Summer Staycation in Charlotte

We are blessed to live in a wonderful part of the country… diverse in nature and ever-growing in community: Charlotte, North Carolina.
I say blessed because with the rising costs of traveling (gas, airfare, theme park admissions,) being in Charlotte makes it incredibly easy to have an awesome summer of adventure in the form of a STAYCATION!

This week, I’m joining The Happy Housewife and dozens of bloggers across the country, in sharing with y’all some of our favorite local, inexpensive, family friendly area attractions! And as a native Charlottean (yes! we do exist!) I’ve got the goods!

#1 The Billy Graham LibraryFREE!

The Billy Graham Library is a beautiful place to visit year round. The home place of the Reverend Billy Graham has been beautifully restored and the library offers a truly awe-inspiring look a the incredible journey that has been Billy Graham’s life. With a “Dairy Bar” restaurant, a well-stocked gift & book store, and a wonderfully peaceful Prayer Garden, this is really a lovely place to spend a day with the family!

#2 The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Botanical GardensFREE!

The botanical gardens at our local university, UNCC, offer up a beautiful, wonderfully maintained look at some of our area’s native plant life, in addition to some very cool tropical finds. With many great eateries located around the campus, this spot makes for a fun half-day trip with a stop for lunch.

#3 Historic Latta Plantation & Nature Center
Latta Collage

I can’t really fully express my love for Latta Plantation here in this blog post. It is a place that we frequent throughout the course of the year for its beauty, its history, its awesome variety of events and programs, and just for fun! It does cost a few bucks per person to tour, but it is well worth it, especially if you combine your tour with an event!

#4 President James K. Polk State Historic SiteFREE!

You can’t beat free when it comes to historical sites! Not only is this one free, it’s also the birthplace of a President! Offering several fascinating exhibits and events throughout the year, this site is especially a great stop if you’re studying American or North Carolina history.

#5 Carolinas Aviation Museum (and the free Airport Overlook)
CA Collage

Another one of my particular favorites that I could go on and on about is the Aviation Museum which is home to the “Miracle on the Hudson,” Flight 1549 in addition to other awesome historical aircraft like the F-14 Tomcat, a Piedmont DC-3, and an AV-8 Harrier II. There is a moderate cost associated with visiting, but it is well worth it for all that you get to see and for helping the cause of preserving aviation history. Be sure to check out their calendar for special events…
Also, you can easily make a great half-day trip outta this one, by packing a picnic and heading over to the Airport Overlook to watch planes take off and land up close!

#6 ImaginOn (and other Charlotte-Mecklenburg Libraries) – FREE! (May incur parking cost…)
Imaginon Collage

ImaginOn is Charlotte’s Children’s Library, Children’s Theatre, and all around family fun place to visit in Uptown. There’s no admission to the Library (Children’s Theatre performances do cost,) and they have wonderful exhibits and some great free programs scheduled for this upcoming summer!
And if Uptown is just a little further than you’d like to drive for the time being, be sure to check out the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library nearest you… they all do a fabulous job of providing fun, family programming throughout the summer!

#7 Lazy 5 Ranch
Lazy5 Collage

Located about 30 minutes north of Charlotte is this great little ranch with a crazy variety of animals! Call head to make a reservation for a wagon ride and you get to feed these animals up close. The ranch also has an awesome shaded playground with picnic tables, which makes for a perfect end to your ranch tour.

#8 S.W. Davis General StoreFREE! (Though you may find some cool stuff to buy!)

This is one you probably won’t see on too many other “what to do in Charlotte” lists. That’s because it’s kind of a hidden gem here that you tend to only hear about from the locals. Davis General Store has been around since 1908 and exists today in much of its original state (though its façade was recently updated for its appearance in a television show!) Growing up, it’s the place where my Daddy bought his boots and overalls and where we got our seed and plants for the summer garden. Visiting makes for a fun trip back in time… Silas Davis, grandson of the co-founder S.W. Davis can still be found there most days, running the show and ringing people out on an antique cash register.

#9 Mint Museum of ArtFREE! (During specified times…)

Now with two locations, one in Uptown in addition to its original location on Randolph Road in Eastover, the Mint Museum is still one of the coolest places to visit in Charlotte. And on Tuesdays, from 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm, you can visit either location for free!

#10 Freedom Park (and other Charlotte-Mecklenburg Parks) – FREE!

Freedom Park is one of those places in Charlotte that every resident needs to visit! With a fun playground, beautiful, nature-filled walkways, open, generous bike paths, and a lake… it’s no wonder this place has been featured in a few movies and television shows!
But, similar to our libraries, Charlotte-Mecklenburg has an amazing park system… so be sure to check out what’s happening at the park or splash pad nearest to you this summer!

Well, I hope your staycation is a great one! Especially if you live here in the Charlotte area… you can’t go wrong with these great places to visit!

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing links to my blogging friends from across the country that are also sharing their area’s best offerings for a fun, family-friendly, and frugal summer staycation!

Grace & Peace~