Free (& Cheap) Things to Do in Atlanta in January

Editor’s note: We’re making every effort to provide you with the most up-to-date information. However, sometimes closures occur at the last minute due to circumstances beyond our control, such as the spread of COVID-19. We highly recommend that you call ahead before you pack your kids pack your kids (and all those snacks, and diapers…) and haul them across town. Stay safe! 

This month is full of free and cheap things to do with your family in Atlanta, including off the beaten track fairy gardens, drive-in movies, and a cool prismatic art and light installation. Scroll through and pick some of your favorites for your January calendar!

photo: iStock

MLK Park Day

Experience the national parks for free on Jan. 18 in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Day, including these Georgia parks that normally charge an entrance fee: Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Cumberland Island National Seashore, Fort Pulaski National Monument, and Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. Event details

Visit the CDC Museum

Since it's on our minds already, learn about the history of the Centers for Disease Control and how scientists work to crack the cases of mystery diseases at the David J. Sencer CDC Museum. Admission and parking are free on weekdays. Event details

Visit Sleepy Hollow Fairy Garden

Visit the studio, enchanted gardens and gift shop of Sleepy Hollow Enterprises, open to the public from Mon.- Sat., 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sleepy Hollow Enterprises is a family run business, and the owner's working experiences include years at Disney as an artist and model maker, and later consulting and design services for Dollywood, Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch and many other commercial parks and real estate developments world-wide. The enchanted gardens are free to visit, but donations are accepted. Event details

photo: Woodruff Park

PRISM: Winter Lights at Woodruff Park

Back for its second year, PRISM: Winter Lights at Woodruff Park, presented by the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District and curated by Dashboard, is a 2-month art exhibition displaying works by artists from around the country. The second year of PRISM: Winter Lights explores the theme of water and features three light-based landmark sculptures installed on the park’s main lawn. Event details.

photo: iStock

Give Mountain Biking a Try

Paved paths are great, but if you have a thrill-seeker at home, taking the pedals off the pavement may be your best bet. From meandering trails near streams to paths that putter through meadows, there are plenty of places for beginner mountain bikers near Atlanta. Event details

photo: The High Museum of Art

Murmurations at The High

Murmuration is an art installation on Sifly Plaza (right outside the front doors of The High) that was inspired by Atlanta’s reputation as the “city in a forest” and by the High’s proximity to the city’s abundant greenspace—Piedmont Park. This 2,350-square-foot mesh canopy evokes the environment of neighboring trees, and is a sculptural pavilion—complete with feeding stations and perches—that invites visitors to “perch and nest” alongside the birds in this outdoor mesh canopy. Event details

Explore Hawk Hollow

Hawk Hollow, near Decatur, is a natural setting with a woodland Tolkien feel. It is a place to explore habitats and ecosystems on woodland paths, a butterfly garden, a creek, and two Hobbit Houses that you can even stay overnight in! Event details

Visit Arabia Mountain

The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area lies just east of Atlanta along I-20 and is dominated by two granite outcrops to explore. The Arabia Mountain NHA offers opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing and geocaching throughout 40,000 acres, while the Panola Mountain State Park offers beginner courses and expert ranges for archery. Event details

photo: iStock

Picnic in the Perfect Spot

Who needs a table and service to enjoy a meal, anyways? While we love our Atlanta restaurants, sometimes a little picnic is just what the doctor (or perhaps, mayor) ordered. Whether you’re avoiding dining rooms in restaurants or at home, we’ve got Atlanta’s best picnic spots picked-out for you. Event details

photo: iStock

Visit Dekalb's Farmers Market

This huge market is full of culinary wonders—including an International Products Department that includes things like dried fruits from Thailand and Turkish roasted nuts—and you can spend hours checking out the seafood, exotic fruits, and other wares. Event details

photo: iStock

Explore the Kirkwood Urban Forest

The Kirkwood Urban Forest Community Garden is a unique space, in that it is both a public conservation park and a community garden managed by members of the Kirkwood neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia. This 7.5 acre site features walking trails through hardwood trees, a spring-fed creek, a frog pond, and a surprisingly lush ecosystem only a few miles from Downtown Atlanta. Event details.


Stroll the BeltLine

This 22-mile loop gets better every year, with art installations to find and Atlanta’s tree canopy to enjoy. The Beltline’s group bike tours are a great way for participant to finish a 3-hour course, pedalling through neighborhoods and nature they may never have visited before. Event details

photo: S. Massey

Tour Atlanta Street Art

You don’t need a docent to guide you through the Atlanta street art scene, which now boasts over 1000 murals (though you could learn a lot on one of these walking tours). Just hop on a bike, a skateboard, or lace up your sneaks to check out artwork that is as inspiring as it is Insta-worthy. Event details.

Hit a Skate Park

Atlanta’s skateparks are spread out, which means accessing one is relatively easy, no matter where you live. The Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark is often the site of free beginner skateboarding classes on the weekends (check the BeltLine’s website to find out when to go), and the Brook Run Skate Park in Dunwoody is the largest skatepark in Atlanta, and is surrounded by trees (and near trails for biking, walking, and running).

Visit Noah's Arc Animal Sanctuary

Visit the Noah’s Arc Animal Sanctuary. Noah’s Ark is a 250-acre sanctuary for abused, unwanted, and neglected animals in a park-like setting with paved pathways. Noah’s Ark is open Tuesday through Saturday. The Welcome Center, picnic area, and playground are open at 9 a.m. for visitors, and the animal habitat is open from 12-3 p.m.

Visit The High for Free

On the second Sunday of each month, The High Museum of Art offers free admission for all visitors, who must adhere to strict social distancing and gathering guidelines. Access is limited to online, timed-ticket reservations.

—Shelley Massey

Featured photo: Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels



Take a Hike! Family Friendly Trails for Atlanta Families

Atlanta’s Most Insta-Worthy Murals & Street Art

Slice the Ice: Rinks Near Atlanta

Cozy Cabins to Rent Near Atlanta (When You Need to Get Away)