Exploring Atlanta with kids can be fun and educational, but heading out each day can get expensive. Thankfully there are lots of free things to do in Atlanta with kids, if you know where to look for them, and we do. Here are 10 of our favorites.
10 Free Things to Do in Atlanta with Kids
Atlanta is known as a great convention city, but it’s also a great family friendly destination. In addition to the better known Atlanta attractions such as the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, Stone Mountain Park and Six Flags Over Georgia, there are lots of things to do in Atlanta that are easy on the wallet and big on fun.
I’ve lived in Atlanta for more than 20 years and am always seeking out fun, free things to do in town. Here are 10 of my favorite free things to do in Atlanta.
1. Learn about Civil Rights
The Sweet Auburn Historic District is a mile and half stretch along Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta. During the 1960’s it was the center of the civil rights movement and home to Rev. Martin Luther King. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Visitors Center has a special “Children of Courage” exhibit geared toward young visitors. In addition, children between the ages of 9 and 12 can register to become a Junior Ranger at the MLK site. To do so, ask a park ranger for a booklet and complete the activities. Show the ranger the completed book and get a Jr. Ranger badge or patch, as well as a certificate.
2. Get Back to Nature
Atlanta’s Piedmont Park is a well-known destination for locals, but there are also several wonderful nature centers that offer specific programming for kids. Dauset Trail on the Southside of town and Dunwoody Nature Center on the north side are two of my favorites free nature centers. Dauset Trail is a 1,200 acre preserve with animals, creeks, wildlife and an extensive calendar of events throughout the year. Dunwoody Nature Center has woodland, creekside and wetlands hiking, as well as a shaded playground and playhouse, in addition to an activity building with special programs.
3. Look at Stars
Atlanta has several places to see stars through high power telescopes. Fernbank Science Center’s observatory houses the largest telescope in the southeastern United States. They offer free public observations on Thursday and Friday evenings. (weather permitting) An astronomer is available to position the telescope and answer questions.
4. Take in a Parade
Atlanta has some wonderful parades with marching bands, large balloons and often the 501st Stormtrooper Legion from Star Wars dressed for the occasion or one of my favorites, the Box SuperHeroes. Traditional parades include the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Christmas Parade and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. For something a little more offbeat, try the DragonCon Parade in September and the Little Five Points (LP5) Parade before Halloween.
5. Cool Off
Several Atlanta City pools, including Piedmont Park, Garden Hills and Chastain Park, offer free hours, plus children 12 and older are able to stay and swim without an adult.
6. Remember the Olympics
Centennial Olympic Park was built for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games which were held in Atlanta. The Park has become a must see destination for visitors and native Atlantans. The Centennial Olympic Park Fountain of Rings is the centerpiece of the Park and one of the most recognized and photographed landmarks in Georgia. When you go, be sure to take a towel and change of clothes because no one can resist jumping from ring to ring between the shooting water. Take a break from splashing during select times and watch the water show featuring lights and music. Enjoy a wide open area perfect for football, or Frisbee. There are two Centennial Olympic Park playgrounds; one is specifically designed for all children, including those with physical disabilities.
7. Climb to the Earth’s Core
The Children’s Museum of Atlanta is a fantastic place for the under 8 set to jump, crawl, paint, sculpt, fish and even climb to the center of the earth. Once they reach the center, they use kid-power to make the skin of the earth spin. The museum did a complete renovation in 2016, and it’s now better than ever. This interactive children’s museum is located in Downtown Atlanta and on the second Tuesday of every month, the museum is free from 1 – 7 p.m. as part of Target Free Days.
8. See an Outdoor Movie
Each summer several of the shopping districts and parks around Atlanta host outdoor summer movies. Local Northside Hospital and Southern Outdoor Cinema sponsor the Movies in the Park series at five locations on the Northside of Atlanta. The Atlantic Station shopping district in Midtown hosts Movies in Central Park each summer. You can even watch movies at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium.
9. Get Creative
Create ATL is a weekly event at the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown. Family-oriented programming is led by the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and High Museum of Art and features various free activities beginning at 1 p.m. on Sunday, including family festivals, art-making activities, interactive musical story times, composers-in-training sessions, instrument making, drop-in acting classes and more.
10. Run like the Wind
For seven weeks in early May through mid-June, the Atlanta Track Club sponsors a weekly All Comer Track Meets at Emory University. Kids and adults of all abilities run races, throw shot put, try the long jump and more.
Need more? Check out 101+ Free Things to do in Atlanta.