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.
Campfires and more at McDowell Nature Preserve
Every Friday, May through September, McDowell Nature Preserve hosts a free family campfire with stories, songs, and s’mores. The campfire starts at 7pm. Beforehand, at 6:30pm, there’s a free session on how to start a fire without matches. After the campfire, go on a hayride around the nature preserve. The hayride has limited seating and costs $1. You can register in advance for it. Follow the above link for more details.
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 and one in Kannapolis are participating. If you follow the above link, you can see the details for each.
Two programs are offering free bowling for kids. AMF Summer Unplugged lets kids bowl up to two free games a day at many locations. You may need to rent shoes. Kids Bowl Free is another national program. 10 Park Lanes and George Pappas’ Liberty Lanes in Gastonia are participating. In addition, George Pappas’ Victory Lanes in Mooresville is offering two free games a day to students up through 12th grade, as well as teachers and other school employees. Details on this program.
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 2012 summer for
Free Spraygrounds & $1 Swimming
Charlotte Park and Rec’s spraygrounds and swimming pools are opening on weekends starting Saturday, May 26th, 2012. They’ll open during the week as well after the last day of school for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, which is June 9th. The spraygrounds are free and the swimming pools cost just $1 to visit. Follow the link for details. Follow the link for information on the two swimming pools and five spraygrounds.
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. This list will be updated as more details emerge, but here’s what we have so far. Also, one movie theater is offering free movies during the day. Follow the above link for details and movie schedule.
$1 Weekday Morning Movies
Regal Summer Movie Express: Regal Entertainment Group is once again offering $1 movies for kids this summer. The movies are rated G or PG and will be shown Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10am.
Several Charlotte area theaters are participating. The movie schedules are different for each theater, so follow the link for the one closest to you to learn what’s playing. Call the individual theater with questions.
Gem Theatre, 111 West 1st Street in Kannapolis, is offering $1 movies. The movies will be shown on Tuesdays at 10am and 12:30pm. If you have a group of 15 or more, you can call the day before and order a small popcorn and drink for $2 for each movie-goer.
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. The library also has a free summer reading program for kids where they can win prizes.
Free crafts and projects
Michaels, Lakeshore Learning, Lowes, and Home Depot all offer regularly scheduled free crafts and projects for kids. Go to their websites for more details.
Free event list
Every Sunday, Charlotte on the Cheap publishes a free event list for the week. Learn about festivals, special events, free food, and more.
Free outdoor concerts
Free outdoor concerts take place many times a week in the Charlotte area. Most are family friendly. Many feature free kids’ activities like bounce houses and face painting as well.
Family Fun Day at Carolina Place
Carolina Place offers several Family Fun Days throughout the summer. They take place from 11am to 12pm at the Center Court and are designed for preschoolers and their families. They feature music, comedy, animals, art and more. Follow the link for details and schedule.
Summer Reading Programs
In addition to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, some bookstores offer kids prizes for reading. Learn about summer reading programs.
Kidgits Summer Camp at Concord Mills
It does cost $5 to join the Kidgits Club, but that’s for the whole year. After that all the activities are free, including this “summer camp” at Concord Mills. Mondays through Thursdays from June 18th through July 12th there will be kids’ activities at Concord Mills, including music, LEGO building, mini-golf and more.
Terrific Tuesdays at ImaginOn
ImaginOn is presenting free performances for kids on Tuesdays at 11am and 1pm. Although they are free, tickets are required. You can reserve the tickets online. Follow the link. If they’re all gone, you can go to the box office the day of the performance because there will be a waitlist.