Lovely Southern state Georgia is home to gorgeous coastal beaches and islands, scenic pastoral farmland and cropland regions, and lively visitor attractions within the metro Atlanta region. Visitors can explore the state on a budget and see some of its biggest attractions for free, including sites connected to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, which honors the life and legacy of the famed Civil Rights Movement leader. Centennial Olympic Park preserves attractions connected to the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games, while the Georgia Governor's Mansion offers free guided tours of the former residence of future United States President Jimmy Carter. Other free-admission attractions include Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, the site of one of the state's most noted Civil War battles.
Arabia Mountain is the northernmost of the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve's two prominent mountain peaks, separated from Bradley Mountain several hundred feet to its south. The two mountains form one of Metro Atlanta's three monadnock formations together, located within DeKalb County within their entirety. Visitors can explore the mountain's terrain as a public county park, which is open to the public for free seven days a week between dawn and dusk. The mountain's unique topography creates an unusual habitat for native flora and fauna, home to five federally-endangered species, including brilliant bright-red diamorpha plants, which live in small vernal pools on the mountain's surface. Year-round guided hikes are hosted at the mountain, along with special events such as the Monadnock Muse art event.
2.Atlanta Monetary Museum
Atlanta Monetary Museum is the official public museum connected to Atlanta's Federal Reserve Bank branch, showcasing delightful free-admission exhibits and artifacts related to the history of currency in the United States and around the world. The museum offers opportunities for self-guided tours for groups of 10 or less during business hours Mondays through Fridays, letting visitors explore delightful exhibits connected to the role the Federal Reserve plays in the national and global economy. The history of American banking is also on display, along with a collection of significant examples of American currency. Visitors can also enjoy guided tours for groups of up to 30 with advance registration for free during select times of the week.
1000 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, Phone: 404-498-8500
3.The Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center
The Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center is a lovely natural haven within metro Atlanta suburb Johns Creek, creating opportunities for area residents and visitors to learn about the region's natural and historical environment. The center is home to several relocated historic buildings, including a general store, church, and farmhouse. Its free-admission visitor center is housed within a preserved 1860 tenant farm house, showcasing exhibits related to the farm's animals and operations. An adjacent farm museum, housed within the homestead's carriage house, features period furniture and artifacts depicting life on an early 20th-century farmstead. Other historic properties at the center include the 1880s-era Summerour House and the Delco Remy generator building. Visitors can enjoy guided cell phone tours of the complex for free and learn about its natural and historical significance.
9770 Autrey Mill Rd, Johns Creek, GA 30022, Phone: 678-366-3511
4.Centennial Olympic Park
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Centennial Olympic Park preserves the iconic downtown Atlanta public park constructed in honor of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games, preserved today by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority. The lovely 21-acre park serves as a symbolic memorial to the Games, showcasing photo-ready attractions such as an interactive Fountain of Rings meant to evoke the image of the Olympic rings via computerized lighting and water jet synchronization fountain performances each day. A collection of international flags represents all the countries that have hosted the Summer Olympics in the modern era, while a selection of sculptures honors important Olympic athletes and figures. A plethora of public special events are showcased at the park throughout the year, including an annual Fourth of July fireworks display and a Wednesday WindDown summer concert series.
265 Park Ave W NW, Atlanta, GA 30313, Phone: 404-223-4412
5.The Cohutta-Chattahoochee Scenic Byway
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The Cohutta-Chattahoochee Scenic Byway stretches along United States Route 41 through the beautiful Chattahoochee National Forest, stretching for 54 miles from the town of Chatsworth to Fort Mountain State Park. The route offers some of Georgia's most breathtaking views of the Cohutta Mountains and passes beautiful historic sites, including Prater's Mill, a working water-powered grist mill constructed in 1855 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Civil War sites along the route include the Dalton Confederate Cemetery and Memorial Wall, which preserves the gravesites of more than 200 Confederate soldiers. Beautiful 3,700-acre Fort Mountain State Park offers hiking trails and archaeological remains, while the town of Ellijay, known as Georgia's Apple Capital, is home to quaint apple houses offering fruit tastings throughout the harvest season.
