20 Free, Family-Friendly Things to do in Atlanta
Enjoy some of the best attractions in the capital of the Peach state without spending a dime!
Atlanta is a bustling metropolis of suburbia—it is spread out more than most big cities and full of parks, hotels, and shopping, shopping, shopping. There is a lot to do in Atlanta, and a lot to spend money on. But hey, even those of us on a budget would like to enjoy the city, right?
For just such an occasion I have compiled this list of my twenty most favorite free things to do in Atlanta, GA.
1. Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center
This hotel lobby is also a food court, seating area and general great place to get out of the Georgia heat without paying for the air conditioning. Located in downtown Atlanta it’s right in the heart of the action, steps from the Marta public transport and an all around pretty cool experience. Located inside the CNN center it’s often a feeding ground for convention goers being hosted at the hotel. Its open to the public, though, and worth stopping in, if for no other reason than the one of a kind atmosphere.
The Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center is located at 100 CNN Center NW, Atlanta, GA 30303, United States
How could Ikea not be on this list? I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a good day at Ikea. Even if you’re not planning to buy anything, the Ikea showrooms provide endless ideas for furniture configurations and small space living. If you’re the type that enjoys using your imagination and telling a good story, I have it on good authority that staging photos with your friends in the various rooms can be hours of fun.
IKEA Atlanta is located at 441 16th St NW, Atlanta, GA 30363, United States.
Mondays to Sundays, 10am - 9pm
3. Centennial Park
Built in 1996 when Atlanta hosted the Olympic games, the park features large areas of green space and an in-ground fountain in the shape of the Olympic logo. This is a great stop in the summer if you have kids but no pool to put them in to alleviate the complaints of being too hot. Just slap some bathing suits on them and turn them loose in the fountain. I guarantee you won’t be able to drag them away. At night the fountain is beautifully lit with different colored lights and will make for quite the light show before heading home with wet, tired, but satisfied little ones.
4. Lenox Square
Arguably the nicest shopping mall in Atlanta, this is the place to go to see and be seen. Stars from tv and music are known to frequent the spot and why wouldn’t they? Featuring nearly 250 different shops and restaurants its a window shoppers dream. All the staples are represented, from Bloomingdales to Macy’s to Nike. Then there’s the luxury wing. Anchored by a three story Neiman Marcus, it’s flanked on both sides by the likes of FENDI, Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton and many more. And if the temptation is too much for you, there are stores for both MAC and Sephora in the main thoroughfare, so stop in and get yourself a complimentary makeover to take the stress off.
5. Test Drive Luxury Cars
While you’re at Lenox Square, why not test drive America’s automotive future? It’s entertaining enough to stop into the showroom and take a look at the car of the moment, Tesla’s electric supercar. With it’s high end finishes, 16” control panel touchscreen and incredible amount of legroom, even the most casual gear-head can find something to look at. And if you call ahead, you can test drive one of these beauties for, you guessed it, free.
Lenox Square is 3393 Peachtree Rd, Atlanta, GA 30326, United States
Mondays to Saturdays, 10am - 9pm
Sundays, 11am - 7pm
6. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
I get it, not everyone would go the the airport just to people watch as I have. And if you are one of my people-watching brethren, with about 1000 flights arriving and departing per day, theres plenty to watch at Atlanta International Airport. However if you’re not one to deal with airport traffic and parking just for fun, it is still an entertaining place to be if you find yourself in one of the many terminals for business rather than pleasure. And with nearly 100 million passengers per year, lets be honest, you probably will.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is located at 6000 N Terminal Pkwy, Atlanta, GA 30320, United States
7. Underground Atlanta
Another one of those sights you visit so you can get the ‘been there done that’ t-shirt. Located at the main Marta hub, its a convenient (and free) place to kill an hour or two before getting off to where you need to be. A popular tourist stop, its definitely a once in a lifetime sort of place. Underground Atlanta is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a shopping mall that is built…underground. It has a quaint little brick road and several delicious smelling candy shops and an otherwise perfect spot to spend zero dollars and still have something to talk about at dinner that night.
