Urban Exploration in Atlanta

From inside these urban parks and green spaces, you wouldn’t know you were within driving distance of a major metropolitan area. Some are industrial spots taken back by residents and nature. They serve as places for locals to hike, run, kayak, or just spend the afternoon reading a book in the park.

Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia 30060, USA
Very few places in the country can boast having a nearly 3,000-acre Civil War battlefield, but Kennesaw Mountain is just that. The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain was a part of Sherman’s 1864 Atlanta Campaign, which ended in 3,000 Union casualties and 1,000 Confederate casualties. Today you can learn about the history of the battlefield at the visitor’s center, a good spot to gear up and grab some water before your hike. One of the easier hikes is up the sloping path from the visitor’s center to the top of the mountain, where you’ll get views of the distant Atlanta skyline and see old cannons.
200 Morgan Falls Rd, Sandy Springs, GA 30350, USA
Another great park for outdoor lovers is the Morgan Falls Overlook. Located at a dam on the Chattahoochee River, it’s a the place to have a picnic, let the little ones play on the playground, or to put in your kayak for a trip downstream. There’s also a fishing pier, fire pit, and hiking trails should you be so inclined. Grab a seat on one of the swings overlooking the water. During the summers High Country Outfitters has a station where they rent out stand up paddleboards.
9135 Willeo Rd, Roswell, GA 30075, USA
The community-supported Chattahoochee Nature Center is tucked between Marietta and Sandy Springs along the Chattahoochee River. The 127-acre park has hiking trails, wildlife walks, gardens, and an interpretive center. It’s a good place to spot birds of prey and to get out of the city for an afternoon. They offer monthly drum circles and naturalist-led canoe trips. Admission is $10 for adults and $6 for children.
1320 Monroe Dr NE
If you want to get in touch with nature, spend an afternoon in Piedmont Park, Atlanta’s answer to New York’s Central Park. Spread over 189 acres, the sprawling park boasts a running track, bocce and tennis courts, a swimming pool, a lake, and a dog park. It’s also the site of countless concerts, local events like the Dogwood Festival, and the finish line for the annual Peachtree Road Race. It’s not uncommon to see a movie or television show being filmed here, so grab a picnic from a nearby restaurant and plan to spend a few hours lounging in the shade.
1345 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, USA
The Atlanta Botanical Garden has been voted the city’s best place to commune with nature and upon visiting you’ll agree. Located next to the sprawling Piedmont Park, the gardens boast 30 acres of plant life. But you’ll find more than just flowers at the garden. Sculptures by glass artist Dave Chihuly are scattered throughout and there are events held constantly. It’s one of the city’s top places to get married and holds concerts in the gardens. They decorate accordingly by season, showcasing scarecrows in the fall and holiday lights in winter. Be sure to check what’s in bloom before you go.
1500 McLendon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307, USA
Candler Park plays host to countless events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals and the annual Sweetwater 420 Fest in celebration of Earth Day. There are pavilions for picnics, playgrounds for the kids, a golf course and athletic fields, as well as a public pool that is packed during the sweltering summer months. They also play movies in the park.
Grant Park, Atlanta, GA, USA
Grant Park is one of Atlanta‘s oldest neighborhoods and the park itself is the oldest in the city. Surrounded by Victorian houses, the park was established in 1882. Soon after it became home to Zoo Atlanta and the Cyclorama, a large-scale Civil War painting. In 1903 the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted designed a plan for the park. Today the park has a large playground and picnic pavilions as well as walking trails.
5450 Interstate N Pkwy, Sandy Springs, GA 30328, USA
Cochran Shoals is one of the most popular areas of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, which stretches through metro Atlanta. The flat trails are great for runners and views of the river and woods make exercise even more enjoyable. Birdwatchers, kayakers and bicyclists can all find something appealing Cochran Shoals. There’s even a boardwalk over wetlands for more nature spotting. Note: The area is crowded on weekends, and parking is $3.
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