Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by @benjamingalland
20 Free Things to Do in Metro Atlanta
Some of metro Atlanta's most well-known attractions are also some of its most affordable. Below are 20 free things to do the whole family will enjoy.
At the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area and Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve located about 20 miles east of downtown Atlanta, you can roam the mountain, farmland, lakes, hiking trails and a nature preserve on more than 2,000 acres. Join interpretive hikes and guided walks, fish in the lakes, bike more than 33 miles of trails and much more. To record your adventure, don't forget to get your stamp in the National Parks Passport Book!
Before you go, check out these Insider Tips for Visiting Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area.
Take a guided walking tour of the 22-mile Atlanta BeltLine, a transit, trails and parks project connecting Atlanta's neighborhoods. Or, just jump on at any point and follow it, enjoying fresh air, art installations, city views, fascinating Atlanta history, and every season of horticulture interest. Stop along the way to grab a bite to eat and a drink at the many restaurants lining the path.
Find places to eat, drink and shop in The Ultimate Guide to the Atlanta BeltLine.
Atlanta Monetary Museum
Self-guided tours of the Atlanta Monetary Museum explain the history of money and the Federal Reserve's role in the economy. The museum features interactive, multimedia exhibits, and a view of automated vault and cash-processing areas that move, count and sort millions of dollars daily. The museum is free and open on weekdays.
Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center
At the Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center in Johns Creek, you can walk three miles of trails on 46 acres, see animal exhibits, and tour buildings reminiscent of rural Georgia in Heritage Village. Meet Pebbles, an African spurred tortoise; Maggie, a Nigerian dwarf goat; Ginny, a rabbit; and many more friendly animals. Check the lineup of family activities for special events at the nature preserve.
The Carter Center
Take a free stroll through the grounds to see the Circle of Flags from all 50 states, a rose garden, the Peace Bell, Japanese garden and koi pond. The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum costs $8 for adults; children under 16 are free. On Saturday mornings, enjoy the Freedom Farmers Market, which features a wide range of organic and local products, chef demonstrations and live music.
Centennial Olympic Park
Relax in the well-groomed, 22-acre park that pays homage to the 1996 Olympics. Cool off in the iconic Fountain of Rings, take a selfie at The Spectacular, and enjoy the playgrounds, gardens, and expansive lawns. The park hosts a wide variety of free events all year.
Nearby ticketed attractions include the Georgia Aquarium, Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame, World of Coca-Cola and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Center for Puppetry Arts
Georgia residents with library cards can check out the "Passport to Puppetry" at any participating public library to receive free admission for four people to Center for Puppetry Arts museum exhibits. The passport also can be used to receive 25% off an all-inclusive ticket, which includes a Family Series Performance, a Create-A-Puppet Workshop, and the museum. Fulton County residents also receive free museum admission on select dates. Read complete details online.
Concerts & Festivals
Check Explore Georgia's events calendar for free festivals and concerts! You'll find a never-ending selection of festivals celebrating holidays, seasons, arts, food, music, culture and much more. Mark your calendars for events like the Sweet Auburn Springfest in May, the Atlanta Jazz Festival on Memorial Day weekend, and Alpharetta's Wire & Wood Music Festival in the fall.
Fernbank Science Center
Visit the Fernbank Science Center observatory and exhibits for free, and parking is free, too. Explore live animal exhibits and a live honey bee hive, an extensive taxidermy collection, and space exhibits, including the real Apollo 6 space capsule and a meteorite collection. Planetarium shows are $10 adults, $5 students and include entry into the exhibit hall. Before your trip, review the center's visitation information.
Georgia Capitol Museum
See government in action under the Gold Dome, constructed from 1884-1889. The Georgia Capitol Museum and Tour Program includes historic flags and artifacts. See dioramas that display the major climate regions of Georgia: mountains, piedmont, plain, swamp, and coast. See Georgia’s Official State Symbols along with artifacts from Georgia’s earliest populations.
