Frugal Things To Do In Atlanta, Georgia

The Money Life Network Presents Frugal Things To Do When You’re In…… I think this is a fabulous idea and am proud to introduce you to my home, Atlanta.

Atlanta is full of history, charm, and true southern hospitality. In the 80s, the construction boom brought in transplants from all over the country. Atlanta was a city on the move and has grown by literally millions of people in the last decade. Unlike other major cities, which have grown taller, Atlanta has grown out. There are more trees and greenery in Atlanta than any other major metropolitan area I’ve ever seen.

Atlanta is the home of the World’s Busiest Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. With two major carriers, Delta and Airtran, it’s really easy to get a cheap flight here and back home again. While you’re here, make use of Atlanta’s public transit system MARTA. Using the trains and/or busses on the Marta system, you can get to just about anywhere you want to go without a lot of fuss. For points of interest Outside the Perimeter, you will probably want to rent a car.

If you’re into outdoor beauty, Atlanta is your city. Sort of. For outdoorsy activities, September through May are your best months. June, July, and August are steamy and miserable (not to mention smog filled) months for Atlantans.

  • Piedmont Park – Atlanta’s “Common Ground” since 1904, is located approximately 2 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta. It would take a week to experience all that you can do in Piedmont Park. There is a dog park, picnic areas, and playgrounds. You can grill, fish, picnic, bike, skate, swim, play tennis, watch the birds or walk your dog. It’s the site of Atlanta’s annual Dogwood Festival, Jazz Festival, and a myriad of other festivals, concerts and events.
  • Centennial Olympic Park – The site of the 1996 Summer Olympics, there are a ton of great things to do here. Take in a free concert. Get wet while playing in the Fountain of Rings. Rest on a bench while the children run and play in the playground. Coming during the winter holidays? Check out the ice skating rink or the Holiday in Lights. Just want to take it all in? Grab a blanket and spread out for a picnic on the grass and just people watch.
  • Kennesaw Mountain Battleground – If you’re into battlefield history, nature, or just great picnic areas Kennesaw Mountain National Battleground Park is right up your alley. It’s OTP and you’ll need to have your own wheels to get there, but it’s worth it. Weekends and major holidays, the road up the mountain is closed to direct traffic and shuttle busses provide transportation for $2 for adults, $1 for children over 6, free for children 6 and under.
  • Chattahoochee Nature Center – CNC is dedicated to introducing people to the ecology of the Chattahoochee River watershed and works to provide a learning environment that allows people to better understand their impact on the natural world and make informed decisions. $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $2 Children 3 – 12, Free for children under 3.
  • Stone Mountain Park – We go here at least 2 or 3 times a year, more if we can swing it. We love Stone Mountain Park. It costs $8 per car load (less than 14 people) and $20 for more for 14 and more. There are paid attractions inside, but the most enjoyable parts of the park are free. Our family goes to watch the free nightly laser show and fireworks on the carved face of the mountain.

When you’re playing “tourist” history is pretty high on the list. Atlanta has a full and rich history. You’ll definitely want to pay a visit to the places below.

  • Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site – From the website: “The Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site includes a number of facilities that are operated in partnership with the National Park Service, Ebenezer Baptist Church and The King Center.  Within these facilities the visitor can learn about Dr. King’s life and and his influence on others.” Admissions and Parking are FREE.
  • Atlanta Cyclorama – An excerpt from City Search’s review: “A cyclorama is a theater-in-the-round, affording a 360-degree view of a story as depicted on a massive painting. Only three cycloramas survive, and Atlanta’s, built in 1921, is considered the best. It permanently hosts the world’s largest oil painting. The painting depicts the Civil War’s Battle of Atlanta, a bloody event that cost 12,000 American lives and led to the fall of Atlanta.”
  • The Georgia State Capitol Building – From “Visitors get acquainted with the spectacular golden dome outside and the marble interiors of the Capitol. You’ll learn about the state’s voting process, assigned seating in the Senate and practical joke-playing legislators. You can see a replica of Georgia’s official state reptile, the gopher tortoise, along with a stuffed armadillo, a black bear and a number of other animals and plants native to the state in the modest museum on the fourth floor.” Admission is FREE.
  • Georgia Governor’s Mansion – Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10:00 to 11:30 you can tour the Governor’s Mansion in Atlanta. The mansion is filled with museum quality antiques and is full of history. If you love either of those things, you may want to check it out. Admission is FREE.

Now we’re getting down to my favorite part. When I tour other cities, I am all about the museums and the sites. We can snap pictures of beautiful architecture and discuss the beauty of the plantlife… but I am in love with trying out the local cuisine. When you get to Atlanta, give these a try!

