10 Best Atlanta Parks
More than 343 parks, nature preserves, and public garden areas are contained within Atlanta’s public park system, spanning a combined 3,622 acres of urban green and recreational space. The city boasts two major trail systems, including the PATH biking and walking trail network and the newly-designed BeltLine project, which aims to create a 22-mile park and trail loop along the city’s former railway corridor. From the commemorative ceremonial attractions of Centennial Olympic Park to the modern athletic amenities of Woodruff and Piedmont Parks, Atlanta’s parks and trails offer unique opportunities for exercise, play, and exploration. Historic attractions abound at sites such as Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, while family adventures are in store at nearby sites like Stone Mountain Park. Photo: f11photo/Fotolia
»Centennial Olympic Park
Centennial Olympic Park was constructed for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. Today, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority manages the park, which welcomes more than three million annual visitors to its attractions and outdoor amenities. The 21-acre park is located near a number of downtown Atlanta attractions, including the World of Coca-Cola Museum, the Georgia Aquarium, the SkyView Atlanta Ferris wheel, and the Imagine It! Children’s Museum. Notable park features include the Fountain of Rings interactive light show fountain surrounded by a plaza of flags representing each Summer Olympics host country, and an amphitheater that hosts the Wednesday WindDown summer concert series.
Contact: 265 Park Avenue West, Atlanta, GA 30313, Phone: 404-223-4412
Photo: Olivier JULLY/Fotolia
Chastain Park is Atlanta’s largest city park, encompassing 268 acres near the city’s northern border. It was originally known as North Fulton Park and was renamed in 1945 in honor of Fulton County Commissioner Troy Green Chastain. Today, the Chastain Park Conservancy operates Chastain Park, which receives more than two million annual visitors. Major amenities include the three-mile PATH jogging trail system, North Fulton Golf Course, the Chastain Park Tennis Center, Chastain Horse Park, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The park is also home to the Chastain Arts Center, the Galloway School, and the recreational activities of Northside Youth Organization. During the summer months, the State Bank Amphitheatre presents Live Nation and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concerts.
Contact: 4001 Powers Ferry Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30342, Phone: 404-237-2177
Cochran Shoals is one of Atlanta’s most popular scenic trails, offering opportunities for visitors to go jogging, hiking, and biking. The trail is located near Atlanta’s I-285 perimeter along the banks of the Chattahoochee River, which provides picturesque scenery for visitors such as dramatic rock shoals and marshland areas full of native flora and fauna. As the trail runs nearly level throughout its entire duration, it is highly accessible for both beginner and veteran pedestrians and athletes. Trail areas include a boardwalk trail offering wildlife viewing opportunities, a loop area along the region’s grassland marsh, and a bridge running over tributary creeks of the Chattahoochee River. Trail connections to the nearby hiking trails and Civil War ruins of Sope Creek Park are provided.
Contact: 1978 Island Ford Parkway, Sandy Springs, GA 30350, Phone: 678-538-1200
Grant Park is Atlanta’s oldest city park, established in 1883 by a land donation from engineer Lemuel P. Grant. The 131-acre park was designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape design firm, helmed by the sons of famed designer Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of New York’s Central Park. In 1996, the City of Atlanta Parks Bureau fully renovated Grant Park. Major attractions within the park include Zoo Atlanta, which receives more than one million annual visitors and showcases a variety of native and international species, and the public Grant Park Pool. A Recreation Center offers basketball and tennis courts, a free weight room and cardio equipment, and a fully-equipped public computer center. The Grant Park neighborhood that surrounds the park is one of the city’s most historic districts and features a large number of preserved Victorian mansions and civic facilities.
