Visit Atlanta on a Budget
Updated: October 31, 2023
AAA Travel Editors
Atlanta is way more than your average capital city. It's the beating heart of Georgia, known for its Southern hospitality, thriving music and arts scene, and its role as a major transportation hub. And the best part is that so much of what's happening here is free or low cost – from sprawling urban green spaces to public events and budget-friendly attractions.
So whether you're visiting for business or pleasure, there's something in Atlanta for everyone (and every budget) to enjoy.
Here's our list of the top cheap things to do in Atlanta:
1. Centennial Olympic Park
265 Park Ave. West N.W.AAA / Inspector 564
Centennial Olympic Park is a 21-acre green space that was built for the 1996 Summer Olympics. Prior to hosting the games, it was an unsightly afterthought. But after its $75 million glow up, the park continues to dazzle locals and visitors alike. Today, the park is host to a number of free and ticketed events each year, including a lineup of concerts and festivals. But even when nothing's happening at the park, you can walk around and take in the sights for free. Within the park, be sure to check out the remarkable splash pad known as the Fountain of Rings and its 251 water jets that are surrounded by flags of the Olympics host countries prior to 1996.
Nearby local attractions include CNN Studio Tours at One CNN Center and the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame, while northward you’ll find the Georgia Aquarium, National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the World of Coca-Cola. (Note: All charge admission.)
2. The Georgia State Capitol Building
206 Washington St.iStockphoto.com / klausbalzano
When it comes to cheap things to do in Atlanta, you can't beat free. That's why you should include a visit to the Georgia State Capitol Building and its grounds on your itinerary. It’s not easy to miss, as Georgia’s governmental hub catches the eye with a dome adorned with gold leaf from northern Georgia. Admission to this stunning Neoclassical-style building is free of cost. And self-guided tours (available by appointment) are also available at no cost.
In addition to being on the National Register of Historic Places, the Georgia State Capitol Building was also featured in the hit series The Walking Dead – so look out for rogue zombies!
The capitol is open every Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. It's closed on all national and state holidays.
3. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
450 Auburn Ave. N.E.AAA / Inspector 564
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site is a must-see for history buffs and civil rights enthusiasts. The site includes the birth home of Dr. King, as well as the Ebenezer Baptist Church where he preached. Visitors can also view the original copy of his "I Have a Dream" speech and see the graves of Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King.
The site is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and entry is free for all visitors. So whether you're in town for a weekend or just passing through, be sure to add the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site to your cheap things to do in Atlanta bucket list.
4. Piedmont Park
400 Park Dr. N.E.iStockphoto.com / SeanPavonePhoto
Piedmont Park is an urban oasis in the heart of Atlanta. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, including walking and biking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, and more. Best of all, entry is free! Piedmont Park is the perfect place to enjoy a day outdoors on your next trip to Atlanta.
5. The Varsity
61 North Ave. N.E.iStockphoto.com / adavino
“What’ll ya have?” is the customary opening at this historic drive-in that’s known for being both affordable — ranging from $2 to $6—and iconic. The Varsity is a classic fast-food restaurant in Atlanta, serving up delicious burgers, fries and shakes at an affordable price.
If you want to experience the Atlanta food scene without breaking the bank, then a trip to The Varsity is a must.Keizers / Wikimedia Commons CC-SA BY 3.0
6. Ponce City Market
675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Ponce City Market is a food lover's paradise. This historic market in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward is home to some of the city's best restaurants, cafes, and food trucks. So whether you're looking for a quick bite or a gourmet meal, you'll find it here. The market also has a roof garden with an incredible view of the city skyline and a great selection of shops and boutiques.
Ponce City Market is definitely worth checking out, no matter your budget.null
7. Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Gardens
441 John Lewis Freedom Pkwy NE
A visit to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Gardens will only cost you $12. Situated in downtown Atlanta, the library is home to more than 27 million pages of documents, as well as a full-scale replica of the Oval Office. The gardens are equally impressive, with over 15 acres of manicured lawns, peaceful ponds, and beautiful blooms.
Seniors, active military, and college students can enter for $10. Children ages 16 and under are free. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4:45 p..m Tuesday through Saturday.Eoghanacht / Wikimedia Commons.com / CC0
8. The Fernbank Science Center
156 Heaton Park Dr
The Fernbank Science Center is a unique museum that offers a hands-on approach to learning about the natural world, with exhibits on everything from astronomy to zoology. Visitors can view live animals, participate in experiments, and even take a walk through the Cloud Forest. The Fernbank Science Center also has a planetarium and an observatory, making it the perfect place to stargaze on a clear night. Whether you're a science enthusiast or just looking for something fun to do, the Fernbank Science Center is sure to impress you.
Adult admissions tickets cost $24.95, and kids cost $22.95.AAA
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AAA Travel Editors
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