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

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 (and all those snacks, and diapers…) and haul them across town. Stay safe! 

September is full of free and cheap things to do with your family in Atlanta, including donning your favorite super hero costume for TINY Con, heading to the North Georgia Mountains to pick apples, and buckling up for some old-fashioned fun at the first of the fall fests and fairs. Scroll through below and pick some of your favorite free and cheap events to fill your September calendar!

photo: iStock

Go Apple Picking in North Georgia

The time is ripe for some good old-fashioned apple picking fun in North Georgia. There’s a bushel of excitement to be had when you head to the country, from fresh air and exercise to crisp deliciousness for the perfect back-to-school snack break. Here is where to find this season’s bumper crops, open generally through the end of October.

photo: iStock

Find Fun at a Fair or Festival

Pioneer Days in Cartersville, Sept. 3-6, 2021
The Pioneer Days Festival is a clean, well lit, family oriented arts & crafts festival, and carnival - with the finest selection of modern rides, food and game concessions, all staffed by courteous, uniformed individuals.

Gwinnett County Fair in Lawrenceville, Sept. 16-26, 2021
Come for the rides and food then stay for the shows. The annual Gwinnett County Fair will feature the Ninja Experience Show, Pirates of the Columbian Caribbean Show, and concerts by Malpass Brothers, The Swingin' Medallions, Wilson-Fairchild and Kasual.

Kiwanis Coweta County Fair in Newnan, Sept. 16-26, 2021
At the Kiwanis Coweta County Fair, see livestock shows, comedians, a moto-freestyle show, a reptile rescue exhibit, and live entertainment—in addition to the traditional fair experience.

North Georgia State Fair in Marietta, Sept. 23-Oct. 3, 2021
The second-largest fair in Georgia sets up at Jim Miller Park this autumn. Nearly 300,000 people are expected to attend the North Georgia State Fair and enjoy a variety of typical fair festivities. The fair also hosts a number of free concerts each year. 2021's lineup includes We Are Messengers, Jon Langston, Chris Lane, Chase Rice, Gabby Barrett and Mark Wills.

Spalding County Fair in Griffin, Sept. 24-Oct. 2, 2021
In addition to the traditional fair activities, don't miss the special events at the Spalding County Fair this fall, including performances by chain saw artist “Artistry in Wood” and Rust and Flame Blacksmith, lawnmower races, and a demolition derby. $25 Mega Tickets include entrance into the fair and unlimited rides!

photo: iStock

Enjoy Inclusive Outdoor Art at the High

Outside the Lines is an immersive maze of accessible, sensory environments by award-winning design and research practice Bryony Roberts Studio. It is its seventh site-specific installation on The Woodruff Arts Center’s Carroll Slater Sifly Piazza. The installation aimed to create a space that is engaging for all, providing an environment that is accessible and playful for those with physical, developmental, and/or intellectual disabilities, supporting discovery and social connection. It is made up of a gently curving steel structure that supports thousands of hanging strands along the rise and fall of the frame. These strands form both small enclosures for quiet relaxation and open environments for social interaction. Best of all? It's entirely free. Here's the scoop.


Jump In a Lake

Hike, swim and picnic around a nearby lake. Psst! Don’t forget your floaties. Or, if you're looking to extend your day trip, you can rent a cabin at one of these picturesque state parks for a reasonable rate. 

photo: iStock

Get an Eye Full at DragonCon

The largest pop culture convention featuring comics, film, TV and gaming includes a parade, contests, an Artist Alley and more. Visit the website for a full schedule and locations, including Covid policies that might affect attendance at events, and check out more details here. And if you're not ready to take the kids to a cosplay convention, you can still get in on the action at the Children's Museum's TINYcon, also Labor Day Weekend. 

photo: iStock

Tour the Georgia State Capitol

The Capitol is open to the public Monday - Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and is closed on weekends and state holidays. Check out curious and interesting exhibits about Georgia's history, and don't miss the Georgia Hall of Fame, where individuals recognized on the third floor include Margaret Mitchell, John Ross, Crawford Long, and Juliette Gordon Low. Here's what you need to know before you go.

Visit the Rock Garden in Calhoun

This volunteer-build roadside attraction offers 50 structures made out of tiny stones, shells, and fragments of pottery for visitors to marvel at behind the Calhoun Seventh Day Adventist Church. You'll find Cinderella's castle, the Coliseum, Notre Dame cathedral, houses, and more. It's a lot like seeing a sandcastle, but off the interstate, and made out of rocks. This guide will give you all the scoop you need to know before you go, with information on other curious but cool Atlanta-area roadside attractions. 