  • The Varsity – Forget high brow eats in Atlanta. Our first food love is The Varsity. Known for being the World’s Largest Drive-in Restaurant, you’ll hear shouts of “What’ll Ya Have!” coming from all over. This is comfort food at its finest! Hot dogs, hamburgers, chili, fried pies, French fries and onion rings… any way you want them. WARNING: If you have high cholesterol, this is NOT the place for you! Everyone else, bring your appetite (and maybe some Tums).
  • Fat Matt’s Rib Shack – The South is famous for barbeque. Fat Matt’s is one of the best. The restaurant itself isn’t much bigger than a walk-in closet, but the live blues, barbeque, Brunswick stew and cold beer keep the people lined out the door all evening long. If you make it to Atlanta and get a hankering for barbeque, Fat Matt’s Rib Shack is for you. Rather have chicken? Fat Matt’s Chicken Shack is right next door!
  • Eats – A cafeteria style restaurant, there are no frills in the décor. ALL of the effort is put into the food. Big portions, good food, low cost. If you’re not looking for ambiance, you’ll really enjoy your meal at Eats.
  • The Real Chow Baby – From the website: The Real Chow Baby is Atlanta’s first and only create-your-own stir-fry restaurant, complete with a market-fresh stir-fry bar and the hottest grill in the Southeast. The Real Chow Baby gives you the opportunity to make your own unique culinary creation with a delicious blend of Asian and American flavors that you choose yourself.
  • Papi’s Cuban & Caribbean Grill – I haven’t made it to Papi’s yet, but here is a review from Access Atlanta “A simple and unassuming spot and after a few mojitos you will think you really are in Havana. The food tasted homemade and delicious. This is not for the “weight watchers” crowd because you will want to finish your plate. I love this place!! I suggest you go on off nights like late evening mid week or late sat nite if you don’t want to stand up and eat!! Now stop reading and go eat!!! NOW GO!!!!”

That should be enough to get you started. Look me up when you get to town!

Are you from Atlanta, or just familiar with it? Do you have favorite frugal places to visit? I need more new ideas!

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26 Replies to “Frugal Things To Do In Atlanta, Georgia”

  1. I’ve never been to Atlanta, but it looks like a great time, with lots of good food 🙂

    I also totally didn’t know there was a PF Buzz widget for the bottom of posts, I have to look into that >.>

    1. hehe… love the widgets! Atlanta is great. The food is fabulous. The seasons, not so much.

  2. I’ve heard Atlanta is a great town. I’d love to visit. Too bad they host the dreaded Braves (just kidding, I’m a Mets fan).

  3. Nice post mate. 🙂 I’m a bit far way to be able to go to Atlanta (Portugal…) but it seems a really nice time. 🙂

  4. Free concerts are a big one that not many people think about because with free concerts you’re talking free advertising, which doesn’t work because advertising costs $$$. 🙂 If you can find ’em though, you’re in the money!

    Thanks for participating in the project! Should be fun!

    1. Yep yep… love the free concerts. We did a street concert a Underground Atlanta a few years ago. Standing in the pouring rain, with beers in hand, screaming at the band. What a night.

  5. Good stuff! I was born and raised in Georgia, and visited Atlanta many times for entertainment, and for business. You’ve highlighted some great things about the city.

    1. Thanks! I tried not to overwhelm folks with too many things, but Atlanta is full of fabulous stuff.

  6. Thanks for linking to the network and for participating in the project.

    Great post. I love Atlanta. The greatest Southern city for sure. The trees and hills are like know where else. It’s a shame, like Dallas, that it’s so hot all the time.

    Stone Mountain is a favorite of mine. I used to go running there when in A Town on biz trips.

    Another frugal restaurant is the original Chick-fil-a. I think they call it the dwarf house??

    1. I totally forgot about the Dwarf House! Of course, I’ve never been there. I’m ashamed 🙂

  7. I live in Atlanta and you did a great job highlighting some of the best frugal places to visit in our city. I can’t think of anything to add to the list!

  8. I can only think of one addition that Momma missed, the StarLight Drive-In off of Moreland Ave. Bring your grill, and a cooler full of beer, watch a first run movie for $7 for an adult and $1 for a kid. Toss a fisbee or a football and have a great inexpensive family outing!

    Momma should have known that since we saw the Dark Knight there on Sat night!

  9. hmmm i like your dinning choices but dont forget to visit the O.K. Cafe off of W. Paces Ferry … they serve breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner ( open really late). The ambiance is great with lots of interesting thing to look at like their money tree. Another place, that i love is the Roswell square… they have of lots of cute little shops, antiques, and restaurants ( Mexican, italian, and tea shops)

  10. Here is another idea for Frugal Things To Do. Chestatee Wildlife is located in Dahlonega, about an hour from Atlanta. Admission fees help feed and house the animals. It is $10 for adults and $5 for children 11 and under. There are picnic tables so you can take a lunch and eat among the tigers, bears, chimps, birds, reptiles and all kinds of monkeys! It is the zoo in North Georgia but a lot cheaper than the downtown zoo and they are a 501 c non-profit so donations are tax deductible. They are open 7 days a week from 10-4. You can spend an hour, or all day with the kids, family, friends, whomever you might want to bring along.

  11. If you live in Ga, go to and check out the family pass. It gives you free admission to the zoo for a family of 4! also, Target sponsors free admission to the Children’s Musuem on the second Tuesday of the month, and in Thursdays in september they also offer free admission to the woodruff Arts center

  12. Re frugal places to eat, check out the ‘bbq kitchen’ in college park ga. 1 meat, 2 veggies, with refills, bread and drink; under $10 last time i went.

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