Asheville, Charlotte, and Raleigh are some of the most popular places if you are looking for Cheap Things to Do in North Carolina. There are fun carnivals, artistic and scientific attractions, food tours, beaches, and miles of drives and trails. You can enjoy NC without spending a dime, however, let’s not stretch it that far!
- 1 Family, Fun, & Food: Cheap Things to Do In North Carolina
- 2 Galleries, Museums, History & Science: North Carolina’s Top Activities
- 3 Nature’s Getaways: North Carolina’s Best Attractions
- 4 Wrapping Up The Cheap Things To Do In North Carolina
Family, Fun, & Food: Cheap Things to Do In North Carolina
North Carolina is a happening vacation destination. City life has a lot of family attractions. You will feel like you are always in a carnival here, so check out some Cheap Things to Do in North Carolina.
For best budget-friendly destinations for the entire family, check out the slides below:
Ride a Miniature Train
One of the most interesting attractions of North Carolina is Pullen Park. Here you and your children can enjoy the many amusement park rides. There is the Gustave A. Dentzel Carousel, paddle boating, playgrounds, the aquatic center, and a miniature train. The train is one-third size replica of the famous locomotive C.P. Huntington, the first locomotive purchased by the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Per ride cost is just $1.5 per person, but there is a minimum height requirement for children. A visit to Pullen Park is a wonderful experience for the whole family.
Enjoy Live Music: Shindig on the Green
Although you can find live music any and everywhere in North Carolina, one of the most famous events is the Shindig on the Green held in Downtown Asheville.
It is a free music and dance festival held in the summer. The festival brings to you traditional mountain music of North Carolina. Performances take place between 7 and 10 in the evening. Other events include impromptu jam sessions happen at random. Even you can join in the musical escapades! Enjoy local food or bring your own picnic.
So bring your own lawn chairs or a blanket and have fun!
Check out some horses and enjoy a carnival
If it is a Saturday and by good luck, you are in Mill Spring, then check out the Tryon International Equestrian Center. Not only can you see many horseriding events on select Saturdays throughout the year, but they also have concerts, food, music and competitive sports. This is part of the “Saturday Night Lights” series.
This is a unique and fun family outing. It even has free rides and a carousel for children. The best part is, everything is FREE! Admission, rides, parking EVERYTHING but the food!
Love The Hunger Games? Check Out a Few Filming Locations
There are as many as 7 great NC spots where the trilogy was filmed. Asheville, Cedar Mountain, Charlotte, and Shelby to name a few. So no matter where you are in NC you may be close enough to a shooting location to see it for yourself. The famous District 12 was filmed using various abandoned NC coal mining towns.
You can visit the sites yourself or take a Fan Tour. There are many to choose from depending upon your location and your budget. So check out these famous spots!
Check out the Food Tours of Asheville
If you are a foodie the Eating Asheville food tour is one of the best attractions in North Carolina. There are three tours that take you through as many as six of the best restaurants in Asheville. These guided tours take you through the historic downtown as you check out the different restaurants, get a little history, and enjoy your evening.
Of the three tours, two are only food tours but one is also a brewery tour that takes place only on Saturdays, others take place almost on all days. These cost somewhere between $59 and $70 per person. Although not so cheap, all include food and alcohol and a guide which makes it worthwhile.
New destinations spring up now and then but to miss out on a spectacular culinary endeavor such as this is nearly a crime. So don’t forget to add these to your never-ending list of Cheap Things to Do in North Carolina. If you want to find out some neat tips on cutting down on food costs while traveling, check out our dedicated post of tips and tricks.
Galleries, Museums, History & Science: North Carolina’s Top Activities
Fun city life is one thing, but how about stimulating the mind and quenching the curiosity? Well, you have got all kinds of intellectual activities in this state. Some of these are featured on our list of Cheap Things to Do in North Carolina.
The Art of Asheville: Check Out Some Art Galleries
Asheville is considered to be one of the top locations for artists and art buffs. You can spend a whole day hopping art galleries here and you won’t run out of options. If you really love art, you can even spend a whole weekend visiting different districts.
Downtown, Biltmore, or River Arts District, whichever you choose you will not be disappointed. Downtown has the most galleries, more than 25. Many festivals include the work of local artists. Check out a festival or just make your own itinerary—the options are numerous and sure to satisfy!
As you know, window shopping doesn’t cost you a thing, so do not be afraid to walk into a gallery.