6.The David J. Sencer CDC Museum
© The David J. Sencer CDC Museum
The David J. Sencer CDC Museum is a free-admission museum located within the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in downtown Atlanta, offering a plethora of exhibits connected to the history of public health and disease prevention. The free-admission museum was originally opened as the Global Health Odyssey Museum in 1996, meant to honor the CDC's 50th anniversary celebration. Today, it showcases a variety of rotating exhibits detailing past major disease epidemics, public disease prevention campaigns, and notable medicinal cures and discoveries in American and global history. Visitors can also learn about the history of the CDC and gain information on how to help prevent disease spread in their daily lives.
1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30329, Phone: 404-639-0830
7.The Enduring Farmlands Georgia Scenic Byway
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The Enduring Farmlands Georgia Scenic Byway is a gorgeous 65-mile byway spanning through Georgia's Wilcox and Pulaski Counties, showcasing the historic rural towns of Abbeville, Rochelle, Pineview, and Hawkinsville. The byway offers some of the best views of Georgia's countryside landscapes, highlighting splendid pastoral panoramas of the state's rural region. Visitors can meander through scenic pecan groves, cotton and peach farmlands, and historic farmer's markets and festivals in the small towns showcased along the byway route. Several Civil War heritage sites draw history enthusiasts to the region, while notable preserved historic churches appeal to architecture buffs. Landmarks along the route include Hawkinsville's Old Opera House and the Lawrence Bennett Harness Horse racetrack.
8.Folkston Railroad Depot and Train Museum
Folkston Railroad Depot and Train Museum preserves the former Folkston depot of the Atlantic Coast Line railroad, which operated between 1900 and 1967 when it merged with the Seaboard Air Line Railroad to form the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad route. The historic depot was moved from the city's railroad tracks to its current location in Folkston's downtown district in 1976 and converted into a local railroad and culture museum. Today, visitors can explore the lovely railroad museum and learn about the city's railroading heritage, which played a significant part in shaping the city's social and cultural history throughout the early 20th century. Artifacts on display include a model train exhibits, a radio retrospective showcasing four decades of radio communication, and a train-watching platform for the Folkston Funnel.
16 Oakwood St, Folkston, GA 31537, Phone: 912-276-0000
9.The Georgia Capitol Museum
The Georgia Capitol Museum preserves the history of the historic headquarters of Georgia's executive and legislative government branches, listed as a National Historic Landmark for its gorgeous architectural significance and relevance to the state's history. The capitol building's fourth floor is home to a free-admission museum that is open to the public during normal business hours Mondays through Fridays, offering guided and self-guided tour experiences. Exhibits showcase artifacts related to the state's cultural, political, social, and natural history, including holdings of items related to the state's ecosystems and indigenous groups. The museum overlooks the state's legislative chambers, offering opportunities for viewing government facilities up close. All of the Capitol's public facilities are also free to explore, including its lovely Hall of Valor, honoring the state's military history through a display of historic battle flags.
206 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334, Phone: 404-463-4536
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10.The Georgia Governor's Mansion
The Georgia Governor's Mansion has housed every state governor of Georgia since its construction in 1968, including future United States President Jimmy Carter during his service to the state's executive branch. The mansion was designed in the beautiful Greek Revival architectural style by noted architect Thomas Bradbury, located on 30 landscaped acres within the Tuxedo Park neighborhood in northwest metro Atlanta. It is open to the public as a living history museum today, showcasing over 30 rooms spanning 24,000 acres, including a formal ballroom that has hosted major state events. Visitors can enjoy free public tours throughout the week on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings and explore interior and exterior spaces, including its outdoor swimming pool, greenhouse, and tennis courts.
391 West Paces Ferry Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30305, Phone: 404-261-1776
11.The Georgia State Cotton Museum
The Georgia State Cotton Museum preserves the history of cotton planting and farming throughout several centuries in the state of Georgia and documents the way the cotton industry has shaped the state's culture and economy. The free-admission museum is housed within a restored 125-year-old schoolhouse near Vienna's lovely downtown district, just off Interstate 75. Visitors can view artifact collections connected to the state's cotton industry, including cotton bales and bolls, farm tools, and cotton-related periodicals. Exhibits detail the history of cotton growing in the state, along with cotton farming methods and insect control means. The connection between plantation farming and slavery is also explored in several exhibits. During the growing season, the museum maintains a small cotton patch planted onsite.
