20 Fun & Free Things to Do in Gainesville

Explore 20 fun & free activities in Gainesville, GA! From scenic trails to state parks & engaging museums, perfect for families & solo travelers alike.

Tobi Miles
July 5, 2024
Explore 20 fun & free activities in Gainesville, GA! From scenic trails to state parks & engaging museums, perfect for families & solo travelers alike.

Gainesville, GA is home to kid-friendly attractions, 2 movie theaters, 3 museums, and 445 restaurants. If you are planning to vacation in this beautiful city, there are many activities to choose from, but you’ll still want to do some research first! By organizing your schedule in advance, you’ll be able to save both time and money in your travels.

One factor that you should take into consideration is any landmarks that would make for a great tourist visit. Landmarks not only are an informal activity, but some may even be free. If you are looking for fun things to do, there are both adult and kid-friendly options available.

If you’re a couple looking for a night out on the town, you’ll also find many options for night activities. Finally, if you’re planning on venturing outside of Gainesville, there are 15 neighboring towns nearby. Here’s my list of things to do in Gainesville, GA that you can add to your itinerary.

Free Things To Do in Gainesville, GA

1. Big Creek Greenway

Credit: Pond and Company

Big Creek Greenway is a trail that spans over twenty-six miles. This trail has three sections that have a two-mile gap between Alpharetta and Cumming Georgia. The concrete trail that is included is nine miles long and is accompanied by another mulch trail on the south end. You can find different types of wildlife here such as deer, ducks, Canada geese, and blue heron.

Big Creek Greenway offers jogging, walking, biking, rollerblading, and other activities. Visitors who have visited Greenway love the flat terrain, making it ideal for exercise purposes. Also available is a huge parking lot with restrooms which is another plus if traveling with larger groups and on busy days.

Address: 5259 Union Hill Rd. Cumming, GA  30040

Open Hours: 6AM-9PM

Phone Number: (678)-297-6123

Website: https://www.bigcreekgreenway.com

Cost: Free

2. Don Carter State Park

Credit: Explore Georgia

Over the thirty-eight thousand acres on Lake Lanier, Don Carter is the only state park. This park is ideal for those who love water activities. Available are boat ramps that make it easy to access the river and trails for hikers and bikers. In the summer on hot days, guests of the park can cool off at the bathhouse.

The park was named to honor Don Carter who worked for the Georgia Department of Resources for twenty-nine years. Other accommodations include fish cleaning stations, docks, boat ramps, outdoor fitness equipment, a sand beach, a playground, and eight cottages. Visitors have raved about how clean this park is, the friendly campgrounds, and the trails for hiking and biking.

Address: 5000 North Browning Bridge Rd. Gainesville, GA 30506

Open Hours: 7AM-5PM

Phone Number: (678)-450-7726

Website: https://gastateparks.org/DonCarter

Cost: Free

Related Read: 17 Best Hiking Trails in Atlanta

3. Lake Sidney Lanier

Credit: Lanier Islands

Annually, over seven million people visit Lake Lanier. You can partake in numerous activities such as wakeboarding, fishing, swimming, kayaking, and boating. Lake Lanier is most known for its fishing and has large amounts of mouth bass, striped bass, and lake trout. On your visit, you’ll have access to over twenty areas that will accommodate your boating needs.

If you’re into kayaking, Lake Lanier hosts two clubs you can join. Visitors who come to this area rave about the endless water activities available and the large amounts of fish ready to catch, clean, and take home. If you have a boat and are looking to get out on a hot sunny day, Lake Lanier is right down your alley.

Address: 1050 Buford Dam Road. Buford, GA 30515-0567

Open Hours: All-day

Phone Number: (770) 945-9531

Website: https://www.exploregeorgia.org/gainesville/outdoors-nature/lakes-rivers/lake-lanier

Cost: Free

Related Read: 35 Best Camping Spots in Georgia

4. Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

Credit: Recreation.gov

The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest has tons of outdoor recreation available and natural resources in the stage of Georgia. It consists of over eight hundred and sixty-seven thousand acres that span across twenty-six counties. It has miles and miles of rivers, streams, eight hundred and fifty miles of trails, over a dozen of campgrounds, picnic facilities, and other recreation. Visitors who have come through this area have raved about the amazing campgrounds and the waterfall scenery.

If you’re a hiker, they’ve mentioned the trails are both paved and unpaved. If you’re the outdoor activity type, load up your bike in the car and take a drive down to this National Forest for one heck of a bike ride!

Address: Cleveland, GA  30528

Open Hours: 8AM-6PM

Phone Number: (770)-297-3000

Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/conf/passes-permits

Cost: Free

5. City Park

Credit: Yelp

If you’re from out of town and want to check out a local spot, we couldn’t recommend City Park enough. At City Park, you’ll find two little league baseball fields, a playground, three pavilions, four tennis courts, restrooms, picnic tables, and fitness equipment. This is an easy, free, outdoor activity that your family of all ages will enjoy.

