When you’re looking for things to do in Atlanta with kids, the incredible Atlanta aquarium, Atlanta Zoo, and Center for Puppetry Arts come to mind. But you don’t have to look too hard to find free and cheap activities (even at our city’s most notable attractions), as well. Keep reading for our list of favorite things to do with kids in the ATL.

photo: iStock

1. 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, paddle boards and tubes to make a splash in its icy water.

2. Catch a free public tour of the Governor's Mansion through November on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10-11:30 a.m., complete with docents stationed throughout the mansion who can explain what you're looking at and answer questions. Be sure to check for health-related closures before you go.

3. Watch a $1 movie at Regal Movie Cinemas all summer long as part of their annual Summer Movie Express.

4. Go for a round (or 20) of mini golf at Atlanta's best mini golf spots for kids.

5. Stroll around an Atlanta-area Farmer's Market (some are even year-round) and check out live music, chef demos, special kid zones, and more while you're picking your produce for the week. Some of our favorites include Ponce City Farmer's Market, the Green Market at Piedmont Park, and the Freedom Farmer's Market at the Carter Center.

 

6. Pay a visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Site, which is managed by the National Parks Service and houses his burial place, boyhood home, and the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he often preached. Entrance is free for all ages, but check for health-related closures before you go.

7. Enjoy free admission to The High on Second Sundays each month until 5 p.m., and check out family-friendly programming in addition to the latest exhibit.

8. Check out the Children’s Museum of Atlanta’s newest exhibit.

9. Foster an interest in finance at Atlanta's Monetary Museum, where free self-led tours every weekday (scheduled to resume in September 2021) show the history of money, and you can watch a giant money-counting robot in action.

10. Go on a scavenger hunt around town to find one of the whimsical Tiny Doors, unique to Atlanta and created by local artists. Download a list of locations here.

photo: iStock

11. Check out the Bike to the Future Exhibit at MODA, or nab free admission to Museum of Design Atlanta on the second Sundays of most months. Previously known as Family Free Day, the event has been renamed Design Club Day, and while admission and special programming are free, you must pre-register to attend. Check for health-related cancellations.

12. Pack a picnic for Centennial Olympic Park, and plan on a run through the Fountain of Rings—formed in the shape of the Olympic rings symbol—if it's hot outside.

13. Check out the Carlos Museum—one of Emory's most interesting and accessible public collections—for free from 1-4 p.m. on select dates as part of the 100 Free Days promotion. Regularly $8 per adult, and free for kids 5 & under, you can also gain free admission through the Georgia Public Library Family Pass.

14. Pick up a Zoo Atlanta Library Pass with your library card for a family of four to gain free admission to the zoo once a year. Or head to Zoo Atlanta, wiith reservations.

15. Take your fire truck loving tots to the Marietta Fire Museum or the Roswell Fire Museum, which display items like fire service clothing, equipment and historical items.

16. Head to the DeKalb Farmer’s Market for local and international foods. While the food isn’t free, there’s no admission charge and your crew will love wandering through colorful rows of fresh fruits and vegetables—many exotic—smelling spices from around the globe, examining huge displays of seafood, and wondering at the bins of brightly colored flowers. Lunch, available for purchase, ranges from Greek to Italian, Asian to Alaskan.

17. Explore Piedmont Park's 189-acres, filled with playgrounds, paved paths, picnic areas, ponds, green spaces, and host to some of Atlanta's best festivals and fairs (many of which, like the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival and the Atlanta Dogwood Arts Festival are free).

18. Learn about Atlanta's history by paying a visit to the free Oakland Cemetery, where you'll find the final resting place of Civil War soldiers, Margaret Mitchell, Bobby Jones, and other notable Atlantans. It's also home to some fun events (but many require admission), such as Tunes from the Tombs, and a fall 5K run (spectators can enjoy checking out racers Halloween costumes for free).

 

photo: iStock

19. Pack a picnic and head to one of Atlanta's best playgrounds.

20. 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.

21. The Woodruff Arts Center, home to the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre, the Grammy Award-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the High Museum of Art, offers a spectacular day of playing music, interactive theater, kid-friendly games and crafts, instrument exploration, and more every Sunday from 1-4 p.m., and it's completely free.

22. Spiff up your social media accounts with photos with the kids in front of Atlanta's most epic murals.

23. Catch free movies in the park at Atlantic Station, Town Brookhaven, Bobby Dodd Stadium, The Battery, and other spots. Just don't forget your bug spray and blanket!

24. Do some shopping with tots in tow (really) at Atlantic Station and Avalon, where they offer some variation of Tot Spots. With crafts, entertainment, and games (plus nearby special menus from participating restaurants), these are sure-bets for successful mornings.

 

photo: iStock

25. Head to the BeltLine, where you can pick from loads of free fitness classes, including a free skateboard class, free family pick-up soccer games, stretch it out at a free Yoga class on Sunday evenings during warm weather, or explore Ponce City Market in between a walk, run, or bike ride on the BeltLine.

