It can sometimes be hard to find free things to do in a big city, but the great thing about Atlanta is that there are plenty of things to see and do that don't cost a thing! You do not have to break the bank to spend the day exploring the city and you will even learn a bit more about the city’s history as you search out free things to do in Atlanta.
Grab some friends or the kids and spend the day checking out all the different free things in Atlanta, like perusing Ponce City Market or viewing interesting art installations all over town . Pack some snacks or plan to eat at a budget-friendly restaurant while you are out and about.
Traveler tip: Drop extra bags, backpacks or shopping purchases at a luggage locker for storage while you are busy exploring the city. Travel light and see as much as you can!
Address: 100 Peachtree St NW Ste 2300, Atlanta, GA 30303
You can sign up for a free guided walking tour of the Beltline or you can spend a few hours exploring some of the 22 miles of interconnecting trails by yourself. The Atlanta Beltline was developed along old, abandoned railroad tracks. It is also home to the biggest outdoor temporary art exhibit in the South. It is truly a gem that you want to get to know better.
If you do sign up for the guided tour, you will want to give your guide a small tip at the conclusion of the tour. The Beltline also hosts free fitness classes if you are looking to try something new or get back into shape. There are also other events from festivals to concerts to movies in the park for you to check out, most are free and great fun.
Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area
Address: 3350 Klondike Rd, Stonecrest, GA 30038
While not in Atlanta, Arabia Mountain is only about 20 miles outside the city and is a fantastic place to spend a few hours or even an entire day. It is part of the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve that covers over 2,000 acres. The preserve includes Arabia Mountain, miles of farmland and hiking trails, and even beautiful lakes.
Drop by the visitors center to learn about any events being held and to check out some of the interactive exhibits that will teach you about the history of the mountain and preserve. The two granite outcroppings are great places to hike to and look out over the preserve. You can also bike along the Arabia Mountain PATH which is over 30 miles and winds through amazing landscapes.
Before heading home, stop by the Flat Rock Archives to learn about the history of a group of slaves that formed a thriving community after they were emancipated and see how segregation affected their daily lives. The Monastery of the Holy Spirit is home to Trappist monks and is a place of great peace.
Atlanta Monetary Museum
Address: 1000 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
Take a free self-guided tour of the money museum and learn about the history of the Federal Reserve and money in general. You will even get a glimpse into the usefulness of the barter system and the various forms of payment that have been used throughout the years. The museum is open Monday through Friday and is free to enter.
Explore the historical artifacts that are on display, they do change frequently so you can come again and again and still see something new. The history of banking in America is also covered here and learn more about some of the more famous, or infamous, bank robbers in American history. The Visitors Center is home to several multimedia and interactive exhibits that everyone will love.
Centennial Olympic Park
Address: 265 Park Ave W NW, Atlanta, GA 30313
This park pays homage to the 1996 Summer Olympics that Atlanta hosted and offers a variety of events throughout the year. Admission to Centennial Park is free and many of the events hosted are also free to the public. You can spend a few hours relaxing in the well-maintained park, enjoy a picnic, read a book, or sit back and watch people stroll by.
The 21-acre park is the perfect place to bring your family and breathe in the fresh air while stretching your legs. Be sure to visit during Family Fun Days, the Holiday of Lights festival, and the Fourth of July Celebration, all free. There are several attractions near the park, but these attractions are not free.
The Carter Center
Address: 441 Freedom Pkwy, Atlanta, GA 30307
Home to the Circle of Flags where flags from all 50 states are displayed, the Carter Center is home to a 35-acre park that has a Japanese garden, rose garden, and koi pond. You can take a stroll through the park and check out the gardens and Circle of Flags for free but the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum does charge a fee for those 16 years and older.
There are even live concerts hosted in the rose garden and Japanese garden during the warmer months. There concerts are free but do tend to fill quickly so get there early for a prime spot to listen to the concert. Check the Carter Center’s calendar for a list of free events.
Center for Puppetry Arts
Address: 1404 Spring St NW at 18th, Atlanta, GA 30309
If you are a Georgia resident with a valid library card you will receive free admission to the Center for Puppetry Arts for four people. The catch is that you have to check out the Passport to Puppetry at one of the participating libraries. The free general admission tickets do not include the Create-A-Puppet Workshop or the Family Series Performance.
