Piedmont Park is mammoth-sized and perfect for nearly any outdoor activity one could think of on a nice, sunny Atlanta weekend. Frisbee players, joggers, bikers, dog walkers, roller-blading maniacs, and simple catch players pepper the lush, grassy, rolling hills of Piedmont Park day in and day out. Paved trails cut through them and provide rich views of nearby Midtown skyscrapers. The basketball courts and swimming pool are just added bonuses. Luckily, Piedmont Park’s surrounding area is replete with ice cream shops and smoothie joints, all within walking distance.
Piedmont Park, 1342 Worchester Drive NE, Atlanta, GA, USA,+ 1 404 875 7275
Stone Mountain Park
This park is certifiably unique. Home to the world’s largest granite ‘monadnock,’ Stone Mountain, well… isn’t really a mountain, after all. This ‘Goliath’ hunk of rock is elevated 1,686 feet above sea level and equips visitors with a surreal view of Atlanta (and especially its skyline at night). Guests have the option of either walking the summit (which is a mostly gradual 1.3 mile trek) or taking a gondola. Carved into the side of the mountain are antebellum renderings of Confederate president Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson. The park is overflowing with rich Southern history.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Kennesaw Mountain was the site of a historic Civil War battle in which nearly 70,000 soldiers either died or fell prisoner to the Union Army, the victorious camp. Ubiquitously adorned with inscriptions and memorial plaques for the men who fought here so long ago, its trails and paths combine to stretch for dozens of miles. The park occupies nearly 3,000 acres and is in the Kennesaw area of metro Atlanta. Checking for parking and directions ahead of times is recommended as the park is often highly occupied during peak hours.
Chastain Park is tucked away inside a mostly residential area of upper Buckhead, but humming with activity nonetheless. Local features surrounding the park itself include youth league baseball and football fields, community tennis courts, a neighborhood swimming pool, a private and elegant horse park, a public middle school, and the beautiful Galloway School. Don’t forget Chastain Park Amphitheatre – one of Atlanta’s best live music venues, without question. The park also has a scenic rolling golf course and several pathways, which cut in and around it. Individual pavilions and stone fire pits, perfect for family picnics, stretch as far as the eye can see.
Chastain Park Amphitheatre, 4469 Stella Drive, Atlanta, GA, USA, + 1 404 233 2227
Centennial Olympic Park
A keystone feature of Downtown Atlanta and one of the 1996 Olympics’ best physical keepsakes for memory, this 21-acre urban park can be found smack in the middle of the city’s heart. Keep an eye out for the dazzlingly lit fountains and interactive waterworks – but don’t fret – they’re nearly impossible to miss. The open, grassy area below the Olympic ring themed stonework often hosts concerts and live music shows, with names like Outkast and Dave Matthews Band. With about three million visitors per year, Centennial Olympic Park tops the must-visit list for Atlanta’s best attractions.
Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Park Avenue West NW, Atlanta, GA, USA, + 1 404 223 4412
For a park that’s slightly more on the mellow end of the spectrum, pleasant Grant Park (home to Zoo Atlanta) makes the best pick. The park is surrounded by placid greenery and small coffeehouses, many of which are the perfect place to read a book or simply relax. A few small fountains and plenty of oak trees make for a shady and tranquil visit. A short walk in virtually any direction from Grant Park will be certain to yield in a small new shop or store that you’re sure to appreciate.
Grant Park, 840 Cherokee Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA, USA, + 1 404 521 0938
By Richard Isaac Tulis