Need to pinch a penny? Looking for free things to do in Atlanta, around the metro and in the mountains? We love how much there is to do affordably in our area.
We’ve included things most locals know about like Piedmont Park, and Atlantic Station, but did you know you can visit the Children’s Museum for free? Plus we have lots of things you’ve probably never heard of, like the Castleberry Hill Art Stroll or the Schoolbus Graveyard.
Did we miss your favorite? Let us know!
16 waterfalls within a hours drive… a gorgeous walkable downtown area, complete with awesome selfie spots like the Blue Ridge mural or the scenic railway… hiking trails.. art galleries… a swinging bridge… 65 miles of shoreline along Lake Blue Ridge…
There is no better getaway than Blue Ridge, Georgia especially with so many beautiful (and free!) sites and adventures. You could fill an entire weekend.
COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN ATLANTA
- Best for Foodies: Built by Coca-Cola magnate Asa Griggs Candler in 1906, The Candler Hotel Atlanta is on the National Register of Historic Places. Classic style and art deco glamour infuse this hotel, located minutes from downtown Atlanta attractions. Their restaurant, By George, brings you the culinary talents of celebrity Chef Hugh Acheson, specializing in Southern cuisine.
- Best Luxury Stay: Nestled into the heart of downtown, The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta celebrates contemporary Southern luxury. Escape to long brunches and leisurely dinners at AG, the hotel’s modern bar and steakhouse. Enjoy live entertainment Tuesday through Saturday evenings at Lumen, their popular bar.
- Best Rooftop Bar: Glenn Hotel is a boutique hotel in downtown Atlanta with an amazing rooftop bar overlooking Centennial Olympic Park. SkyLounge is an one-of-a-kind rooftop bar and lounge with an outdoor terrace and covered seating. You're sure to love it.
FREE INSIDE THE PERIMETER
Art on the Beltline – Check out dozens of public art exhibits on the Atlanta Beltline, via walking or biking, and be sure to stop at the Skate Park and Playground. We also love the events they hold on a regular basis - tree walks, yoga, and more. See the calendar here.
Fernbank Science Center - Visit the observatory and exhibits for free; planetarium shows are just a few bucks.
GA State Capitol - You can see great artifacts from the state (even a two headed cow!) It’s a fun introduction to Georgia history!
Little Shop of Stories - Little Shop of Stories is every mom’s dream. It’s a book store that engages kids of all ages, with awesome murals, great books, a play section and tons of scheduled events.
Center for Puppetry Arts - Not totally free, but discounted, so we wanted to tell you about it. Families with a valid library card can check out the Center’s “Passport to Puppetry” at any participating public library in any GA county. With the passport, you’ll receive 25% off of an All-Inclusive ticket (up to four tickets). The All-Inclusive ticket includes a Family Series Performance, a Create-A-Puppet Workshop, and entry to the Museum! Check with your local library for full terms and conditions.
Want a truly free experience? The Passport grants you access to the museum without charge. Also, if you live in Fulton County, you can see a show on most First Saturdays for free.
The Breman Museum. Patrons can now check out a Breman Family Pass from any of the 407 public libraries in Georgia. When checked out, just like any other library item, and taken to the Breman Museum, it is good for four free general admissions. The Breman Museum is a Jewish culture, arts and history museum, that is home to both permanent and visiting exhibits.
Federal Reserve Museum - Learn about why the government thinks we need a Federal Reserve System, how the government controls the money supply, and kids will love to see what $1 million looks like! Self-guided free tours happen on weekdays only.
Children's Museum of Atlanta - With the new renovations, this is one of our favorite children's museums. CMA in downtown Atlanta offers four Family Free Days each year. You must pre-register beforehand. Expect a crowd too because this is one of Atlanta's most popular freebies for families. Fulton County Free Days are also available.
Historic Oakland Cemetery - The flowers are bursting with color, and they look magnificent against the aging tombstones of our cities historical figures. Bring a picnic and explore! They also have free tours through their mobile apps.
Visit Woodruff Park - With a Peace Fountain, public art and sculptures, and unique playground, a courtyard plaza, free WiFi, bocce ball, table tennis, special events, and plenty of green space, a visit to Woodruff Park is the perfect way to spend a day.
