Fall is perhaps one of the most fun and scenic seasons in the city for Atlanta families to enjoy together. It’s the ideal time of year for mom, dad and the kids to hop in the car and go on an adventure. They might opt to drive around town to catch the last remnants of changing leaves, commemorate Halloween and the harvest season in a wide variety of ways or attend a fall festival on a breezy afternoon. While Atlanta offers its fair share of family-friendly attractions and activities for a nominal fee, there are a number of fabulous free options that parents might want to consider adding to their autumn agendas.
Tallulah Gorge State Park
338 Jane Hurt Yarn Drive
Tallulah Falls , GA 30573
Aside from the $5 parking fee and about 90-mile drive, visitors to Tallulah Gorge State Park can enjoy an unforgettable hike along this breathtaking two-mile-long, 1,000-foot-deep canyon to take in Mother Nature’s show of colors completely free of charge. A suspension bridge hangs 80 feet above the canyon floor, and several overlooks offer spectacular views of the river and waterfalls. Permits are required to hike down to the gorge floor, but those are free as well. Visitors should keep in mind that only 100 permits are issued per day on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the family hike has come to an end, a short drive to the Alpine Village of Helen or Dahlonega’s charming downtown square holds the promise of even more fun.
Smyrna Fall Jonquil Festival
200 Village Green Circle
Smyrna, GA 30080
Dates: Oct. 26-27, 2013
This free fall festival features more than 125 arts and crafts vendors, as well as puppet shows and live concerts at Smyrna’s Village Green. Keep Smyrna Beautiful will be on hand to promote eco-friendly initiatives and hand out jonquil bulbs to festival attendees.
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Scarecrow Bash & Monster Mash
Historic Downtown Hartwell
E. Howell St.
Date: Oct. 31, 2013
The Scarecrow Bash is month-long event that began October 1 with a sudden surge in the town’s population thanks to the appearance of dozens of scarecrows crafted by the creative townspeople of Hartwell. The fall fun culminates on October 31. from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., in Hartwell’s charming downtown district with a Monster Mash that features food vendors, live entertainment, a costume parade, “Thriller” line dance, candy stroll and more. Admission to the Monster Mash is free.
Chastain Park Arts Festival
4469 Stella Drive
Atlanta, GA 30327
Dates: Nov. 2-3, 2013
This festival boasts two fun-filled fall days jam-packed with fine arts and crafts, festival food, children’s activities and live entertainment – all hosted in the heart of one of Atlanta’s most iconic venues, Chastain Park. The event, organized by the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces, shines the spotlight on the work of more than 200 talented artists and craftsman. Attendance at the Chastain Park Arts Festival is entirely free.
The 20th Annual Sportsman’s Festival
Main Street & South Norwood Street
Warrenton, GA 30828
Date: Nov. 9, 2013
Commemorating two decades as a popular local event among adventurous families, this year’s Sportsman’s Festival pays homage to the Old West with a Wild West Show that showcases performances by The Tumbleweeds Band, Cowboy Poets and Big Little Mountain Native American Dance Troupe – as well as demonstrations by The Yellow Rose Chuck Wagon. Other features at this fall festival include a classic car show, health fair, kids’ carnival, food vendors and more. The best part is that parking and admission to the 20th Annual Sportsman’s Festival are free.
Kasie Bolling is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.