Atlanta On A Budget

by Atlanta Convention And Visitors Bureau
Posted April 24, 2005

Atlanta is blessed with a mild climate year round, but the city heats up with free and affordable activities during the spring and summer. Visitors will be pleased to put their wallets away and enjoy an affordable vacation in this big city with Southern hospitality.

MARTA, Atlanta’s rapid rail system, is the savvy transportation solution. Visitors arriving by plane catch the train in the baggage claim area at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The rail line stops in the major business and tourist areas of Downtown, Midtown and Buckhead. Trip time from the airport to downtown is just 20 minutes and at $1.75 per ride, MARTA is an affordable and fast way to see the sights.

Shopping in Buckhead has never been more enjoyable with the addition of the free BUC shuttle system. Buckhead is known as the center for shopping in the Southeast, boasting high-end department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s, specialty boutiques and a slew of antiquing options. The BUC provides free transportation to and from hotels, restaurants and shopping.

Any visit to Atlanta should start at one of the same-day, half-price AtlanTIX booths. Located at Underground Atlanta and Lenox Square mall, the booths allow visitors to find half-price tickets to hundreds of greater Atlanta theater, dance and music performances and more than a dozen cultural attractions such as Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta Botanical Garden and the High Museum of Art.

Take a walking tour of Atlanta’s neighborhoods and historic sites with the Atlanta Preservation Center. Guides provide an informative look into the history of the city through tours of historic Downtown, Sweet Auburn/Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic District, Inman Park and Druid Hills, the well-known neighborhood featured in the popular movie Driving Miss Daisy. Adult tickets are $10 and seniors and students are $5.

The key to Atlanta’s present is found in the history of its past. Explore the deep history of Atlanta at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. The campus consists of a free museum which provides a glimpse into the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, historic Ebenezer Baptist Church where he and his father preached, Dr. King’s tomb and his birth home.

Root for the home team at an Atlanta Braves game at Turner Field. Originally constructed as the Olympic Stadium for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, the facility recently completed a number of renovations including news restaurants, an expanded interactive play area for children and the largest outdoor stadium screen in the world. Despite the state-of-the-art facility, this is one of the most affordable major league stadiums in the U.S. Tickets are available for $1 for standing room only and $5 for seats.

Outdoors enthusiasts will find a great bang for their buck at Stone Mountain Park. Entrance to the park is just $7 per car, a steal for the whole family to enjoy a day of activities at Georgia’s most visited attraction. Hike up the 1.2-mile trail to the top of the largest exposed mass of granite in the world and take in unparalleled views of the city. Or, follow the 5-mile paved path around the base of the mountain. When the sun goes down, enjoy an Atlanta tradition at the 22nd annual LaserShow spectacular. This lively animation show is choreographed to music and projected onto the side of the mountain with colorful lasers, ending with a dazzling fireworks display.

The sidewalks of Piedmont Park connect 18 miles from Georgia Institute of Technology through the suburbs of Atlanta to Stone Mountain Park. These sidewalks are one of the many PATH trails that provide off-road pathways for pedestrians, bikers and rollerbladers. Visitors can stop at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, experience the quirky Little Five Points area, enjoy lunch in the city of Decatur or end their visit at Georgia’s most visited attraction, Stone Mountain Park. Other intown PATH trails include the South Decatur Trolley Trail, the Westside Trail and the Chastain Park Trail.

Arts and Entertainment
Downtown Atlanta’s art galleries open their doors on the first Thursday of each month from 5-8 p.m. during Turner First Thursdays. Experience art inside and out with this free monthly art walk. Free refreshments are provided at all participating galleries. Visitors can explore historic Downtown buildings whilst between galleries as well as enjoy discounts at several of the city’s top restaurants.

