You can have plenty of fun in the ATL without spending a dime.
Atlanta is home to so much. There’s a special attraction in almost every neighborhood around the city, stretching into the suburbs. That means a lot to do and a lot to spend your money on unless you know where to find the free things to do in Atlanta.
Make sure you don’t overextend your budget while you explore all this Southern city has to offer. Hit up these freebies first and get a solid taste for the city locals lovingly call The ATL.
Judging by the crowds, this is by far one of the most popular free things to do in Atlanta. When the weather is nice, you can wander down the Atlanta BeltLine on your own without spending a dime. Although, there are plenty of shops and restaurants to tempt you. Located within Atlanta itself, the 22-mile loop will ultimately connect 45 intown neighborhoods.
There are two primary trails. The Eastside trail runs from Piedmont Park to Memorial Drive in Reynoldstown. The Westside trail, which is often less crowded, takes an alternate route from Adair Park to Washington Park.
Photo source: Atlanta Contemporary
A leading contemporary art center in the southeast, Atlanta Contemporary shares the work of over 200 artists and creatives from the local, national and international art scenes. The focus is on contemporary culture and capturing a diverse set of voices.
Tickets are free, but make sure to check their website for availability before you go. They do close while putting in a new installation.
Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center
Photo source: Autrey Mill
Located in Johns Creek, just a little outside of Atlanta proper, the Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center is a 46-acre preserve with three miles of trails. Currently only open on weekends, the preserve is free to visit. While there, you’ll see animal exhibits and have access to Heritage Village, with buildings original to the site.
Although you can spend the entire day here for free, donations are accepted and appreciated to support the preserve.
Photo source: CastleberryHill.gov
Known as the historic arts district, the neighborhood of Castleberry Hill is one of many cool Atlanta spots you can wander through. Here you’ll find free concerts and art walks alongside comfortable green spaces to soak in the atmosphere.
If you do want to spend a little money, there are plenty of bars, restaurants and shops as well.
Fernbank Science Center
Photo source: Fernbank Science Center
Spend some time learning about space at the Fernbank Science Center in Druid Hills — just a few miles northeast of downtown. With plenty of information on Apollo space missions and even a live animal exhibit, the entire family will enjoy this experience. Admission and parking are always free for access to the exhibit hall, associated grounds, library and observatory. Make sure to check the website for specific hours.
There’s also an on-site planetarium that’s currently streaming shows via Facebook. Normally, there’s an admission fee to visit the planetarium in person (this option isn’t currently available).
Gardens at the Carter Presidential Center
Photo source: Carter Center
Taking advantage of what President Jimmy Carter has given to Atlanta doesn’t have to cost you a thing. The grounds surrounding the Carter Presidential Center in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood are impressive enough for a day’s outing. Within the 35-acre park, you’ll find two small lakes, waterfalls and sculptures. There’s also the Circle of Flags with flags from all 50 states.
Make sure you see the Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, Native Oak Forest and Koi Pond while you’re exploring this beautiful, downtown park.
Georgia Capitol Museum
Take a self-guided tour through Georgia’s 120-year-old capitol. The Georgia Capitol Museum shares the story of the building itself, which remains one of the most impressive structures in the state. Learn more about what has taken place within its walls as you familiarize yourself with local history.
Open only during the week, entrance to the museum is free.
High Museum of Art
Atlanta’s beautiful art museum, the High Museum of Art offers an ever-changing list of exhibits. It’s a must-see stop when getting to know Atlanta. The Midtown museum maintains more than 18,000 pieces of art in its permanent collection, including those by Southern artists.
On the second Sunday of each month, there’s free admission for all visitors. Every other day, you’ll pay to get in if you’re over the age of five.
Photo source: Inman Park
For those who like architecture, schedule a walk through Inman Park. This idyllic neighborhood has unique and charming homes, many restored to their original design. There are also plenty of parks to spread out and relax. You won’t find homes like the ones here anywhere else in town.
