Got Summer?

Who says fun has to be expensive? Not us! Atlanta Parent is on the prowl for free (and a few low-cost)
summer activities for your family. Don’t miss Part Two in July.


Romp in the fountains, splash in a pool!

Piedmont Park. At Piedmont Park’s Legacy Fountain, which opened just a year ago, more than 70 jets spray plumes of water 30 feet in the air. This extravagant fountain is great
for hot afternoons in the park. Open daily, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.;
1320 Monroe Dr. NE, Atlanta; 404-875-7275;

Centennial Park. Get sprayed, get soaked in the Olympic Rings, then stick around for a water show with coordinated music, daily at 12:30, 3:30, 6:30 and 9 p.m.
265 Park Ave., Atlanta; 404-222-7275;

Suwanee Town Center Park. Big Splash Fountain – the largest interactive fountain in Gwinnett County – uses 1,400 gallons of recycled water every minute (the average shower uses about 2.5 gallons a minute!). Not to worry because water quality is tested throughout the day. 373 Hwy. 23, Suwanee; 770-945-8996;

Riverside Park Splash ‘N’ Play. Cool off beneath a spinning mushroom and try to dodge the in-ground spray jets at this Roswell sprayground. $1 per person, closed on Tuesdays. 575 Riverside Rd., Roswell; 770-594-6158;

Spray Station at East Roswell Park. Lots of spray action and just $1 per person. This splashy-fun fountain pool is closed Wednesdays. 9000 Fouts Rd., Roswell; 770-594-6188;

Duluth Town Green. In the middle of Duluth’s Town Green, this fountain spews water two stories in the air. Cool off all day long because the fountain runs continuously from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. 3142 Hill St., Duluth; 770-497-5291;

City of Atlanta Public Pools. The City of Atlanta operates 13 public pools, three run by their communities – Chastain Park, Piedmont Park and Garden Hills. All city pools offer a few hours of free swimming Monday through Friday. For Grant Park, Powell, Candler, Adams, John A. White, Rosa Burney/Dunbar, Pittman, South Bend, Thomasville and Anderson, the free hours are from 1:30-4 p.m. Garden Hills’ free hours are from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Chastain Park, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Piedmont Park, 3-5 p.m. Admission at other times is $4 for adults, $2 for children 16 and younger.


OK, so picking berries is not entirely free, but it’s so affordable that we plum love it. Some farms still offer strawberry picking, and blueberry season is just around the corner.

Berry Patch Farms. 786 Arnold Mill Rd., Woodstock; 770-923-0561; Opening June 18,
8 a.m.-9 p.m. Come pick as many blueberries as you can grab, $1.95 a pound. No pesticides used. Baskets are provided, just come hungry and ready to pick, but call first for crop and weather conditions. Come back in October
for pumpkins!

Hard Labor Creek Blueberry Farm. 38 Knox Chapel Rd., Social Circle; 770-464-2412; Mon., from daylight to dark; Tues.-Sat., daylight-5 p.m.; closed Sun. Containers for picking and taking home provided. No pesticides used. $1.65 per pound. Call ahead to check availability.

Blueberry Hill. 199 Trinity Lane, Free Home (between Canton and Cumming at Ga. 20 and Ga. 372);
770-889-2131; Wed.-Sun., 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Bring your own basket and pick blueberries through August. $2.50 a quart.

Fleeman’s U-Pick Blueberries. 716 Harrison Mill Rd., Winder; 770-867-3420. Fleeman’s offers eight different varieties of blueberries to pick. Great for big groups. $11 for a gallon of blueberries.

Adams Farm. 1486 Georgia Hwy. 54 West, Fayetteville; 770-461-9395; Pick strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. Various prices; call for updates and details. The Adams family farm is a third-generation farm and
market since 1977.

Mercier Orchards. 8660 Blue Ridge Dr., Blue Ridge; 706-632-3411; Open daily from 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Mercier Orchards offers a variety of different you-pick fruits. This scenic family farm itself is worth the drive. Call first for conditions and prices.


Parks are a great place to while away a summer day.

