Summer is here — the kids are home, the days are long, and perhaps the budget is small. Here are some free or inexpensive things to do this summer.
This is not a complete list of area museums, but in the interest of keeping with the theme, these museums offer adult tickets for $10 or less, or offer specials that bring ticket prices down to that range.
Marietta Museum of History. 1 Depot Street, Ste. 200, Marietta. (In the square). Adult tickets $7, children under 5 are free. Monday – Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm. Closed on major holidays. Artifacts from Marietta and Cobb County and their role in world history. Also offer Mice Tours (more details below under “Indoor”).
Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art. 30 Atlanta Street, Marietta. Adult tickets $8, children under 6 are free. Tuesday – Friday: 11am – 5pm; Saturday: 11am – 4pm; Sunday: 1am – 4pm; Closed Monday. The Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art is the only Metropolitan-Atlanta fine arts museum focusing on American Art. The permanent collection houses a variety of artworks dating from as early as the 18th century to the present. Also offers Toddler Tuesdays (more details below under “Indoor”)
Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History. 2829 Cherokee Street, Kennesaw. Adult tickets $7.50, children 4-12 $5.50, children 3 and under free. Monday – Saturday: 9:30am – 5pm; Sunday: 11am – 6pm. Always growing and always evolving, the Southern Museum offers something for the train lover or history buff in everyone. Also offers a Mommy & Me program (more details below under “Indoor”.)
Marietta Fire Museum. 112 Haynes Street (Fire Station #1). Free admission. Monday – Friday: 8am – 5pm; Saturday & Sunday by appointment only. The Marietta Fire Museum has many items on display used by the Marietta Fire Department dating back to the 1800s. The museum has fire service clothing, equipment and antique apparatus. Official tours of the museum and bay can also be scheduled.
Free Second Tuesday at Imagine It! Children’s Museum. 275 Centennial Olympic Park Dr, Atlanta. Free. Target Free Second Tuesday is a special opportunity for the community to bring their children to The Children’s Museum of Atlanta and experience the Museum for free, between the hours 1 PM and 6 PM. Free admission is made possible through the generous support of Target.
Smith-Gilbert Gardens. 2382 Pine Mountain Rd, Kennesaw. Adult tickets are $7, children from 6-12 are $5 and children under 6 are free. Did you know there is a botanical garden in Kennesaw? They also offer some wonderful children’s programs.
Chattahoochee Nature Center. 9135 Willeo Road.Adult tickets $10, children 3-12 are $6, children under 2 are free. Wildlife, hiking, educational events and more. Check out the calendar for special events. Pricing may be different during special events, so check the website before visiting.
Here are a few more Atlanta Museums that are also $10 or less for an adult ticket:
- Atlanta Contemporary Art Center: 535 Means Street. $8 adults/5 & under free
- Atlanta Cyclorama: $10 for adults/ $8 for 4-12 year olds / free 3 and under
- Fernbank Science Center Planetarium: Admission to the center and parking are free. Planetarium tickets are $7 for adults / $5 for students (3-18) (Please note that this is not affiliated with the Fernbank Museum of Natural History)
- Center for Puppetry Arts: $8.25 for museum-only admission (no show or workshop)
- Gone with the Wind Museum (Marietta): $7 for adults, children are free
Drop In Classes
Marietta Museum of History Mice Tours. 1 Depot Street, Ste. 200, Marietta. (In the square). $5 per family (1 adult and up to 3 children, $5 per person after that). Mice Tours are the 2nd Wednesday of every month (year round). The purpose of the tours is to introduce toddlers to history through very basic concepts like shapes, sounds, games, tools and jobs. Dates/Themes: May 13: Murry & Etta Count Collections; June 10: Etta’s Favorite Colors; August: TBD. Reservations are required: 770-794-5710.
Toddler Tuesdays at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art. 30 Atlanta Street, Marietta. Adult tickets $8, children under 6 are free. $5 admission. Tuesdays from 11 – 11:40. This class is a great opportunity for toddlers (and parents!) to explore, create, and make a mess! Children will create works inspired by our collection of art or a short story read in class. Suggested age: 2-4. Registration is required.
Mommy & Me at Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History. 2829 Cherokee Street, Kennesaw. Thursdays at 10am & 11:30am. Program is free with admission: Adult tickets $7.50, children 4-12 $5.50, children 3 and under free. Designed for preschool age children ages three to five-years-old and their caregivers, the Museum’s history, themes and exhibits provide a fun and exciting starting point for educational activities. *I try to keep personal editorial out of this sort of resource post, but I think this is one of the best kept secrets in our area.