If your son or husband wants to sit and watch a little league, they can do that right on the bleachers, while you take your toddler over to the playground to burn off some steam. Since this is a small local area, parking may present to be a problem. Even with parking limited, this day out is free and won’t break the bank. Locals rant and rave about how much better it is to have a field their sons can grow up

Address: 549 Glenwood Drive NE Gainesville, GA 30501

Open Hours: All-day

Phone Number: (770)-531-2680

Website: https://www.gainesville.org/Facilities/Facility/Details/City-Park-Fields-12

Cost: Free

Related Read: 15 Best State Parks In Georgia

Fun Things To Do in Gainesville, GA

6. North Georgia Zoo and Petting Farm

Credit: Yelp

The North Georgia Zoo and Petting Farm is home to exotic species and farm animals. This park is the perfect outing for kids and the whole family and features hands-on exhibits, tours, and a petting zoo. You’ll be able to participate in a safari drive-thru, wildlife petting farm, animal experiences, and family nights.

With animal experiences available, you’ll be able to cuddle baby animals, meet a sloth, howl with wolves, and more! According to reviews, families fell in love with the animal experiences and rate it one of the rarest zoo experiences with hands-on time with the animals.

Address: 2912 Paradise Valley Rd, Cleveland, GA 30528

Open Hours: Tues-Thurs - Closed

Fri 11AM-3PM

Sat 10AM-5PM

Sun 10AM-5PM

Phone Number: (706)-348-7279

Website: https://www.northgeorgiazoo.com

Cost: Adults $24.99, Children $22.99

7. Kinsey Family Farm

Credit: 11 Alive

The Kinsey Family Farm was developed to provide fun, loving experiences for families. They are a family-owned farm that hosts several different types of activities that change from season to season. Their specialty is the Christmas tradition of cutting down trees, so if you’re in the area during Christmas time, you’ll want to check this one out!

If you’re planning a springtime visit, stop by to see their nursery with all of the new blooms available. Their nursery has B&B trees, shrubs, and perennials. Based on reviews, families love this friendly atmosphere and all of the natural beauty it provides. This activity is perfect for the nature lover in your life.

Address: 7140 Jot Em Down Rd, Gainesville, GA 30506

Open Hours: Mon-Fri 8AM-5PM

Phone Number: (770)-887-6028

Website: https://www.kinseyfamilyfarm.com

Cost: Prices vary per purchase

8. Oaks Miniature Golf

Credit: Oaks Miniature Golf

Oaks Miniature Golf course offers challenging and fun holes for the family. This particular golf course consists of eighteen holes. Compared to other miniature golf courses that are only open during certain seasons, Oaks Miniature Golf is open year-round. You can schedule a kid’s birthday party or any other large gathering here. This golf course also offers daycare and camps.

After you have completed a game of golf you can cool off with ice cream and drinks, and fuel up on pizza. According to reviews, visitors seem to have an exciting experience here and the affordable prices are a plus. Visitors have also raved about the beautiful scenery.

Address: 3709 Whiting Road, Gainesville, Georgia 30504

Open Hours: 11AM-6:30PM

Phone  Number: (404)-401-8007

Website: https://oaksminigolf.com/locate

Cost: Toddlers Free

Children $6.00

Adults $7.00

9. Lake Lanier Stables

Credit: Yelp

If you have a love for horses, you’ll enjoy this horseback riding activity. Horseback riding is one of the oldest forms of transportation so you’ll love getting the hang of the ropes. You’ll find out just what beauty North Georgia has to offer. Visitors who have paid a visit to these stables have raved about the beautiful horses, pleasant trails with water views, friendly staff, and being provided helmets when riding.

The stables are clean and well-kept to care for the horses. You will be provided with three trail selections to choose from. If you don’t mind a bumpy ride and caring for loving animals, you’ll love this outdoor activity.

Address: 7000 Lanier Island Parkway Buford, GA 30518

Open Hours: November-March 10AM-4PM

April-October 10AM-5PM.

Phone Number: (814)-435-2550

Website: https://www.margaritavilleresorts.com/margaritaville-at-lanier-islands

Cost: Varies per riding lesson.

Related Read: BEST Brunch Spots In Atlanta, GA

10. Cool River Tubing

Credit: Cool River Tubing

At Cool River Tubing, you’ll be able to experience the shooting river rapids or float around in the calming waters through the mountains on a rubber tube. You can plan your trip for a hot family day out while relaxing and enjoying the outdoors. The scenery showcases the Southern Appalachian outdoors, with a view of Georgia’s Alpine Village.