26. Bring your little artists to Atlanta Contemporary’s Contemporary Kids program—featuring hands-on activities for kids and their grownups.

27. Located in the historic Sweet Auburn district, the APEX Museum is devoted to Black history. Older elementary children and teenagers will appreciate exhibits on Africa, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and the history of Atlanta neighborhoods.

28. Hit the Silver Comet Trail's paved stretch of 61.5 non-motorized miles, beginning in Smyna and ending at the Georgia-Alabama state line.

29. Get an insider's scoop on Atlanta's best museums for kids.

30. Head to Fernbank Science Center (not to be confused with the admission-charging Fernbank Muesum of Natural Science) for talks, documentaries, and planetarium shows. The only thing you’ll pay for is the planetarium shows, which frequently run specials on Groupon and other discount sites.

photo: iStock

31. For discounted rates to the Georgia Aquarium, check out their Special Offers, which includes free entry on your birthday (for Georgia residents). 

32. If you’re planning to visit multiple attractions in Atlanta, the Atlanta CityPASS can help you save 45% on admission to five Atlanta-area attraction: Georgia Aquarium, including the new SHARKS! Predators of the Deep Gallery, World of Coca-Cola, Zoo Atlanta, plus your choice of any two of the following attractions: Fernbank Museum of Natural History, College Football Hall of Fame or National Center for Civil and Human Rights. 

33. Explore Atlanta from a different perspective. Head to a local RV park and use it as your camp basecamp for a weekend, or a week.

34. Go for a bike ride on one of Atlanta's best paved bike paths for families.

35. Try your hand at fishing at one of these nearby fishing holes.

36. Explore national parks within driving distance from Atlanta.

 

photo: iStock

37. Head to a local lake and hike, swim, or paddle your way to relaxation.

38. Check our our favorite state parks for families in Georgia.

39. Plant a garden at an Atlanta community garden, and get tips from pros.

40. Learn about Black history at one of Atlanta's incredible Civil Rights landmarks and monuments.

41. Try mountain biking with your kids at one of these mountain biking courses for beginners near Atlanta.

photo: iStock

42. Pack a picnic and head to one of Atlanta's best picnic spots.

43. Check out our Love Letter to Atlanta to get inspiration for when life returns to normal from the things we've missed most about exploring our fair city with our kids.

44. Spend the afternoon at Buckhead Baseball, NYO, the Tophat Field, or any other kid's rec sport arena to watch future greats perfect their game. Give the kids a fistful of dollar bills and let them go wild at the concession stand, and not even worry about what they've ordered.

45. Get the kids—and yourself—dressed up and take grandma or grandpa to a fancy lunch at the Swan House, or anywhere.

46. Cozy up to a story time at your local neighborhood library branch or at Little Shop of Stories, where the kids know each other or are always ready to make new friends.

47. Pack the wagon full of food and blankets, topped with kids, for a concert at Chastain. Buy the cheap seats on the grass and let the kids spread out and shake a leg.

 

photo: S. Massey

48. Go to Ponce City Market and let everyone pick different from a different food stall, then ride the lift to The Roof and slide down the giant slide on repeat, and play Horse Derby until you win.

49. Go to the Fox Theatre. Whether you hit their Saturday Morning Cartoon series or splurge for Broadway-style performances, you'll be glad you did.

50. Pick up a hot dog and some onion rings at The Varsity. Park there if you can, or take it to go to one of the nearby Midtown neighborhood parks for a picnic.

51. Explore the new sharks at Georgia Aquarium.

62. Ride the SkyView ferris wheel 20 stories above Centennial Olympic Park, and see why Atlanta Is called the city in the trees.

63. Experience downtown in a new way by riding the streetcar, which was once a primary mode of transportation throughout the city.

64. If you've lived in Atlanta, you've flown Delta. Visit the Delta Museum, where you can learn about our hometown airline and get up-close and personal with some massive airplanes.

65. For an inexpensive adventure that helps you avoid the hassle of driving in our notorious traffic, take MARTA to your next destination (or make it a destination in itself).

66. Explore Pullman cars, vintage buses, a steam locomotive, and other types of transportation at the Southeastern Railway Museum. Be sure to check their calendar for an expansive list of excellent family events.

 

photo: iStock

67. Take a trip to the Southern Museum, where you can learn about the history of railroads in the South through models and hands-on activities.

68. Eat the best fried chicken of your life at The Colonnade.

69. Visit the first Chick-fil-A ever at the unforgettable Dwarf House.

70. Catch a show for the very young (ages 0-5) as well as performances for older children and teens at Atlanta's award-winning Alliance Theatre.

71. Visit Serenbe, Atlanta's nearby rural planned community with a chill vibe, good eats, and fun outdoor theatre shows.

72. Drive miniature cars of all shapes and sizes at Tiny Towne Drive Safely.

photo: iStock

73. Visit The StarLight Drive-In, Atlanta’s only drive-in theater that shows films on multiple screens. Pay a visit to the Zesto on your way.

