosting its 4th Annual Party in the Park Wednesday, May 27th, 2015, at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free. Pack a picnic, bring lawn chairs or a blanket, and enjoy a fun evening with your friends, family and the whole community. There will be a cash bar and food trucks too.

Browse the permanent collections of the museum and play lawn games. Live music will be provided by The Mike Strauss Band at 6:30 p.m. At dusk enjoy the movie “The Sandlot.”

It’s free but donations are appreciated.

May 262015

soccer shots funfest
Soccer Shots, a youth soccer program for kids age 2-8, invites families to its FunFest on Saturday, May 30th, 2015, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Calvary Soccer Fields, 5801 Pineville Matthew Road. The event is free, and will feature soccer (of course), four bounce houses, balloon twisters, music, face-painting, and bubble soccer. If you’re not familiar with bubble soccer, watch the video below. Food trucks Vic the Chili Man, The Chrome Toaster, Kona Ice and The Southern Cake Queen will be on site, so bring a few bucks. Also, there will be raffles. Proceeds benefit the charity, Global Goals.

May 252015
 May 25, 2015  Posted by  contest, Food and Drink, travel 9 Responses »

Update: The contest is closed, and the winner is from Twitter: @sirhc130. We’ve contacted you on Twitter. Please let us know your shipping address. You can email One of the highlights of any road trip in North Carolina is sampling local BBQ. So before you head out, make sure that you have a copy of The Great NC BBQ Map. I’ve got one of these maps and it’s a thing of beauty. It lists over 400 BBQ joints across North Carolina. Handy infographics tell you if they cook the whole hog or part of the pig, what cooking method is used, and what style of sauce is served. It folds up and fits into your glove box and you should not hit the road without it. Here’s a peek at the map:

map preview

You can purchase it online for just $9.99.

One lucky Charlotte on the Cheap reader will win a prize package from The Great NC BBQ Map. It includes:

– BBQ map for the road
– map stickers to mark your travels
– bumper sticker
– I Got My Pork Pulled in NC bottle opener

Great NC BBQ Map

There are a bunch of ways to win the contest, involving various social media sites. The more ways you follow EDIA Maps (the creators of the Great NC BBQ Map) and Charlotte on the Cheap, the more chances to win.

Click below to learn how to enter. (Leaving a comment to this post does not enter you in the contest.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 252015
 May 25, 2015  Posted by  Free Events, Kids, South Charlotte 2 Responses »

Microsoft free summer camp Charlotte
Microsoft is offering free camps for kids at its stores. You’ll find a Microsoft Store in SouthPark Mall. The classes are on game design and game coding. There are four different camps: Smart Game Design (beginner), Smart Game Design (intermediate), Smart Game Coding (beginning) and Smart Game Coding (intermediate.) The camps run four consecutive days, for two hours each day. The classes are for kids 8 and older, or 11 and older, depending on the class. Parents must remain in the store during the class.

Space is limited and you must sign up in advance.

May 252015
 May 25, 2015  Posted by  film, Free Events, Kids No Responses »

movies in the park harrisburg
Once again, several Charlotte area locations are showing free outdoor movies this summer. They’re mostly in parks and start when it gets dark. Get there early, though, so you can get a good spot for your blanket and to participate in pre-show activities. Some of these summer movie series offer games, bounce houses and activities like face-painting before the shows. These movies are a great way to relax outside with your kids as the evening (hopefully) cools off. Follow each link for details and movie schedule. This schedule is for 2015. Know of others? Please email and I’ll try to get them added to the list.

Harrisburg’s Movies in the Park
Harrisburg Park
June 5, August 28

Matthews Summer Movies Series
Stumptown Park, 120 South Trade Street, Matthews
May 30, June 13, June 27, July 11, August 15

Kannapolis Summer Entertainment Series
Village Park, 700 West C Street, Kannapolis
May 29, June 12, June 26, July 10, July 24, August 7

Movies in the Park in Huntersville
North Mecklenburg Park
Fridays June 5th, August 28th
Also free popcorn and drinks, sunscreen and bug spray

Sunset Series in Indian Trail
Crossing Paths Park, Indian Trail
Friday, May 29th

Movies @ McGuire
McGuire Nuclear Station, Huntersville
July 10th, August 14th