As one of the busiest U.S. cities, Atlanta can be crowded with tourists and commuters trying to reach their next destination or exploring the town. But whatever plans you have for the day, there’s nothing like escaping to nature, away from the heavy traffic and congestion and surrounded by trees, blooming flowers, and greenery in Atlanta parks. It’s a great way to recharge and refuel, so you’ll be ready for work or your next city adventure.
The parks in Atlanta provide a welcome change of pace from bustling city life, offering a quiet and reflective space to relax and meditate. You don’t have to travel far, as many themed gardens, walking trails, and green areas are located within or near the historic city center. With these natural sanctuaries in the state of Georgia’s capital, you can get your daily dose of sunshine and nature, play, hike, and even discover several city attractions.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best parks in Atlanta, their offerings, and why you should go there. To prepare yourself for a fun nature trip, wear comfy clothing and bring only the necessities. Leave the rest of your items with bounce baggage storage in Atlanta and collect them anytime.
If New York has Central Park, Atlanta boasts Piedmont Park. Located at the center of Midtown, this 200+-acre park attracts over six million visitors and hosts hundreds of events per year. It’s the central point of the Midtown community, with tours, facility rentals, dog parks, a pool, a Green Market, and tons of activities for everyone of all ages and interests.
History buffs will enjoy the Piedmont Park History Walking tours, which introduce visitors to the park’s intriguing past and present. You’ll be walking with a knowledgeable guide to explore its physical and historical evolution from a forest to a farm and then fairgrounds to become the city’s premier green space. You can also join the conservatory tour and bird walks or spot the top places for photography in Piedmont Park.
Stop at one of the restaurants and cafes for a break from sightseeing, then continue on your adventure, as there are more things to do at the park. The playgrounds are excellent places for artistic playscape with interactive games for children of all abilities. If you want to keep them busy during the school holidays, allow them to participate in the summer camp to learn and develop their leadership and social skills. Once you visit, you’ll quickly realize there’s more than one way to enjoy your time at Piedmont Park.
Centennial Olympic Park
Atlanta is proud of its Olympic legacy, which remains alive at Centennial Olympic Park. It’s the city’s premier entertainment district, open year-round in Downtown Atlanta. This 22-acre green space has countless offerings, so dedicate at least a day to maximize your trip. It boasts several landmarks, expansive lawns, gardens, and playgrounds that will boost your overall experience.
Your first stop should be the Visitor Center, especially if it’s your first time here. Inside are videos of the most up-to-date events, attractions, and information, as well as brochures that highlight Atlanta’s world-class shopping, entertainment, and dining spots. Then head to the Fountain of Rings statue, the park’s centerpiece and one of Georgia’s most photographed landmarks. Locals and international guests often gather here to take photos and soak in the atmosphere while children delight in the water jets.
The water gardens are also a crowd favorite, but some of the top attractions you shouldn’t skip are the World of Coca-Cola, Mercedes Benz Stadium, and the Georgia Aquarium nearby. Centennial Olympic Park serves as a central access point to the capital’s family fun and recreational facilities. You can also enjoy a free walking tour or explore the Atlanta park at your own pace.
It was a gift to the city in 1883 and is now the oldest city park in Atlanta, welcoming over two million local and international visitors every year. It’s located in the funk Eastside neighborhood, providing a peaceful escape in the city center, spanning over 130 acres of land. Check the calendar if you plan to visit Grant Park, as it regularly hosts several famed festivals in Atlanta, including the Halloween Lantern Parade, the Summer Shade Arts & Music Festival, the Pic’n in Grant Park BB & Music Festival, and many more.
Those who want to stay active can stroll through the miles of jogging and walking trails. For animal lovers and families, check out the famous Zoo Atlanta, featuring exciting exhibitions, seasonal events, and a close encounter with the animals in the zoo, such as the sleep sloths, adorable pandas, African lions and elephants, and more.
The historic Oakland Cemetery is another worthy destination if you want to do something different. It boasts spectacular views of the Atlanta skyline and offers seasonal entertainment like tours, pumpkin patches, and light festivals. If you want to shop, the Grant Park Farmers Market opens every Sunday from April to December, with vendors selling locally grown produce, arts & crafts, pastries, and other artisan food.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
Also located in Midtown, just a stone’s throw away from Piedmont Park, Atlanta Botanical Garden is an urban oasis with gorgeous displays, excellent plant collections, and exhibitions. It opened in 1976, and for nearly fifty years, it has become a treasured natural jewel in Atlanta. It continues to evolve, offering new experiences to plat lovers and fun-seeking individuals and families.
Thirty acres of tranquil Storza Woods, outdoor gardens, a Children’s Garden, and scenic Skyline Garden await you at Atlanta Botanical Garden. The shady woodlands and display gardens feature carnivorous plants, herbs, flowers, conifers, and more. There are also greenhouses with lush greens and blooming flowers throughout the year.
