Fun and Free Summer Activities and Events Near Atlanta for Kids

Explore the hiking trails and walking paths near Dunwoody Nature Center. Photo courtesy of the center
Explore the hiking trails and walking paths near Dunwoody Nature Center. Photo courtesy of the center

"Free summer" is pretty much our favorite phrase when it comes to kids' activities this season. (Cheap is a close second.) And the best part is, our kids are just as happy, busy, and worn out playing at a public park or splash pad as they are with pricey attractions. Since every Atlanta summer usually requires water, air conditioning and evening shade, we've kept those prerequisites in mind while gathering the best free things to do this summer in Atlanta with kids. Go ahead and put that credit card away; it's time for our free summer ideas! 

If FREE is your favorite word, too, enjoy the Mommy Poppins guide of Free Things to Do in Atlanta with Kids all year long. For more summer fun ideas, check out our Summer Activities Guide for Atlanta Families

Free Summer Activities for Atlanta Kids 


Free summer activities include a splash at the Historic Fourth Ward Splash Park. Photo courtesy of the park

Free Spraygrounds and Splash Pads 

Cool off at one of Atlanta's many free spraygrounds and splash pads, like Alpharetta City Center Fountain, the sprayground at D.H. Stanton Park, Historic Fourth Ward Splash Park, and Lillian Webb Park Splash Pad in Norcross

Free Movie Nights 

Watch a movie under the stars this summer and beat the daytime heat of an Atlanta summer. We've got a whole list of FREE summer movie nights around Atlanta! Or stay at home and cuddle in the air conditioning and screen a free film from a streaming app (be inspired by 35 Great Summer Kids Movies). 

Free Concerts 

Check out a tribute band (or even some you have heard of!) while kids run around in the grass at these free summer events. We like Live at the DTL (Downtown Lawrenceville) Concert Series, Alpharetta City Center Concert Series, Sandy Springs City Green Live, and Woodstock Summer Concert Series

Hiking

Yes, summertime can be hot for hiking but hear us out: Atlanta is a tree-covered oasis making many of our favorite family-friendly hiking trails super shady. We recommend heading out in the morning and bringing along our list of hiking games for kids

Acworth Beach
Spend the day at beautiful Acworth Beach or other local swimming areas. Photo courtesy of Acworth Beach

Swimming Lakes and Beaches 

Some of the places on our list of Swimming Lakes and Beaches Near Atlanta are free, like Cauble/Acworth Beach (free admission and parking during the week) and Pine Lake in Dekalb County, while others charge just a small parking fee. At Poole's Mill Park in Cumming, kids can swim and play in the cool water. 

Girls on the Beltline
There's a ton of great things to do along the many BeltLine paths. Photo by Melanie Preis

BeltLine Atlanta

This 22-mile loop is an Atlanta gem and a great place to bring your kids and discover more about Atlanta. Be sure to read our guide about the Atlanta BeltLine with Kids

Outdoor Playgrounds

Many of the outdoor playgrounds on our list of Amazing Playgrounds Near Atlanta have awesome shade structures over the play areas, like Morgan Falls Overlook Park in Sandy Springs, Chastain Park in Buckhead, and Logan Farm Park in Acworth. 

Indoor playgrounds

Make use of active time in the air conditioning and head to one of Atlanta's Free Indoor Playgrounds, where little ones can climb and play while parents sit and chill...literally. 

4th of July Events 

We've rounded up amazingly fun 4th of July Parades, Festivals, and Fireworks Shows Near Atlanta and almost all of them are free!

Kids Eat Free 

No need to spend money on picky eaters when there are great Atlanta restaurants that offer free meals and deals for kiddos. 

Geocaching 

Our family loves this modern "treasure" hunt, which you can do with a free app and your smartphone's GPS. Atlanta has thousands of geocaches so start hunting!

