35 super fun things for Atlanta families to do in September

Kick off fall with costume parades, dragon boat races, and all your favorite Sesame Street characters
Dragon Con's annual parade is the perfect place to get inspired for Halloween.

Photograph by Caroline Kilgore

Through 9/4
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
Where: Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse
When: 7:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. Sundays)
Cost: $15
What: 37 plays. 154 sonnets. Two hours. This fast-paced comedic performance rips through the Bard’s entire catalogue. Expect adult language, but nothing that most Romeo-obsessed high-schooolers can’t handle.

Through 9/4
Shrek the Musical
Where: Jennie T. Anderson Theatre
When: Various
Cost: $33 to $58
What: Atlanta Lyric Theatre presents this Tony-award winning musical, featuring all your favorite fairy tale characters from the animated Dreamworks film.

Through 9/11
Old MacDonald’s Farm
Where: Center for Puppetry Arts
When: 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. (Tuesday through Friday); 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday); 11 a.m. (Saturday only)
Cost: $20.50 ($10.25 for members); free for kids under 2
What: Kids can sing, dance, and help the farmhands at the Center for Puppetry Arts’ new interactive production, which tells the classic nursery story using rod puppets. For ages two and up.

Through 9/25
The Prom
Where: Alliance Theatre
When: Various
Cost: $20 to $65
What: Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (who previously helmed Tuck Everlasting at the Alliance) directs this topical new play about a gay teen whose school decides to cancel the prom rather than allow her to attend with a female date. Recommended for teenagers 13 and up.

Through 11/27
Where: Sifly Piazza at Woodruff Arts Center
When: All day
Cost: Free
What: Kids can climb and slide inside these four Instagram-ready structures by sculptor Jaime Haydon, each shaped like a familiar object like a pig or a bell, and painted with bright polka dots, stripes, or zig-zags.

Through 1/2/17
The Games: Ancient Olympia to Atlanta to Rio
Where: The Millennium Gate Museum
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday
Cost: $12 ($10 for students)
What: Keep the Olympic excitement alive with this exhibition, which looks back at the first Games. See 2,500-year-old Greek artifacts and learn about the mythology behind the sporting event. Be sure to check out the huge 3D printed model of the statue of Zeus at Olympia.

Through 1/8/17
I See a Story: The Art of Eric Carle
Where: High Museum of Art
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Tuesday through Thursday, Saturday); 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Friday); 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: Free with admission ($19.50 for adults; $12 for kids ages 6 to 17; free for kids 5 and under)
What: Even if your kid is too young to read, he or she would likely still recognize the distinctive hand-colored collages of children’s book author and illustrator Eric Carle, best known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar. See 80 original artworks from 15 of Carle’s most popular books in this career retrospective.

AJC Decatur Book Festival
Where: Various
When: Various
Cost: Free
What: The nation’s largest independent book festival isn’t just for adults. Among the kid-friendly authors you’ll find: Captain Underpants creator Dav Pilkey; Eric Litwin, who wrote some of the most beloved Pete the Cat books; Ordinary People Change the World series coauthors Brad Meltzer and Chris Eliopolous; and Andrea Beaty, author of Rosie Revere, Engineer. There are also events for teens, like a round of truth-or-dare with popular YA authors and a Teen Poetry Slam and Open-Mic.

Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival
Where: Callaway Gardens
When: 9 a.m. on Friday, 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday (balloon launches at 7:15 a.m.)
Cost: $25 to $30 for adults; $12.50 to $15 for kids ages 6 to 12; free for kids five and under. Tethered balloon rides are an additional $10 per adult and $5 per child.
What: Spend a day (or the weekend) at Callaway Gardens for hot air balloon activities—launches, rides, an evening “balloon glow”—plus a kids zone, classic car show, disc dog demonstration, balloon artist, and more. Oh yeah, and a lakeside beach for swimming.

Dragon Con Parade
Where: Downtown
When: 10 a.m.
Cost: Free
What: It’s a big year for Dragon Con, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this Labor Day weekend. Get in on the fun at the annual costume parade, featuring some of the country’s best and most creative cosplay. It’s the perfect place to find some Halloween inspiration!

Yellow Daisy Festival
Where: Stone Mountain Park
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Thursday and Friday), 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Saturday), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: Free with paid parking admission ($15)
What: More than 400 artists display and demonstrate their works across two miles of wooded trails. Plus: tap your toes to live music, ooh and ahh at the flower show, and hit up the children’s corner for face painting, sand art, storytelling, and more.

In the Heights
Where: Rialto Center for the Arts
When: 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (days vary)
Cost: $20 to $48
What: Is your high-schooler wild about Hamilton? See Theatrical Outfit’s production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Tony-winning musical, set in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood.