When you get hungry or parched from all the walking, there are cafes and restaurants inside the property and the nearby area for food refreshments. You can check out the glass-and-stone restaurant with over 3,000 square feet of dining space, offering a menu of garden-inspired cuisine. For light snacks, desserts, or soups, the Quick Café has tasty meals for visitors on the go.
Stone Mountain Park
Stone Mountain Park is over half an hour’s drive from downtown Atlanta, but it’s worth a trip if you’re looking for exciting outdoor, cultural, and historical excursions. With plenty of places to take your family, including museums, historic sites, hiking trails, lakes, shopping, and dining opportunities, it’s easy to see why Stone Mountain Park is the state’s most visited attraction.
Get outside and hike miles of nature trails, including a one-mile route to the Stone Mountain peak, to enjoy panoramic city views. You can also go fishing, kayaking, or paddleboarding on the lake. If you’re not fond of hiking or water activities, you can set up a table in one of the picnic areas on the site. Alternatively, grab a map and take a self-guided tour of historic sites like the Quarry Exhibit, Grist Mill, Covered Bridge, Carillon, and Memorial Carving.
You might think you’re too far from the city center to access some great restaurants, but food spots abound inside Crossroads. Campfire Smokehouse serves delicious home-style southern barbecue, while Marketplace offers a fresh dining experience outdoors. There are also snacks, desserts, and drinks. Be sure to take extra cash for shopping and snack souvenirs, gifts, hiking gear, and local merchandise.
Sweetwater Creek State Park
Less than twenty miles from Downtown Atlanta is a peaceful destination where you can get away from the chaos of the city. Sweetwater Creek State Park is another famous outdoor attraction to paddle, play, hike, and unwind.
The park encompasses 2,500 acres of rolling forest and wildlife. It features a crystal-clear reservoir lake, waterfalls, rocky areas, rugged hills, and lush green areas. It’s so quiet and serene, and you’ll be surrounded by seemingly endless nature that you wouldn’t think you’re so close to the capital of Georgia. Follow the wooded trail that will take you to the ruins of the cotton mill, the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, hidden in the forest. Beyond the brick ruins, you can climb the rocky bluffs, providing breathtaking views of the mesmerizing rapids below.
Plenty of activities are available at the park, from birding and hiking to picnicking and fishing. You can also rent a boat, an aqua cycle, a canoe, or a paddleboard, available at certain times of the year. Stay the night at the campground to extend your outdoor adventure.
Situated at the intersection of North and Moreland Avenues, Freedom Park is one of the largest parks in Atlanta, boasting over 200 acres of green space. Besides offering miles of nature trails and a picturesque place to chill out and enjoy nature, this urban park in Atlanta is home to a number of cultural and historical sights and art installations by prominent artists.
As the capital’s most connected park, Freedom Park links seven of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods. It has eight miles of paths for bicycling, jogging, and walking and is part of the Freedom Trail Landmarks, along with the Atlanta University Center Historic District, Georgia State Capitol, Liberty Plaza, Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, Martin Luther King National History Park, and more.
The park also aims to connect local and international visitors in meaningful ways through immersive storytelling, temporary installations, and sculptural arts. It has guided tours, offering fresh narratives and interesting stories that bridge the gap between the past, present, and future of the City of Atlanta and Freedom Park.
Historic Fourth Ward Park
If you’re looking for a family-friendly park in the charming Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, you can’t go wrong with Historic Fourth Ward Park. It covers seventeen acres of green areas, nature adventures, fountains, and attractions for energetic children. At the heart of the park is a two-acre lake, which serves as a stormwater detention basin and a prominent feature with a small amphitheater for events, informal performances, and concerts. If you’re lucky, you might catch a free live show here.
Younger visitors will have a blast running, swinging, sliding, biking, and climbing, while adults can chill on the lawn or show off at the skate park. The skate park opened in 2011 and has quickly become a hot spot for athletes, skaters, and families. It features world-class skateboard amenities, a multi-use athletic field, and a playground.
There are many ways to enjoy the park and seemingly endless things to keep you, your kids, and even your furry friend busy. Although it doesn’t have a designated dog park inside, it has all the essential facilities to make your visit comfortable and exciting. There are restrooms and bins throughout the facility, as well as walkways and passive lawns that pedestrians and dog walkers can enjoy. And due to its central location, just east of the downtown core, you'll find several famous city attractions nearby, including Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, the Fox Theatre, and Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.
Fun nature trips await at the best Atlanta parks
You no longer have to wonder where to go for nature trips and enjoy the natural beauty in Atlanta. Just a short walk from the buzzing downtown are open green spaces and tranquil riverside destinations that provide a charming getaway from the city madness. Choose from kid-friendly parks in Atlanta with sports facilities and endless fun, gardens, woodlands, and vast state parks offering lush greens as far as your eyes can reach.