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Piedmont Park
Photograph: ShutterstockPiedmont Park

The best parks in Atlanta

The best parks in Atlanta offer fresh air and a nature away from the hustle of the city. Looking for serenity? Here you go.

Written by
Gerrish Lopez

You might think of Atlanta as a sprawling metropolis full of concrete and cars, but the city has plenty of green space to enjoy. Just when you think you can’t handle the buzz, a lush green oasis appears for a rewarding breath of fresh air. You’ll find parks large and small dotted throughout the city, so it is easy to find a spot to unwind under the shade of a tree. Regardless of the season, the best parks in Atlanta offer respite, fresh air, and access to nature.

Many parks offer the best of both worlds — the Beltline is an oasis of green parks, biking and walking paths, water features, and trees that abuts some of the best restaurants and bars in the city. Pristine parks sit adjacent to museums and other Atlanta attractions, and many of the city’s farmers' markets take place in Atlanta parks. One of the best things to do with kids in Atlanta? Head to a park for some serious playtime. Atlanta’s parks host some of the city’s best annual events. There are state parks within a short drive, an excellent way to recharge amidst pristine natural beauty.

Whether you’re looking for a picnic spot, a place to exercise, or just a little nature to refresh the mind, head to one of these Atlanta parks.

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Best parks in Atlanta

The Grant Park neighborhood in the Eastside is known for its Victorian mansions and Craftsman bungalows, quaint small businesses, and restaurants. Its namesake park is a gem, the oldest municipal park in Atlanta. Spend a day strolling the park’s walking trails or visit Zoo Atlanta. The park also has a pool, tennis courts, playground, and pond. The Sunday farmers market is a local favorite, drawing neighbors and locals from all over the city.

This sprawling park in Midtown is Atlanta’s answer to Central Park. Atlantans from all over the city flock to Piedmont Park to enjoy everything the urban green space offers. Housed in its nearly 200 acres are playgrounds, trails, a community garden, a farmers market, a public pool, a dog park, and more. The park hosts several events, from guided tours to exercise classes. Piedmont Park is a lush oasis where the Atlanta community comes together to enjoy nature and fresh air.


Atlanta’s longest linear park, Freedom Park links some of Atlanta’s top neighborhoods, including Downtown, Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, Virginia Highland, Little 5 Points, the BeltLine, and others, bookended by The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site and the Jimmy Carter Library. The cross-shaped park is a destination for public art, dotted with thought-provoking sculptural installations, both permanent and temporary. The vibrant park is a community resource, hosting events, walks, and discussions revolving around the art.

Atlanta’s largest park is in Buckhead, and packed into its 268 acres is a plethora of features and activities that offer something for everyone. You’ll find jogging and walking trails, ball fields, horseback riding, one of the city’s best public golf courses, tennis courts, playgrounds, and swimming pools. The most notable feature of the park, however, is the amphitheater. From April through October, the amphitheater hosts world-class artists in a series of concerts that attract thousands.


Head to the Emory University campus to enjoy this community treasure. The wooded Lullwater Park nature preserve is home to birds, deer, and plenty of natural beauty. Stroll rustic trails or jog around Candler Lake. You can also check out Lullwater House (the Emory president’s Tudor-style mansion) and explore the abandoned ruins of an old powerhouse and a waterfall, and cross a swinging suspension bridge.

Located along the BeltLine behind Atlanta’s bustling Ponce City Market food hall/shopping complex is the Historic Fourth Ward Park. The park features a two-acre lake — Clear Creek Basin — that doubles as a retention pond to prevent flooding. Kids love the playground that features a seasonal splash pad, and there’s plenty of grassy space for picnicking and relaxing. Make a day of it by exploring the Market or the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, then unwind in the park.


Yes, it is a cemetery, but a beautiful one filled with greenspace, flowers, and history. Oakland Cemetery is actually one of Atlanta's oldest public parks. It features several miles of walking trails through the headstones and sculptures. You can spend hours quietly wandering through each section searching for the gravestones of the likes of "Gone With the Wind" author Margaret Mitchell, Atlanta’s first African-American mayor Maynard Jackson, and golfer and co-founder of the Masters Tournament Bobby Jones.

This Downtown park was built for the 1996 Olympic Summer Games and helped revitalize this part of the city. Easily accessible by public transportation, the park is in the middle of major attractions like the World of Coca Cola, the Georgia Aquarium, the College Football Hall of Fame, and Skyview Atlanta (which affords amazing views of the skyline). There’s plenty of green space for picnicking and strolling, fountains for frolicking, and frequent free concerts and movie showings.


No more than a 30-minute drive west of downtown Atlanta, Sweetwater Creek State Park feels like a world away. Escape from the city and enjoy 2,500 acres of greenery, hiking trails of all levels, picnic areas, fishing, and camping if you want to stay the night. Explore an old textile mill, splash in the creek (when the water level is low), or feed the ducks on the George Sparks Reservoir.

One of Georgia’s most visited attractions, and just over 15 miles east of Atlanta, Stone Mountain offers activities galore, making it a great option for a family outing. The mountain itself is the world’s largest piece of exposed granite. The one-mile hike to the top affords amazing views on a clear day. Explore miles of trails, the Farmyard Petting Zoo, the SkyHike Adventure Course, or the antebellum homes of Historic Square. In the summer, laser shows choreographed to music are projected on the mountain.


Another short drive from Atlanta, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is a perfect day trip destination. The Cochran Shoals and Palisades areas include seven miles of cycling trails. Jog or walk along the three-mile Cochran Shoals Fitness Loop through the forest. And of course, there’s the river, a great spot for rafting, swimming and fishing. You can rent a kayak, raft, canoe, stand up paddle board, or simply float down the river in a tube.

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