Nine activities. Total spent? $0.
Atlanta may be rich in culture and American history, but it's also an affordable destination ideal for the budget-conscious traveler. After all, this progressive Southern city offers visitors plenty to do and to see at no cost. With an abundance of free historic sites, unusual museums, and outdoor recreation opportunities, travelers can keep busy in the ATL without breaking the bank. For our favorite free things to do in Atlanta, consider these top nine sites and attractions.
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
Maintained by the National Park Service, this Queen Anne-style home at 501 Auburn Avenue site is one of Atlanta’s top tourist destinations. Visit the galleries, gardens, and monuments that pay tribute to arguably the most prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement. Take a ranger-guided tour (also free) of the place where Martin Luther King Jr. spent the first 12 years of his life.
Founded in 1850, this cemetery is an eternal home for many of Atlanta’s most important builders, settlers, and influential individuals (look out for author Margaret Mitchell of Gone With the Wind and golfer Bobby Jones). Visitors can admire the cemetery's impressive mausoleums and sculptures, as well as the oaks and magnolias in the botanical garden.
With a regular Green Market, organized runs, and other major festivals and events taking place throughout the year, Piedmont Park is a great place to experience Atlanta's distinct culture with locals. The 189-acre green space is also a popular place to picnic, play sports (there are bocce, tennis, and basketball courts), and even go for a swim on a particularly balmy day.
David J. Sencer CDC Museum
A truly unique museum from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exhibits explore public health topics through a variety of mediums, such as close-up photographs of infectious insects. Admission is free, and the museum is open on weekdays.
Atlanta Contemporary Art Center
Located in Atlanta’s Westside corridor, the Contemporary Art Center offers free admission daily (except Mondays, when it is closed) and features as many as 10 exhibitions every year, with an emphasis on local Southeastern artists who have not had their works displayed in a major way.
Atlanta Monetary Museum
Follow the history of money, from ancient bartering techniques to modern-day bank regulations. For many, this is an opportunity to learn about the complicated policies and systems that control money in America — but even kids will love watching the cash processing operations (counting, sorting, and shredding).
Considered one of the most successful examples of urban renewal in the country, this 22-mile corridor encircling Atlanta is a great place to stretch your legs in the ATL. Running from the tip of Piedmont Park to Inman Park, the 2.2-mile Eastside Trail is one of the most popular sections for hiking, cycling, and jogging.
Castleberry Hill Art Stroll
Castleberry Hill, a warehouse district that is considered one of the most progressive neighborhoods in the city, offers maps and info sheets for self-guided art strolls during the second Friday of each month. You'll visit a variety of studios, restaurants, and mixed-use spaces like the Fair Street Studios (pottery and home goods), Mindzai Creative (limited edition prints and apparel) and the Hacienda Artisan Market exhibit featuring copal tree wood carvings.
Centennial Olympic Park
With its food, various annual festivals, music events, interactive fountain, and history, Centennial Olympic Park is a great place to visit during a stay in Atlanta. Learn about Atlanta, the legacy of the 1996 Olympic Games, history, and architecture through the free audio tour.