See the Georgia Guidestones

Giant slabs of stone with different languages written on them standing upright in the middle of the countryside? Stonehenge, right? Nope! Elberton. Check out this mysterious stone arrangement and marvel at the who, what, where, and why of it all. Here's more info before you roll. 

photo: iStock

Sample Atlanta's Best Ice Cream

It's August, which means the Atlanta summer is in full force. What better way to survive the heat than by taking a tasting tour of Atlanta's best ice cream spots? Here's where you should go. 

photo: iStock

Watch an Outdoor Movie

Fireflies, popsicles and outdoor movies: the summer trifecta is upon us. In this creeping-into-post-Covid world, is there any better way to enjoy friends and flicks than on a blanket under the stars? We don’t think so. Gather up your bug spray, folding chairs, picnic baskets and blankets, and head out to enjoy an evening of outdoor movies this summer. Here's the info on all the screens popping up around town. 

photo: iStock

Explore Mountains, Canyons, Forests, and Gorges

Check out our favorite state parks for families in Georgia.

photo: iStock

Enjoy Nature in the City

Check out nature at one of our city's nature centers, including Dunwoody Nature CenterBlue Heron Nature Preserve and Autrey Mill, which don't charge admission.

photo: iStock

Re-Acquaint Yourself with Atlanta's Best Museums for Kids

From science and epidemiology to art and design, with everything in between, Atlanta’s museum scene is legit. And, with COVID precautions in place, you’ll be able to plan your trip with fewer crowds for a more relaxed experience. Give these Atlanta museums a look.

photo: iStock

Visit a Farmer's Market

Since sleeping past seven on a Saturday has become a luxury now that we have small kids, why not get a jump on the day by exploring some of Atlanta’s best farmers markets? You’ll find fresh air, bearable temperatures, and who knows? It might be just the trick for getting your littles to love their veggies! Here are our picks for the markets that are the cream of the crop.

photo: iStock

Go Mountain Biking

You don't have to be a pro or have expensive and specialized bikes to give mountain biking a try at one of these mountain biking courses for beginners near Atlanta.

Celebrate Atlanta's Olympic Spirit

Celebrate Atlanta's Olympic spirit by packing a picnic for Centennial Olympic Park, and capping off your afternoon with a run through the Fountain of Rings—formed in the shape of the Olympic rings symbol—because it's July and you're going to need to cool down!

Play on Art in Sandy Springs

Imagination becomes reality at the Abernathy Greenway Linear Park. Atlanta Magazine named The Playable Art Park a "Best of Atlanta 2014″ park. With a generous grant from Northside Hospital, the Sandy Springs Conservancy (SSC) created a new kind of playground for children of all ages - one filled with real art to play on, play with, or inspire imagination. Here's the scoop. 

Watch Small Planes Take-Off & Land

It’s a plane! It’s a playground! It’s the Peachtree-Dekalb Airport Park! Your crew will love a trip to PDK, with its playground, picnic area, and air strip observation stadium. Here's what you should know. 

Free Admission to The High

On the Second Sunday of each month, you can enjoy free admission to The High Museum of Art. During Covid, all programming will be canceled and guests are asked to adhere to strict social distancing endeavors—making it a nice place to spend an afternoon outside your house (and the elements). Here's what you need to know.

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

photo: iStock

Play Classic Yard Games

Go screen-free and head out the backdoor to play old-school yard games. You'll all break a sweat and earn that popsicle. Click here to get started!

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 participants to finish a 3-hour course, pedaling through neighborhoods and nature they may never have visited before. Event details

photo: S. Massey

Discover Atlanta's River

Explore the 'Hooch (or even shoot it...which is Atlanta speak for float down it) on one of the accessible trails and parks. Or rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and tubes to make a splash in its icy water.

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 the 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).

photo: iStock

Check Out Live Music with a Small Town Vibe

Duluth is the place to be on Friday night from May through September as food trucks take over Downtown Duluth, unwind after a long week with live music in The Plaza at Avalon every Friday from 6-8 p.m., and rediscover your weekends at City Springs with City Green Live.

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.

—Shelley Massey

Featured photo via iStock



Go Wild! Animal Encounters in Atlanta

17 Atlanta Parks & Playgrounds That Rock

Atlanta’s Best Nearby RV Parks

Take a Hike! Family Friendly Trails for Atlanta Families

Atlanta’s Most Insta-Worthy Murals & Street Art