Georgia Governor's Mansion
Tours of the 18-acre estate and 24,000-square-foot Governor's Mansion with antique furnishings offer history lessons from 1780-1820. Docents stationed in each room teach you about the collections, but you may go from room to room at your own pace. Many of the docents have volunteered at the Governor's Mansion under several Governors and are as much a part of the tour as the collection itself. Prepare for your trip with this virtual tour, and review the mansion's visitation information.
High Museum of Art
The High Museum of Art, Atlanta’s premier art museum, has more than 11,000 pieces, from African and folk art to photography and decorative art. Explore the renowned collection of historical and contemporary art, tour special exhibitions, and participate in thoughtful programming. Admission is free for everyone on the second Sunday of each month from 12 - 5 p.m. All active and veteran military personnel along with one guest are free every day.
Seventeen miles of interpretive trails, monuments and a museum at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park help visitors understand the Battle of Atlanta during the Civil War. Watch a 35-minute movie on the Atlanta Campaign and Battle of Kennesaw, see artifacts recovered onsite, take a guided hike, bring a picnic, and more. Day passes are $5, and the National Park Service offers several fee free days each year.
Marietta Fire Museum
At the Marietta Fire Museum located just two blocks off the Historic Marietta Square, antique firefighting equipment and five trucks are on display, including an 1879 Silsby Steamer. See a collection of antique fire apparatus, tools, and gear dating back to 1854. Learn how the fire department has changed over time through a self-guided tour, or call ahead to schedule a guided tour for a more memorable experience.
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park
Pay respects to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park. The great civil rights leader grew up in a modest two-story home, preserved as it was when he was a child. Tour King's birth home, visit the King Center and explore Atlanta's Sweet Auburn Historic District, the center of one of the city's most important historical African American communities.
Find more things to do nearby in How to Spend a Day in Atlanta's Sweet Auburn Historic District.
Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary
See animals of all stripes at Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary, a wildlife rehabilitation center. Walk the approximately one-mile trail throughout the habitat to see all of the animals, including Baloo, an American black bear; Shere Khan, a Bengal tiger; Dorothy the llama, and many more. Each enclosure has a sign posted with an informative description of that animal. Tuesday through Saturday 12 - 3 p.m. Call before visiting.
*Note, this attraction is closed until late spring 2023.
In Piedmont Park in Atlanta, stroll around Lake Clara Meer and along the paths through the 211-acre park's green spaces. Children can play on a work of art or the restored Noguchi Playscape with slides, swings and seesaws. Take Fido for off-leash fun in the dog park area. Cool off in the free Legacy Fountain Splash Pad, and swim for free in the swimming pool 4-5 p.m. weekdays Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Silver Comet Trail
Joggers, walkers, in-line skaters, horse riders and bicyclers flock to the 61-mile paved Silver Comet Trail, which begins in Smyrna and extends through Polk County. Pass breathtaking trestles, a 700-foot-long tunnel, some of the most beautiful vistas in Georgia, and four towns with restaurants and shops. It then connects with Alabama’s 33-mile Chief Ladiga Trail. Keep an eye out for these seven surprising sights along the way.
Tiny Doors, Murals & Public Art
Tiny Doors ATL adds whimsy to some of the city's iconic landmarks and neighborhoods. Created by artist Karen Anderson Singer, they reflect the spirit, architecture and character of the surrounding communities in which they are installed.
As you drive around communities hunting for the doors, you'll also find delightful surprises on buildings, bridges, walls and more. The rise of arts conferences like Living Walls and Outer Space have expanded the mural scene in the Atlanta area. Artists like Greg Mike, Yoyo Ferro, and Squishypuss have gained followings in their own right.
Follow this Guide to Atlanta's Best Neighborhoods for Colorful Street Art.
Explore Atlanta's largest greenspace, Westside Park, which opened in August 2021, featuring panoramic views of the Bellwood Quarry Reservoir and the Atlanta skyline. Fans of "The Walking Dead," "Stranger Things" and "The Hunger Games" might recognize the quarry as a filming location. The 280-acre park (nearly 100 acres larger than Piedmont Park) has a playground and 2.5 miles of ADA-accessible trails that connect to the Proctor Creek Greenway.