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 free? Plus we have lots of things you’ve probably never heard of like the Castleberry Hill Art Stroll, Georgia Guidestones or the fairy gardens at Sleepy Hollow. Did we miss your favorite? Let us know!
Nothing says summertime like watching your favorite movies under the stars in the glow of Atlanta’s skyline. The 2018 season of Movies in Central Park will feature “The Best of a Decade,” and highlight films from the 2000s.
Movies in Central Park begins on May 17 and lasts through the end of July. To view the film lineup, please visit Atlantic Station’s event page (link below). All films will begin promptly at dusk.
This season, don’t miss a special Mother’s Day screening of “Freaky Friday” on Saturday, May 12.
Free Inside The Perimeter
Fernbank Science Center - Visit the observatory and exhibits for free; planetarium shows are 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 Art - The Center for Puppetry Arts is free to Fulton County residents on the first Saturday of every month.
High Museum - Walk-up admission to the High Museum of Art is free 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 gov't 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 is free the second Tuesday of each month...just expect a crowd. 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…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.
Visit the Reading Room at Woodruff Park - This outdoor library is a partnership between Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library.
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 pm experience Wednesday Wind Down and free music.
Clyde Shepard Nature Preserve - It’s tucked away in the back of a neighborhood in Decatur! 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.
Lullwater Creek - Lullwater Park is a haven for kids, with an old mill to see, a 210 ft long suspension bridge to cross, mini water falls to behold, and much to explore.
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.
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.
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 sunsets behind the Atlanta skyline near Park tavern. Concerts take place every Sunday in Piedmont Park at 7pm.
Atlantic Station. Check out the seasonal free events in Central Park from the Spooky Film Festival in fall, to holiday lights in the winter and outdoor movies during summertime. We love Movies in Central Park in the summer, as well!
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!
Late Eats - You've just finished a concert and hanging out with the friends, and you're famished. No worries - Argosy has you covered. Purchase 2 draft beers and get a free wood-fire pizza after 11pm - any night of the week!
Chastain Park - Hike the gorgeous trails, play on the playground, and multiple events 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, I want to make sure you know about all the FREE things you get with your ticket...it's not just for general admission.
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 shell find some coinage in the couch. Don't forget Sweet Auburn Market, too...it's right on the trolley line. OPTers keep your eyes peeled for the new Food market coming to Marietta.
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.
Autrey Mill - Autrey Mill has over 2 miles of nature trails that feature a walk through a hardwood forest to 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 a parking lot of a local office building.
Dunwoody Nature Center - We usually start at the treehouse, then make our rounds along the board walk. We’ll play at the playground and finish up that trail, which ends back at the creek.
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 are 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!
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, the canvas for the Stone Mountain carving of confederate leaders. It’s all set to music with impressive fireworks thrown in for good measure. 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, hikers, bicyclists, rollerbladers, dog walkers, and is wheelchair accessible – which means it’s perfect for strollers too.
Free North of Atlanta
Mayfield Dairy - Are you a fan of Mayfield Milk? Did you know it all starts in Braselton, and you can tour the facility? Be ready for the excitement at the entrance – there is a huge gift store with tons of toys. But there is also a place for kids to sit and color or watch a milking movie. Cooper loved “milking” the cow, and don’t forget the ice cream at the end of your journey! The tour is free, but you might want to bring a few dollars for ice cream.
Babyland General Hospital - Now your kids can pick their favorite cabbage patch doll straight from the source. See a Cabbage Patch baby 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 falls 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 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!)
Sleepy Hollow - Sleepy Hollow is a store AND an “enchanted garden” of fairies and gnomes. The fairy homes found here are the work of Art Millican, Jr, a former Disney artist and model-maker. This is truly one of those secret great places near Atlanta.
Free South or West of Atlanta
Museum of Aviation - Do you have a want-to-be pilot in your life? TheMuseum of Aviation at Warner Robbins 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, 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 to list 50 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 Atalnta'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. 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 fair 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