Free Activities in Atlanta

Wondering if there are free things to do in Atlanta today? This city offers a surprisingly large number of attractions and activities that can be enjoyed free of charge. Perfect for students, seniors, families and anyone on a budget, these no-cost activities are usually available to state residents and visitors alike.

Many free things to do in Atlanta can be found via the state’s impressive State Park system and through programs offered in partnership with GA libraries. Certain attractions that normally charge admission provide certain days or events free of charge to qualifying guests. To learn more about the best free events in Atlanta, review the list below.

Zoo Atlanta

The Zoo Atlanta free day is a benefit offered to Georgia residents through the library system. Simply use your valid library card to check out the Zoo Atlanta Library Pass DVD and get free admission for a family of four. A household may use this privilege once per year, and there may be a waiting list to check out the DVD at your local library. The pass is good for general admission only and cannot be used for fee-based events and programs.

Another Zoo Atlanta free day is offered to educators each spring. On the designated Educator Appreciation Family Day, teachers, homeschool parents, administrative support staff and active GA PTA members may visit the zoo for free between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Educators’ family members or other guests can receive a discount on general admission tickets.

Center for Puppetry Arts

As part of Fulton County’s free museums in Atlanta program, residents, students and government employees of Fulton County may receive free museum admission on certain Saturdays of the year. Guests must complete the online form and bring it to the museum along with a proof of residency or school/government employee ID card.

Residents of all 159 Georgia counties can visit their local public library and check out “Passport to Puppetry” to receive free museum admission for up to four guests. The program includes a 25 percent discount on the purchase of up to four all-inclusive Family Series performance tickets.

Michael C. Carlos Museum

Another library-based free museums in Atlanta program, individuals and families with a valid GA library card can check out a family pass that allows up to six people to visit the Carlos Museum at Emory University for free. Located at Emory’s Atlanta campus, the Carlos Museum features artwork from ancient Egypt, Nubia, Africa, Asia, Greece, Rome, the Near East and the Americas.

In 2019, the Carlos Museum is offering 100 free Atlanta museum admission days to celebrate 100 years of community support. This free admission is offered between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on specific days each month, most of which fall on Thursday or Sunday. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from Noon until 5 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and university holidays.

The High Museum of Art

Add the High to the list of free museums in Atlanta when you visit during the Second Sundays program. As the name indicates, admission is free on the second Sunday of each month between noon and 5 p.m. Enjoy over 11,000 pieces of art, including photography, folk art, African art and famous paintings. Special programming is held between 1 and 4 p.m. and may include art-making activities, performances, story times or tours, all planned around that month’s theme.

The museum offers a sensory room on Second Sundays that features noise-canceling headphones, a crash pad, calm lighting and various toys to promote self-care for guests with sensory needs. In addition, all active and veteran military service members may visit the High Museum of Art with one guest at no charge every day.

Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary

If you love animals, your list of free things to do in Atlanta must include a visit to Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary. This wildlife rehabilitation center is located approximately 30 minutes south of Atlanta in Locust Grove. A self-guided trail winds through dozens of animal exhibitions, featuring bears, exotic cats, birds, livestock, primates, reptiles and small mammals.

Noah’s Ark is open to visitors between noon and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Though there are no admission or parking fees, donations are welcome and encouraged. The sanctuary also offers a paid behind-the-scenes WOW tour option that can be scheduled online. It provides more detailed information and lasts longer than the free, self-guided tour.

Piedmont Park

Located right in the heart of Atlanta, this is a favorite free thing to do for many native Atlantans. Child-friendly activities include the Noguchi playscape with swings, seesaws and slides and the Mayor’s Grove playground. Visit the free Legacy Fountain Splash Pad between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. to get wet or grab a bench to view the regularly scheduled water and light shows.

Free events in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park include swimming in the beautifully designed pool on weekdays between 3 and 5 p.m. Let your dog run and play leash-free in one of two Piedmont dog parks that feature separate enclosures for large and small dogs. Or take a stroll through the community organic garden to see how food grows and test your plant identification skills.

MLK Jr. National Historical Park

A list of free things to do in Atlanta for a history buff must include a visit here. There is no charge to take in this touching tribute to famed civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Born and raised in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn district, Dr. King devoted his life to improving conditions for African Americans. His legacy is beautifully preserved at The King Center and the other attractions that make up the National Historical Park. View Dr. and Mrs. King’s tomb, the Eternal Flame and the Freedom Hall exhibit area and enjoy a stroll through the “I Have a Dream” World Peace Rose Garden.

David J. Sencer CDC Museum

This Atlanta free museum is an interesting stop for medical professionals, forensic science students and others interested in learning how scientists crack the cases of mystery diseases. Located at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the museum features self-guided tours through permanent and changing exhibitions focused on CDC history and the subject of public health. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closes at 7 p.m. on Thursdays. The CDC museum is closed on weekends and federal holidays.

Fernbank Science Center

Not to be confused with the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, the Fernbank Science Center is located in DeKalb county and part of the county’s school system. Another of the free museums in Atlanta, admission to the observatory and exhibits is offered to everyone free of charge. However, if you wish to see a planetarium show, you must buy a ticket.

Attractions include live animal exhibits, the real Apollo 6 command module and free public observations on Thursday and Friday nights at the observatory. The center is open the following days and times:

  • Monday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Thursday: 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Friday: 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

If you are searching for active free things to do in Atlanta, put on your sneakers and head east to the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, which includes the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve and Panola Mountain State Park. Approximately 20 minutes from Atlanta, these sites include miles of hiking trails over 2,000 acres of mountainous land. Climb the high granite outcrops or bike on the 30-mile paved Arabia Mountain PATH. Geocaching is also a popular activity in this area.