At almost 3,000 acres, Kennesaw Mountain, located between Marietta and Kennesaw, is 17 miles of trails to hike and monuments to see. You’ll also find a small museum at the base. Hiking to the top is relatively easy and takes less than half a day. Just store a little bit of energy for the walk down.
Accessing the trails is free, but if you park in Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, you’ll have to pay a small fee which all goes back to the park.
Marietta Fire Museum
Situated just a few blocks from Marietta Square, the Marietta Fire Museum pays homage to the history of the local fire department. This free museum contains antique tools and gear, in addition to cataloging how the fire department has changed over time.
Donations are accepted, and there are souvenir items available for purchase.
Photo source: Explore Georgia
Perfect for window-shopping and walking around, Marietta Square feels like stepping back in time. Quaint shops, lots of free parking, a great park and even free events make this a wonderful place to get to know Atlanta. The area also hosts a weekly Farmer’s Market.
It’s not only the final resting place of many of Atlanta’s notable citizens, but Oakland Cemetery is also the city’s oldest park. It’s also one of the most historic activities on our free things to do in Atlanta list.
Only a mile from downtown in Grant Park, this 48-acre space is full of beauty and history. Walk through and enjoy gardens, art and architecture. Find the headstones for Margaret Mitchell, Bobby Jones and Maynard Jackson to name a few famous residents of the park.
Access is free, and you’re able to enter as long as the gates are open.
It’s a mark of a great city to have a green space at its center. Atlanta has Piedmont Park, 211 acres for locals to enjoy whenever the weather allows. The park has a play area for kids, Lake Clara Meer, Legacy Fountain Splash Pad and even a pool during the summer months. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants and shops just across the street to explore.
While some in-park activities, like the splash pad and pool, typically require you to pay to enter, the pool does usually offer a few daily hours each summer when access is free.
Ponce City Market
While it’s a cool place to walk through, check out and people watch, to really enjoy Ponce City Market will usually cost you a little. Maybe it’s just grabbing a snack in the massive Central Food Hall, or you simply can’t resist a purchase from your favorite store. It’s a different experience every time you visit this unique community hub.
PCM has transformed the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood into one of the city’s hot spots.
Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking
Photo source: Georgia Tech
For a unique experience, schedule time to go to the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking. Located on the campus of Georgia Tech, this interesting destination provides the history of paper and paper technology.
The only thing you’ll have to pay for when visiting the museum is parking. There’s a two-hour lot in front of the building for a minimal cost.
Silver Comet Trail
If you’re in the mood for a long walk, bike ride or jog, check out the Silver Comet Trail. This 61-mile, paved trail extends through three Georgia counties on its way to Alabama’s Chief Ladiga Trail. Built on abandoned railroad lines, you’ll find a variety of access points beginning in Smyrna, the trail’s starting point.
While you probably don’t want to walk all the way to Alabama, the trail is entirely free.
With six acres of public space, Woodruff Park is a little oasis within Atlanta. It includes a courtyard plaza and free Wi-Fi for those who want an outdoor space where they can work. For those who want to play, you’ll find bocce courts, table tennis, and even a playground in the shape of the letters ATL.
Created through a donation by the former president of The Coca-Cola Company, the park is a perfect and free place to hang when downtown.
Yellow River Park
Photo source: Explore Georgia
You feel like you’re in the middle of the North Georgia mountains when you’re in Yellow River Park. Actually, you’re in a residential neighborhood, right outside Atlanta. Located near Stone Mountain, this beautiful landscape provides space for hiking, running and mountain biking. There’s even a terraced waterfall.
With over 13 miles of trails and 566 forested acres, this free park provides a picturesque green space without having to travel far.
Finding free things to do in Atlanta
Now that you’ve got your list of free things to do in Atlanta, it’s time to start exploring. With a city full of such rich history, beautiful green spaces, art and culture, you won’t have an empty day on your calendar.