Free Museum Days

Atlanta is home to fabulous museums like the High Museum, Center for Puppetry Arts, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. Our list of free museum days in Atlanta breaks down which attractions are free on certain days and which are free all the time. 

Food Truck Nights 

At these free summer evening events, kids run around, families enjoy music, and parents either purchase dinner from food trucks or pack their own picnics. Great options are Fridays-N-DuluthDunwoody Food Truck Thursdays, and Downtown Canton First Fridays (with inflatables, rock climbing wall, and face painting). 

Local Libraries 

Visit your local library and check out books to read all summer long. Use our Guide to the Best Kids' Books for helpful ideas. Have reluctant readers? Get involved in a Summer Reading Program with Prizes

Experiments at Home 

Sure, science experiments can be messy, but kids love messy! Combine the great outdoors with STEM and do these 15 Backyard Science Experiments for Messy Summer Fun.

Water Games 

On our list of 25+ Water Games for Kids to Play All Summer Long, we've got plenty of activities that include items you already have at home, including imagination, like Drip, Drip, Drop (the wet version of Duck, Duck, Goose) and Excavating with Ice. 

Backyard Games 

Just like our water games, our list of Classic Outdoor Games for Kids includes summer ideas that utilize household items. We've got traditional games, like Hop Scotch, to crazier ones, like The Grass is Lava. 

Dunwoody Nature Center

The shaded, beautiful grounds of the Dunwoody Nature Center (DNC) are open from sunrise to sunset all year round. Visitors pay nothing to use DNC's hiking trails, playgrounds, tree swings and more. 


Bike the shaded Big Creek Greenway this summer for free family fun. Photo by the author

Biking

Just like hiking in the summer, we like to focus on shaded paths for biking this time of year, too. Our faves with the most shady trees are Big Creek Greenway, which runs through Roswell and Alpharetta, and Silver Comet Trail in Smyrna and beyond. 

Free Summer Festivals in Atlanta 2022

1. Juneteenth Atlanta Parade and Music Festival - Downtown

June 17-19

Commemorate Juneteenth in Downtown Atlanta with a weekend full of events, including a parade, musical performances, food trucks, and more.

2. The Bowl at Sugar Hill Splash Nights - Sugar Hill

June 24, July 29, August 26, September 30

Families can bring food, listen to live music, jump on inflatables, and play in the Bowl at Sugar Hill's splash park at this monthly event. The FREE event is held on the last Friday of May, June, July, August, and September.

3. Atlanta Ice Cream Festival - Piedmont Park

July 23

Head to Piedmont Park to taste LOTS of different flavors of ice cream in different forms (cones, cups, on a stick) and enjoy music and kids' activities like bounce houses. 

Alive in Roswell girl in slip 'n slide
There are plenty of activities for kids at Alive in Roswell. Photo courtesy of the event

4. Alive in Roswell - Downtown Roswell

June 16, July 21, August 18

Every third Thursday from April-October, visitors hit downtown Roswell for food, music, and kids' activities like bouncy houses and face painting. 

5. Pigs and Peaches BBQ Festival - Kennesaw

August 19 & 20 

Families attend the Pigs and Peaches BBQ Festival in Kennesaw for music, a kids' zone, and of course, yummy barbecue. 

6. Piedmont Park Arts Festival - Piedmont Park

August 20 & 21 

At this annual event, visitors peruse hundreds of paintings, photographs, sculptures, glass art, and jewelry. Kids like the children's play area, live music, and food trucks. 

7. Summer Shade Festival - Grant Park

August 27 & 28 

Atlanta residents flock to Grant Park on the last weekend of August to say goodbye to summer. The free event includes art, music, food, and a kids' zone.
Waking Wonderland at Illuminarium
Illuminarium - various times Pick
Origami in the Garden
Atlanta Botanical Garden - 9:00 AM
Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family Exhibit at Fernbank
Fernbank Museum of Natural History - 10:00 AM
Online Guitar Lessons for Kids
Virtual - various times
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides