Atlanta Parks and Recreation: Which Are the Best?

Year-round festivals. Family picnics. Diverse activities. Yep. We’re talking about Atlanta parks.

Atlanta Parks PiedmontPhoto Credit: Flickr user Mike

Most people don’t consider the outdoors when moving to Atlanta but Parks are ubiquitous across the metro area.

From sprawling green fields in Piedmont Park to miles of trails in Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, outdoor fun is never too far away.

This post will cover top picks for scratching that outdoor itch of yours. We’ll look at options for parks ITP and parks OTP.

As a bonus, we’ll also cover a few nearby day or weekend trip locations.

Atlanta Parks – ITP (Inside the Perimeter)

Finding relaxing nature spots takes little effort in Atlanta, thanks to its abundant and well-maintained options.

Atlanta parks inside the perimeter

Piedmont Park

Probably the biggest green space ITP, Piedmont Park attracts tons of visitors with its regular lively events & festivals, dog park, and attached Botanical Gardens.


Nestled in Midtown and along the Beltline trail, Piedmont Park draws large crowds. For fitness enthusiasts, there’s an exercise area with pull up bars, a running track, soccer nets, and more!

Red pandas really make exercise look fun.

The Botanical Gardens has some particularly beautiful art displays, like this one below. Also, their winter light designs rock.

Atl Botanical Gardens

Also, tennis courts, swimming pools, and a kid’s play place are spread across the park.

Heads up: Piedmont’s reasonably close to MARTA stations. That’s great because parking in Midtown can be pricey & spotty.

Centennial Olympic Park

Atlanta Centennial Olympic Park

Next: Centennial Olympic Park. Named (appropriately) for hosting the 1996 Olympics before evolving into a park.

Located Downtown, Centennial’s surrounded by World of Coke, the Georgia Aquarium, the Tabernacle, and other big attractions.

Atlanta Centennial Olympic Park

Another convenient park near MARTA, Centennial is small compared to Piedmont Park. But, Centennial offers great events, fountain of rings shows, and the Skyview ferris wheel.

Woodruff Park

Atlanta Woodruff Park phoenix

Another Downtown Atlanta spot, Woodruff Park honors Atlanta’s history with a unique sculpture…

The Phoenix.

The Phoenix represents Atlanta’s rebirth after the Civil War, when Union soldiers burned much of it down.

Although it’s on the small side, Woodruff Park includes two fountains and some interesting monuments.

Plus, Woodruff’s a short walk from Centennial Olympic Park. You can easily visit both!

Chastain Park

In North Buckhead, Chastain Park stands out as the largest city park in ATL.

Chastain Park offers jogging paths, playgrounds, and a horse park.


The park’s amphitheater hosts legends like Ray Charles, Janet Jackson, Bob Dylan, and the Backstreet Boys.

It’s true. BSB were there.

But there’s more!

Chastain also has a large walking track, several areas for sports – tennis courts, swimming pool, and a golf course.

Lake Clair Land Trust

This secluded sanctuary’s less well-known than others. That gives it an intrigue that bigger parks like Piedmont don’t have.

Atlanta LCLT

From exotic animals and communal gardens to drum circles, Atlanta’s Lake Clair Land Trust stands out. By the way, those drum circles have been around for 20+ years.

Maybe after visiting, you’ll be inspired to build a land trust, too.

LCLT gives off relaxed vibes with beautiful artwork and even Buddha statues. We definitely approve!

Historic Fourth Ward

Atlanta skatepark Tony Hawk

The Historic Fourth Ward Park in Old Fourth Ward can be easy to miss for first-time visitors.

However, it offers amenities like a killer outdoor theater and lake with a fountain.

Did we mention this park even has a skatepark? Tony Hawk (left) made an appearance there.

For the foodies – H4W park’s conveniently located near several great bars and eateries, too. For example, locals love King of Pops near Ponce City Market.

Bring the kids to play on the playground and a splash pad.

Last but not least, what’s bringing many of these parks together?

The Beltline

While not a park exactly, the Beltline’s great for connecting multiple parks along its path.

Note: Some areas need further development. The Eastside’s a great place to start exploring, though.

Formerly a rail line, the Beltline’s being developed into a multipurpose hiking, biking, and walking trail.

Atlanta Beltline

Next, let’s branch out from the city and explore parks OTP…

Atlanta Parks – OTP (Outside the Perimeter)

If you’re living in the city, these parks can feel far away.

But, if you’re already living it up in the ‘burbs & don’t want to fight city traffic – check these out first.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield

First of all, yes that’s a really long name. Just call it Kennesaw Mountain.

Northwest of Atlanta, the mountain has great hiking trails and an excellent view from the mountaintop.

Atlanta Kennesaw Mountain Park

The long trails make Kennesaw Mountain a popular training spot for runners.

Before hiking, visitors can check out the visitor center museum or enjoy a relaxing picnic.

Sweetwater Creek

West of Atlanta in Lithia Springs, you can find another fun park – Sweetwater Creek.

Atlanta Sweetwater Creek

Hikers can follow the main trail to old ruins and continue on to find great views of the creek’s rapids.

Like much of Atlanta, the mill was burned down during the Civil War.

Stone Mountain

East of Atlanta past Tucker, massive 3,200 acre Stone Mountain attracts visiting families and fitness enthusiasts.

The mountain offers a fun, challenging hike. Another fun option – take a summit skyride to the top.

Note on Stone Mountain visits: parking comes at a price, but visitors can purchase an annual parking pass to save money.

If visiting more than twice per year, the annual pass saves you money.

Atlanta Stone Mountain

Atlanta’s nearby nature spots

If you love hiking, you can drive about two hours up to Springer Mountain to get started on the Appalachian Mountains.

Here you can climb and hike to your heart’s content.

But don’t worry, we won’t judge you if you decide not to hike the 2,000+ mile stretch to Maine.

Or, check out GA’s best waterfall – Amicalola Falls State Park.

Raven Cliffs Falls

If mountains aren’t your jam and you prefer sticking to water, you can drive 45 minutes to Lake Lanier.

For some international culture, visit Helen, GA and nearby Raven Cliff Falls (pictured on the right). As the name suggests, this spot features a waterfall.

Helen’s a distinctly German-influenced town, with unique German-style buildings and a strong Oktoberfest presence.

Helen GA

Get some pretzels with mustard while you’re there!