Cool River Tubing is open rain or shine so if you don’t mind getting a little wet, you’ll enjoy this activity even on a rainy day. Based on reviews, families had a great time with this activity and love the fact that they provide water shoes, cell phone protectors, and lockers to store their belongings.

Address: 590 Edelweiss Strasse, Helen, GA 30545

Open Hours: 9AM-6PM

Phone Number: (706)-878-2665

Website: https://www.coolrivertubing.com/index.cms

Cost: Mon-Fri $14, Sat-Sun $18

Things To Do in Gainesville, GA at Night

11. Hollywood Cinemas

Credit: Gainesville Times

If you’re looking for laid-back night activity or something to do for date night, you can never go wrong with movie night. Gainesville Hollywood Cinemas are a part of regal entertainment that provide a wide range of movies to choose from. This theater complex features multiple screens for new release films, plush seatings, and concession stands.

They are open seven days a week so you don’t need to make specific arrangements to make plans. During your visit, you can purchase souvenirs and gift cards to take with you back home. For the movie lover in your life, this is the perfect day or nighttime activity.

Address: 120 Green Hill Cir, Gainesville, GA 30504

Open Hours: 10AM-Midnight

Phone Number: (844)-462-7342

Website: www.regmovies.com

Cost: $11 & up

12. 37 Main

Credit: 37 Main

37 main is a great nighttime and restaurant experience. If you’re making nighttime plans, it’s a hot spot for dining, drinks with friends, and entertainment. You’ll find that they’re open Monday thru Saturday and provide several happy hour specials from 5-7pm. During the week they provide a variety of games and entertainment such as Name That Song, Team Trivia, Karaoke, Half Price Wings, $3 tacos, and unique burgers.

If your date is into a night out on the time, this is the perfect spot to bring them. There is no dress code set in place so you can dress up or keep it casual. Visitors have reviewed to love the warm vibe and laid-back dining experience. Their prices are very affordable if you’re on a budget.

Address: 212 Spring St SE, Gainesville, GA 30501

Open Hours: Tues-Wed 4PM-10:30PM

Thurs 4PM-1AM

Fri 4PM-2AM

Sat 6PM-2AM

Sun-Mon Closed

Phone Number: (678)-696-8829

Website: https://gainesville.37main.com

Cost: Prices Vary

13. School Street Playhouse

Credit: School Street Playhouse

School street playhouse is an operated playhouse that has history and is dedicated to the suburbs of Gainesville. With them only being open on weekends, it’s easy to set up a night out of entertainment. Depending on the time of year and show, they offer open auditions. School street playhouse is the perfect activity for those who are musically inclined and love the theater environment.

According to reviewers, they love the variety of shows offered and the restaurant that is conveniently placed downstairs for post-show dining. They’ve also reviewed that they love the historic building and the availability of plays all year round.

Address: 101 School St, Cumming, GA 30040

Open Hours: 8PM showings on weekends

Phone Number: (770)-781-9178

Website: https://schoolstreetplayhouse.com

Cost: Call the box office for ticket sales

14. Coolray Field

Credit: HKS Architects

If you’re looking for a sporty event to attend in the evenings, you’ll want to check out Coolray Field. Coolray Field has over ten thousand seats and hosts minor baseball leagues. It is the home of the Gwinnett Stripers. It features nineteen luxury suites, has a thirty by forty-foot board in center field, a six by forty-two LED board along the left field, and chair back seating with added cup holders.

Before planning your night out, you can log onto their website and buy gear to wear for your visit. They have items available for women, men, children, and even pets! Based on reviews, you’ll have an exciting time at the ballpark but hate the traffic.

Address: 2500 Buford Dr, Lawerenceville, GA 30043

Open Hours: Game times vary

Phone Number: (678)-277-0340

Website: https://www.milb.com/gwinnett

Cost: $15

15. Downtown Drafts

Credit: Yelp

Downtown Drafts is one of the key places in Gainesville for draft beers. It is located in the downtown square and offers the best selection of local, national, and international craft beers. You’ll be able to try out samplers of beers in a seating area with TVs, games, and free wi-fi. They also offer taking growlers to go. What is a growler you ask?

A growler is one of the customized glass jugs that they filled with their favorite beverage. You can purchase them in a sixty-four or thirty-two-ounce jug. According to reviews, Downtown Drafts is very affordable while offering a wide selection of beers that seem to please visitors. They love the great atmosphere and fun crowd.

Address: 115 Bradford St NE, Gainesville, GA 30501

Open Hours: 12PM-10PM

Phone Number: (678)-943-2165

Website: https://www.downtowndrafts.net

Cost: Prices Vary

Indoor Things to Do in Gainesville, GA

16. GRGOF Thunder Road Museum

Credit: Yelp

The Georgia Racing Hall of fame decided to reopen its doors in the summer of 2007. The museum features members of the Georgia Racing heritage. If you have a love of race cars and want to spend the day learning about Hall of Famers, you’ll enjoy this activity.