Underground Atlanta is located at 50 Central Ave SW #007, Atlanta, GA 30303, United States
Mondays to Thursdays, 10am - 8pm
Fridays and Saturdays, 10am - 9pm
Sundays, 12pm - 6pm
8. Free Fitness Classes
This is the Get Fit age, with everyone and their brother obsessing over how and where to get fit and live healthy. Your vacation should not be an exception. Still, who wants to wake up early and head to the hotel gym (also complimentary) to run on the treadmill before seeing the sights for the day? So don’t. You’re in Atlanta, the Peach State capital and the world is your oyster. Try something new, something different. Maybe it’ll stick when you get back home. Lots of gyms in the area offer complimentary first classes for you to come in and try out without commitment.
9. Cochran Mill Park
If you’re looking for a little oasis inside the city, there is the Cochran Mill Park. Located in southwest Atlanta, its a bit of a drive from Atlanta proper. But, I guarantee you the plethora of hiking and biking trails, waterfalls, trees and playgrounds is bound to provide as many hours of fun as you have to spare. Enjoy fresh air and quality time with family and pets in this hidden gem of an outdoor space.
The Cochran Mill Park is located at 6875 Cochran Mill Rd, Palmetto, GA 30268, United States
10. Sandy Springs Playable Art Park
Created in the spirit of educating kids of all ages on the importance of fine art and public health, this space is a crowd pleaser. It is made up of six interactive sculpture installations meant to be climbed, crawled, jumped and walked on. Located along Abernathy Road between Johnson Ferry Road and Wright Road, it is a perfect spot to enjoy those Georgia days late in the year when the humidity has been blown away by a pleasant eastern breeze and the sun shines all day long.
The Sandy Springs Playable Art Park is located at 70 Abernathy Road NW Sandy Springs, GA.
11. Atlantic Station
This is a little oasis in Midtown Atlanta only a few steps away from Ikea (see number two, in case you have forgotten, which of course you haven’t but it bears mentioning again. Have you been to Ikea??) Built around a large green space, perfect for summer festivals and enjoying all year long, the outdoor shopping center is full of shops and restaurants ranging from clothing to furniture to grocery. And, incredibly, there is free parking. That’s right, you read that correctly. The underground parking garage offers free (and convenient) parking for the first two hours. Just long enough to catch a flick at the Atlantic Station 18 IMAX. The tickets won’t be free…but at least the parking will!
12. Dekalb Farmer's Market
Think of your local farmers market. Then triple it in size, add a huge wine section, foreign foods selections and add on a section that resembles the Fulton Fish Market in New York. Foodies could spend days here in wide-eyed wonderment. Now you’ve got an idea of what to expect from Dekalb Farmer’s Market. There is food as far as the eye can see in this 140,000 square foot warehouse. Everything from spices, to wine, to fresh fruits and vegetables, to fresh sea food and did I mention wine? And I know what you’re thinking. ‘I thought this list was supposed to be free things to do? Sounds like all I’m going to do here is spend money’. It’s true, there are lots of buying opportunities at DFM, and I’m not saying that won’t happen, but you need to exercise self-control, because you’re broke. Remember?
Dekalb Farmer's Market is located at 3000 E Ponce de Leon Ave, Decatur, GA 30030, United States
Mondays to Sundays, 9am - 9pm
13. Paris On Ponce
One of the things you will find abundantly clear when visiting the south is they have a tendency to hold on to things. Traditions, heirlooms, customs and sayings. This makes for the perfect breeding ground for antiques stores, and there are many to choose from. However, if your’e looking for one of the best examples, stop in at Paris on Ponce. It’s set up in booth style rooms with a well curated collection of antiques, oddities and collectibles. Hours could (and have) been spent wandering from display to display, conjuring up histories and exchanging stories. Parents explain to children how the various elements played in their own lives and children gaze, wide-eyed, at the relics from times past. Go, enjoy, and c’est la vie. I know that doesn’t really make much sense, but hey, it’s French, just go with it.
Paris on Ponce is located at 716 Ponce De Leon Pl NE, Atlanta, GA 30306, United States.
Mondays to Saturdays, 11am - 6pm
Sundays, 12pm - 6pm
14. Atlanta Contemporary Art Center
If Monet and Picasso aren’t your style. If you prefer clean lines and hard finishes over gingerbread and poetry. If you embrace art and culture but enjoy pushing the boundaries of the accepted medium, then Atlanta Contemporary Art Center is for you. Featuring a diverse set of art forms from paintings to sculpture to performance art, visiting the Center can be an enlightening and joyful experience. And, bonus, it's free to enter from 11am - 8pm every Thursday.