Centennial Olympic Park - Enjoy a piece of history at this Downtown Atlanta park, with a playground and fountain of rings that are perfect for cooling off in during summer as they dance to the music. Every Wednesday (June - Sept) from 5:30-8:00 p.m. experience Wednesday Wind Down and free music.
Clyde Shepard Nature Preserve - It’s tucked away in the back of a neighborhood in Decatur, and the kids will love it. There are several trails, but they are all only .1 or .2 miles each.
Living Walls Atlanta - You might have noticed a series of masterful new murals springing up over Atlanta. These are part of a new art stroll program in the city: Living Walls Atlanta. Their mission is to educate and change the perspective about communities via street art.
City of Atlanta Public Art App - Find beautiful murals and other public art in Atlanta with the free City of Atlanta.
Blue Heron Nature Preserve. Blue Heron is a 30-acre haven for nature in the midst of urban north Atlanta. Hike through four distinct habitats: pond, meadow, wetland, and woodland.
CDC Museum - Learn about the history of the Centers for Disease Control and how scientists work to crack the cases of mystery diseases. Admission and parking are free on weekdays.
MLK National Historic Site – See the Civil Rights Hall of Fame, tour the Visitor Center, visit Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King Jr preached. Visit Dr. King’s tomb, see the Eternal Flame, visit the first integrated fire station, and tour Dr. King’s birth home.
Lullwater Creek - Lullwater Park is a haven for kids, with an old mill to see, a 210-foot-long suspension bridge to cross, mini waterfalls to behold, and much to explore.
Piedmont Park - Awesome open play spaces, a great lake where you can capture a picture perfect skyline selfie, and one of Atlanta's best playgrounds. We also like to watch the dogs play at the dog park at Piedmont Park, and if the timing is right, you can catch free live music while the sun sets behind the Atlanta skyline near Park Tavern. Free concerts take place every Sunday in the Park Tavern tent adjacent to Piedmont Park from 7:30p to 11p.
Atlantic Station. Check out the seasonal free events in Central Park -- they've got some good ones. From the Spooky Film Festival in the fall, to the holiday lights in the winter, and the movies in Central Park during summertime -- they always have something fun going on.
The Goat Farm - The Goat Farm served as District 12 in the second Hunger Games movie. It is also home to several art studios and a wonderful place to let the kids let off some steam while you snap a few shots.
Carter Center - Take a stroll through the grounds to see the Circle of Flags from all 50 states, a rose garden, Japanese garden and koi pond. Inside, the library and museum cost a bit, but children under 16 are free.
Take A Selfie - Arguably one of the most popular places to take a selfie in Atlanta is on the Jackson Street Bridge. In fact, there are even plans to build a mini park here because so many people love it. Try street parking on the side streets for now, and getting there for sunset is awesome.
Castleberry Hill Art Stroll. This one is probably for older children, but the second Friday of every month Castleberry Hill's galleries and shops are open late. Come early for a family friendly environment and to see why this neighborhood was named one of the Top 10 Arts Districts in the Country!
Chastain Park - Hike the gorgeous trails, play on the playground, and enjoy the multiple events held here, like the Arts Festival.
Georgia Aquarium - You can get into the aquarium for FREE on your birthday. And while I'll admit that adding it here is cheating a little bit, there is just so much to do there that is included with your ticket!
Visit a Food/Shopping Market - We love window shopping and exploring new sites and sounds at Historic Fourth Ward's Krog Street Market or Ponce City Market. I know, the rooftop at PCM is a splurge, but it's always worth a visit if you can find some coinage in the couch. Don't forget Sweet Auburn Market, too...it's right on the trolley line. OTPers, check out the new Marietta Square Market.
FREE IN METRO ATLANTA
Anne Frank Exhibit - The exhibit promotes the legacy of Anne Frank’s message which is that even a small number of people can bring about great changes when they embrace tolerance, promote diversity, and persist in seeing the goodness in humanity.
Marietta Fire Museum - See fire trucks and memorabilia at the Fire Museum in Marietta. There are two floors of interesting paraphernalia, including a collection of antique fire apparatus, tools, and gear dating back to 1854. Call ahead to schedule group tours.
