10 Budget-Friendly Kids Activities in Atlanta
Check out Family Friendly Atlanta Activities Perfect for Any Nanny's Budget
Get the kiddos out on the town with 10 Atlanta-area activities they'll love almost as much as your pocketbook does. Don't forget the cameras - from historical landmarks to butterfly encounters, these are memories you'll want to keep forever.
1. Chattahoochee Nature Center
9135 Willeo Road
Atlanta, GA 30075
Nothing feeds the passion of loving nature more than watching wildlife up close and personal. Every weekend, the Chattahoochee Nature Center in North Fulton County offers classes and workshops that engage the whole family, from bird shows to trail hikes to creature feedings and other animal encounters. The center's butterfly garden and raptor aviary make every visit worthwhile, giving kids a chance to meet resident wildlife and learn what it takes to keep them safe and healthy, in the sanctuary and in the wild. Chattahoochee Nature Center is open until 5 p.m. every day. Admission is only $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 3 to 12.
2. Imagine It! Children's Museum of Atlanta
275 Centennial Olympic Park Dr. Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30313
Kids love the Imaginators at Imagine It!, but it's the traveling exhibits here that bring in droves of adoring fans. From Sesame Street exhibits to Clifford the Big Red Dog, the museum's special features are all the rage among the elementary and preschool set. If you plan on visiting a lot, become a member to take advantage of half-price tickets and fun member events. Admission is just less than $13, and children younger than the age of 2 get in for free.
3. Yellow River Game Ranch
4525 Highway 78
Lilburn, GA 30047
Have the kids eating out of the palm of your hand while furry critters eat out of theirs! Yellow River offers tons of opportunities to see and feed deer, black bears, goats, bunnies and even a cougar. It's also the home of Georgia's own groundhog, General Beauregard Lee, who tends to be a bit more accurate than the more renowned Punxsatawney Phil every spring. Yellow River Game Ranch lets kids explore at their own pace while you check out the exhibits, too. The game ranch is open year round, and charges $8 for adults and $7 for children ages 2 and 11.
4. Just Kiln Time
27 Atlanta St. Southeast
Marietta, GA 30060
Kill time at the kiln, and take home more than just a photo memory. Kids at Just Kiln Time may select a piece of art they would like to paint, ranging from $4 to $30, based on size. Fire it up and take it home for a fun arts and crafts project perfect for rainy days. This open pottery studio located a block from Marietta Square is open until 9 p.m. through the week, making it a great end-of-the-day activity, especially for older kids. Just Kiln also hosts birthday parties, so it's a super convenient alternative to traditional bounce-house insanity. Kiln works well for younger kids just learning arts and crafts, or as a parent-teenager outing that'll let you and that soon-to-be adult enjoy a little low-pressure fun.
5. Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield and National Park
Old Highway 41 and Stilesboro Road
Kennesaw, GA 30152
If you're still wondering what it takes to keep kids up to date in subjects like history when they're just not that interested, Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield and National Park is it. Take them to the one place where learning about history is actually pretty fun. You can't beat a site with free parking, free admission and a lot for everyone to learn. This historic battlefield comes complete with Confederate earthworks, Civil War reenactments and monuments to fallen soldiers. Outdoors lovers may take the kids on one of the park's many trails going up and around the mountain, with beautiful views of the Georgia scenery and wildlife including herds of deer.
6. Center for the Puppetry Arts
1404 Spring St. Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30309
The Center for the Puppetry Arts has been delighting kids since 1978 with arts and crafts projects that come to life. Truly though, the neatest thing about watching marionette shows is the inspiration those furry, googly-eyed creatures give the kids. In 2007, this midtown location became the permanent home of a lot of Jim Henson's creations, so fun here includes characters kids (and parents!) know and love. It also hosts workshops for youngsters to create their own puppet in conjunction with exhibits on display throughout the year. An all-inclusive ticket for $16.50 even allows access to the Create-A-Puppet workshop, where kids get a hands-on opportunity to become a puppet maker.
7. Atlanta History Center
130 W. Paces Ferry Road Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30305
With living history programs, lectures by award-winning authors, toddler programs, summer camps, music series and annual festivals for the whole family, this place keeps kids busy with a little Atlanta flavor. Six historic gardens tell the tale of the city through the ages, as do the Tullie Smith Farm, the Swan House and the Margaret Mitchell House, which is dedicated to the ever-famous author of "Gone with the Wind." Conveniently located just a couple of blocks off of Peachtree Street, this 85-year-old place covers more than 30 acres in rich local history to keep those kiddos engaged all day. Admission is $11 for kids 4 to 12 and $16.50 for adults. Budget-friendly tip: Buy your tickets online to save $2, or get a dual admission ticket to save 25 percent of the total price of admission.
8. Georgia State Capitol
214 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334
For a dose of all things American, the Georgia State Capitol boasts tons of history, not so much of lifestyles through the years, but of how this great state came to be and continues to thrive. Cooler still, this place offers scavenger hunts and art searches that keep kids excited about exploring this little piece of the city's history. Although the General Assembly operates between January and April each year, take free, public tours throughout the year during normal business hours. Take a self-guided tour any time, or reserve a tour. A great educational tool for kids from about second grade on, this place brings history, government and the grandeur of Georgia's capital city to life.
9. Acworth Beach
4425 Beach Street Northwest
Acworth, GA 30101
If you're looking for a place to catch rays and a little water, but don't want to deal with Lake Lanier traffic and costs, try Acworth Beach. For just $10, park steps away from sand, water and a quieter experience than other, heavily trafficked swim spots. Take advantage of the whole park to make a day of it, but remember to bring a warm change of clothes to avoid whiny, wet kiddos -- they'll want to explore the park and playground, and eat that awesome lunch you packed in the picnic area, sans bathing gear.
10. Atlanta Federal Reserve
1000 Peachtree St. Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30309
Kids of almost any age will get into watching money made at the Atlanta Federal Reserve, one of 12 branches throughout the country. Teach them about economy with a little action instead of a boring class, and watch their minds work while the presses pump out the dough. What exactly is the Fed anyhow, and why is it always in the news? The Fed is here, alive and ready to teach kids about economics without making them, you know, really learn stuff. Free self-guided tours are available during normal business hours, while guided tours are available on an appointment-only basis with two weeks' notice. In addition to learning about the creation of money, older kids may also learn about monetary policy, bank supervision and the evolution of currency over time.
Michael Francis is a freelance writer studying at Georgia State University. His work can be found at here.
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