Mine some gold or take a mining tour
One of the most famous historic sites of North Carolina is Reed Gold Mine, located close to Charlotte. This is where in 1799 the first documented commercial gold was found in the United States. The gold was mined until the 1850s and the value of annual production even reached 1 million dollars back at that time!
You can visit the visitor’s center, or have a picnic or tour the ore crushing stamp mill but the most fun activity is panning for gold during the panning season. Admission is free but manning requires an admission fee of $3.00, and a tour of the restored tunnels is $2.00.
Discover Science in North Carolina
If you love science and are in Raleigh, do not miss the Museum of Natural Sciences. It attracts close to 1.2 million visitors annually and is the largest museum in its category. The exhibits vary from wildlife to marine life, mountains and seas, gems and minerals, dinosaur history, and much more. There are even 3D movies to bring history to life.
There is no better place to go if you want to know all about the history of North Carolina. The best part is that General Admission is free. Some exhibits have a fee, such as the 3D movie, but the cost is worth it.
If you find yourself in Charlotte we recommend Discovery Place, where you can whet your child’s appetite for STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. Discovery Place is a leader in STEM education in the Carolinas. However there is an admission fee that is $19 for adults, $15 for Children, and $17 for Seniors, so be sure to work that into your plans.
Immerse Yourself in WWII History
In Wilmington you can see the Battleship North Carolina. It received a staggering 15 Battle Stars in WWII which is the highest for any of the American battleships, having participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific area of operations.
The ship has been converted into a museum and requires an admission fee of $14 per adult.
The state has a lot of attraction from History and Science but we have only sampled the best finds on our list of Cheap Things to Do in North Carolina.
Nature’s Getaways: North Carolina’s Best Attractions
NC has varied natural adventures, beaches, gardens, trails, waterfalls and so much more. We have brought to you the best of these on our list of Cheap Things to Do in North Carolina.
Enjoy the Bounty at UNCC Botanical Gardens
If you are in Charlotte then you are in for a treat. Covering more than 10 acres of outdoor gardens and the McMillan Greenhouse, a visit to the Gardens will rejuvenate your soul. You can see native plants and fruits as you stroll the gravel paths at your leisure. There are fern trails, creeks, bridges, wildflower meadows and so much more.
The admission is free but donations are welcomed. So take nature walks or a guided tour but don’t skip this heavenly place.
Visit the Land of Waterfalls
Now we are coming to one of the most talked-about attractions of North Carolina. There are more than 250 waterfalls in the state. The highest falls east of the Rocky Mountains is called Whitewater Falls, but is also know by the title, “King of Waterfalls”. Whitewater Falls drops a staggering 411 feet before crossing over to South Carolina where Lower Whitewater Falls continues another 400 foot drop.
One of the most famous of the falls is the Sliding Rock Waterfall. Here you can slide at the naturally formed rock slide without hurting yourself. This is a natural 60 foot slide more than a waterfall, and has a $1 entrance fee between Memorial Day and Labor day when lifeguards are present. If you enjoy experiencing the water for yourself then do not pass up this opportunity.
Chill at Carolina Beach
Who doesn’t love the beach? Well, at Carolina Beach in Wilmington you can experience the Boardwalk, go fishing at the Fishing Center, visit an Eco-Park, an Aquarium, and the list goes on. There are many family rides and activities to experience.
If you love water sports, you can go paddling, surfing, cruising, kayaking and more. And when the sun goes down there are music and nightlife options too. There is something for everyone.
Go On a Long Drive or Conquer the Hiking Trails
No trip to North Carolina can be complete without driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Impressive scenery all around, vibrant autumn hues and there are many hiking trails for all you nature lovers.
There are other state parks for camping or catching a sunset, and in the winter there is skiing, snow tubing and more. So no matter when you visit, North Carolina has a lot to offer.
Wrapping Up The Cheap Things To Do In North Carolina
We could go on and on, but all good things must come to an end. This is where our list of Cheap Things to Do in North Carolina must end and your adventure must begin. There are many more places to explore and many more free activities so if you have more time then pick a map and head-on. If you want to find out great road trip destinations in North Carolina, check out our comprehensive sampling.
I hope you enjoyed our suggestions for the most unique and Cheap Things to Do in North Carolina. Do not forget to check out the RentalTrader.com to book your best vacation rental. If you need any further information, fill the web form below, or feel free to call us.