Autrey Mill - Autrey Mill has over 2 miles of nature trails that feature a walk through a hardwood forest to a pine forest. There is plenty to explore with bridges, an outlook, a farmer’s attempt to discover gold, foundations stones of the old mill, plus benches and pavilions.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park - Seventeen miles of interpretive trails, monuments and a museum help visitors understand the Battle of Atlanta during the Civil War. If you have kids, try the Jr Ranger program.
Big Trees Forest Preserve - There are hiking trails, streams, bridges, wildflowers, and towering trees. This unassuming forest in Sandy Springs is hidden from most passers-by because the entrance is in the parking lot of a local office building.
Dunwoody Nature Center - We usually start at the treehouse, then make our rounds along the boardwalk. We’ll play at the playground and finish up that trail, which ends back at the creek. (The playground here is really, really great!)
Newman Wetlands Center - I encourage you to go early in the morning to enjoy the birds and turtles and fish before the day gets hot. The visitor center has several great displays, and there is a half-mile boardwalk around the pond.
Noah’s Ark - Noah’s Ark is an animal rehab location south of the city. Admission is free to see all sorts of animals (including the famous Bear and Tiger that live together), but consider a donation while you're there.
Paper Mill Ruins - Sope Creek is an easy trail for the kids with much to explore. There is a man made lake, a creek with gorgeous rocks and water (a fun place to throw rocks in the summer), and mill ruins.
Sandy Springs Playable Art Park - Enjoy six art installations, all for kids to play on and crawl over. One is a swing set; the rest are primarily for climbing, sliding, and having fun.
Sawnee Nature Preserve – Explore the nature center, play in the Woldorf-esque playground, see the treehouse, walk the fairy garden or climb to the top for great views.
Stone Mountain Laser Show - Watch a great laser show projected on the largest granite outcrop in the world. It’s all set to music with impressive fireworks thrown in for good measure. The show is free, but you must pay to park. I say go early and climb the mountain to the top - it's free and the view is spectacular.
Bike the Silver Comet Trail - This quiet, non-motorized trail is for walkers, runners, hikers, bicyclists, rollerbladers, dog walkers, and is wheelchair accessible – which means it’s perfect for strollers too.
FREE NORTH OF ATLANTA
Mountain Crossings - The building was completed in 1937, the same year that the Appalachian Trail was completed, and it marks the only covered part of the trail -- the AT runs right through the building!
Babyland General Hospital - Now your kids can pick their favorite Cabbage Patch Doll straight from the source. See a Cabbage Patch baby be born, and roam the store full of other toys and fun surprises.
Bear Hollow Zoo – It’s in Athens, but worth a visit if you’re in the area. Kids can see bears, eagles, and other animals up close. On Saturdays, families can visit from 1 – 4pm for live animal encounters.
Denton Branch Falls – This is one of my favorite waterfalls in Georgia, so don’t tell anyone! The hike is only 2/10 of a mile, but the falls are so gorgeous it’s worth a visit. You can swim at the bottom of the falls, and escape for the day.
Elachee Nature Center - Stick with hiking, which is free. There are short trails and longer trails (2+ miles) which lead to a 140′ suspension bridge.
Folk Art Garden - It’s about an acre of miniature castles, homes, and such…all painstakingly built of pebbles, shells, ceramic tile, glass, and cement. There are about 50 structures of varying sizes gathered between plants and shrubs to look like a fairytale village. The tallest one is maybe four feet!
Goats on the Roof –It’s a gift shop…a restaurant with fudge and ice cream…and an arcade. But you really go for the goats. They walk along the roofs of the building complex.
Labyrinth in Rome - Right up the hill from this cool labyrinth is the Rome Visitor Center where you can learn about several other places to visit, like Berry College or Ridge Ferry Park. Rome is worth a day of exploration (or more)!
FREE SOUTH, EAST, OR WEST OF ATLANTA
National Infantry Museum. This museum located on the base of Fort Benning near Columbus, Ga. was voted the best free museum in American by USA Today.
Museum of Aviation - Do you have a want-to-be pilot in your life? The Museum of Aviation at Warner Robins will elicit a full day’s worth of grins and giggles.
