You can enjoy a day in Atlanta, Georgia, without pricey tourist attractions. Our budget-friendly travel guide to the city has free and low-cost options.
As Georgia’s economic hub and most populous city, Atlanta is one the most culturally-rich cities in the south – and one of the most pricey. You could easily spend more than $100 in just a few hours visiting well-known, admission-based Atlanta attractions like the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola, but it’s also possible to have fun in the city on a budget. Consider these free and low-cost options when visiting this thriving state capital:
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
Admission to one of Atlanta’s most popular historic attractions, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, is free. Located in the heart of downtown, the site spreads across several city blocks, encompassing King’s birth home, his tomb, and the Ebenezer Baptist Church where he preached. At King’s birth home, park rangers lead free 30-minute tours on an hourly basis that are available without reservations. In the Baptist Church, you can listen to recordings of King’s sermons in their original setting.
Historic Neighborhoods and Homes
For a broader view of Atlanta’s history, the volunteer-led walking tours provided by the Atlanta Preservation Center from March through November, offer guided glimpses into Atlanta’s storied neighborhoods, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site and the historic downtown area.
If you love amazing architecture, explore Atlanta’s pre-war Italianate design at the L.P. Grant Mansion, the post-war, Coca-Cola-fueled boom mansions in Inman Park, or the early 20th-century mansions in Ansley Park, a National Registered Historic District.
It doesn’t have the history of San Francisco’s cable cars, but Atlanta’s streetcar system provides easy, inexpensive access to the city’s top attractions in a 2.7-mile loop that runs from Centennial Olympic Park to the King Historic District. The streetcar stops at various attractions along the way, including Sweet Auburn Curb Market, which dates back to 1918, and offers everything from local farm produce to Caribbean and local specialties. It’s easy to grab a budget-friendly bite to eat in the market, which features some of the city’s top cheap eats, particularly Venezuelan Arepa Mia and local burger chain Grindhouse.
With single rides and day passes available at negligible prices, the streetcar offers an affordable, modern option for creating your own hop-on-hop-off tour of the city. Store your ticket to your phone on the free Atlanta Streetcar app to make organizing your daily schedule even easier.
One Ticket — Many Adventures
Even before “The Hunger Games” film franchise made Atlanta’s 1928 Swan House famous, the Atlanta History Center’s all-inclusive ticket was one of the best budget options in town for visitors looking to experience Atlanta’s post-war history inside and out. As an entity without walls, the center encompasses the Atlanta History Museum, the 1860’s Smith Family Farm, 22 acres of gardens, and the Margaret Mitchell House, home of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Gone with the Wind.” Ticket prices are moderate, but one ticket grants admission to all the attractions in the 33-acre collection. The History Museum reopens in 2017 after completion of a landmark restoration project that includes a 23,000-square-foot addition.
For another all-in-one ticket adventure, head to the Center for Puppetry Arts, home of more than 500 pieces from Jim Henson’s personal collection along with exhibits on puppetry around the world. For less than the price of admission to many of Atlanta’s other attractions, the nonprofit center offers a combined ticket with admission to the World of Puppetry museum, a live performance, and a create-a-puppet workshop.
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