4 things to do in Atlanta that are (almost) free

Summer is the season of free time — the kids are out of school, everyone at work is daydreaming about the beach, you're planning a vacation, you're planning a staycation, you're planning a long weekend away.

Unfortunately, more free time doesn't mean more money.

Fear not: Here are five really cheap and really fun things to do.

1. The lasershow at Stone MountainSince the early 1980s, the lawn at Stone Mountain has invited a family-centered version of tailgating, culminating in the 45-minute main event now known as the Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision, the longest-running of its kind in the world. All you need to bring is a chair or blanket, any snacks you may desire, and to sit back and watch the coordinated lights and music.

Show times are scheduled at least once a month through October. The cost is $20 for daily parking (or $40 for an annual pass). But the show itself is free.

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2. Skip the sidewalk and explore these running trails: Run a trio of paved PATH Foundation trails at Chastain in north Buckhead, with your choice of two 5K loops or a 3K loop, trailing over gently-rolling terrain; at Cochran Shoals, you can run a flat, nearly level, fast 5K loop on this gravel trail on the banks of the Chattahoochee River near Vinings; and the Suwanee Greenway is a 10K full of fern-filled forest, grassy wetlands, songbirds and creeks that set the scene for a run with a natural backdrop.

Best of all, of course, running trails are free.

3. Feed your inner foodie at Atlanta farmer's marketsDozens of farmers markets dot the metro area, offering an array of affordable fruits, veggies, meats, spices and so much more.

Browsing the sheer scope of the things for sale — which, like "window shopping" anywhere, is free — can be its own reward. Each market is a reflection of that neighborhood's culture and the nearby farmers, chefs and artists; and many markets offer vendors not found elsewhere.

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4. Discount days at the High Museum: Atlanta's leading art institution has a few running discounts.

The museum offers free admission to Fulton County residents during the second Sunday of every month from noon-5 p.m. and offers free walkup admission to Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders during the first full weekend of the month. As part of the Woodruff Arts Center's "Family Fun" event, all visitors receive free admission to the museum on the second Sunday of each month.

Bonus: Kids eat free around metro AtlantaAfter spending your day at the High, the farmer's market or Stone Mountain, enjoy a meal at one of these restaurants where kids eat free. Times, dates and rules vary by location.