Arabia Mountain - We love the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. You can tour the nature center, visit the lake to take a hike, or just enjoy the green spaces.
Georgia Guidestones - The Georgia Guidestones are a roadside attraction, not a destination in and of themselves. Catch them on your way to Watson Mill Bridge State Park or Richard B Russell State Park.
Reynolds Nature Preserve - There are 146 acres here and three trails -- two are 1 mile and a third is 1.5 miles. The trails are easy for younger kiddos, but the habitats are diverse enough to keep older ones engaged also.
FREE THINGS TO DO IN ATLANTA IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
Play With The Pup - Take Fido for some fun at one of Atlanta's many dog parks!
Find a Playground - We're excited about this list of the best Atlanta Parks and playgrounds - there is sure to be one near you!
Find a festival - Most of Atlanta's festivals are FREE and so much fun! Here are our favorite Spring and Summer Festivals. For fall festivals, check here. And don't discount the myriad free community music festivals around the state.
Play at a local splash pad - Beat the heat with these water-fun locations near you
Watch an outdoor summer movie - there are a number of places offering free movies this summer, and there is bound to be one near you.
Summer Reading Programs - Got kids? These free summer reading programs offer children lovely incentives for completion.
Eat at a local restaurant – Well, your meal won’t be free – but the kids can eat free if you follow our handy guide. Be sure to tell us of any non-chain, locally-owned establishment that isn’t listed!
Take A Hike – If you’re hiking outside the Georgia State Park system, most hikes are free. (Georgia State Parks charge a $5 parking fee.) Click through to see 125 fun hikes, all under 2 miles.
Visit a Skate Park - If you’re bold enough, then bring the skateboard, helmet, and ….first aid kit (?) and head for one of the skate parks around Atlanta. The Old Fourth Ward Skate Park off the Atlanta Beltline is one of our favorites. If you’re not so brave (like me) then venture to a skate park as a spectator.
Window Shop at a local Flea Market - There are just so many around the state, and the potential for fun is great. Even the kids will love this "life-size" scavenger hunt for great finds.
Travel the World at the Farmers Market - You'll find items from every corner of the earth at the Buford Highway Farmers Market. Or just taste fare that's made right here in Georgia.
Bowling - Kids bowl free in the summer at many lanes around town. Click through for the latest list. Also, we LOVE Painted Pin. ON Saturdays kids are welcome, and all the additional games beyond blowing are free here.
FOR THE LOCALS: 11 FREE THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR LIBRARY CARD
Yes, it's true that you can travel the world with a book, but with your library card, you can explore unique places right here in Georgia!
These programs have provided hundreds of hours of free programming for public library patrons while saving Georgia families more than $13 million in the last 13 years.
Use your free library card at every library in Georgia to "check out" these special programs. Most passes must be used within seven days, but some can be renewed once, so don't hesitate!
CHATTAHOOCHEE NATURE CENTER
Check out passes to CNC. The pass is good for four people to get free general admission to CNC’s 127-acre site in Roswell.
During summer months, CNC’s popular Butterfly Encounter is open every day, allowing guests to walk among hundreds of butterflies. If patrons plan to visit between June 6th and August 2nd, the 30 minute window after their arrival is also their designated time window to visit the Butterfly Encounter exhibit.
Poseidon is a traveling educational toolkit and exhibit of curated technology and activities jointly designed by Georgia Public Library Service and the Georgia Aquarium to take the Aquarium’s mission of community outreach, conservation support, and rescue and rehabilitation of marine life outside of the Aquarium’s walls. The kit is available to public libraries only, don't miss out on your Poseidon Educational Loaner Kit, and while not free, discounts are offered for the Aquarium so you can take advantage of the kit!
CENTER FOR PUPPETRY ARTS
The Passport to Puppetry admits four people to the World of Puppetry Museum or a patron can receive a 25% discount on an All-Inclusive Ticket. By using the code LIBRARY, patrons may pre-purchase their All-Inclusive ticket online in advance.
An All-Inclusive ticket is for one person and includes a Family Series Performance, a Create-A-Puppet Workshop, and admission to the Museum. Note: the center uses time ticketing. When using your passport, patrons MUST call the center first to set up a date and time to visit.
