10 Things You Can Do in North Carolina That Cost $10 or Less

Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Image via Weidman Photography / Shutterstock

By Leah Sherrell

March 2, 2023

With the weather warming up—for right now, anyway; you know how North Carolina weather is—we’re all looking for things to do outside.

But we don’t want you to break the bank looking for a nice day out. Here’s a list of 10 activities across the state that you can do with your friends and family that will cost you less than $10.

North Carolina Museum of Art (FREE)

Wander around the 164-acre museum park and explore their indoor galleries or outdoor sites like the cloud chamber

Visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park ($5) 

Get a $5 parking pass and enjoy the largest national park on the East Coast all day long. You can stroll to three waterfalls in the Deep Creek Hike or push yourself to see the top of the mountains with the strenuous four-mile Chimney Tops

Flower Fields at Dewberry Farms ($5-$8)

Image via Dewberry Farms Facebook

Dewberry Farms, near Winston-Salem, welcomes visitors to walk through their flower fields every spring and summer. Starting in late March, they open their doors to tulip-lovers ($5 for children and $8 for adults) and in the summer you can lose yourself in rows of sunflowers. 

Riverwalk Sunset, Wilmington (FREE)

No matter when you go, the sunset will be a free viewing experience at Wilmington’s downtown riverwalk. Parking is free for the first 90 minutes in parking decks, and up to $2 after, or you can park by the street meters at no charge after 6:30 p.m.

Carolina Beach Boardwalk ($10)

Iconic Carolina Beach Boardwalk at sunrise. Image via Jay Yuan / Shutterstock

While there is almost no cost to park at Carolina Beach from November to February ( $10/day or Free after December), warmer weather brings higher prices. From March to October  expect to pay $5 per hour while you visit the Carolina Beach Boardwalk

Uwharrie National Forest (FREE) 

Uwharrie is the only coastal national forest in the eastern U.S. and many activities such as biking, hiking, bird watching, and camping are often free. Some activities do require permits or fees, which vary by site. 

Mural Tour, Charlotte (FREE) 

Artist unknown, photo from @lisarizzi

Use this community powered archive of mural locations in Charlotte to take yourself on a self-guided tour of the colorful art decorating the city. 

Charlotte’s Spraygrounds (FREE)

Sprayground in Charlotte, from Mecklenburg Parks and Recreation

Cool off this summer in Mecklenburg County’s spraygrounds! They’re open to the public and a great way for kids to play while beating the heat. You can visit the county’s public pools and recreation centers before the summer, too. The Eastway Recreation Center has daily activities for you to enjoy at $10 per county resident and $15 for non-county residents. 

Enjoy the View at Blue Ridge Parkway (Free)

Blue Ridge Parkway Linn Cove Viaduct in Western North Carolina. Image via Cvandyke / Shutterstock

North Carolina is home to a 175-mile stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It links two national parks (Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains) and is known for its breathtaking views and winding roads. Driving the parkway and stopping at the outlooks is free!

North Carolina Festivals (FREE)

Stay on the lookout for North Carolina events and festivals, because there’s always something going on. There’s the Azalea Festival in April, the Cheerwine Festival in May, the Lexington BBQ Festival in October, and the Blowing Rock WinterFest in the winter! 


  • Leah Sherrell

    Leah Sherrell is a multimedia reporter for Cardinal & Pine. A graduate of UNC-Wilmington, she's a resident of Kernersville with a background in video production and communication. Leah uses many forms of media to explore the multifaceted lifestyles and cultures present in North Carolina.

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