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 Georgia Guidestones.
Did we miss your favorite? Let us know!
Free Inside The Perimeter
Fernbank Science Center - Visit the observatory and exhibits for free; planetarium shows are just a few bucks.
Family Fun at the Woodruff Arts Center - Family-oriented programming led by the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and High Museum of Art features various free activities beginning at 1 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month. Activities include family festivals, art-making, interactive musical story times, composers-in-training sessions, instrument making, drop-in acting classes and more.
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.
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.
High Museum - Walk-up admission to the High Museum of Art offers free admission for Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders on the first Saturday and Sunday of each month. Also, don't miss Second Sundays - always FREE!
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.
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.
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 greenspace, 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.
Where to Stay in Downtown Atlanta
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.
Sandy Springs Turtle Tours – A boardwalk and small garden at The Heritage are wonderful. It’s a fun place for some (reserved) water play in summer. It’s also a great “short hike” for little legs on a winter afternoon. You can go at any time; you don’t have to wait for a Turtle Tour! Turtle Tours happen every second Thursday of the month from 11:30am to 12:30pm. (NOTE: Turtle Tours are not currently on the schedule for 2021.)
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
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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 In Your Neighborhood
Find a Playground - We're excited about this list of the best Atlanta Parks and playgrounds - there is sure to be one near you!
Play With The Pup - Take Fido for some fun at one of Atlanta's many dog parks!
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. And check out our 52 Hike Challenge for Kids in Atlanta and North Georgia.
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.
More FREE In Georgia and The South
- Free in Decatur, GA
- Free in Sandy Springs, GA
- Free in Columbus, GA
- Free in Rome, GA
- Free in Nashville, TN
- Free in Memphis, TN
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