Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Greensboro, NC

  • Published 2022/12/24

Labeled as the Gate City, Greensboro is in the heart of North Carolina within Guilford County.

While most of its attractions highlight the city’s natural landscape, its diverse tourism also includes historical and art-focused museums.

Part of the Piedmont Triad, this city’s interesting past includes the momentous Civil Rights Movement to which Greensboro contributed greatly.

Its parks and gardens are two of the city’s most celebrated family-friendly destinations.

But despite its world-class greenery, did you know that Greensboro’s name is not inspired by its ample foliage?

In fact, the city got its name from General Nathanael Greene, whose leadership efforts came to fruition during the 1871 Battle of Guilford Courthouse.

Chartered as a city in 1875, Greensboro has pleasant surprises for locals, regular visitors, and even newcomers.

Here are free things to do in Greensboro, North Carolina, that you should include in your itinerary:

Learn about War History at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park

Welcome sign of Guilford Courthouse National Military Park

EWY Media /

On New Green Road, Guilford Courthouse National Military Park honors the Battle of Guilford Courthouse and its role in the American Revolution.

At this park, you can find numerous monuments, all paying tribute to the soldiers who served in that great war.

There’s also a battlefield artillery space featuring cannons and other weaponry used by the American forces.

Statue at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park

Amanda Reyes /

Within the vast expanse of the park, you can bike around to see the outdoor historical collections.

If you prefer an indoor learning experience, you can view the artifacts at the visitor center and museum.

Learn about the battle through the eyes of Don Troiani with his paintings and artworks in the gallery.

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park takes you to an interesting trip to the past!

Monument at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park

Amanda Reyes /

Explore the Forested Hillside at Bog Garden at Benjamin Park

During the late 1980s, the creation of Bog Garden at Benjamin Park started under the leadership of Dr. Joe Christian.

His herculean efforts in restoring the once-decaying bird sanctuary of the Starmount Farms earned him not only a statue and a waterfall under his name but also the city’s gratitude.

Now, the site is a tourist attraction brimming with diverse habitats and seven acres of wetlands.

Its trails also take you on wildlife exploration and multiple plant species.

But its most popular attraction is the Serenity Falls, a man-made recirculating waterfall that drops to over 150 feet.

Bog Garden at Benjamin Park is on Hobbs Road.

Browse through the Immersive Exhibits at the Greensboro History Museum

Exterior of Greensboro History Museum

Upstateherd, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re a history buff, then a trip to Greensboro History Museum is a must.

This museum connects you to Greensboro’s past with its vast exhibits, archives, and collections.

Browse through paintings, photos, artifacts, and other memorabilia.

The museum also hosts free programs and events for everyone to participate in.

Exhibit in Greensboro History Museum

Tamar Hayardeni, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The historic sites also provide an immersive educational trip to the city’s beginnings.

At Mary Lynn Richardson Park, you can admire sculptures set in the outdoor setting.

Hockett Blacksmith and Woodworking Shops, on the other hand, feature historic crafts within the community.

Greensboro History Museum is at the intersection of Lindsay Street and Summit Avenue.

Lamp exhibit in Greensboro History Museum

Tamar Hayardeni, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy Outdoor Fun at the Sports Courts at Bur-Mil Park

Bur-Mil Park offers outdoor recreation with its vast set of facilities.

Created in 1989, this park boasts magnificent views of Lake Brandt and has sports courts and horseshoe pits.

Make your family bonding time more exciting with a ball game or a hiking session at the trails surrounding Bur-Mil Park.

Its accompanying aquatics center and golf course may come with admission fees, so remain within the general park grounds if you don’t want to spend.

At Bur-Mil Club Road, this park has your outdoor fun covered.

Relax at Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden

Sculptures at Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden

Amanda Reyes /

Enjoy a refreshing break amid nature at Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden.

This public garden, built in 1976, was a product of Greensboro’s centennial celebration.

Over the years, the garden had several expansions and additional amenities.

The park has many sculptures, including the “Sundial” one and “The Student,” its earliest known sculpture.

Welcome sign of Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden

Amanda Reyes /

Learn about gardening when you visit Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden’s rain garden.

You can also bring snacks for the whole family to enjoy within the garden’s designated picnic areas.

Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden is along Hobbs Park.

Old mill at Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden

Amanda Reyes /

Admire the Various Art Medium Exhibits during Family Night at Greenhill Center for NC Art

Situated along North Davie Street, Greenhill Center for NC Art is a one-of-a-kind art museum.

Alongside the regular art displays and presentations, this gallery also hosts programs and events focused on contemporary visual arts.

See various paintings from temporary and permanent exhibitions.

But to truly immerse yourself in art at Greenhill Center for NC Art, come by during Family Night!

This event happens every Wednesday from late afternoon to early evening and is free to the public.

Explore the Gardens at the Greensboro Arboretum

The grounds of Greensboro Arboretum

Ptncsu12, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to nature, Greensboro offers a huge collection of admissions-free nature-focused tourist spots.

Situated on Ashland Drive, Greensboro Arboretum is one of them.

Within its 17-acre property are native and exotic plant collections in special displays.

Go down paved walkways and trails and learn more about your favorite plants.

Since 1991, which was the year the garden first opened formally, this floral gallery has been a place of refuge for botanists and flower enthusiasts.

Everyone is welcome to marvel at the beauty brought by the abundance of flowers and the tranquility of Greensboro Arboretum.

