The Top 11 Free (or Almost Free) Things to Do Around Atlanta When Kids Say ‘I’m Bored’
Atlanta is full of fun -- and often free things -- for you and your kiddos to chase away the boredom blues.
Atlanta has no shortage of kid-friendly activities, but we can’t all break the bank every time our kids say “I’m bored.” Whether you’re a parent, babysitter, or nanny looking to spend the day with the kids, these places will be fun for all who participate. Aside from the (very popular and expensive) Aquarium, the Atlanta area is home to a wide variety of parks, splash pads, gorgeous nature walks, sports events, and much more.
Read on for our list of the 11 best low- or no-cost things to do with your little ones in and around Atlanta!
Address: 1320 Monroe Drive, Atlanta, GA 30306
Hours: Open daily, 6 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Multiple play parks, a splash-pad, public pool (fee required), basketball/tennis/bocce ball/sand volleyball courts, and a running track make the 200 acres of Piedmont Park a definite win for a day of family fun. Wide paths allow for easy movement with a stroller or on a bike. Pets are welcome, but they need to be leashed. But you can visit the dog park space under the Park Drive bridge to allow your dog off-leash to enjoy 3 acres of running space. Homeschool mommas: Be sure to check out the downloadable PDFs to motivate your kids to explore the Park using an “I Spy” and scavenger hunt format!
Street parking is available but limited. A lot of areas surrounding the park are strictly for permit holders, so the easiest way to park is by accessing the SAGE parking facility -- located at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. A multiday parking pass can be purchased at the gift shop to make your frequent visits more affordable.
Address: 665 North Ave., Atlanta, GA 30308
Hours: Open daily, 6 a.m. - 11 p.m.
The Historic Fourth Ward playground has different play structures, slides, swings, rock walls, and climbing areas that are geared toward children of all ages. Toddlers to grade-schoolers can find something to meet their interest level, and older kids will love the excitement of the skate-park. Once your child learns that legendary skateboarding star Tony Hawk helped fund this expansive skate-park, they’ll be begging to go.
The splash-pad is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from May 1 through Oct. 1, allowing children of all ages to cool off in the summer heat. Plenty of benches and multiple water features provide enough space for parents and children to move freely even in the crowded summer months. To maximize green space, there is no parking lot, but on-street parking is available along North Angier Avenue, Morgan Street, Garden Park Drive, Dallas Street, and Rankin Street. Two bus routes stop near the park -- the #2 and the #16.
Address: 70 Abernathy Road, Sandy Springs, GA 30328
Hours: Open daily, 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Art becomes reality at the Playable Art Park in Sandy Springs. Unusual art sculptures turned into playground equipment will excite your kids. This beautiful park is amazing, but you might want to skip it in the summer due to limited benches and even less shade. If you are brave enough to go once the temperature rises, pack lots of water and lather yourself in sunscreen!
Address: 1217 Caroline St. at Moreland Ave., Atlanta, GA 30307 (Edgewood Retail District)
Hours: Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m. - 10 p.m. | Sunday, 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
My kids are huge bookworms and love nothing more than spending a quiet afternoon at the bookstore. They could happily spend hours hopping between the bookshelves and snuggling up with a book in one of the many chairs in the kids section. If your kids need a little more action, most Barnes & Nobles offer a great space with a train table to allow your kids the chance to move around and explore.
Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 11 a.m. B&N offers a storytime with popular books and songs. Grab yourself a little something special from the cafe. During the summer, be sure to check out the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program. Log eight books that your kids read and earn a free book up until Sept. 7.
Address: 6300 Cochran Mill Road, Chattahoochee Hills, GA 30268
Hours: Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $3 | Kids ages 3-12, $2
While there is excellent value in air-conditioned facilities, I much prefer the great outdoors. This place is the best of both worlds. You can enjoy an easy hike to the water falls and then cool off inside while you view the wide variety of animals. My kids were in awe looking at the giant snakes and turtles, and my daughter could not believe she got to pet a Uromastyx Lizard. My son much preferred the outdoor Birds of Prey exhibit.
Leave the stroller at home, tighten up your sneakers, and come prepared with a bag of snacks, water, and bug spray. This year has been a crazy one for ticks. When you get home, immediately strip down and do a body check. Those little buggers love to hitch a ride.
Address: 755 Battery Ave. SE, Atlanta, GA 30339
Hours: April - September, click here for game schedule
Admission: Tickets start at $9. Buy the 4-game plan for tickets starting at $6.
Are you one viewing of “Moana” away from losing your mind? Treat yourself and the kids to a family outing at the new SunTrust Park to see the Atlanta Braves in action. This new stadium was built with families in mind. The Hope and Will’s Sandlot is an interactive kids zone featuring games, a zipline, rock climbing, and carnival games, all located in Section 152-155. Before the game, register your kids online to join the free kid’s club. They will receive a passport and the opportunity to win free prizes for attending a home game.
Moms with infants or toddlers can find the sweet relief of an air-conditioned nursing lounge on the Terrace level of Section 141. Rocking chairs, a diaper-changing station, and a toddler play area are all available for your convenience. Interested in saving a few bucks? Encourage your child to read a book on sports or sportsmanship. Fill out the Home Run Readers registration and take the completed certificate to your local library. You will receive a code that can be used online to obtain a free kids ticket with a discounted adult purchase ($8).
