5 free and cheap summer entertainment options

The sleepy days of summer are officially upon us. By now, we’re being lulled into afternoon napping on the couch and restless evenings under humid skies.

Or not.

Just as the school year closes and nights get longer, the list of fun, free and cheap activities around town cranks up. No, or little, money? No problem. Affordable entertainment options are aplenty in metro Atlanta, and you don’t have to rely strictly on pull-the-trigger deal sites to indulge. Stick to your budget, plan ahead and get a move on with these five wallet-friendly activities:


There are numerous options for cheap movies. First, there are the free outdoor screenings all around town, from Movies at the Market at Atlantic Station to Dive-In Movies at the W Perimeter Hotel. Worried about paying for popcorn and sodas? Bring your own and save by going to the Starlight Drive-In theatre ($7 per person; $1 for kids). There are also value cinemas around town, where movies are generally $2 or less. Summer, kids-oriented summer movie camps are also a bargain. The AMC kids movie camp is $1 on Tuesdays.


Prefer live theatre to the big screen? There are ways to save on local theatrical performances. Atlanta Performs has tickets to the most popular shows in town (and the not so popular) for half price. Performances at smaller venues are often less expensive than some of the city’s major theatres. Also consider following your favorite theatres through social media outlets to get leads on special offers.

Live music:

Much like the outdoor movie screenings, there’s plenty of live music being played in parks. But for some, hanging around outside when the weather is warm is not an option. Open Mic nights at local clubs are usually free as yet unknown locals scratch out their careers in front of a receptive audience.


Want to laugh out loud? Head to a comedy club — and pay half the price. Local clubs like Punchline, Whole World Improv and Laughing Skull Lounge routinely have mid-week nights when admission is half-off, buy one get free specials and discounts.


There’s the High Museum, where there are regular discounts. And then, there are free opportunities to enjoy art, such as local art walks such as the Castleberry Hill Art Stroll, Gallery Walk in Buckhead and the ArtsWalk Downtown.

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12 comments Add your comment


June 24th, 2010
8:39 am

These all sound great, but aside from the movies, non of these are really kid friendly. You started your article by saying school is out, so I assumed we’d be reading about family events. Night clubs and comedy clubs aren’t really school age friendly, and most younger kids would not be interested in live music, museums or theater. What’s good and cheap for young kids, say in the 5-8 range?


June 24th, 2010
9:54 am

Since I’m a semi-regular there, I had to add to the info above regarding Starlite Drive-In. Best thing not mentioned is that the $7 ticket price (adults) is for first-run double features. VERY family-friendly, too. And for Lori — the majority of movie-goers is parents with kids under age 12. I challenge anyone to find a better deal this weekend than a $1 kid ticket for Toy Story 3 / Prince of Persia or Karate Kid / Shrek this weekend! Arrive early, grill out, picnic or raid the concession stand & throw a frisbee, then settle in on your blanket or chair & watch a great show. (Unfortunately, I’m old enough to remember drive-ins as a kid and I can promise you, it;s childhood revisited!) Can’t recommend it enough! Oh, and if kids aren’t your thing, the first show repeats after the double-feature on weekends, so the grown-ups can start their evening later, if they wish and the kids have gone home or are asleep in their cars. Something for evreyone.


June 24th, 2010
10:02 am

Im with Sharon. the Drivein is the BOMB. I took my kids last weekend and they had a ball. They meet new people and caught fireflies. But once the movie started, everybody was quiet (except the ones who did not bring chairs so the kids were sliding all over the car). It was fun. I will be doing it again.


June 24th, 2010
10:37 am

There are absolutely free comedy shows produced wach week by the Atlanta House of Comedy and Phat Comedy. Check out their websites for more information. The shows are hosted at restaurants and bars that offer drink and food specials before the shows.


June 24th, 2010
10:55 am

where can I get info about the Westin dive-in movies? I don’t see anything on their website. I work close by, so this sounds interesting to me!


June 24th, 2010
12:51 pm


I think she was mentioning the kids getting out of school as sort of an indication of summer. I say this b/c it was preluded by “The sleepy days of summer are officially upon us. By now, we’re being lulled into afternoon napping on the couch and restless evenings under humid skies.”

Let’s try a little bit more respectful, huh!? She’s only trying to help us out! :)


June 24th, 2010
1:18 pm

So, what exactly’s a “dive in” movie? Does the W show them by the pool? :D


June 24th, 2010
2:51 pm

@ kelly&carriefan
You asked: So, what exactly’s a “dive in” movie? Does the W show them by the pool?
Yes – it is that Exactly – the moveies are shown at the W Atlanta Perimeter’s Wet Deck, the hotel’s plush pool area.
nb is right – Thanks for sharing, Rana!


June 24th, 2010
2:53 pm

movies, not moveies – sorry for typo – in a rush today. i wish we were closer to the starlite – sounds fab!


June 25th, 2010
9:16 am

At what point in Lori’s post was she being disrespectful?
Rana, these sound like fun things to do..My little one loves art gallery’s, so can’t wait to try them..


June 25th, 2010
12:01 pm

Lori, if you’re 5-8 year old doesn;t enjoy live music, museums, or theater, you’re not getting out enough.

Frugal One

June 27th, 2010
9:18 pm

Want to mention that Buford Variety Theater(comedy) has buy one get one free tickets on Friday nights. Tickets are $10 a piece. So $10 for a couple on a Friday night is fairly cheap.