The free general admission tickets do include the Worlds of Puppetry Museum and the Jim Henson exhibit which is always a fan-favorite, especially for the kids. The Jim Henson Collection is an interactive exhibit that takes visitors through this master puppeteer’s life and gives you a glimpse into his office and tv studio. You will also see several of his iconic puppets including Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog.
Stop by the Global Collection for a look into the history of puppetry around the world including puppets from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. You will learn the subtle differences in puppetry between these countries and how each one has created an artform that is truly unique.
Address: 900 Kennesaw Mountain Dr, Kennesaw, GA 30152
One of the most amazing things about Kennesaw Mountain is the 17 miles of interpretive trails and monuments outlining the Battle of Atlanta that took place during the civil war. The Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield covers 2,965 acres and is a National Battlefield preserve where people can come walk where Sherman’s army clashed with Johnston’s army in 1864.
While it is free to visit the mountain and battlefield, and even to hike along the trails, it will cost a fee if you want to explore the museum located at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. You can, however, visit the Visitor Center for more information about this historic battle and learn what to look for when you are out on the trails such as the cannon emplacements.
Georgia Capitol Museum
Address: 206 Washington St, Atlanta, GA 30334
The “Gold Dome” as the state capitol building is affectionately called was completed in 1889 and is open to the public for free tours. You can sign up for the Tour Program and have a knowledgeable guide take you through the capitol and even give you a brief history of the state flags and various artifacts on display.
It is best to visit when the Georgia General Assembly is session and the capitol is a beehive of activity. You can see lawmakers hard at work and even sit in on a few proceedings as you sit in the public gallery. Then head to the Georgia Capitol Museum which is run by the University of Georgia Libraries and is free to the general public.
High Museum of Art
Address: 1280 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta GA 30309
The premier art museum of Atlanta is home to over 17,000 works of art ranging from photography and decorative art to folk art and African art. The museum hosts free admission to the general public on the second Sunday of every month from 12:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. If you are active military or a veteran, you and one guest can get free admission every day when you present your military ID.
Home to one of the largest collections of art in the South, the High Museum of Art is a fabulous place to visit, especially when you can get in for free. Special exhibitions are not included in free admission Sundays and do cost extra. Spend a few hours soaking up some culture and learning about the various art from around the globe ranging from the 17th century to present day.
Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary
Address: 712 L G Griffin Rd, Locust Grove, GA 30248
This amazing wildlife rehabilitation center is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from noon until 3:00 p.m. Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary was founded by Jama Hedgecoth in 1978 and is a non-profit that is home to dozens of animals that came from less-than-stellar situations. Animals housed here include deer, bison, horses, parrots, monkeys, and even cougars.
Stroll along the nature trails, learn about the rehabilitation center, and visit some of the animal habitats to see the life-changing work that is being done here. The sanctuary sees over 100,000 visitors each year and while admission is free, donations are always accepted if you are able to give.
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park
Address: 450 Auburn Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30312
Head over to this magnificent historical park where you can see the humble beginnings of the great Martin Luther King, Jr. The modest two-story house where King was born and lived as a child has been completely preserved and you can take a tour when you visit the park. Pay your respects at King’s tomb and visit Ebenezer Baptist Church where he was baptized.
The King Center is a fantastic place to visit and learn more about the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Listen to his “I Have A Dream” speech and hear the passion in his voice. After exploring the historical park, spend time walking through the Sweet Auburn Historic District which is the center of the most important African American communities in Atlanta’s history.
You do not have to be an African American to feel the full impact of this great man's contribution toward equal rights and to see how segregation affected entire communities and created such a great rift throughout the United States. King's efforts have been immortalized at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park.
Self Guided Free Tours and More
Finding free things to do in metro Atlanta is not really that hard when you start looking outside the box. Whether it is going to free movies in the park or exploring Piedmont Park, spending time in Downtown Atlanta while not busting your wallet has never been easier. Check out the things listed here to get you started and explore the nooks and crannies of the city for free.
Take a free walking tour, either with a guide or download an app and go alone, to see as much of the city as you possibly can without ever cracking open your wallet. If you choose a free walking tour with a guide, you will want to tip them at the end of the tour and you will probably want to grab a snack at one of the street food vendors you will pass along the way.