BREMAN FAMILY PASS
The Family Pass provides free admission for up to four people to the Breman Museum. The Pass launched in April 2019 and is accompanied by a traveling exhibit "Eighteen Artifacts: A Story of Jewish Atlanta," a set of 10 banners containing 20 panels representing key aspects of the standing exhibit of the same name at the Museum. The exhibit is currently in the Worth County Library System at the Sylvester-Margaret Jones Library. We hope the Pass and the exhibit introduces patrons to rich cultural history of Jewish people, especially those in Georgia.
The Breman Museum is open on Sundays ONLY from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Patrons wishing to visit the museum using the Family Pass MUST make ticket reservations online before visiting the museum. Patrons MUST bring the Family Pass to the Breman Museum to fully redeem your free admission.
GO FISH ED CENTER
Go Fish Education Center Family Pass admits up to four people to the Go Fish Education Center in Perry for free. A goal of this program is to draw attention to the conservation and preservation efforts of the Department of Natural Resources, specifically Georgia's aquatic habitats and species.
MACON MUSEUM PASS
This pass is unique in Georgia as it allows free admission for up to four people to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Museum of Arts and Sciences, and Tubman Museum. It is also accompanied by a traveling exhibit of banners on loan to us from Visit Macon. These eight banners highlight and celebrate the three Macon museums and the Ocmulgee National Monument. Please check with your local library or view the tour schedule here if you are interested in seeing the exhibit.
FOX IN THE BOX
Through the partnership with the Fox Theatre Institute, “Fox in a Box” will give Georgians of all ages an opportunity to learn about the rich history of the Fox Theatre and America through engaging, family-friendly learning sessions. This interactive banner exhibit focuses on how important events in the Fox Theatre’s timeline intersect with American history, the Civil Rights movement, economics, and the importance of communities.
The Zoo is accepting walk-up visits from library patrons who have a Library Pass receipt. Check out the DVD from your library, take it home, watch it, and when you return it to your library on time and in good condition, you will receive a pass receipt which, as a one-time use, admits up to three people to Zoo Atlanta.
You have twenty-eight days from the DVD return date and receive the pass receipt to redeem it. To redeem the pass receipt, you must take it to the Zoo and present the pass receipt and library card used to check out the DVD at the Admissions gate.
- The pass receipt is redeemable Monday through Friday only.
- The Zoo DVD has a circulation period of seven days and may not be renewed.
- The DVD does not serve as a pass and should not be taken to the zoo.
- Blackout dates occur, so check before visiting.
GEORGIA NATIONAL FAIR
The Georgia National Fair provides one Family Four Pack of tickets to the Georgia National Fair to every library branch.
Georgia Farm Bureau and Georgia Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture present one copy of a selected book to every library branch. This book is typically the winner of the Book of Year Award from the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.
GEORGIA STATE PARKS
Use your public library card and check out a “ParkPass,” which exempts you from paying the daily parking fee at state parks. The Historic Sites Family Pass exempts up to four visitors from admission fees to state historic sites operated by Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites and a Discovery Backpack! The Discovery Backpack consists of a backpack with binoculars and three foldout, weatherproof guides: Georgia’s Trees; Georgia’s Wildlife; Georgia’s Trees and Wildflowers.
MICHAEL C. CARLOS MUSEUM
When checked out, the Pass is taken to the Michael C. Carlos Museum on the Emory University campus where it allows up to six free admissions to the museum. Children must be accompanied by their parents.
During the summer, the Carlos offers “Wrapped Up In Reading.” A reading list and reading diary are available online through the Carlos or GPLS. When a child reads five books from the reading list, they contact the museum, schedule a visit, and meet with the Director of Education to receive a goodie bag of items related to the Carlos exhibits and collections.
MORE FREE AROUND THE COUNTRY
- Free in Decatur, GA
- Free in Sandy Springs, GA
- Free in Columbus, GA
- Free in Rome, GA
- Free in McDonough, GA
- Free in Nashville, TN
- Free in Memphis, TN
- Free in Myrtle Beach, SC
- Free in Miami, FL
- Free in Houston, TX
- Free in Chicago, IL
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