Smyrna Public Library (Smyrna):
- Wednesdays: Movers & Shakers (1 & 2 year olds) at 10:30am, 11:30am & 4pm
- Thursdays: Lapsit Storytime (3-5 year olds) at 10:30 & 11:30
Cobb County Public Libraries (locations noted below):
Switzer Library (Marietta):
- Mondays: Baby storytime at 10:15 (up to 18 months)
- Tuesdays: Preschool storytime at 11am (3-5 years)
- Wednesdays: Toddler storytime at 11am (18 – 36 months)
East Marietta Library (Marietta):
- Mondays: Pop-In Storytime at 11am (3-5 year olds)
- Tuesdays: Bookworm Babies at 10am (up to 18 months)
- Tuesdays: Toddler Time at 11am (18 months – 3 years)
- 2nd and 3rd Fridays: CAREing Paws at 1:30 (5 and up). Your child can read to a certified CAREing Paws dog for 15 minutes. Great for children to practice reading out loud to a non-judgemental and attentive audience. Must register with librarian at the start of the event.
- Tuesdays: Baby and Toddler Storytime at 2:30pm
- Wednesdays: Babies and Toddler Storytime at 11am
- Mondays: Babies and Toddler Storytime at 10:30am (0-2 years)
- Tuesdays: Babies and Toddler Storytime at 10:30am (0-2 years)
- Wednesdays: Babies and Toddler Storytime at 10:30 (0-2 years)
- Wednesdays: Preschool Storytime at 11:30 (3-5 years)
Lewis A Ray (Smyrna)
- Tuesdays: RAYDiant Storytime at 10am (babies and toddlers)
South Cobb Regional (Mableton)
- Tuesdays: Preschool Storytime at 11am (3-5 years)
- Wednesdays: Baby Storytime at 10:15am (up to 18 months)
- Wednesdays: Toddler Storytime at 11am (18 months – 3 years)
- Thursdays: School age Storytime at 4pm (5+)
*Many branches are taking a break from their normal children’s programming in May as they kick-off the summer reading program and wrap up school year schedules. Check your favorite library’s calendar to see if these programs are being offered in May. Also,these are just a few of the libraries in the Cobb County system and were selected based on where the majority of Smyrna Parent readers fall. You can find the full library calendar here.
The Book Stop (3599 Atlanta Rd, Smyrna): No storytimes are offered here, but this independant used book store is a great place to trade in your old books for credits so you can add some classics to your home library. Or just go to let the kids sit and browse for a while while supporting local business. You can find the kids section in the back.
Barnes and Noble (2952 Cobb Pkwy, Atlanta): Storytimes are held Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11am. Get there early and play at the train table beforehand.
Jitterbug Performing Arts (1125 Concord Rd, Smyrna): $5 per child. Jitterbug offers several storytimes throughout the month. It includes the story, crafts, movement, dancing and more. No reservation is required, but it is limited to 15 participants. You can view the upcoming dates here.
Home Depot Kids’ Workshop (Smyrna, Austell, Marietta): Free. Held the first Saturday of the month from 9am – noon. This is a free workshop designed for kids 5-12. All children get to build and decorate their item, and will receive a certificate, Home Depot apron and pin.
Lowes Build and Grow (Marietta, Austell): Free. Held select Saturdays at 10am. Build a wooden project and get a free apron, goggles, patch and more.
Michaels Kids Club (Smyrna, Marietta): $2 per child. Learn crafting skills with a wide variety of materials. Their Kids’ Club is every Saturday from 10am – noon (sessions start every 30 minutes during that period.) Recommended for ages 3+.
Lakeshore Learning (Marietta): Free. Crafts for Kids every Saturday from 11am – 3pm. No reservations necessary. Recommended for 3+.
Williams Sonoma Junior Chef Classes (Marietta). Free. Saturdays at 10am. Learn to make delicious recipes, from main courses to desserts and snacks, with plenty of tasting along the way. Space is limited, so call ahead for details. Recommended for ages 5-13.
Burn off the Energy Indoors
When they need to burn off energy but it’s just too hot to be outdoors.
Sparkles Family Fun Center (666 Smyrna Hill Dr, Smyrna). Public skate is $5 admission and $4 skate rental. On Family Fun & Fitness nights (every Thursday in June and July at 6pm), admission is free for families (at least 1 adult and 1 child)
Catch Air (Multiple Locations). Children 3-10 are $9 during the week and $10 on weekends. Children 2 and under are $6 during the week and $7 on weekends.
Champion Kids (1465 Canton Rd, Marietta). During open play, crawlers are $4 and walkers are $8. Siblings get in for $4 with a full priced older sibling. Check the open play schedule here.
SkyZone (1650 Airport Rd, Kennesaw). Most packages are over the $10 limit; however, if 30 minutes is all you need to jump the energy out, then you can get in and out for $10/child. Toddler Time is $12 per family. Please note that they separate jumpers by age range – which includes parents. If your child is so small that you still have to jump with them, it is better to wait until they can jump independently. Check their calendar for open jump times here.
X-Drenaline (1611 Roswell Rd, Marietta). This brand new indoor trampoline gym features a huge room for jumping, a dodgeball area, a foam pit and hoops (basketball nets with trampoline floors) all for $10 for 30 minutes. However, on Toddler Tuesdays the little ones can jump for an hour for $7. There’s also a driving simulator and rock wall, but these are extra.
