Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fun and Free

As I've mentioned before, Anna and I have been getting out more and more the older she gets. I'm perfectly happy being at home, but it is nice to get out of the house a few times a week, and we love getting to hang out with our new mommy friends :-).

To be perfectly honest, at first I really held off on going out that much because we really can't afford to spend a whole lot of money on keeping me and Banana entertained. However, that has really proved not to be a problem at all- we are fortunate to live near Atlanta, which always has a bunch of stuff going on for those willing to make the drive, and our suburban town has an active community calendar full of free or very inexpensive events. Pair that combination with two great groups full of moms who also seek out the inexpensive fun, and we've had great luck finding lots of things to do without spending a whole lot of money.

Here are some of our favorite discoveries so far...maybe these are all one of those things that everyone except me already knew about, but oh well, here we go:

Zoo Atlanta Library Pass: any Georgia library cardholder can get a free pass for 2 adults and 2 children to Zoo Atlanta, once per year. The zoo's website explains it all here.

Museum Freebies: There are a couple of ways to get free admission to some of the museums around town. The High Museum and the Center for Puppetry Arts offer Fulton County residents the opportunity to get in for free on the first Saturday of every month. Having a Bank of America debit or credit card will also get you in for free (during the first weekend of the month) to the Atlanta History Center, the High, the Tellus Science Museum, and the Booth Western Art Museum (click here).

Georgia Aquarium: Well, this one isn't so much a freebie, but it's a fantastic idea. The Georgia Aquarium now offers an annual Guest Pass, that an annual card member can purchase. With this guest pass, the annual pass member can bring in ANYONE that they want to, and it can be someone different each time they go. This solidified our decision to get an annual pass to the Aquarium (Anna's free to take anyway). We weren't sure how often Steve would want to go, so we weren't convinced that we wanted to spend the money on any of the passes, but we've decided to get an annual pass for me, and then a guest pass. Steve can go with us whenever he wants, but the guest pass gives me the freedom to go with anyone who I want to take, without having to find someone who either has an annual pass too, or is willing to pay the fairly steep admission price. I think it's brilliant. Bravo, Georgia Aquarium!

Big Creek Greenway: Miles and miles of paved, shaded walking trails? Sign me up! There are a ton of access parks and the website has the trail broken down into mile measurements, so it's easy to figure out exactly how far you walked. It's very stroller-friendly too. I held off on exploring the Greenway for quite a long time because I didn't want to go by myself, but luckily it's a popular spot for other moms looking for some exercise and fresh air, so I get over there pretty frequently!

Stone Mountain Laser Show: We love Stone Mountain, and we are excited for the laser show to start this year so we can take Anna. The only cost is for parking, and we pack a picnic and a big blanket and chairs. Steve's office is pretty close to Stone Mountain, so it would be easy for us to meet and drive over there. I have a feeling Anna will sleep through all of it but it will still be fun!

Local Festivals: These haven't happened yet either, but they are on the calendar! It's worth checking in on our community calendar and the calendars of towns around us, because a lot of them have fairs and festivals. In the past they have made for fun craft shopping, interesting people watching, and great pictures. Alpharetta has a Children's Festival and a "Touch the Truck" festival coming up, Stone Mountain has several, Suwanee and Duluth both have fall festivals, and the city of Atlanta has several too. And who can forget the Renaissance Fair, haha. Cheesy, but I love it.

Story Times: I found out about all of these through my mommy groups. Anna's still too young to really follow along with the stories but she's usually entranced with the story reader, and she LOVES watching the other kids. Barnes & Noble, Target, and the local library all have free story hours.

Or if all else fails, I just give Anna a couple of links and let her go to town:

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