Awesome Free Things to do in Atlanta, USA
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For a city this big, Atlanta is seriously cheap. Students and thrifty families alike can find many fun free things to do in Atlanta, GA. There will never be a dull moment. Plus, it’s full of other budget luxuries like affordable housing, loads of free parking options and hikes and walking paths galore!
Atlanta is affectionately known as ‘The City in the Forest” due to its expansive rolling hills and dense tree cover. It also boasts the busiest airport in the world. Why? Because it’s a central hub and only three hours from loads of major US cities. Atlanta is a city powered by global commerce, finance, research, technology, education, media, art and entertainment.
There’s so much to love about this city, and this long list of free things to do in Atlanta is just the icing on the cake.
FUN FREE THINGS TO DO IN ATLANTA
Photograph the classic Atlanta skyline at the Jackson Street Bridge
This amazing viewpoint used to be called the Jackson Street View but since Walking Dead made the view even more famous as Rick rode his trusty steed into the bowels of zombie-infested Atlanta, it’s now mostly called the “Walking Dead” bridge.
Either way, this is a great stop on your tour around Atlanta because it offers one of the most stunning views of the Atlanta skyline. Another classic view is from Piedmont Park which we will talk about in more detail below.
The Jackson Street Bridge is easy to find as it is actually the bridge over the highway on Jackson St. No matter when you go (day or night), you’ll always see amateur and professional photographers alike trying to get the best Insta-worthy shot of Atlanta. It’s so pretty it’s worth a look at any time of the day.
Pretend you’re in Asia at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
This one is a little bit outside of Atlanta but is a stunning example of Hindu architecture. It is a place of worship and should be treated as such. The white structure is just as striking against a beautiful blue sky as it is against a dramatic cloudy backdrop. Go for the ‘Gram… stay for the peace.
Beat your best high scores with Free Arcade Game Night
Andretti’s is a fun-filled, action-packed mecca of gaming. The two locations are home to bowling, 4D rides, ropes courses, go-karts, and arcade games galore. On certain nights, those arcade games are free… There are discounts for the other activities, but the arcade games themselves are completely free!
The Andretti’s in Roswell has a free arcade games night every Monday. In Marietta, Andretti hosts a free arcade game night every Wednesday.
Note: You can’t earn tickets on free arcade games.
Watch movies in Central Park
No, you won’t be transported magically to New York’s Central Park! But there is a Central Park in Atlanta with a selection of movies showing during the summer. Atlantic Station in downtown sets up a large screen and allows you to camp out on the lawn to watch a movie every Thursday night in the Summer.
It’s nestled right in the midst of Atlanta Station, so it’s perfect to get some of your favorite food, lounge on a blanket and enjoy a movie under the stars.
FREE ART IN ATLANTA
View modern art at Atlanta Contemporary
Atlanta Contemporary has been around for decades, and it is one of the leading contemporary art venues in the South. Not only does it showcase the work of local, national, and international artists, but it also commissions new work. It also serves as a host to artists so they can have a place to work and display their art.
To keep the cost free (every single day!), they host ceremonies, receptions, and even film sets! If you’re in the mood for Modern Art and something to make you think and react, this is the place.
Photo by: BurnAway / CC-BY
View Krog Street Tunnel art
Some artists like to house their artwork in galleries and inside homes. But not all artists.
Some take to the street to create beautiful, sometimes even thought-provoking, pieces of art right on the walls of downtown. One such area that’s famous for it (because you can find street art in many places) is the Krog Street Bridge.
The bridge is a living piece of art because the walls are always changing. You might see topical humor on the current political climate, photo-realistic art, and just the downright silly. It’s perfectly safe in the area, so you should feel free to poke around neighboring streets as well!
Interact with art and science at Imagine Children’s Museum
This is a small time frame, but it’s worth it if you’re able to swing it! On the 2nd Tuesday of the month from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm, the museum is FREE ENTRY! Military members also get in free on the first Sunday of the month.
