Surprisingly, there is a lot of free parking throughout the wards of Charlotte (see image below):
Courtesy of Firstwardclt.com
Where to park for free at night:
All 1,100 of the metered spots! When the city installed metered parking, it took away a lot of the street parking. However, you CAN park in these spots for free after 6 p.m. throughout the week! Just be sure to know that South Blvd. is exempt from this rule; those are always monitored, so watch out.
Off of 7th street and N. Davidson, Alexander, and N. Caldwell is the Garden District. This area has tons of free parking! Of course, it's off limits during events at the Spectrum Center Arena (previously Time Warner Cable Arena).
No dice on this one...
Again, not a ton of options here given that the Bank of America Stadium and BB&T Ballpark call this area home. There are a few spots along some streets near Frazier Park (S Sycamore St and W Hill St), but these also have time limits, restrict parking to those with residential parking permits, and/or don't allow parking on days with events at the stadiums.
The Holy Grail of free parking!
I saved the best for last! The historic Fourth Ward is ripe with free parking along its many residential streets. For up to 2 hours, you can park all around Fourth Ward Park on N Pine, N Poplar, and N Smith, plus W 10th St. These spots can easily put you within 2 blocks of Tryon or Trade. Just don't forget to watch your 2 hour time limit.