74. Learn about the history of Atlanta by taking a walk through the historic Oakland Cemetery, where many of our most distinguished citizens lay in rest.

75. Tour the CNN studios and the learn about the creation of live global news broadcasts.

76. Support Atlanta's newest sports franchise, the Atlanta United soccer team, which just happens to be one of the best in the world.

77. Check out a NASCAR race, Thursday Thunder race or jump into the seat of a racecar in one of the driving schools at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

 

78. Hike to the top or take a shuttle bus to the top of our giant monolith, Stone Mountain, and snag spectacular sweeping views of Atlanta.

79. Cruise Buford Highway and try some of the best Korean and Chinese fare outside of Asia.

80. View over 20 million daffodils of 100 different varieties during the spring at Gibbs Gardens.

81. Check out two massive granite outcrops and dozens of rare plants at the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

82. Climb trees, enjoy the great playground, play with the frogs or romp up the river bank at Dunwoody Nature Center.

83. Catch a family improv at the award-winning Dad’s Garage improv comedy theater located just off of Edgewood Avenue in Atlanta’s Historic Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.

84. Head to Junkman's Daughter to see the big, stiletto-shaped staircase, unique trinkets, and a funky costume selection. When you leave, be sure to explore the equally quirky Little Five Points neighborhood.

85. In the heart of Buckhead at Phipps Plaza, LEGOLAND Discovery Center is an attraction that will delight both kids and their companions. Rides, a 4D movie experience, themed play areas and the world’s biggest box of LEGO bricks offer hours of fun.

86. Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum houses permanent collections ranging from Egyptian artifacts to one of the earliest bathtubs in existence. Check it out.

87. Truly experience The City in the Forest with a walk or bike ride through Piedmont Park, home to Atlanta Botanical Garden and Lake Clara Meer. Whether you are going to a festival, taking a sunset stroll or walking your pooch to the dog park, this is the place to be on a beautiful day.

88. SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film celebrates fashion as a universal language, garments as important conduits of identity and film as an immersive medium. Strut your stuff over to these dynamic exhibits and events on the SCAD Atlanta campus.

 

photo: Six Flags Over Georgia

89. Scream and shout through all the roller coasters you can handle or relax waterside at Hurricane Harbor. Six Flags Over Georgia has heart-pounding rides, excellent live entertainment and is undeniably fun for the whole family.

90. Cool your jets at one of Atlanta's awesome splash pads.

91. Visit the Martin Luther King National Historical Park to learn about the leader of the Civil Rights Movement, see Atlanta's landmarks and find out about other leaders who shaped it.

92. During the 1920s, Auburn Avenue became the commercial center of Black Atlanta. The phrase "Sweet Auburn" was coined by businessman and civil rights activist John Wesley Dobbs, the Unofficial Mayor of Sweet Auburn, and the maternal grandfather of Atlanta's first African American mayor, Maynard Jackson. Today, the avenue is home to the Sweet Auburn Springfest, the Caribbean Festival & Parade, and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade. Here's the best way to spend a day in the Sweet Auburn Historic District.

93. Visit the Rep. John Lewis Mural, a 70-foot mural of the late Rep. John Lewis is located on the east side of the current Renaissance Walk building. Lewis was a politician and civil rights leader who served as the U.S. Representative for Georgia's 5th congressional district, known for getting into "Good Trouble."

94. Pedal through history with Civil Bikes. Civil Bikes brings a fresh perspective to Civil Rights. Explore Atlanta history and human rights issues on a guided bike tour that takes you to places that make Atlanta unique.

95. Hit the Noguchi Playscape near 10th and Piedmont—a playground designed by one of the 20th Century's most prominent sculptors—and the Legacy Fountain splash pad, features more than 70 jets, reaching up to 30 feet in the air with LED-lighting (count on days often as late as December to be warm enough to take off your shoes and enjoy the water).

96. Take a short walk (or drive) through one of Atlanta's most historic neighborhoods—Ansley Park—to reach the Center for Puppetry Arts and the Worlds of Puppetry Museum. After catching a performance, head upstairs to make your own puppets (supplies are provided and are part of your ticket fee).

97. Visit the 110-acre Brook Run Park, which has a large playground, 2-mile trail, skate park, dog park, community garden, and a self-guided zip line course, called Treetop Quest.

98. Enjoy a peaceful meal with kids at these awesome theme dining locations in Atlanta.

99. Margaritaville at Lanier Islands continues to attract families in big numbers every summer thanks to its lakefront beach and waterpark—perfect for warmer weather entertainment. Avoid the crowds and go on a weekday morning.

100. The Wren’s Nest is the former home of Joel Chandler Harris (author of the Uncle Remus Tales) and the oldest house museum in Atlanta. Kids can tour the well-preserved home and listen to captivating storytelling on Saturdays at 1 p.m.

 

Featured image by Skyview Atlanta via Yelp.

—Shelley Massey

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