The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center is located at 535 Means St NW, Atlanta, GA 30318, United States.
15. Have a great walk, exercise or take a stroll at Atlanta BeltLine
The Atlanta BeltLine is a city wide project that involves private sectors and the public into transforming the city of Atlanta's underutilized land from railways for transit trains into a greenspace featuring art, park trails, and housing. The Atlanta BeltLine was conceived by Georgia Tech student Ryan Gravel when he was still in school, where he had a vision of an Atlanta that has converted the unused area with greenspace, sustainable growth, and a great land use for housing.
There are a lot of things you can do in the BeltLine: for one you can go on a free tour to get to know the place better. You'll have options of going on a biking tour, bus tour, or a walking tour. It is an informative experience where you will get to know more about the BeltLine, which areas it covers and how it is expanding in the future.
Another great thing about the Beltline is there are tons of free activities and events that you can participate in. Here you can do yoga, Pilates, boot camps, aerobics and self defense classes for free! The BeltLine has a monthly listing of activities in the BeltLine Calendar. Check out the following activities with their following dates.
If you love cardio activity, the BeltLine also offers a series of events that involves running. The Run.Walk.GO! is one such series where there are 5k, 8k, and 10k races that will lead you to different parts of the Atlanta BeltLine, enabling locals to familiarize themselves with the different trails that are available to them.
If ever you just want to relax and play, the Atlanta BeltLine also offers a splash pad, playground, a skate park and a outdoor theater located in the Historic Fourth Ward Park. It's a great place where you and your kids can have fun on the weekends, and it is a refreshing way to relieve stress from your workplace.
Also located in the Historic Fourth Ward Park is the amphitheater where there are live music and different performances every night. It is a great place where you can set up a picnic and just enjoy the music and vibe of the BeltLine.
Art on the BeltLine is also another way to spend some time with your loved ones and family. The artworks that are found along the BeltLine are both temporary and permanent art exhibitions which changes during an annual event in the fall. Young and old artists alike showcase hundreds and hundreds of creative artworks to the public.
The Atlanta BeltLine is a great place where you and your family can spend time. The best thing about it? You won't even have to spend a single cent to have fun and bond!
The Atlanta BeltLine is located at 100 Peachtree St NW #2300, Atlanta, GA 30303, United States
16. The Fashionistas Haven: Buckhead Atlanta
Buckhead Atlanta is a mecca for those who love fashion. This is where you'll find brands like Hermes, Christian Louboutin, Tom Ford, Jimmy Choo, and many other luxury brands, and also independent labels with the latest fashions that you and your friends would love to snatch off the shelves. On a budget? Don't worry! Buckhead Atlanta is a great place where you can just walk around and window shop.
Whether you're tired from shopping or from just walking around, take a load off at the many restaurants and little cafes around the area. It's a great place to watch other fashionistas strut around wearing the latest fashions.
Buckhead Atlanta is located at Buckhead, Atlanta, GA, USA
17. Krog Street Market
Krog Street Market is a great place to just hang out, kick back and relax. Krog Street Market is a 9-acre industrial space that is turned into a hustling and bustling street market filled with different kinds of vendors, restaurants and people. Krog Street Market is a great place to explore and taste some of the creative food concocted in the kitchens of new and rising restaurants. One of the best examples are Jene's Splendid Ice Cream, whose best seller is the "Sweet Cream with Biscuits and Jam".
Or how about The Luminary for some good ol' Southern lovin'? The best seller here is the "Duck Confit with Carolina Gold Rice." Words cannot describe this flavorful dish. Comfort food at its finest!
Everybody loves BBQ, and they have the best here at the Krog Street Market: Grand Champion BBQ serves some of the most amazing ribs and possibly the best pulled pork sandwich in the city.
Lastly, Fred's Meat and Bread is one of those places with a great atmosphere where everybody loves to go to just hang out and eat, and have a beer or two. You can find sandwiches from all over the world here: a spicy Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich with kimchi, a zesty Vietnamese Banh Mi with cauliflower and eggplant, cheese steak sandwiches and burgers! Believe me, everything here is delish!