When you enter the museum it’s filled with light, color, and exciting race cars. You’ll see banners that are placed about the race cars to show the evolution of racing and the racers behind the wheel. Based on reviews, visitors loved this exhibit, making it a one-of-a-kind museum in the great state of Georgia.

Address: 415 Hwy 53, Dawsonville, GA 30534

Open Hours: Mon-Sat 10AM-5PM

Sun 1PM-5PM

Phone Number: (678)-283-6100

Website: http://www.georgiaracinghof.com

Cost: $5-$12

17. Funopolis Family Fun Center

Credit: Funopolis Family Fun Center

Funopolis Family Fun Center is a fun, kid-friendly activity that the whole family will love. Whether you’re planning an event or just looking for something to do for the day, you’ll have an exciting day ahead. They offer weekly specials such as $4 mini golf, half-price mini bowling, half-price games, and $5 go-karts.

When planning your visit to avoid the wait, you can purchase your wristbands online, along with taking advantage of any coupons they offer. Based on reviews, families seem to love that this family center provides their families with hours of fun!

Address: 40155 US-441 Commerce, GA 30529

Open Hours: Tues-Thurs 12PM-7PM

Fri-Sat 11AM-9PM

Sun 12PM-8PM

Phone Number: (706)-335-3866

Website: https://www.funopolisfamilyfuncenter.com

Cost: $33.99

18. Gainesville Bowling Center

Credit: Discover Lake Lanier

Want a fun day out with family and friends? Bowling is always a great option especially if it’s a rainy day outside. The Gainesville bowling center is filled with a grill, and a full bar, and has different weekly events. They offer birthday packages and different leagues and groups you can join if you’re making bowling a sport.

The bowling center is a family-owned business that leans to serve a top-quality experience to its guests. On busy days while you’re waiting, this bowling center even has an arcade included that will keep your kids occupied. According to reviews, it seems families especially love the laser tag and affordable prices.

Address: 2317 Browns Ridge Rd, Gainesville, GA 30504

Open Hours: Mon- Tues 4PM-10PM

Wed 9AM-9PM

Thurs 9AM-10PM

Fri 4PM-Midnight

Sat 10AM-Midnight

Sun 12PM-10PM

Phone Number: (770)-536-5563

Website: https://station300gainesville.com

Cost: Prices vary per day

19. Left Nut Brewery Taproom

Credit: Yelp

Left Nut Brewery Taproom began in 2013. The name was thought of based on a vernacular that is about the willingness to give up something of extreme value to do something or create something unique. According to the owner, it also applies to not letting go of something you cherish. Each one of their products is tied to a story. Each story provides a different level of comfort of memories and being able to share history.

If you’re the type that likes to try different beers, this is the spot for you. Taste quality flavored beer that has its uniqueness. This brewery has a five-star rating and is a hit with visitors. They love that this brewery is a refurbished old mill. If you’re out with your dog and worried about taking him/her home, don’t worry, this brewery is dog-friendly.

Address: 2100 Atlanta Hwy, Gainesville, GA 30504

Open Hours: Tues-Thurs 4PM-9PM

Fri-Sat 1PM-11PM

Sun 1PM-7PM

Phone Number: (678)-827-6678

Website: https://leftnutbrewing.com

Cost: Prices Vary

20. Smithsgall Arts Center

Credit: Explore Georgia

The Smithgall Arts Center is a total of twenty thousand square feet. This art center has facilities you can rent along with an outdoor facility. This venue is perfect for small weddings and receptions. Depending on the day and month, the art center also offers different showings of music genres. If you’re a jazz lover that is looking for something to do on the weekends, this is the perfect place for you.

You’ll be able to view different artists each weekend that showings are available. The arts center also offers an affordable signature series. You’ll receive two complimentary tickets for the whole series including reserved seating. Tickets for this signature series event start at $35.

Address: 331 Spring Street, SW Gainesville, Georgia 30501

Open Hours: All day

Phone Number: 770.534.2787

Website: https://theartscouncil.net/contact

Cost: Prices Vary

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
July 5, 2024 11:06 AM

Tobi Miles is a University of Florida graduate turned globe-trotting culinary explorer and digital nomad expert. As the founder of "Bytes & Bites," he combines his passion for international cuisine with practical advice on remote work, inspiring others to experience the world through food and cultural immersion. With 32 countries under his belt and a knack for uncovering hidden culinary gems, Tobi is redefining the intersection of work, travel, and gastronomy for a new generation of adventurers.

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