If you want to try some new adventures this year, keep it local and keep it cheap! Here are 10 cheap things to do in 2020 for under $20, all right here in Mecklenburg County. Whatever you do, tag us on social media so we can follow along!

1. Visit a new to you park 🌳

A view at Latta Nature Preserve with water, trees and clouds

With 210 parks and facilities and 52 miles of greenway trails on more than 21,000 acres of parkland, you have a LOT of options! Our parks come in all shapes and sizes. The smallest, Little Peoples Park, is just .2 acres while the largest, Latta Nature Preserve and Nature Center, is a whopping 1,478 acres!

2. Experience history 📜

Going to historic sites helps the things you learn come alive. Visit the monument to the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. See Native American rock formations from thousands of years ago. Walk the Trail of History. Explore a historic landmark in your part of the County.

3. Take the census 💻

Logo with Text: Meck Counts 2020. Make it count for our community. United States Census 2020.

Billions of dollars come to our state every year from the federal government based on how many people take the census. It’s also used to determine congressional representation. With a complete count, we could gain an additional seat! The census takes a record of EVERYONE from newborn on up. And for the first time ever, you can take it online. Help us Make Meck Count!

4. Go to the Fairy House Festival at Latta Nature Preserve 🧚🏽‍♀️🌱

Children marching through the woods, some wearing wings

Dress up like a fairy or gnome. Build your house from all-natural materials. Maybe even enter it into the fairy house contest. There are also arts and crafts, storytelling and games. Children under five are free at this annual event!

5. Visit a farmers market 🥚🍉🍅🥬

You can take the phrase “eat locally” very literally. There are more than a dozen places in our area to meet the people growing food near us and buy it directly from them. Check out this interactive map from our Geospatial Information Services (GIS) to explore farmers markets in and around the County.

6. Try a new sport at a rec center 🛹

Child wearing protective gear catching air on a skateboard
GSP Bowl

Skateboarding, anyone?? The skate park at Naomi Drenan Rec Center is great for all levels. The street course has banks, transitions, corners, rails and ledges. If you’re ready for a bigger challenge, try the 5½ to 10½ foot deep bowl. I don’t know what most of that means. If you don’t either, maybe take a one-on-one skateboarding lesson there. That will take you a little over budget at $25 an hour.

7. Join Relay for Life 👟

People cheering, throwing purple in the air at a Relay for Life event

Teammates take turns walking a path to symbolize the ongoing fight against cancer. Between laps, there are games and activities and of course food. Volunteer, raise funds and celebrate cancer survivors and their caregivers. Registration is FREE! The goal is for each person to raise at least $100. If ten of your friends give $10, you’re there.

8. Celebrate Earth Day 🌎

You have lots of options! One of the County’s most unique and popular ones is Recycle the Runway. If you’ve ever watched an unconventional materials challenge on “Project Runway” and wanted to see it in person, you won’t want to miss this! Mecklenburg County students use recyclable materials to design, create, and model an avant-garde outfit. Thanks to partnerships with local businesses, we have returned over $100,000 in prize money to local schools. 😲

9. Use public transportation 🚍🚈

A family of four can ride the light rail or take the bus for less than $20 round trip. It’s a great, budget-friendly way to help improve the air quality in our community.

10. Take in some art 🎭🎨

Let your bus or light rail trip lead you to one of these 22 🆓 arts and cultural activities in the County. From concerts to festivals and free museum days, there are many ways to enjoy the great things we have in our area all year long.

If you’re looking for some extra credit, here are a few more ideas.