1321 E Union St, Vienna, GA 31092, Phone: 229-268-2045
12.The High Museum of Art
The High Museum of Art is one of the premiere fine arts institutions of the metro Atlanta region, located within the city's lovely Midtown cultural district. It was founded as the Atlanta Art Association in 1905 and is housed today within the city's landmark Woodruff Arts Center, opened in 1968 to honor the victims of the city's June 1962 plane crash, the world's deadliest aviation incident at the time. Today, the museum is considered to be one of the world's top 100 fine art institutions, welcoming more than half a million annual visitors to view its extensive collections, which are particularly strong in the areas of European, African, and American art. Visitors can explore the museum each second Sunday of the month during the afternoon hours as part of special family-friendly events, which also offer art workshops for all ages.
1280 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, Phone: 404-733-4400
13.Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
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Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park preserves the site of the seminal 1864 Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, one of Georgia's most prominent American Civil War battles. The park, which is located near the cities of Kennesaw and Marietta, is located within easy driving distance of metro Atlanta and stretches over nearly 3,000 acres, preserving three key battlefield areas from the battle. Three monuments are also located on the park's grounds, honoring soldiers who fought in the battle from Texas, Georgia, and Illinois. A preserved historic farmhouse can be explored throughout the year for free, while a visitor center offers a small museum of Civil War-related exhibits. Over 17 miles of hiking trails are open to the public, offering informational displays about the park's connection to area history.
900 Kennesaw Mountain Dr, Kennesaw, GA 30188, Phone: 770-427-4686
14.Marietta Fire Museum
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Marietta Fire Museum preserves the history of the Marietta Fire Department in a lovely museum building located just a few blocks off Historic Marietta Square. The museum's collections showcase a wide variety of antique firefighting artifacts, including tools and gear dating back as far as the mid-19th century. Antique fire trucks on display include an 1879 Silsby Steamer horse-drawn steam-powered pumper, one of only five still in existence in the world, and a 1921 American LaFrance pumper, one of the first motorized fire trucks used in northern Georgia. Visitors can also view unique displays of fire helmets from around the world, along with antique firefighting items such as hoses, nozzles, and bells. Though the museum is open to the public for free Mondays through Fridays during business hours, donations are greatly appreciated to help ensure future operations.
112 Haynes St, Marietta, GA 30060, Phone: 770-794-5466
15.Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park
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Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park honors the American Civil Rights Movement leader of the same name, known around the world for his famed "I Have A Dream" speech and involvement in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery protest marches. The park, which was established in 1980, is overseen by the National Park Service and preserves several sites within the metro Atlanta region connected to the leader's life, career, and legacy. Visitors can explore King's childhood home as part of free guided tours with advance reservation or view the preserved historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where both King and his father preached. Exhibits on the Civil Rights Movement and King's career and activism are showcased at a free-admission visitor center, located adjacent to Freedom Hall, which offers additional exhibits. Outdoor exhibits include the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, which honors social justice figures throughout history.
450 Auburn Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30312, Phone: 404-331-5190 x5046
16.Mildred Huie Plantation Museum
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Mildred Huie Plantation Museum preserves the unique history of the homestead of St. Simons Island resident Mildred Nix Huie, born in 1907 in Augusta. Huie was known for her work throughout her lifetime as an Impressionist artist, sculptor, writer, and historian and was named as Georgia's 1950 Woman of the Year. After working at the Left Bank Art Gallery on St. Simons Island for years, Huie left the gallery and converted her Mediterranean-style island house into her working studio in 1967. Her impact on the Golden Isles artistic community is showcased today at her preserved home and studio, which are open to the public for free on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the afternoon hours as a living history museum. Visitors can enjoy personalized tours of the museum, which showcase Huie's artwork and memorabilia collections.
1819 Frederica Rd., St. Simons Island GA 31522, Phone: 912-638-3017
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17.Monticello Crossroads Scenic Byway
Monticello Crossroads Scenic Byway stretches for 29 miles throughout central Georgia, stretching across sections of State Routes 11 and 83 north of Monticello in Jasper County. The route traces the path of historic routes that were used by indigenous Americans and evangelist Methodist circuit riders prior to the 20th century, passing through National Register of Historic Places-listed locations such as the Monticello Historic District. The SR 11 section of the byway meanders through landmarks within the city limits of Monticello, while the SR 83 section passes locations such as the Hunter Pope Country Club before terminating at the Morgan County line. Along the way, the route showcases some of Georgia's most beautiful pine forest habitats, along with pastoral panoramas of the state's hillside agricultural regions.
