8 Little-Known Spots for Atlanta Frugal Summer Activities

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Summer is here! Which means spending extra money on camps and activities to keep the kiddos busy and happy for the 16 month Georgia summers. 

So, in the spirit of mom-sisterhood, I’m sharing some of my favorite places for kid (and budget)-friendly fun in the Atlanta area. Leave me some of yours in the comments.

8 Little-Known Spots for Atlanta Frugal Summer Activities

Pine Lake

Did you know that the smallest city in Georgia is just east of town and boasts a lovely, open-to-the-public, clean-for-swimming lake? You didn’t? You’re not alone. Pine Lake is shallow, warm, and has a cordoned-off swimming area–perfect for little waders. Its small beach boasts a great playground and plenty of golden sand where you can contemplate what you’ll do with your five kid-free minutes this evening. You can also fish in the lake, walk the estuaries on each side of the lake, and find lots of turtles and geese.

Cost: Free!


Refuge Coffee Co. in Clarkston

You have kids. And probably the concurrent condition of crippling caffeine addiction. If so, head on over to Refuge Coffee Company in Clarkston. This coffee house may look like it’s just a food truck in a parking lot, but it’s so much more. There are outdoor and indoor toys for kids, beautiful décor, and is a 501(c)3 non-profit providing job training and support to local refugees.

Cost: Whatever your favorite beverage costs ($2 and change for my medium black coffee). And tip big.


Milam Park in Clarkston

This park sports what I’ve found to be a rarity in Atlanta: two beautiful public pools–and one specifically for kids. And the playgrounds are sure to please all ages. My toddler found a fire truck (pictured) that we would move into if he could. What school district is this fire truck zoned for? He doesn’t care; he’s ready to buy it.

Cost: The park is free. The pool’s entry fee depends on age, but a summer pass is only $30.


Tucker Brewing Company

Does all this talk of running around with your kids have you in the mood for a stronger drink? Then, try Tucker Brewing Company–a new and welcome addition to Atlanta’s eastern suburbs. It’s a beautiful, shaded beer garden includes a kids’ play area and sandbox, where my two-year-old happily (pretended?) to drink sand while I indulged in a tasty Hefeweizen. He was also offered a free juice box from behind the bar but stuck with the sand. His life, his choice.

Cost: $6/beer. Basically, the cheapest babysitting you’ll ever find.


Center for Puppetry Arts

Okay, you’ve heard of the Center for Puppetry Arts. Maybe you’ve taken in one of their great adult or kid-friendly shows. But did you know that Big Bird’s nest and mailbox are currently sitting in the lobby? If your kid is anything like mine, this is a BIG freaking deal. And, if you go inside, you can even see the Bird himself (and some of his friends). Elmo doesn’t live there but there are a few in the gift shop, which may do the trick if your kid is gullible.

Cost: $8/person 2 years and older.


Library story times

I thought public library storytimes were canceled for the summer. Not so! Schedules are different and run fewer weeks, but there’s still lots of fun to be had. Our favorites include the Tales for Two and Spanish language story times available at Dekalb County branches. Stay for the end and you might get to experience that magical toddler elixir: bubbles. Find a schedule online or a hard copy at a local branch. If you can’t make a story time, the kids’ area is usually still littered with puzzles and other kid fun.

Cost: Free


Henderson Mill Park

This tucked away park in Tucker has it all–two awesome playgrounds, plenty of shade, a free little library, a lake, a decent hiking trail for the big kids. One of my Saturday morning stand-bys.

Cost: Free


Decatur Toy Park

What parent doesn’t love the toy graveyard known as the Decatur toy park? For the unfamiliar, this a fenced-in area is where no-longer-loved toys go to be mauled by tiny hands for eternity. Great for kids. Great for parents who can let their kids run free in this dog-park-for-kids.

Cost: Free (unless you pick up Dancing Goats coffee on your way, which honestly, is probably a good idea). Pro tip: go on a Sunday and avoid paying for street parking in Decatur. The park is provided by the First Christian Church of Decatur and you can donate to its upkeep here.

 Guest Author

Kate Fox lives east of Atlanta with her husband and two young sons. She has occasionally blogged for outlets including Pregnant Chicken and Offbeat Life & Home. She writes when the kids nap longer than 15 minutes.