Head to Piedmont Park for one of the city’s most popular summer events. Hang with the locals on Wednesday evenings throughout June for free screenings of classic movies at Screen on the Green. Grab a picnic, a blanket or a bottle of wine and enjoy timeless pictures such as The Birds, Mommie Dearest and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Also in Piedmont Park, Atlanta’s annual Shake at the Lake offers performances of Shakespeare classics under the stars with a fantastic view of the skyline. Tickets are free, but are distributed on a first come, first served basis at locations around town.
Enjoy the warm weather and the sounds of local music on the streets of Downtown Atlanta during SunTrust Lunch on Broad. Every Friday during summer months, the streets of Atlanta’s Fairlie-Poplar District become an open air café with live music from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Grab lunch at one of the nearby bistros and settle in at one of the tables on Broad Street to enjoy the festive summer atmosphere.
Head to Centennial Olympic Park for a variety of free special events for all ages. The Wednesday Wind Down is each Wednesday evening from 5:30-8 p.m., April to September, has performances varying from jazz to reggae. On Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon-1 p.m., enjoy Music at Noon, which features a variety of musical groups. Enjoy an afternoon of fun for the family at Fourth Saturday Family Fun Days held on the fourth Saturday of each month, April through September, from noon-4 p.m. Each Saturday highlights a new theme and includes street performers, specialty displays, shows and more.
The Atlanta Dogwood Festival is a springtime showcase of local artists, crafters and musicians. 2005 will represent this free festival’s 69th year in Atlanta, making it the longest running festival in the city. Annual events include two stages of live music performances, food, a 24-foot rock-climbing wall, a kids’ village, the annual U.S. Disc Dog Southern Nationals Competition and an artist market featuring more than 200 of the nation’s top artists.
The annual Atlanta Jazz Festival brings more than 100 of the best jazz performers to Atlanta for nine days of performances throughout the city. Included in the festivities is the Free Weekend Concert Series at Piedmont Park, a special benefit concert at Chastain Park Amphitheatre, the best in soul food, ethnic cuisine and American cooking and an expanded arts and crafts market.
Atlanta’s neighborhoods are an excellent way to explore areas of the city. Several of these neighborhoods host free festivals in the spring to showcase local restaurants, beautiful homes and provide markets for local artists and musicians. For more information on Atlanta’s neighborhoods and festival dates, visit

Cheap Eats
Visitors seeking an Atlanta culinary experience on a budget will be delighted with the selection of regional tastes and ingredients at the Urban Green Market at Piedmont Park. Each Saturday morning (through October 16) from 8 a.m.–noon, the market features Georgia-grown produce, baked goods, food specialty items, fresh flowers and herbs as well as chef demonstrations from some of Atlanta’s top culinary talent. In addition, market-goers will also be treated to cultural offerings ranging from musical entertainment to artwork to craft demonstrations to wine tastings. The market is located in Piedmont Park near the park’s 12th Street entrance gate.

Atlanta’s top restaurants also offer dining deals around the city that allow for high-end experiences on a budget. Throughout the week, enjoy three-course prix fixe dinners at top destinations such as Park 75 at The Four Seasons Hotel, Atlanta for $32 per person. Several restaurants offer pre-show menus such as City Grill, with a two-course meal for $25 per person or three-courses for $30, and Silk, which offers a three-course meal for $27 per person. Grab great bargains such as Barbeque Night at South City Kitchen for $19.95 and all-you-can-eat gourmet pizza and salad at MidCity Cuisine on Sundays for just $10 per person. In the charming Virginia-Highland area, enjoy half-price appetizers and $4 glasses of wine at Harvest Monday through Wednesday or all-you-can-eat tacos for $14 per person at the authentic Sala-Sabor de Mexico. For a listing of culinary bargains around town, visit

Established in 1913, the ACVB is a private, nonprofit organization created exclusively to sell and market metro Atlanta and Georgia globally as the premier conventions, meetings and tourism destination in the regional, national and international marketplace and favorably impact the Atlanta economy through conventions and tourism.




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