18.Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary
Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary is a lovely 250-acre sanctuary for rescued and abused animals, set within a gorgeous park-like setting in Locust Grove. The sanctuary was originally opened in Ellenwood by Jama Hedgecoth in 1978 and moved to its current larger location in 1990. Today, it attracts more than 100,000 annual visitors to its free-admission animal park, which offers a mile-long trail showcasing animal habitats in a family-friendly setting. Visitors can view more than 38 animal enclosures designed to resemble their natural environments, housing over 100 rescued species. Animals on display range from native American species such as bison, deer, and black bears to exotic animals like Bengal tigers, Sulcata tortoises, and llamas.
712 L G Griffin Rd, Locust Grove, GA 30248, Phone: 770-957-0888
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19.The Roswell Fire Museum
The Roswell Fire Museum preserves the history and development of Roswell's fire department and the history of firefighting in the Atlanta region since the 19th century. The free-admission museum is located within the former showroom of the city's Economy Auto Building, which was purchased for use by the fire department as a five-bay fire station in 1979. Fire-related artifacts and historical information are on display throughout the museum's exhibits, including historical fire photography and displays related to the operations of fire service. Major artifacts on display include a preserved 1947 Ford American LaFrance Pumper, which was used by the City of Roswell during the 20th century and is also showcased in civic parades throughout the year.
1002 Alpharetta St, Roswell, GA 30075
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20.The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
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The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies is one of three Special Collections Libraries within the campus of the University of Georgia at Athens, housing political and historic documents related to the development and chronology of the modern American political system. Visitors can explore the library's public exhibits for free throughout the week and learn about the history of Georgia's modern politics and civic life. Exhibits include interactive kiosks that offer access to historical audiovisual recordings and oral histories connected to the state's political figures and events. A replica of Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr.'s political office is showcased, along with a beautiful political mural by artist Art Rosenbaum. Rotating exhibits are also showcased within the library's lobby area, on display at all times during normal business hours. Guided group tours of the library and its exhibits are offered on Tuesday afternoons.
300 South Hull Street, Athens, Georgia 30602, Phone: 706-542-5788
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21.Yellow River Park
Yellow River Park is a 566-acre public park stretching between the cities of Stone Mountain and Snellville, just outside the metro Atlanta region. The lovely public park, which is open between sunrise and sunset, is set within gorgeous rolling forest land bordering the river of the same name, offering some of the Atlanta area's best opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian riding. 12 miles of soft-surface trails are open to the public throughout the year, along with a mile-long multipurpose trail and a scenic 3.2-mile river hiking trail. 10 miles of single-track loop trails offer some of the best biking experiences outside of Atlanta's downtown core and urban parks. Other amenities include a covered picnic pavilion with restrooms and grills.
3232 Juhan Rd SW, Stone Mountain, GA 30087, Phone: 770-978-5271
21 Best Free Things to Do in Georgia
- Arabia Mountain, Photo: Kalani/stock.adobe.com
- Atlanta Monetary Museum, Photo: julia_diak/stock.adobe.com
- The Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center, Photo: Liz/stock.adobe.com
- Centennial Olympic Park, Photo: Olivier JULLY/stock.adobe.com
- The Cohutta-Chattahoochee Scenic Byway, Photo: Laura Ballard/stock.adobe.com
- The David J. Sencer CDC Museum, Photo: The David J. Sencer CDC Museum
- The Enduring Farmlands Georgia Scenic Byway, Photo: Leonid Ikan/stock.adobe.com
- Folkston Railroad Depot and Train Museum, Photo: EMFA16/stock.adobe.com
- The Georgia Capitol Museum, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
- The Georgia Governor's Mansion, Photo: mastak80/stock.adobe.com
- The Georgia State Cotton Museum, Photo: topten22photo/stock.adobe.com
- The High Museum of Art, Photo: f11photo/stock.adobe.com
- Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Photo: Robert Hainer/stock.adobe.com
- Marietta Fire Museum, Photo: Geza Farkas/stock.adobe.com
- Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, Photo: Jaynes Gallery and Danita Delimont/stock.adobe.com
- Mildred Huie Plantation Museum, Photo: Andrey Kuzmin/stock.adobe.com
- Monticello Crossroads Scenic Byway, Photo: nazarovsergey/stock.adobe.com
- Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary, Photo: Martin/stock.adobe.com
- The Roswell Fire Museum, Photo: ysbrandcosijn/stock.adobe.com
- The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, Photo: Yeko Photo Studio/stock.adobe.com
- Yellow River Park, Photo: karrastock/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com