Summer is a little bit different in 2020. A lot of the summer break activities that we usually list are not available this year. But here are some ideas of ways to still have fun. Can you think of more things to do this strange summer? Let us know!
We will be updating this list regularly, as the restrictions change.
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There’s nothing like picking your own produce. Check out our list of U-pick farms in the Charlotte area. This list spans the year, so you can see what you can pick, and when.
Visit a Garden
Learn about 7 beautiful public gardens in the Charlotte area. Each one is very different from the others. Some are free, and others have a fee to visit. Some are closed right now, but 3 are open (and these 3 are free.)
What says “summer” more than drive-in movies? We list all the drive-ins close to Charlotte, and we update the movie schedule at each every week.
Visit a Peaceful Farm
On Fridays and Saturdays, Sweetwater Farm in Huntersville opens its gate to the public, in a limited capacity. You need to reserve your spots in advance, and they always sell out. It costs $4 a person.
Climb on a Huge Rock
It seems unbelievable, but these giant rocks are right in Charlotte. Big Rock Nature Preserve is at 6500 Elmstone Drive, near Stonecrest at Piper Glen. These are the largest known exposed boulders in Mecklenburg County, by a long shot. It’s pretty majestic. Archaeologists have unearthed American Indian artifacts at this site from as early as 7,000 years ago.
Cool off at a Waterfall
The western part of North Carolina boasts some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. Start exploring with our photo guide to 7 North Carolina waterfalls. Obviously, none of these waterfalls are in Charlotte, but they are worth the drive.
Shop at a Farmers’ Market
It’s fun and important for kids to learn how to plan and cook a meal. Start at one of our farmers’ markets and go from there.
Pick your own Lavender
Dallas Lavender Lane is a new family-run lavender farm in Gaston County. During June, you can pick your own lavender. And they will be offering different activities through the summer. They even have animals, including a friendly pig, for you to meet.
Use Groupon to find discounts on everything from bounce houses to trampoline parks to summer camps.
As of now, the only Mecklenburg County Park & Rec pool that’s that’s operating this summer is Double Oaks Family Aquatic Center, 2014 Statesville Avenue. It will be open on weekends only from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It will operate on two-hour time blocks (first-come, first-served), at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 5 p.m. Guests will have an hour and a half to swim. Double Oaks will accommodate only 60 people in each time block. The cost is $1 a person.
Not so cheap swimming
At $15-$20 a person, this isn’t cheap, but you might want to know about Carrigan Farm’s Swimming Quarry, because it’s gorgeous. Carrigan Farms is in Mooresville.
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.
Fly a kite
There are plenty of open places to fly kites. Try Freedom Park or Romare Bearden Park in Charlotte, or Frank Liske Park in Concord.
Use this map of fishing areas in North Carolina to find a place to fish. Adults need fishing licenses, but youth under age 16 do not. A 10-day license for inland fishing is $9 for North Carolina residents.
For times when you’re stuck at home, check out our list of 100 screen-free things to do with cooped up kids. None of them require any hard-to-find materials, and many don’t require a backyard.
Even more free and cheap stuff
Every Sunday night, Charlotte on the Cheap publishes a free and cheap 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.