Armed with food, drinks, and sweets, you are now ready to grab a seat at the communal tables and get ready for some people watching, or even make a new friend or two. Krog Street Market is definitely the place to be to just spend some time with good friends and great food.
Krog Street Market is located at 99 Krog St NE, Atlanta, GA 30307, United States
18. Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark
Opened in spring of 2011, the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark is one of the favorite spots of skaters, athletes and families to train, goof around or just simply hang out and chill. The Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark was broken in by the skating legend himself—Tony Hawk—which made the location even more special.
The Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark is where skaters of all ages, from all over the country, flock together. The park offers world class facilities, so it really is no surprise. It is also a favorite place for professional skaters and bladers to train for their respective sports on the athletic field.
However, the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark is not only for those who love skating and sports, it also features a huge, well-equipped playground for kids and for the young at heart to play around. There's also a verdant area where families and friends can relax, have a picnic and just people watch.
The Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark is located on the Atlanta Beltline, at 830 Willoughby Way NE, Atlanta, GA 30312, United States
19. Silver Comet Trail
One of the best ways to spend time with your family and friends is to go out and exercise, and one of the best places to go is the Silver Comet Trail. This quiet and beautiful trail stretches for more than 61.5 miles, and it's really your choice if you want to either go biking, running, walking, or bust out your skates or roller blades. Heck, you can even include grandma and grandpa for the Silver Comet Trail is wheelchair accessible.
Along the Silver Comet Trail are some of the relics that shows the railroading past of Atlanta. An example would be the one at Mile Marker 23, where you can see the 700 feet long and 100 feet high Pumpkinvine Creek Trestle. At Mile Marker 30.8, you can find the Brushy Mountain Tunnel that spans for more than 700 feet. You can even go inside and explore the damp and pitch black interior, although other people say that it's spooky and haunted.
The Silver Comet Trail is a great way to sweat it out and bond with your family and friends. Great, healthy way of having fun! Along the trail are also shops where you can rent bikes, and little cafes where you can have a drink or two, or even nibble something while doing physical activities on the Silver Comet Trail.
Silver Comet Trail is a perfect choice for those who love to run, bike, and walk. With its first rate amenities and an interesting railroading history, it's exercise, fun and a history lesson all rolled up in one experience.
Silver Comet Trail is located at Mavell Road Trailhead, Smyrna, Georgia, Atlanta.
20. Autrey Mill Nature Preserve & Heritage Center
Autrey Mill Nature Preserve & Heritage Center is a 46 acre patch of land that contains a lot of history. The center features a Heritage Village that include the Farm Museum, the Summer House, the Warsaw Church, Green Country Store and a Tenant Farmhouse which dates back from sometime between the 1800s to the 1900s.
The Autrey Mill Nature Preserve & Heritage Center also features a beautiful trail that spans over 2 miles. Hikers and nature lovers will appreciate passing by the lush hardwood forest, and the verdant pine forest, which let guests relax and immerse themselves in in nature. The Autrey Mill Nature Preserve & Heritage Center is also home to 28 species of trees and more than 110 species of wildlife. The Autrey Mill Nature Preserve & Heritage Center truly is a great place to spend some time by yourself or with family in a beautiful natural setting.
Kids would love the animal exhibits at Autrey Mill Nature Preserve & Heritage Center—it is a great way for kids to get to know some of the animals that are living and being taken care of by the center. Two black vultures call the center home, along with an assortment of rescued wild animals that can no longer be released back into the wild. More interactive animal exhibits are also available for the kids to learn how to take care and feed animals like ducks, chickens, rabbits, and even a giant tortoise! The center also hosts summer camps.
The Autrey Mill Nature Preserve & Heritage Center is truly a fun and educational place for both adults and kids, and the greatest thing is that its totally free! All you just have to go there!
Autrey Mill Nature Preserve & Heritage Center is located at 9770 Autrey Mill Rd, Johns Creek, GA 30022, United States
Phone: +1 678-366-3511
Mondays to Sundays 10AM - 4PM
Even in a city with as many exciting and tempting ways to spend money as Atlanta, the frugal and adventurous among us can still find a way to spend the day enjoying themselves without spending a dime. Have you tried any of the above listed ideas? What did you think? Any other suggestions we missed? Get in touch with us! We’re always looking for feedback and new ideas.
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