Peachtree Heights East Park. Just a block off Peachtree Road in Buckhead, this neighborhood oasis offers a pond of catfish, snapping turtles, geese, and of course, ducks. It is the perfect spot to break out a picnic basket and spend a few hours with the kiddos. Feeding the ducks, however, is frowned upon. 70 Lakeview Ave., Atlanta; 404-921-5900;

Lullwater Park. This spot abuts the home of the Emory University president and is a hidden gem in the bustling city. Once it’s found, the park offers wooded trails, charming waterfalls and ducks galore. 1463 Clifton Rd. NE, Atlanta; 404-727-6123.

Lenox Park. At this great little hidden jewel near the intersection of East Paces Ferry and Roxboro roads you’ll find men in suits relaxing alongside kids and our feathered friends. Lenox Park Circle, Atlanta; 404-986-0641;

Shorty Howell Park. Here’s a great escape from all the hustle and bustle of surrounding strip malls and ball fields. The ducks seem to really enjoy the change of pace, too. 2750 Pleasant Hill Rd., Duluth; 770-814-4914;


Enjoy nature preserves. When’s the last time you went stargazing?

Dunwoody Nature Center. Take part in nature classes, encounter wild animals such as a barred owl, alligator snapping turtle or a Southern copperhead snake (in a terrarium, thankfully!) and explore the nature center’s trails, located in the heart of Dunwoody. Free. 5343 Roberts Dr., Dunwoody; 770-394-3322;

Autrey Mill Nature Preserve. Hike through more than two miles of wooded trails, be on the lookout for tadpoles in Sal’s Creek, and check out a replica of a Native American hunting lodge from the 1600s. Before you leave, tour Heritage Village, which gives a snapshot
of what life was like in Johns Creek in the 1800s. Free. 9770 Autrey Mill Rd., Johns Creek;

Hard Labor Creek Observatory. The new 20-inch telescope at Georgia State University’s observatory at Hard Labor Creek State Park gives stargazers a bird’s-eye view of galaxies and planets. Mark your calendar for free open houses: June 11, July 9 and Aug. 6, from 9-11 p.m. 2010 Fairplay Rd., Rutledge; 706-342-9051.

Dunwoody Observatory. This smaller observatory offers a more intimate look at the skies. Open to the public at no charge the second Sunday of the month. Georgia Perimeter College, 2101 Womack Rd., Dunwoody; 770-274-5000.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. The 2,923-acre battlefield famous for its role in the Civil War’s Atlanta campaign that left over 67,000 men killed or wounded provides more than 18 miles of hiking trails. The visitor lot and grounds are open daily. Free. 900 Kennesaw Mountain Dr., Kennesaw; 770-427-4686;

Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve. It’s not as famous as Stone Mountain, but this DeKalb County Park has more than 2,000 acres of granite outcrop, plus wetlands, pine and oak forests, streams, and a lake.
Open daily. Free. 3787 Klondike Rd., Lithonia; 770-484-3060;

Sawnee Mountain Preserve. Expect trails for every level: the gentle Yucca, the panoramic Indian Seats, the challenging Laurel. Dogs are not allowed. Open daily. Free.
4075 Spot Rd., Cumming; 770-781-2217;

Elachee Nature Science Center (almost free). Inside the 1,500-acre Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve, you’ll find 13 miles of hiking trails, live animal and astronomy exhibits, interactive discovery areas and more. Elachee offers guided nature hikes the first Saturday of each month. Adults, $5; children 2-12, $3;
younger than 2, free. 2125 Elachee Dr., Gainesville; 770-535-1976;



Here are some Atlanta-area spots that focus on our history and are open to the public at no charge.

Georgia Capitol Museum and Tours. View the Capitol building of Georgia and learn the history of Georgia’s laws. Tours offered at 11:30 a.m., Mon.-Fri. Call to schedule groups of 10 or more. 214 State Capitol, Atlanta. 404-463-4536. Free.

Governor’s Mansion. Visit the Greek Revival mansion where Gov. Nathan Deal and his wife Sandra live. Self-guided tours are available Tues.-Thurs., 10-11:30 a.m. 391 W. Paces Ferry Rd. NW, Atlanta. 404-261-1776. Free.

