With a ton of history and attractions of all kinds, Atlanta is a great place to visit for travelers of all ages.
The Best Free (And Almost Free) Things to Do in Atlanta
From hiking to art, there’s something for everyone. Check out the list below of great free and inexpensive things to do in metro Atlanta.
Georgia Capitol Museum
The museum inside the Georgia State Capitol is the perfect place to learn about the history of the state. As one of the original 13 colonies, Georgia has an extensive backstory. While guided tours are currently suspended, you can still take a self-guided visit of the museum for free. View various exhibits featuring artifacts and art that show the history of Georgia and the history of the Capitol building.
Sweetwater Creek State Park
A short drive from the downtown area (under 30 minutes) is Sweetwater Creek State Park. It's one of several fantastic outdoor spaces in the Atlanta area. With a historic mill dating back to the 1800s, a peaceful reservoir (you can buy fishing supplies on-site), picnic areas, and a full visitor’s center, the great outdoors are highly accessible. You can even kayak or canoe in the lake.
A visit only costs $5 for parking, and it’s a great place to spend an afternoon (or stay overnight since there are campsites and yurts available for rent).
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park
Explore the ground of Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. Though the buildings within the park are currently closed, the park is still open to visitors, and you can view the buildings from the outside. Here, you’ll find the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as his final resting place. The park also contains the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, Fire Station No. 6, and the “I Have a Dream” World Peace Rose Garden.
Were you looking to stretch your legs without going far? Piedmont Park is the perfect place to do it. The large urban park is conveniently located by Midtown and Georgia Tech and is the ideal spot for a leisurely stroll or a bike ride. Walk the perimeter of the park, and you’ll come across some of the best skyline views of Atlanta.
My favorite way to enjoy Piedmont Park is early in the morning, with breakfast from Sublime Doughnuts. It’s a great place to walk off some jetlag after a redeye flight.
SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion and Film
A visit to SCAD FASH (a museum from the Savannah College of Art & Design) is a fun stop for all ages. With $10 tickets for adults and free admission for children under 14 years old, it’s an inexpensive and educational stop. The exhibits rotate at intervals, so your visit can be different every time you stop by. Currently running until September 12 is the Afrofuturism in Costume Design exhibit by Ruth E. Carter, who has designed costumes for numerous films, including Black Panther.
Reynolds Nature Preserve
For a more guided nature experience (but still free), Reynolds Nature Preserve offers audio tours on their website so you can get the most out of your visit. The preserve is also part of the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail with its Pollinator Garden, perfect for viewing in the spring and summer months. Reynolds Nature Preserve is located in Morrow, just a short distance from downtown Atlanta.
Marietta Fire Museum
If you’re looking for a fun and educational stop that’s family-friendly and free, venture up north to Marietta for a visit to the Marietta Fire Museum. The museum is open daily for free self-guided tours where you can view antique fire trucks and equipment (including international pieces). Guided tours can be booked (at least one week prior), and the tours are actually conducted by local firefighters.
Jackson Street Bridge
The best view in Atlanta can be found at the Jackson Street Bridge. Swing by around sunset for a spectacular (and highly Instagrammable) view of the Atlanta skyline above the freeway. If the view looks familiar, there’s a good reason- early promotional photos for "The Walking Dead" feature an eerily empty city view from the Jackson Street Bridge.
Atlanta is home to a variety of street art that’s littered around the city. If you’re hoping for some great Instagram photos or just want to admire some murals, your best bet is to head to Cabbagetown. You’ll find a variety of murals here, and it’s a quick walk to the most notable spot for street art- the Krog Street Tunnel. You can also find various pieces around the intersection of Forsyth Street and Mitchell Street.
Stone Mountain Park
One of the best-known attractions in metropolitan Atlanta is Stone Mountain Park. While there are a number of more costly attractions and activities here, for a $20 parking fee, you can still explore the hiking trails all the way to the summit (it’s only a one-mile hike). From here, enjoy one of the best views of Atlanta.
You can find a lot of history in Oakland Cemetery. The cemetery grounds have been in use since the mid-1800s and are the final resting place for a number of notable figures throughout Georgia history. Residents include the founder of Morris Brown College, a co-founder of the National Parent Teachers Association, Pulitzer prize-winning authors, and the first African American mayor of Atlanta.