Celebrate Cultural and Creative Diversity at North Carolina Folk Festival

If you want to celebrate with the city folk, don’t miss the North Carolina Folk Festival.

Spanning three days, this admissions-free event aims to gather various cultural backgrounds from all over the country.

Since 2018, this festival has graced downtown Greensboro with unique live performances, dance shows, handmade crafts, and more!

Go with your loved ones and discover different cultures and traditions through the booths and stalls lined up over the streets.

The North Carolina Folk Festival continues the National Folk Festival, which was a city staple from 2015 to 2017.

Watch Your Kids Play at LeBauer Park

Welcome sign of LeBauer Park

Jon Bilous /

For a dose of family fun, you can never go wrong with a visit to LeBauer Park.

Like all public parks in Greensboro, it doesn’t come with an entrance fee, so you can enjoy its amenities without breaking the bank.

Within the site is the Brian Performance Place, which boasts a 4,000-people seating capacity across its square lawn.

The Seasonal Plaza has interactive fountains you and your loved ones can chill by during the sweltering summer.

Splash pad at LeBauer Park

Jon Bilous /

But for ultimate fun, come by from May to October for the seasonal opening of LeBauer Park’s splash pad.

You can also view the sensory sculpture wall, the Peacehaven Sensory Space, within the park!

Drop by North Davie Street to get to this recreation space.

Join Free Community Programs at Center City Park

CenterCity Park is one of Greensboro’s pride and joy.

Not only is this park family-friendly, but it’s also home to various events.

Its bandshell and expansive green space regularly bring the crowd together with free community programs.

View and admire the abstract fountain sculptures within Center City Park while you’re at it, too!

Breathe in the fresh air while walking along the paved trails.

Situated on North Elm Street, Center City Park is a destination you should not miss!

Walk through the Maze of Gardens at Gateway Gardens

Large apple sculptures at Gateway Gardens

Amanda Reyes /

Opened in 2011, the natural oasis of Gateway Gardens is a sanctuary for those with a green thumb and an eye for horticulture.

Within East Gate City Boulevard, this public garden features 11 acres of man-made facilities.

Butterfly-shaped bench at Gateway Gardens

Amanda Reyes /

From the William A. Stern Maze to the News & Record Outdoor Classroom, there’s something special you can look forward to when you visit the park.

Lawns, gardens, and patios are also within the area, all designed to make your floral and gardening journey more worthwhile.

Visit Gateway Gardens when you’re in Greensboro!

Children's garden at Gateway Gardens

Amanda Reyes /

Explore the Log Lodgings and Furnishings of Hoskins’ Farmstead

As part of Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, Hoskins’ Farmstead is a historic establishment that was a previous home during the 18th century.

Telling the story of Joseph and Hannah Hankins, this house came to be because of their son’s efforts.

Before it became a multi-purpose home, this home was a tobacco barn that served as a blacksmith’s shop and a summer kitchen.

Going to Hoskins’ Farmstead is an adventure in and of itself; it has a difficult winding path leading uphill where the stead stands but is wheelchair-accessible.

Hoskins’ Farmstead is on New Garden Road.

View the Public Art at the Sculpture Courtyard at Weatherspoon Art Museum

Exterior of Weatherspoon Art Museum

Ptncsu12, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Weatherspoon Art Museum features modern art in a minimalistic yet striking setting.

Set within the white walls of this museum are large and small paintings, and within glass cases and open spaces, art installations decorate the space.

Within the museum, there is a classroom and auditorium for pre-planned tours.

Learn about the history, wildlife, native culture, and more through different art mediums all over Weatherspoon Art Museum.

The courtyard sculpture attracts your attention on the ground floor with unusual pieces made of fiberglass, clay, and other materials.

Weatherspoon Art Museum is on Tate Street.

Flaunt Your Mountain Biking Skills at Owl’s Roost Trail and Atlantic and Yadkin Greenway Loop

Owl’s Roost Trail and Atlantic and Yadkin Greenway Loop provides a slightly challenging hiking journey with its 8.7-km loop.

Bring your mountain bikes or your hiking gear for a nature-filled traverse over sparse woodlands.

Don’t forget to bring your binoculars because you might spot some wildlife along the way.

Whether you’re a beginner or not, Owl’s Roost Trail and Atlantic and Yadkin Greenway Loop in Bur-Mil Park promise an exciting journey amid nature.

Learn about Greensboro’s Past at Greensboro Public Library

Exterior of Greensboro Public Library

Mx._Granger, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Greensboro Public Library is a go-to spot for those hoping to add a few hours of research and reading to their usual trip.

This library has at least eight different branches all over the city, but its central one is on North Church Street.

Since 1902, this library—and all its other branches—have served the community with innovative reading source materials.

More than that, it also encourages everyone to foster a love for community with free shared programs.

One such program is the Create-a-Card Workshop, a month-long free event at Glenwood Branch that keeps the spirit of holiday card giving alive.

There are more events that you can look forward to at any of the branches of the Greensboro Public Library.

Final Thoughts

Greensboro is not just a city of history but also of recreation for the whole family.

With its wealth of parks, woodland sites, and occasional educational establishments, it’s no wonder many come to this city for a great time.

To magnify its verdant surroundings, the city also boasts a variety of no-charge attractions for those within a certain budget.

Have you decided what to do first from this list of free things to do in Greensboro, North Carolina?

© All rights reserved.