Oakland Cemetery. Don’t miss the Memorial of the Confederate Soldiers. Founded in 1850, this famous garden cemetery is the final resting place of scores of Civil War soldiers and famous Atlantans, including golf legend Bobby Jones and author Margaret Mitchell. Enjoy a picnic among the beautiful old oaks and magnolias. 8 a.m.-8 p.m. 248 Oakland Ave. SE, Atlanta. 404-688-2107. Two free cellphone tours; a map costs $4.

Martin Luther King Jr. Center. Tour the King Center, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dr. King’s birth home and the visitor center. Learn about nonviolent social change and the American Civil Rights Movement. Open seven days a week, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 449 Auburn Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-526-8900. Free.

Telephone Museum. Learn the history of the telephone, from Alexander Graham Bell to today’s advances in communication. Great for older kids. Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-1 p.m. 675 W. Peachtree St., Atlanta. 404-223-3661. Free.

Marietta Fire Museum. For kids who dream of fighting fires or are fascinated by all that firemen do, Fire Station No. 1 offers a window into the life and history of the firefighter. The museum displays items dating back to the 1800s. Equipment of yesteryear includes an 1879 steamer, a 1921 pumper and a 1949 ladder truck. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. 112 Haynes St., Marietta. 770-794-5491. Free.


Bargains Await! If you know where and when.

Many museums and historical sites are free every once in a while. Here’s the skinny on which days and where your family can take advantage of some real bargains. Enjoy!

Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta offers free admission on the second Tuesday of every month; 1-7 p.m. only. Sponsored by Target. 275 Centennial Olympic Park Dr. NW, Atlanta. 404-659-5437.

Center for Puppetry Arts Museum offers free admission on Thursdays from 1-3 p.m. Also on the first Saturday of every month, the museum provides free admission to residents and employees in Fulton County. 1404 Spring St. NW, Atlanta. 404-873-3089.

The High Museum of Art extends free admission on the first Saturday of each month for Fulton County residents. 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-4400.

The Georgia Aquarium offers free admission on your birthday, if you’re a Georgia resident. Just bring a valid ID or a copy of your birth certificate and you’ll receive one free pass that’s good for both admission and the dolphin show. 225 Baker St. NW, Atlanta. 404-581-4000.

Free Family Pass to Zoo Atlanta when you visit your local public library. Check out the Zoo Atlanta Family Pass DVD and return it for a receipt. Present the receipt at the Zoo Atlanta front gate to receive free admission for two adults and two children. Call your public library branch for more information. 800 Cherokee Ave. SE, Atlanta. 404-624-9453.

Booth Western Art Museum is an 80,000-square-foot museum in downtown Cartersville that features Civil War art, presidential portraits and letters, and Western American art. Great for kids of all ages but especially loved by older kids. Admission is free on the first Thursday of every month from 4-8 p.m. 501 Museum Dr., Cartersville. 770-387-1300.


But wait, there’s even more free summer fun!

Visit your library. Your local library has a summer schedule of great learning activities and events, including storytelling events, arts and crafts, author programs and more. To keep tabs on free events at your local library branch:

Local bookstores schedule events every week, from author programs to craft projects, storytelling and kids’ writing workshops. The Little Shop of Stories in Decatur and FoxTales Books in Woodstock are two kid-friendly places to keep an eye on.

Playgrounds nowadays have a heck of a lot more than monkey bars and a few swings. Some playgrounds beckon kids with a “castle” or “pirate” theme. Take an afternoon and drive across town to a playground outside your neck of the woods. An adventure awaits you.

Free summer movies. Catch anything from Rango at Flicks on 5th to Hugo at Movies in Central Park at Atlantic Station. For a complete list of the special movie screenings in the offing for summer 2012 (many of which are free), please turn to Page 66. 

Free summer concerts. What’s better than relaxing on a lawn with your family listening to free music on a nice summer evening? Not a whole lot. Take advantage of popular summer concert series going on all over metro Atlanta. See our roundup, Page 70.