Free Things To Do in Atlanta
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Walk in the footsteps of one of history's most important figures with a visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Here you'll find the modest home where civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was born and raised. You can also head over to the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was once a pastor. And at The King Center, you'll find engaging exhibits on the civil rights movement and King's gravesite. These, along with several other landmarks and museums, are jointly considered a national historic site.
Most agree a trip to Atlanta must include time spent at this historic site. Many travelers recommend arriving early to take a free 30-minute guided tour of King's birth home. Tours start at 10 a.m. and are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Weekdays and Sunday mornings are the least crowded, according to the National Park Service. Also, remember to wear comfy shoes since the entire complex is spread across several city blocks.
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Adjacent to the Atlanta Botanical Garden in Midtown, Piedmont Park is the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon. Sprawling 200-plus acres, the park has no shortage of things to do, including walking and jogging paths, dog parks, picnic facilities, playgrounds, tennis courts, a public swimming pool and a Saturday farmers market. Thanks to its size, Piedmont Park also hosts a variety of Atlanta's top events, including the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, the Atlanta Jazz Festival and Atlanta Pride.
Previous travelers highly recommended visiting this park, calling it "a little piece of peace in the city" and one of Atlanta's best parks. Some even said that it reminded them of New York City's Central Park. Many loved picnicking, swimming and playing tennis here, but some recent visitors warned that parking spots can be sparse, especially on weekends, so consider taking public transportation to and from the park.
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Situated less than 2 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta and spanning 48 acres, Oakland Cemetery stands as a testament to the city's role in the Civil War and the civil rights movement. Among its winding paths, trees and flower shrubs, you'll find elaborate mausoleums, intricate sculptures and an impressive collection of art and architecture. Amidst the 70,000 graves, you'll spot some well-known Atlantans, including legends like golfer Bobby Jones and author Margaret Mitchell. The Confederate Memorial section has some of the most impressive memorials and carvings of the whole cemetery, while Potter's Field has only one monument for the thousands of people who couldn't afford private burial plots.
You are welcome to explore the grounds on your own, although many recent visitors recommended joining a guided tour. If you do decide to venture out on your own, previous travelers suggested buying a map from the Visitors Center and Museum Shop for $5 or downloading a free self-guided tour from Google or Apple's app store. To add to the ambiance, consider arriving in October when the cemetery offers Halloween-themed ghost tours.
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Located across the street from the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta is Centennial Olympic Park, a 21-acre patch of land that features lush paths of grass, artwork, pools and fountains. The park was originally built for the 1996 Olympic Games and was a centerpiece of the festivities; now, it's one of the most visited areas of the city. One of the park's most well-known elements is the Fountain of Rings, made up of 251 water jets. Every day, four water shows choreographed to various songs take place.
Recent visitors noted the fountains were a hit with families, especially young children, and advise bringing a change of clothes if you know your kids will want to splash around in the water. Past travelers also appreciated the park's proximity to must-see sights like the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola and the Center for Civil and Human Rights.
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