The museum is home to some truly fun kinetic activities, fun for kids and adults alike. There’s a Glow Zone with black-lit shapes, and you can rearrange them into fun and interesting patterns. The ‘Rise and Shine Farm’ lets you interact with farm animals and activities, without the allergies and smell! The Railway Collector Train era is like Thomas the Tank Engine coming alive! And on a hot day, the Waterworks area will certainly provide that cool relief.
Get a little creeped out on the Doll’s Head Trail
On a trail that used to lead to a (now abandoned) brick factory, is a slightly spooky collection of dolls’ heads. It was started by a local artist to use dolls and other “found trash” in the area. Now anyone can add to the collection, and it creates a very bizarre and surreal feel to the trail.
Please don’t add to the art by littering; only place interesting pieces. As the sign says; “Litter Makes the Angels Cry.”
Photo by: Marcus O. Bst / CC-BY
FREE OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES IN ATLANTA
Get flexible in different parks with Free Yoga
There are a few places you can get bendy with free yoga. Yoga in a park is a great way to not only exercise in but to also be out in nature!
Yoga in the Square
This is a weekly event on Wednesdays after 6 pm, hosted by a few different Yoga Studios. This is located in Midtown.
Perks: If you come more than 4 times, you get some swag (need punch card as proof). And if it rains, they have an inside location, so no worries.
King of Pops Yoga in the Park
This is another weekly event on Tuesdays from 7-8 pm in the field where the Old Fourth Ward Skatepark used to be.
Yoga in the Park with Westside Yoga
This is a monthly event every second Monday at Park Tavern just on the outskirts of Piedmont Park (more info about Piedmont Park below).
Perk: Free beer afterwards!
Con: $3 to park.
Relax on the water and Shoot the Hooch!
This is a great pastime that can be accomplished in three ways: Go to Helen and pay, stay in Atlanta and pay, or stay in Atlanta and go FREE!
The easiest way is to find where a tubing company is is to follow the buses.
You’ll also need two cars/drivers to do this (or use an uber)! There is a drop-off spot and a pick-up spot. If you follow the buses, you’ll be able to find these spots very easily! (In my experience, they are usually in the parks). You’ll end up leaving a car at the end, and then drive to the beginning.
Once you’ve got your tubes all filled up and ready to go, you can wait for another busload of chumps who’ve paid or just get in the water. If you’re nervous, just wait for a busload of paying customers and get in behind them and get out when they get out.
Make sure to bring phone and keys in waterproof bags!
Note: While the activity is free, you’ll need tubes and life jackets (attached to the tube, not necessarily you).
Catch the Laser Light Show in Stone Mountain
This one has a catch. Since you do have to pay to get into the park itself (unless you park outside and just walk in). But the laser light show itself is free. It’s projected on and above the carved side of Stone Mountain.
It’s always a fun place for children and adults alike as the music is always very upbeat and corresponds to the story the lights are projecting.
Bring a picnic basket and blanket to really enjoy it! And if you were already paying to get into the park anyway, why not also take a hike up to the top of Stone Mountain before to get a stunning view of Midtown and Downtown. You’d be amazed at how far apart they seem!
Photo by: Stephen Harlan / CC-BY
Relive the Olympic Dream at Centennial Olympic Park
Centennial Olympic Park is right smack dab in the middle of many attractions that you do have to pay for like Georgia Aquarium, Skyview Wheel, World of Coke, College Football Hall of Fame, and CNN Studio Tours. But the park itself is free!
The Olympic Park is big enough to wander around for a long time and people watch, play in fountains, and see the beautiful architecture of Downtown Atlanta. The Skyview Wheel lights up as the sunlight starts winding down and this is a great time to take pictures.
FREE HIKING IN ATLANTA
Atlanta is home to numerous amazing parks and trails! All of the following trails (and more) are totally free and are a great way to see the city as well as stay in shape!
See the second best view of the Atlanta skyline in Piedmont Park
Piedmont Park is Atlanta’s “Central Park” though it’s nowhere near as sprawling as NYC’s. Numerous festivals, concerts, and events are housed in Piedmont Park, but even when it’s not being used in that capacity, it is a great place to interact with nature.
When visiting the open fields, you’ll see families and couples picnicking, people playing ultimate frisbee or flying kites, and even some people flying drones. Inside the park is also a lake where you can get a beautiful shot of downtown or maybe catch a glimpse of a proposal.
Cut through the metropolis in a swath of green on the Beltline
The Beltline is an umbrella term for the large walkway system that flows through Atlanta like a green river. It connects multiple parks, has many small trails branching off of it, and is a great way to both see the city and connect with nature. The walkway is wide enough that it’s accessible by walkers, runners, bicyclists, and dogs alike.
It’s also been dubbed the “Largest Free, Temporary Outdoor Art Exhibit” in the South as it is home to a myriad of mediums: street art (on tunnel walls), sculptures, music, dance, and even sometimes theater!
Take a stroll through living art on Path 400
Path 400 is aptly named as it is a path alongside 400 (GA 400 highway). There are many entry points along the 5.2 mile stretch. The pathway goes through an area of Atlanta called Buckhead and at one point joins up to the Beltline.
Path 400 has different art themes that pop up and are considered “living” because of the consistent changes. Some exciting themes have been Star Wars, motivational quotes, and children’s exhibitions.
Photo by: Shawn Taylor / CC-BY
Take a river stroll through a Bamboo Forest
If you start walking along the East Palisades Trail alongside the Chattahoochee, you’ll eventually make it to China. OK kidding, but you will make it to a bamboo forest. It’s about 4 miles round trip on a fairly easy trail.
It’s not uncommon to see the river populated with kayakers and some adventurous paddle boarders. You’re also likely to see a fair variety of water birds such as cranes and geese. Unlike the Beltline and Path 400 which are very urban, the East Palisades Trail is great for really getting in touch with nature.
Walk all the way to Alabama (if you want) on the Silver Comet Trail
This trail is not for the faint of heart as it’s over 61.5 miles long! It starts in Smyrna (to the west of Atlanta) and goes all the way to the GA/AL border. What makes this trail interesting is that is paved over a former railroad track.
The trail is where trains used to run, so the pathway is relatively flat and is great for walkers, runners, cyclists, dogs, horses, and is even handicap accessible. However, since it is a hefty trek, don’t feel obligated to complete the whole thing! Just a portion will give you a nice bit of exercise.
This is a fun trail, but the views aren’t as great as Path 400 or the Beltline.
FREE HISTORY IN ATLANTA
Understand the plight of Anne Frank
Located a little north of Atlanta is an Anne Frank Exhibit that is always free to the public. It’s self-guided and takes about 1.5 hours. While it isn’t the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, it’s still chock full of poignant photographs and moving mini-exhibits.
Most people know her general story, but this really humanizes her and makes you realize that she had some pretty amazing thoughts and feelings for a girl going through what she did.
Discover what led to MLK’s Dream
The King Center has a main goal is to educate the world about his humble beginnings and brave calling. Here, you’ll learn about Martin Luther King both as a person and as a leader.
In a world that is still ravaged by injustices, The King Center seeks to promote non-violence in all things. It’s an important lesson that most people still need to learn today.
Photo by: Wally Gobetz / CC-BY
Learn about money at the Federal Reserve
While the building itself stands up stark and proud as a governmental building in a dystopian future, it’s actually housing something really great… money! You’ll learn about money systems (pre-money like barter) to modern money.
Most people just want to get their hands on as much money as possible but the Federal Reserve Museum shows the impact of money and policies on everyday life. You can even see a vault!
Here, you can take a guided tour or a self-guided tour.
WANT MORE FREE STUFF? Check out Free Things to do in LA
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Which one of the free things to do on this list will you do first?