Organ Discovery Day
Where: Spivey Hall
When: 3 p.m.
Cost: Free (tickets required)
What: If you’ve ever looked at a pipe organ and wondered, Why are there so many knobs and switches, what’s the deal with the multiple keyboards and foot pedals, and how the heck does the organist figure out how to play everything?, this is your chance to have the “king of instruments” demystified. The interactive event will include an expert Q&A and performances by organist-in-residence Alan Morrison. You’ll even get the opportunity to venture on stage for a close-up view.

The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses
Where: Cobb Energy Centre
When: 8 p.m.
Cost: $45 to $125
What: Teenage Zelda fanatics can see all-new gameplay from the new Tri Force Heroes game, accompanied by never-before-heard music performed by a live symphony.

Salute to America and the Arts
Where: Callanwolde
When: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: $10
What: The family-friendly afternoon festival includes live music, dancing, and vaudeville; food trucks; tours of the historic Candler mansion; plus activities featuring the Atlanta Hawks, LEGOLAND, and the Captain Planet organization. Proceeds go towards scholarships for needy students and veterans.

Art on the Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade
Where: Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail
When: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
What: The city expects more than 60,000 participants and spectators at this annual illumination of the BeltLine’s eastside trail, which kicks off the city’s Art on the Atlanta BeltLine exhibition. Sign up for a lantern-making class, DIY at home, or just watch the glowing procession.

Star Wars & More: The Music of John Williams
Where: Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
When: 8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.)
Cost: $19.50 to $49.50
What: The ASO performs highlights from John Williams’ iconic scores for films like Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Hook. Costumes are welcome!

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival
Where: Lake Lanier
When: Races begin at 7:15 a.m., opening ceremony begins at noon, race finals begin at 1:30 p.m., awards presentation begins at 3:40 p.m.
Cost: Free
What: The eighth annual race is Georgia’s biggest event celebrating the culture of Hong Kong. Watch as rowers plow through the water in colorful dragon boats, cheer teams at the Opening Ceremonies, and try international dishes from Hong Kong and elsewhere around the world.

Play the Animal Way
Where: Zoo Atlanta
When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: Free with admission ($25.99 for adults, 17.99 for kids ages 3 to 11, free for kids 2 and under)
What: Watch as the zoo’s animals enjoy treats, follow their favorite scents, and solve puzzles. There will also be zookeeper talks and demonstrations, crafts, and other learning-themed activities.

Fernbank Forest Guided Tour
Where: Fernbank Museum of Natural History
When: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: Free with admission ($18 for adults; $16 for kids 3 to 12; free for kids 2 and under). Space is limited to 25 people and reservations are required.
What: After being closed to the public for four years, the 65-acre Fernbank Forest is reopening this fall to museumgoers, along with Wildwoods, a new outdoor area targeted to young visitors. Learn more about the old-growth forest and the restoration work that has helped restore its biodiversity on this walk led by Fernbank Museum scientists. For ages 8 and up.

Tales of Peter Rabbit
Where: Center for Puppetry Arts
When: 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. (Wednesday through Friday); 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday), 11 a.m. (Saturday only)
Cost: $20.50 ($10.25 for members); free for kids under 2
What: Watch as Peter sneaks into Mr. McGregor’s garden—and tries to get his little blue jacket back—in this telling of Beatrix Potter’s pastoral children’s story, for ages 4 and up.

Fall Folklife Festival
Where: Atlanta History Center
When: 10: 30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Cost: Free with admission ($16.50 for adults, $13 for students, $11 for kids)
What: The History Center pays homage to Southern traditions like cooking (there will be chef demos and talks) basket weaving, woodworking, pottery, food preservation, candle dipping, and folk art and music (activities include live performances).

Where: Infinite Energy Center
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Saturday), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: $10 to $18
What: Now in its 30th year, this annual festival celebrates Japanese traditions and pop culture. Play games; inspect traditional ceramics, clothing, and masks; explore an “anime village”; try Japanese street food; and check out the latest in Japanese technology.

Ocmulgee Indian Celebration
Where: Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $6 for ages 13 and up; $3 for ages 6 to 12; free for kids 5 and under
What: It’s the 25th year of this celebration, the largest Native American gathering in the Southeast. Explore the 700-acre national monument (including a visitors center with more than 2,000 objects and displays), and watch craftsmen, dancers, storytellers, and living history demonstrators.

Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music
Where: Fox Theatre
When: 10:30 a.m., 2 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. (Saturday); 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: $23.50 to $88.50
What: When a new music teacher arrives on Sesame Street—only to discover her instruments are missing—the gang pitches in to make music with unconventional objects like rubber duckies, trash can lids, and cookie jars.

The World’s Largest Dinosaurs
Where: Fernbank Museum of Natural History
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday through Saturday); noon to 5 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: Free with admission ($18 for adults; $16 for kids 3 to 12; free for kids 2 and under). IMAX movies require additional ticket purchase.
What: Fifteen years ago, the permanent “Giants of the Mesozoic” exhibit opened at Fernbank, featuring fossil casts of the world’s largest meat-eating and plant-eating dinosaurs. Now, in a new temporary exhibition, you’ll have a chance to examine life-sized bones, muscles, and internal organs of the biggest dinos that ever lived. Marvel at the size of their teeth, how much they ate, and the force of their heartbeats, and hit the IMAX theater for a showing of Dinosaurs Alive!

Atlanta Greek Festival
Where: Greek Orthodox Cathedral
When: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Friday), 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Saturday), 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: $5 for entry, food not included
What: For 42 years, this festival has celebrated Greek culture and food in Atlanta. The menu, always epic, will include loads of Greek specialties like moussaka, souvlaki, loukoumades (there’s even a daily loukoumades eating contest), and savory lamb. Once your belly is full, check out the live music and dance performances, and the children’s tent with arts and crafts and face-painting.

Jim Henson’s The Storyteller and Farscape
Where: Center for Puppetry Arts
When: 8 p.m.
Cost: $10.50 (free for members)
What: See two segments from little-known Henson films: The Storyteller’s “The Soldier and Death,” based on a Russian folktake about a soldier who receives a magical thank-you from three beggars; and Farscape’s “Out Of Their Minds,” about an alien attack that causes people to swap bodies. Show up an hour early for free entry into the Worlds of Puppetry Museum.

From Head to Toe
Where: Alliance Theatre
When: Various
Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for kids ages 6 to 17, free for kids ages 5 and under
What: This interactive play—based on the Eric Carle picture book of the same name—lets toddlers move and think like their favorite animals. Afterward head across the plaza to check out the Eric Carle exhibition at the High Museum.

Magic Tree House
Where: Children’s Museum of Atlanta
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday)
Cost: Free with admission ($14.95; free for babies under 1 year)
What: Learn about three periods of American history—the first Thanksgiving, the Civil War, and life on the 19th century prairie—in the 2,000-square-foot interactive exhibition, based on (and created by the minds behind) the Magic Tree House children’s book series. Among the hands-on experiences: climb inside a horse-drawn Civil War-era ambulance; crawl into a storm cellar and imagine what it was like to survive a tornado in the 1800s; or set the Thanksgiving table for the first feast.

Atlanta Streets Alive
Where: Portions of North Highland Avenue, Highland Avenue, Boulevard, and North Avenue
When: 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Free
What: Show up early for the bicycle parade, which kicks off at 1:30 p.m., then stroll, bike, or skate through the 4.5-mile car-free stretch of streets. Outdoor outfitter REI will also host a photo booth, climbing wall, and bike mechanic station.

La Cucarachita Martina
Where: Center for Puppetry Arts
When: 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. (Wednesday through Friday); 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday), 11 a.m. (Saturday only)
Cost: $20.50 ($10.25 for members); free for kids under 2
What: A cockroach searches for love in this comedy based on a popular Latin American children’s story. For ages 4 and up.

Anime Weekend Atlanta
Where: Cobb Galleria and Renaissance Waverly
When: 2 p.m. to 11 a.m. (Thursday), 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Friday and Saturday), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: $15 to $45 for adults ($10 to $30 for kids ages 6 to 11) for a one-day pass; $65 for adults ($50 for kids ages 6 to 11) for a four-day pass
What: The largest anime convention in the southeast—celebrating Japanese culture, anime, manga (comics), and cosplay—is impressively kid (and parent) friendly. There’s a parent lounge (open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday/Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday) for families, plus a baby lounge (open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday/Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday) for moms and dads to enjoy a little quiet with their infants and toddlers. And the events are varied enough to satisfy any young geek: you can try out some of the latest video games (or analog board games); screen classic anime movies; page through the manga library; cheer at the cosplay contest; or meet voiceover actors, big-deal cosplayers, and other special guests.

The Sleepy Hollow Experience
Where: Serenbe Playhouse
When: 8 p.m. (Wednesday through Sunday), 10:30 p.m. (Friday and Saturday only)
Cost: $20 to $30
What: Serenbe jumpstarts the Halloween season with its original outdoor play, based on the short story by Washington Irving. During intermission you can bob for apples, play cornhole, get your fortune told, and (parents only) down spiked apple cider. Get your tickets early—the previous three seasons have sold out—and keep in mind that this is fairly chilling show (the Headless Horseman looks real, y’all) that’s more appropriate for older kids and teens.

Pumpkin Festival
Where: Stone Mountain Park
When: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Friday and Sunday), 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Saturday)
Cost: $26.95 for adults; $20.95 for kids (includes admission to the park’s regular attractions)
What: Stone Mountain gets in the fall spirit with storytelling, a dance parade, trick-or-treat scavenger hunt, a pie-eating contest, and more.