Outdoors and in, Albany, Georgia believes in sharing free things for families to do. Locals like to say “history and nature flow here” on the banks of the Flint River and throughout downtown. Here are the budget-friendly places you won’t want to miss during your visit.
An easy drive from Atlanta or Tallahassee, Albany is worth adding to your southeast road trip itinerary. Why? It’s got a beautiful park along the Flint River, a kid-friendly art museum and is the birthplace of the legendary American singer and composer Ray Charles. The best part? Most of the great things to do in Albany are free. Here are our favorite things to do.
Explore six acres in downtown Albany along the Flint River in RiverWalk Park. Plan to picnic on the lawn. Then stroll the 2.6 paved miles along the river. That’s the round trip total distance. Head to the overlook named for Horace King, a distinguished African American engineer and architect. King built the Bridge House in 1858, now a gateway to riverfront experiences. The walk is part of the Greenways Trail System, 1.3 miles each way.
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Turtle Grove Play Park
Play here! Little kids through age 14 will find lots of climbing, swinging and movement in Turtle Grove Play Park. Parents can sit under sail cloth covered pavilions to keep a watchful eye. The ground cover used to be wood chips but recent renovations changed that to recycled tires for cushiony walking, jumping (and falling) surfaces.
Ray Charles Plaza
Celebrate Albany as the birthplace of Ray Charles. He is honored in this downtown park with benches in the design of piano keys, water flowing into a reflecting pool and a life size bronze sculpture of Ray sitting at his baby grand piano. This sculpture revolves and lighting adds changing colors at night. Ready to listen to “Georgia On My Mind” while gazing over the Flint River?
Radium Springs Gardens earned the title a Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia. The 70,000 gallons of clear, 68-degree water pumping daily from an underground cave is a reason why. Gardens and gazebos, terraces and walkways, distinguish the space where a casino once thrived. Ecological and environmental concerns flourish now where in 1927 a hotel, cottages and bathhouses attracted people to soak in the mineral waters.
The Flint River
The Flint River includes two launch places in downtown Albany, one with an outfitter and one next to the RiverQuarium, if you travel with your own kayaks. Check at the Welcome Center about water levels.
Engage native American history learning the names of two creeks which flow into the Flint: Kinchafoonee and Muckalee. Plus Lake Chehaw with 1,400 acres for boating and fishing. (Chehaw is also the name of the zoo but expect a fee there.) The Flint starts near Atlanta’s massive airport and flows through Albany on its way to Florida and then the Gulf of Mexico.
Remarkably, the Albany Museum of Art is free. Five galleries filled with changing exhibits open up new ways to engage with and imagine the world.
With the kids, enter a fantastical world between the lobby and AMAzing Space — an interactive play area revamped with clean-touch protocols. The fantastical journey entryway is called Escape Plan, even though it’s an entry! Take your time entering the world of artist/musician Elinor Saragoussi. Then go into AMAzing Space — kids’ activities, a library and comfortable seating for parents. Books are art-related, and range from tots to adults.
The permanent collections of traditional African art (largest outside a university in the southeast) plus European and American works from the 19th and 20th century are returning this year after storage and conservation following the devastating 2017 tornadoes in Albany.
The Albany Museum of Art is also a place to discover regional artists in a separate sales gallery.
TravelingMom Tip: This art museum stages Toddler Takeover once a month.
Albany Welcome Center
Visit the Albany Welcome Center, the historic Bridge House built by Horace King in 1858. His life story alone from slave to distinguished bridge builder is worth the visit.
Stop by also to learn about Albany’s free things to do and places of interest with an admission fee, especially the Civil Rights Institute and the RiverQuarium. Explore exhibits and interactive displays on the first floor.
The Welcome Center connects history and the outdoors personality of Albany being so close to RiverWalk Plaza, Turtle Grove Play Park and Ray Charles Plaza and the banks of the Flint River.
Albany Area Arts Council
The Albany Area Arts Council is a building tour as well as exhibit space and collaborative partnership to seven arts organizations. Think 20th century neo-classical. Originally a Carnegie Library, doors are open from noon – 4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday. This is the place to discover regional artists with exhibits always on display or in the process of changing.
From 1883 – 1929, 2,509 Carnegie libraries were built around the world. Albany’s was built in 1906 and continued as a library until 1966. There’s one in Bryan TX too that now serves as a genealogical research site.
Open three days a week, the Thronateeska Heritage Center shares a wide range of history and science. And everything’s free except the planetarium. Go Thursday, Friday or Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. for hands on science including paleontology, archeology and hydrology. This is a river town after all. The surveying and mapping museum with 100 maps and artifacts offers a not-often-encountered view of how such skills impact our daily lives. Train exhibits are stationary: no rides.
Add to Native American awareness with the word “thronateeska” which means “flint picking-up place” to the Lower Muskogee Creek tribe living here first.
More Things to Do in Albany GA (with Fees)
Where to Stay in Albany Georgia
There are lots of options for hotel stays in Albany. Use the interactive map to help you find a place to stay in the area.