Land of the Free: 8 Fab Freebies in Atlanta
Free things to do in Atlanta with kids By Mary Jo DiLonardo and Amy Querido
Two family travel bloggers, Mary Jo DiLonardo of The Mommy Diaries and Amy Querido of Atlanta with Kid, recommend their favorite kid-friendly things to do in their beautiful hometown. Here are 8 ways to have fun in Atlanta without dropping a dime:
Capitol Museum: You wouldn’t think a state capitol would promise much besides stiff politicians and lots of staid portraits, but head to downtown Atlanta to the fourth floor of the golden-domed Georgia State Capitol building. Amid the rocks and minerals on display at the Capitol Museum are truly amazing finds such as a two-headed calf and a two-headed snake. Sure, you can pore over the cases of mounted wildlife native to Georgia, American Indian artifacts, and the Six Flags roller coaster wheel, but I guarantee your kids will want to keep staring at the cow and the snake.
Centennial Olympic Park: This is one of our favorite spots in downtown Atlanta. It’s has a great playground for kids big and small, and several pavilions for family picnics or parties. The main feature is the Fountain of Rings. Bring your kids' swimsuits and let them run wild. Also don’t forget to check out the calendar for fun events throughout the year.
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site: A visit here is a great way to learn about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You can take a tour of the birth home of Dr. King with a park ranger guide, tour the Freedom Hall complex, and check out the visitor center to learn more about his story and accomplishments. The Peace Plaza is a beautiful place to take a break. Kids 9 to 12 who complete a set of activities and agree to live by Dr. King's Six Principles of Nonviolence can earn a Junior Ranger patch.
Greenway Trails: Atlanta has an extensive greenway trail system that offers plenty of choices for a family outing. A greenway trail is for non-motorized walkers, joggers, and bicyclists. A few notable options include the Silver Comet Trail in Cobb county, Alpharetta Big Creek Greenway in North Fulton county, and the new Forsyth County Big Creek Greenway. Bring your stroller, wear your walking shoes, and enjoy a beautiful day at these nature trails.
Piedmont Park: This family favorite in-town park offers activities for the whole family, from bike trails to playgrounds to a dog park for four-legged family members. There are also events scheduled throughout the year, including a fun farmer's market, seasonal events like pumpkin decorating, and a free historic park tour. On a hot summer day, bring your swimsuits and for a small fee you can cool off in the public swimming pool (open 11am-7pm, Memorial Day to Labor Day).
Historic Oakland Cemetery: You can celebrate Halloween all year round at Atlanta’s oldest resting place, home to legions of Confederate soldiers, old ATL families, and many historic figures such as Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone with the Wind, and golfer Bobby Jones. Kids just think the monuments and headstones are cool (groundskeepers discourage rubbings, by the way). Look for the final resting place of “Tweet,” a pet mockingbird who died in 1874. People still leave the little guy notes and flowers.
The King Center: For older kids who have studied the Civil Rights Movement, there’s no excuse to miss this moving tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. You can pay respects at King’s memorial, hear his speeches, watch his videos, tour Ebenezer Baptist Church where he preached, and even visit his home on Auburn Avenue. Everything is free and everything will give you goose bumps.
Atlanta State Farmers Market: If your kid doesn’t have a loving relationship with broccoli, change that by visiting this giant outdoor supermarket. At an impressive 150 acres, it’s one of the largest such entities on the planet offering everything from monstrous branches of sugarcane to huge sacks of peanuts and unshelled beans bigger than your children. It’s so fun to see things you’ve never seen at your grocery store and the sounds of all the music and languages from all the cultures of all the vendors make the whole trip an international adventure.