Movie by Moonlight (Smyrna): Free. Held select Saturdays starting at sundown (approximately 8pm) at Taylor-Brawner
- June 20 – Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
- July 18 – Annie (2014)
- August 15 – Cinderella (2015)
Movies at the Mable (Mableton): Free. Held select Fridays. Gates open at 7:30, movie starts at dusk, rain or shine. Concessions available for purchase or you can bring your own food.
- May 25 – Big Hero 6
- June 12 – Epic
- June 26 – Penguins of Madagascar
- July 10 – Rio 2
- July 24 – How to Train Your Dragon 2
- August 27 – Cinderella
Merchant’s Walk Cinemas 14 (Marietta). $1. The Summer Movie Series on Tuesdays and Thursdays features a special movie at 10am. Admission is $1, popcorn is $1.50 and a soft drink is $1.50. A movie and snacks for $4.
Regal Town Center Stadium Summer Movie Express (Kennesaw). $1. Regal’s Summer Movies are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and start at 10am. Tickets are only $1. You can view the movie list here.
Tolleson Park Pool and Fountain (3530 King Springs Rd, Smyrna). Cool off for $3 under 16, $5 for adults. Opens May 23 and will be open 7 days a week through the summer, including some night swim dates. Learn more here.
Floyd Road Fountain (4342 Floyd Rd SW, Mableton). At the Floyd Road entrance to the Silver Comet Trail, there is a water fountain feature that is perfect for splashing around and cooling off.
Wildhorse Creek Water Park (3820 Macedonia Road, Powder Springs). $4.50 for adults, $3.50 for youth. This brand new attraction has 4 areas for play, including an activity pool, spray & play area, water slides and a lazy river.
Sewell Pool and Splash Pad (2055 Lower Roswell Rd, Marietta).$4.50 for adults, $3.50 for youth. Sewell Park Pool features a pool with shallow and deep water with a diving board and a zero depth splash pad.
South Cobb Aquatic Center (875 Six Flags Drive, Austell).$4.50 for adults, $3.50 for youth. This water park is indoors and a great option when those pop up summer rains ruin your outdoor pool fun. This aquatic center features multiple slides, fountains, spray areas, a beach style entrance and a lazy river.
Food Trucks: Take a break from cooking by enjoying some food truck fare with your neighbors. Most of these special events run through the summer until September. Plan carefully and you won’t need to cook at all this summer.
- Kennesaw: Monday evenings at Depot Park 6am – 9pm
- Smyrna: Tuesday evenings at Taylor-Brawner Park from 5pm – 9pm
- Mableton: Thursday evenings at the Mable House Complex from 5pm-8pm
Smyrna Summer Concert Series: Free. These free concerts are held once a month at 7pm on the Village Green (near the Community Center). Event is free but front row tables can be reserved.
- June 6 – Chris Stalcup and The Grange (Americana)
- July 11 – Faithless Town (Alternative, Americana, Rock)
- August 1 – Smyrna’s Birthday Celebration! Enjoy multiple entertainers, fireworks, festivals foods, a giant birthday cake from McEntyre’s and more!
Glover Park Summer Concert Series (Marietta): Free. This concert series takes place the last Friday of every month from April – September. Takes place at 8pm rain or shine. The event is free but front row tables can be reserved.
- May 30 – Symphony on the Square
- June 26 – The Neons (Motown)
- July 31 – Mike Veal Band (Variety)
- August 28 – Electric Avenue (80s Hits)
- September 25 – Grapevine (Oldies/R&B)
Mable House Amphitheater Candlelite Concerts (Mableton): Free. This concert series is provided by South Cobb Arts Alliance in an effort to bring free arts events to the community. More here.
- June 20 – Wasted Potential Brass Band
- August 15 – Domino, A Van Morrison Experience
- September 19 – Glenn Phillips Band featuring Cindy Wilson of the B52s
Visit a Farmer’s Market
Marietta Square Farmer’s Market (Marietta Square): This is the biggie for our area. Saturdays, 10am – 1pm and Sundays, 11:30 – 4:30.
Smyrna Fresh Produce Market (Smyrna First Baptist Parking Lot): Saturdays, 8am – noon
Farmers’ Atlanta Road Market (F.A.R.M.) (St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church, Smyrna): Tuesdays, 4:30 – 7pm.
Kennesaw Farmers’ Market (Depot Park). Mondays, 3pm – 7pm
Acworth Farmers’ Market (Acworth First Baptist Church). Fridays, 7am – 11am
Explore our Community
- Check out Smyrna’s list of parks (those with playgrounds are noted) and visit one you haven’t been to yet.
- And here’s a list of trails in Smyrna.
- Here are Marietta’s 18 parks (click to see which have playgrounds)
- And here are Marietta’s trails.
- Take a hike!
- Explore Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
- Enjoy the views at Chattahoochee Coffee Company
- Walk around Marietta Square
- Go fruit pickin’. Strawberry season is almost complete, but that just means that blueberries and blackberries are on the way.