Free Things to Do in Athens, GA

Wow, some of the best things in life (well, in Athens, anyway) ARE free! In fact, MOST of our major attractions require no admission charge (though donations are of course welcome.) The state's official art museum and Georgia's official botanical garden are just two examples of amazing Athens attractions that won't cost you a penny. Athens attractions may be lean on ticket pricing, but certainly not lean in scope or quality. The State Botanical Garden has over 313-acres of gardens, nature trails, and birding areas, plus an all-new children's garden, and the Georgia Museum of Art holds over 10,000 works in its permanent collection plus plays host to major traveling exhibitions. 

Intrigued? We hope so! Read on for more free Athens attractions, all just 60 miles east of Atlanta. The city of Athens, Georgia is the perfect destination for your next quick getaway, in fact, U.S. News listed it as one of the 20 Best Cheap Vacations in the U.S.

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Free Outdoor Attractions

  • Consider beginning your day with a stroll along Memorial Park’s 1.25-mile Birchmore Trail.
  • After you’ve finished the route, check out the Bear Hollow Zoo at the same location. The small zoo houses a range of animals, from birds to amphibians and beyond.

After breaking for a bite to eat in Athens’ downtown district, be sure to peruse the city’s additional free options, including:

  • Sandy Creek Nature Center: Ideal for the adventurous traveler, this wildlife hub boasts more than four miles of trails along with an indoor Education and Visitor Center featuring live animals and other exhibits.
  • Walker Park: This 113-acre park is packed with exciting features, including mountain bike trails, soccer fields and a playground. For just one buck, visitors can enjoy the splash pads in season, which offer an easy opportunity for little ones to cool off on a sunny day.
  • Firefly Trail: Home to the world-famous Athens Twilight cycling event, it’s no surprise that Athens offers plenty of cycling paths, including the Firefly Trail. 
  • State Botanical Garden of Georgia: This generously-sized botanical garden, measuring a total of 313 acres, allows you to explore five miles of nature trails, where you’ll see the Flower Garden, International Garden, Shade Garden and other breathtaking exhibits.

Fun and Free Experiences

Free Arts & Culture Attractions

  • Architecture enthusiasts and visitors wishing to dive deeper into Athens' rich history should also plan a stop at the Ware-Lyndon House. The fully restored Late Greek Revival home showcases historic artifacts and offers a self-guided audio tour to transport guests into an earlier time.
  • Or check out the Athens Welcome Center, located inside the c. 1820 Church-Waddel-Brumby House Museum, believed to be the city’s oldest surviving residence.
  • Head to the Georgia Museum of Art: Established in 1945, this complex serves as the official art museum of the state of Georgia. Inside, you’ll find more than 10,000 works alongside a host of temporary exhibitions, while the museum’s outdoor property features a sculpture garden highlighting women sculptors.
  • UGA Special Collections Libraries: A must-visit for any history buff, the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries chronicle Georgia’s rich cultural history through a variety of exhibits.

Free Athens Attraction Listings for the Budget-Conscious Traveler

Seeking a low-cost vacation destination? Look no further than Athens, Georgia. Browse our list of free things to do below, or explore our full list of attractions to learn more about all that Athens has to offer.