Contact: 537 Park Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA 30312, Phone: 404-483-9449
»Historic Fourth Ward Park
Historic Fourth Ward Park is the first urban park developed under the Atlanta BeltLine initiative, which strives to develop a 22-mile recreational corridor surrounding the city’s downtown area. The 17.5-acre park was completed in 2012 and is located between the city’s Old Fourth Ward district and Freedom Parkway, near the Ponce City Market and the Carter Center. The park is centered around the 2.5-acre Clear Creek Basin stormwater detention reservoir, which was designed to reduce flooding and support environmental sustainability. It is home to the city’s first public skatepark, which opened in the spring of 2011. Other major amenities include a children’s playground and splash pad that was named as one of the city’s best playgrounds by Atlanta Magazine. It features climbing structures, rock walls, slides, swings, and a water jet play area.
Contact: 680 Dallas Street, Atlanta, GA 30308, Phone: 404-546-6757
»Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is located near Marietta and Kennesaw, approximately a half-hour drive from Atlanta’s city center. The park commemorates the 1864 Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, a key battle of the American Civil War. Three battlefield areas are preserved within the 2,923-acre park, along with three monuments honoring battle soldiers from Illinois, Georgia, and Texas. Other major park features include a preserved historic farmhouse and 17.3 miles of visitor hiking trails with informational displays about the area’s historic significance. A visitor center offers a small museum featuring Civil War exhibits and screenings of an 18-minute documentary film. Field trips for elementary and secondary school students are led by park rangers, and public programming is presented throughout the year, including living history demonstrations and free butterfly walks.
Contact: 900 Kennesaw Mountain Dr, Kennesaw, GA 30188, Phone: 770-427-4686
Photo: Robert Hainer/Fotolia
Piedmont Park, located approximately one mile north of Atlanta’s downtown region near the Virginia Highlands and Midtown neighborhoods, was designed by Joseph Forsyth Johnson for the Piedmont Exposition in October of 1887. Following the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition, the park was redesigned according to a plan inspired by Central Park architect Frederick Law Olmsted, which joined the park with the city’s Ansley park system. Today, the park serves as a major athletic center for the city, offering a swimming center, Active Oval with softball, soccer, and beach volleyball fields, and the Sharon E. Lester Tennis Center. A large lake offers permit fishing opportunities at Clara Meer Dock, and two playgrounds feature modernist design elements, including the Mayor’s Grove playground, which was designed as a fully-accessible Boundless playground. During the summer months, the park is home to major events such as the Atlanta Jazz Festival, Atlanta Pride Festival, and Screen on the Green summer film series.
Contact: P.O. Box 7795, Atlanta, GA 30357-0795, Phone: 404-875-7275
»Stone Mountain Park
Stone Mountain Park is a family outdoor activity park located on 3,200 acres of natural landscape just outside the city of Atlanta. A variety of outdoor attractions are offered, including a Summit Skyride tram ride, a Geyser Towers rope bridge and net tunnel play area, and Sky Hike, one of the largest adventure courses in the country. 15 miles of nature trails are available, along with two golf courses, a 363-acre fishing lake, and duck vehicle tours. The park is also home to the Confederate Memorial Carving, the world’s largest high relief sculpture. Full-service dining options, boutique and crafts shopping, and overnight hotel and campground accommodations are available. Special events throughout the year include a Yellow Daisy Festival, a Native American Festival, Stone Mountain Christmas, and an interactive laser light show presented regularly.
Contact: 1000 Robert E Lee Blvd, Stone Mountain, GA 30083, Phone: 770-498-5690
Woodruff Park is named in honor of Coca-Cola Company president Robert W. Woodruff and spans six acres in Atlanta’s downtown along Edgewood Avenue. Today, the park is managed by the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District and receives more than five million annual visitors. The park features two cascading fountains and showcases a variety of public artwork and monuments, including the famed Atlanta From The Ashes (The Phoenix) sculpture. Major amenities include a courtyard plaza, recreation field and green space, children’s ATL sculptural playground, and bike vending, parts, and bike share facilities. An ENERGI fitness station, Game Cart, and bocce and tennis courts can also be found in the area. Annual special events offered at the park include the WoodRUFF Bark Dog Parade, a German Bierfest, and a summer film and concert series.
Contact: 84 Walton Street, NW, Suite 500, Atlanta, GA 30303, Phone: 404-658-1877
10 Best Atlanta Parks
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