Address: 275 Centennial Olympic Park Drive NW, Atlanta, GA 30313
Hours: Open six days a week (closed Wednesday), 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
When Atlanta summers are hot as can be and shuffling my pregnant body and entourage is more than I can bare, I find great comfort in the Children’s Museum’s cranking air conditioner. Even though the facility isn’t very big, there’s plenty to occupy your child’s attention. While there is room to house your stroller, leave it behind when visiting because your child will be too busy running from the “farm to table” to rest. The kids love the real-life experience of planting seeds, milking cows, stocking the grocery store, and making meals at the restaurant so much that it makes me wonder why they aren’t begging to do chores at the house! There are other exhibits that allow for climbing, exploring sounds, playing with kinetic sand, and much more. Be sure to take a walk upstairs to test out the musical piano stairs.
Due to popularity with school groups, the museum is best to visit after 1 p.m., when most groups have left for the day. Target sponsors a free day on the second Tuesday of each month. Beginning Aug. 7, you must pre-register online for one of the afternoon slots (Session #1: 1 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. or Session #2: 3:45 p.m. - 6 p.m.) This is a great way to experience the museum and save a few bucks. If you have an annual membership be sure to steer clear on these days because the museum will be at maximum capacity.
Address: 1345 Piedmont Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
Hours: April - October, Tuesday - Sunday, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. | November - March, Tuesday - Sunday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Admission: Adult, $21.95 | Kids ages 3-12, $15.95 | Annual family membership, $109
We first happened upon the Atlanta Botanical Gardens for one of their homeschool days. My kids loved exploring the well-landscaped facility, and I was grateful for beautiful, shaded paths in a city that radiates heat. Strollers easily move through the wide paths, but good luck getting your child to stay seated. They will adore running from the children’s playground, through the splash pad, and to see the Earth Goddess, which is a huge hit since “Moana” featured a similar-looking Goddess in the form of Te Fiti.
The easiest parking is available at the SAGE Parking Facility, but with an hourly rate, that can add up quickly. Grab a multi-parking pass at the gift shop to save money.
Address: 1404 Spring St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30309
Hours: Tuesday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. | Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. | Sunday, noon - 5 p.m.
Each family series ticket to the Center for Puppetry Arts includes a show, create-a-puppet workshop, and entrance into the museum. I wasn’t thrilled by the idea of a puppet show, but the shows here are truly spectacular, and as an added bonus, Jim Henson fans can view a huge portion of his collection inside the Museum.
While free parking is available behind the Center, it is limited, and Spring Street is a one-way street that may require some special navigating. Luckily, the location at the corner of Spring and 18th streets makes for an easy walk from the Arts Center MARTA.
Address: 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain, GA 30083
Hours: Park gates open daily, 5 a.m. - midnight | Attractions open 10:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Phone: 800- 401-2407
Admission: Adults (12+), $28.95 | Kids ages 3-11, $26.95 (Adventure Pass)
As the temperatures begin to cool off, plan your trip just north of Atlanta to hike Stone Mountain. In addition to hiking, your kids will love taking a cruise on the scenic railroad, adventuring through the ropes course, and getting soaked at Geyser Towers. This easy 1-mile hike can be done by all members of the family, or skip the walk and take the Sky Ride. Your whole family will love the stunning view. Take a good nap and plan to stay late so you can view the incredible Laserworks show (9:30 p.m.), featuring lights, iconic music, lasers, epic fireworks, and jaw-dropping fire effects. Your kids will sleep great on the ride home. Check online to reserve a seat for the show.
Daily tickets can be purchased, but parking alone is $15. For the best value, purchase a Mountain Membership PLUS pass ($109 per person), which includes 12-month access to Stone Mountain attractions, free admission to Snow Mountain and Ride the Ducks™ (reservations required), free annual parking, five Bring A Friend Free tickets, and more!
Address: 225 Baker St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30313
Hours: Sunday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. | Saturday, 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Admission: Adult, $39.95 | Children, $31.95 | Buy tickets online for the best value.
Grab a schedule when you arrive to maximize your experience. The shows can fill up fast, so you’ll want to be sure to arrive about 15 to 30 minutes early for both the dolphin and sea lion shows. Tunnels are built in different exhibits, so you can crawl in and get an up-close view of animals like penguins and piranhas. Moving walkways allow your child to stand in awe as whale sharks, fish, and stingray swim above their head in Ocean Voyager.
Food is available for sale at the aquarium, but you’re welcome to bring in snacks and drinks. We always pack a lunch, because my kids would spend the night if I let them. While the tickets are pricey, your child will be begging to stay all day and you will certainly get your money’s worth.
For a limited time, save between 10 percent and 20 percent on daily ticket prices by buying them online and visiting the aquarium between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. There are multiple parking garages for easy access to the aquarium, but you will shell out $10-12 for that comfort. The CNN Center & Peachtree Center MARTA stop are within a mile’s walk, for those looking to avoid parking downtown. Holidays and weekends are exceptionally crowded. Avoid the crowd and save a few bucks by visiting after 4 p.m. on a weekday. Georgia residents also get in free on their birthday!
Did we list all your favorite free (or almost free) Atlanta hangouts? Let us know in the comments below!
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