Ready to travel the Southeast without breaking the bank? Well then, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve got a list of several FREE activities you can find that will be easy on the wallet and fabulous for your family. We’re talking the Southeastern US states of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee. So buckle your seat belts and let’s get going!
Southeast Fun Free Things to Do
I’m starting with my home state, whose motto is “smiling faces, beautiful places.” Hopefully you’ll say the state lives up to its reputation once you visit.
Starting in Greenville, stroll through Falls Park. Stop to pose for a photo on the now iconic Liberty Bridge, the 400 foot suspension bridge that hangs over the waterfalls along the Reedy River. There are also nature trails, a pond, public art and plenty of green space to run around.
Jumping down to the coast, Charleston boasts many walking finds, including routes along the Battery and Rainbow Row. For a quintessential Charleston experience, check out the Charleston City Market where you can browse or buy jewelry, baskets, pottery, wood carvings, handmade soap, and other crafts. The market stretches for four blocks under a roof, beginning at 188 Meeting Street. On Saturday mornings in season, Marion Square, a 10-acre public park located right downtown, has a farmers market.
Find out about even more free fun things to do in South Carolina.
Now I’ve got Georgia on my mind. The Peach State is chock full of free fun, starting in Atlanta.
Centennial Olympic Park was the heartbeat of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. Bring the whole family to check out the Olympic Rings and splash in the water that bubbles up during hot days. Have a picnic on the grassy knoll or maybe just spend time at the two playgrounds in the park. Check out the schedule of events to see if you can catch a free concert, play, or other activity during your visit.
“Life is like a box of chocolates” as Forrest Gump would say. Only in Savannah, you DO know what you’ll get with Free Savannah Walking Tours: daily 90 minute walking tours of the historic district. If you prefer a self-guided tour, head to the Savannah Visitor Center and grab a map of the area. Savannah has more than 20 city squares filled with monuments, surrounded by museums, churches, and trees dripping with Spanish moss.
Care for more Georgia activities? Then check out these peachy ideas!
Melbourne Beach is home to the Barrier Island Sanctuary. This 34-acre sanctuary invites visitors to explore Florida’s natural mammal habitats through interactive displays, educational films and a wooded boardwalk along the coast that winds through the wild and natural vegetation of the area. Retro TravelingMom Mary Moore said that her kids were “fascinated with weighing themselves on a large scale and seeing which creature from the habitat matched their weight. Outdoors on the boardwalk we were able to view different lizards up close, enjoy beautiful foliage and discover large mammal bones that have washed ashore over the years.”
Are you fascinated with manatees? Then the Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center midway between Tampa and Sarasota in Apollo Beach. Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center is a federally designated manatee sanctuary where dozens of manatees gather to bask in the warm, clean discharge waters of the Big Bend Power Station. Visitors enjoy viewing platforms, tidal walkways, a butterfly garden, and an environmental education center.
The Sunshine State will have you shining with smiles with all its free fun options, which you can find at our Free in 50 States: Florida section.
Faith Hill claims to be a proud Mississippi girl. And hey, if you can spell it, you surely should visit it! Mississippi is home to some amazing free fun.
For history buffs, check out Corinth’s Civil War Interpretive Center, one of the National Park Service’s visitors centers. The 15,000 square foot facility features interactive exhibits, a multi-media presentation of the Battle of Shiloh and the Battle of Corinth. Or you could enjoy music every Thursday evening at Pickin’ on Courthouse Square where blue grass and gospel musicians from the area come together to play music and encourage fellowship.
Biloxi, Mississippi earns bragging rites as having one of the best Fourth of July fireworks display. Launched over the Mississippi Sound, fireworks are shot from nearby Deer Island.
From Cajun cuisine to Zydeco music to Mardi Gras, Louisiana has spunk and sass. It also has free activities you’ll remember for years to come.
Wild masks, costumes and vintage photos await you at Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum inside the French quarter restaurant Arnaud’s. Germaine Wells, daughter of the namesake restaurateur, presided as queen of over 22 Mardi Gras balls from 1937 to 1968 and many of her elaborate gowns are displayed. The museum is open during restaurant hours and it’s one of the best free things to do in New Orleans with kids.
Across the state in Shreveport-Bossier, Riverview Park features an interactive water fountain with lights and music, a 300-foot-long floating boat dock, a magnificent waterfall that incorporates natural stone and plantings, an arbor and viewing area at the summit of a waterfall.
You’ll find many more Louisiana fun and free ideas from TravelingMoms.
For many, Alabama makes them think of the American civil rights movement, Gulf Shore beaches, and one of the fiercest college football rivalries. Alabama also offers varied free activities and settings, which you can access on our Free in 50 Alabama list. Here’s a sneak peek at what you may find:
Gulf Shores Beaches: Alabama’s beaches are an undiscovered gem for many Americans, that’s not the case for generations of Southerners who’ve loaded up the family wagon to come to the towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach each summer. They come for a laid-back beach vacation, where miles of shoreline are their own personal sand box and calm, clear waters beckon.
The movie Selma turned the national spotlight once again on this historic city. Visit the Old Live Oak Cemetery in downtown Selma and take the tour. Then head off on a scavenger hunt in this moss-draped cemetery, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Questions include one asking who was Alabama’s only vice president of the United States.
Dubbed the Natural State, Arkansas is known as the birthplace of Bill Clinton and WalMart.
In Little Rock, the state’s largest and capital city, The Big Dam Bridge is the world’s longest pedestrian and bicycle bridge built and designed specifically for that purpose. The Pulaski County Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge has a 14-foot wide deck that extends 3,463 feet across the Arkansas River. The $12.5 million bridge ties together 15 miles of scenic river trails in Little Rock and North Little Rock and 7,000 acres of park land.
Here you’ll uncover more ideas about Arkansas free spots.
The Volunteer state will have you volunteering to go back again and again. Country music legends got their start in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry, Elvis’s birthplace is in Memphis, and Smoky Mountain fun awaits you in Sevierville, the home of Dolly Parton.
Did you know that Great Smoky Mountains National Park is both America’s most visited national park and the only one that is free to enter? It would require action by the Tennessee legislature if Great Smoky Mountains National Park ever wished to charge an entrance fee. The entrance is located approximately 12 miles from Sevierville and the park covers approximately 800 square miles in Tennessee and North Carolina.
Knoxville has the Sunsphere, built for the 1982 World’s Fair. It became a local favorite and stands to this day. After the World’s Fair ended, the Sunsphere closed its doors and remained vacant until 2007. That year, the observation deck was reopened to the public. Its observation deck offers a great 360-degree view of downtown Knoxville and beyond.
Learn more about Tennessee free fun by exploring our website.