There are plenty of awesome family activities in Atlanta that cost money (like going to the Georgia Aquarium, for example). But I’m all about doing the free and low-cost things with my young daughter – mostly because her attention span is incredibly short. Here are my top five free things to do with kids in Atlanta and the surrounding area:
The Atlanta metro area has so many playgrounds that you could go to a different one every day. We love the Decatur Toy Park because it has a number of donated toys that we don’t have at home. Some parks with great playgrounds include Avondale, Brook Run, Murphey Candler, Chastain, and Medlock. We also like going to the Historic Fourth Ward, Centennial, and Piedmont parks for their fun splash pads.
There are also lots of walking and hiking paths in the city.
To find hikes throughout north Georgia, I use the Atlanta Trails website, which includes information about parking and fees. The Beltline, for example, is great both for children learning to ride a bike and for families who just want to walk and explore together. You can also see amazing art and take a break inside Ponce City Market or Krog Street Market to cool off.
When it’s too hot to be outside, you can check out the area’s museums. Many have free days, but they are extremely crowded. (The Children’s Museum of Atlanta, for example, might have a one-hour line to get inside for its monthly Target Free Tuesday.) You could try a museum that’s free year-round:
- The Woodruff Arts Center has free art activities every Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.
- The Marietta Fire Museum is free for kids every day.
- Learn how money is made at the Atlanta Monetary Museum — without spending a dime.
- The Georgia State Capitol offers free guided tours on weekdays.
- The King Center explores life and legacy of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
- The Governor’s Mansion offers free self-guided tours from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
- Babyland General shows how Cabbage Patch Kids are born and cared for at the hospital. It’s an hour and a half north of Atlanta.
- The Museum of Aviation on Robins Air Force Base has 85 U.S. Air Force aircraft, missiles, and more. It’s an hour and a half south of Atlanta.
3. Library Passes
You can get free tickets to Zoo Atlanta and other attractions around the area with your library card. Each county library has slightly different offers, but here are some of the places you may be able to visit:
- Zoo Atlanta — Check out the Zoo Atlanta Library Pass DVD. When you return it, you’ll get a pass good for one visit for two adults and two kids (that expires two weeks later).
- Center for Puppetry Arts — Admission for up to four visitors to the museum, plus a discount on select performances and workshops.
- Georgia state parks and historic sites — Up to four visitors at state parks and historic sites, including parking and a guidebook.
- Go Fish Education Center — Up to four visitors for the center in Perry, which is an hour and a half south of Atlanta.
- Michael C. Carlos Museum — Known for its mummy collection, the Emory University museum offers free admission for six visitors.
- Southeastern Railway Museum — Allows four visitors to the museum in Duluth, which is 30 minutes northeast of Atlanta.
4. Story Times
There are free story times throughout the Atlanta area. Almost every library has one. The Little Shop of Stories bookstore in Decatur has four a week. Brilliant Sky Toys in Sandy Springs has one a week. The Barnes & Nobles in Edgewood and Buckhead hold story times two to three times a week.
5. Indoor Play Areas
If your little one is under a year old, you can go to HippoHopp – an indoor play space with a special toddler area – for free.
Don't forget to check sites like Craigslist.com and Groupon to find other free, or highly discounted offers in the area! Sometimes, you're able to find fantastic deals or bundle events that will allow for 2-for-1 offers, making a future visit free!
There are so many free things to do for kids in Atlanta and surrounding areas, from parks to museums. Having fun doesn't have to break the bank!