Top Five Outdoor Adventures in Atlanta

Sue Rodman - Atlanta
June 21, 2011

An outdoor adventure may not be the first thing you think of when planning an outing in Atlanta, but there are lots of places to explore nature within or not too far outside the city. Here are five great choices.

Piedmont Park

Piedmont Park covers 189 acres in Midtown Atlanta and offers families a host of activities including: swimming in the recently renovated pool, fishing in Lake Clara Mere, a monthly farmer's market, bird watching, festivals and playing on several playgrounds including one designed by world-renowned artist and sculptor Isamu Noguchi. For animal lovers, head to the dog park and watch as the pooches play or simply find a hill and roll down.

Nature Centers

Within an hour and a half of downtown Atlanta are several nature centers that offer a variety of activities. The Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell has rehabilitated animals that cannot be released back into the wild on view, including various snakes, birds and even a beaver. Check their calendar for night hikes, family canoe trips and other special guided outdoor activities.

Georgia State Parks

You can't get more outdoors than the numerous fantastic state parks in Georgia. And Sweetwater Creek State Park, on the site of an old mill and just west of Atlanta, is one of the best. Start your adventure at the well done visitor's center, which showcases life at the mill before it was destroyed during the Civil War. Hear workers stories about our history and then meander through the easy-going paths to the old mill's remains. Older kids will especially love crossing the creek on the many rocks that cause mini-waterfalls just past the mill.

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

The Atlanta Botanical Gardens' Children's Garden is a wonderful place to let the little ones go a bit, as there is only one entrance to this section of the garden. Bring a bathing suit and towel, kids can't help but get wet in the "flower shower," a flower shaped sprinkler at the entrance to the children's garden. Afterwards crawl through a caterpillar as it turns into a butterfly. See a show, or perform your own on the outdoor stage. There's even a tree house playspace and vegetable garden! Oh yeah, and flowers.

Atlanta History Center

Walk through the Atlanta History Center, past the superb exhibits on Atlanta's Olympic history and one of the best displays in the country on the Civil War and head out to the Tullie Smith Farm for a step back in time to plantation life in the 1860's. The Center has several special days geared toward children. During those times, guests can go into the house and learn, among other things, where we get the term "sleep tight" or learn about forging metal from the blacksmith. In the spring, The Atlanta History Center hosts "Sheep to Shawl" day where guests learn by seeing how cloth was made in the 1800's -- from shearing the sheep onsite, to washing, sorting, carded, spinning, dying and finally weaving the wool into a shawl. 

Remember, it helps to plan ahead, so visit your destination's website and call in advance to confirm opening times and schedules -- but once you're there, it's time to relax, enjoy, and let the spirit of adventure take you and your family wherever you want to go.

From the Parents

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