7 Awesome Outdoorsy Things to Do with the Kids in Atlanta
Atlanta is overflowing with parks, green spaces and other opportunities to get outdoors — so it’s no surprise that you can find a wide variety of family-friendly attractions. Certain landmarks almost seem to have had insight from kids in the planning process. A park overflowing with toys, a trail that runs right along a mini-amusement park and a lakeside dog park are just some of the attractions that kids will want to return to again and again.
If you grew up in Georgia, some of the spots we’ve picked for incredible outdoor family adventures will evoke the best of childhood memories. Some have gotten excellent upgrades, though, and there’s a few that didn’t exist back then. Your brood will want to check all that out, but they’ll love the longstanding traditions, too, just like you did as kid.
1. Take a Stroll Along the BeltLine
The four trails already open on the continually expanding BeltLine make finding a family-friendly path convenient from nearly any spot in the city. Together the trails connect so many in-town neighborhoods that an access point is never too far away. If you’re headed out on the Eastside Trail, you get the added benefit of some Atlanta’s best restaurants and retail — and parks, too, of course.
Near the 10th street entrance you’ll find all that Piedmont Avenue has to offer: the expansive greens of the iconic park itself, Atlanta Botanical Garden and the famous Flying Biscuit Cafe. The Historic Fourth Ward Park, with the Skatepark and an innovative playground, is another stellar attraction along that route. If you hop off at North Avenue, you’re smack-dab at Ponce City Market, where there are family-friendly eats, shops and — in case the kids haven’t reminded you yet — loads of rooftop fun at Skyline Park.
2. Enjoy a Relaxed Picnic at Piedmont Park
It’s a landmark for good reason: Piedmont Park boasts one of the most gorgeous stretches of green in the city and, particularly if you’re standing on the edges of the lake, the skyline view simply can’t be beat. Your bunch has plenty activities to choose from here — tennis, basketball, bocce ball, Frisbee, or skating and biking on the main roadway and 10th Street Meadow paths. Reliable rental businesses abound to help with equipment, plus there are plenty pedestrian-only paths for running or walking.
Having a picnic at Piedmont Park should be on any family’s to-do list. Grilling out is encouraged, by the way. You can’t bring your own, but you don’t need to — there are public-use grills throughout the park.
3. Explore Atlanta Botanical Garden
The Children’s Garden is far more than its name implies. Beyond the incredible plants — there’s a carnivorous plant bog, as well as a horticulturist available for mini-lessons that green-thumbed kids will love — you’ll find activities of all kinds. For adventurous climbers, there’s the tree-house area. Aspiring musicians can jam with outdoor instruments, and for the artists, a water “painting” wall makes a perfect canvas.
4. Spend the Day at Stone Mountain Park
The massive dome monadnock just outside the city is a centerpiece of many a Georgian’s childhood. The jaw-dropping view from the top after ascending Stone Mountain by foot, the souvenir pressed penny, the Skylift, and — of course — the nighttime laser show (and fireworks) are all in a day’s adventure at this tried-and-true Atlanta landmark. Let’s not forget the scenic railroad trek around the mountain, either.
Kids these days can get even more out of the trip to Stone Mountain Park: Now, there’s the quarter-mile SkyHike loop of suspended wooden bridges that offers endless combinations of routes for all skill levels (the super challenge is 40-feet high). The Geyser Towers playground/water park combo features its thrilling tunnels and winding bridges made of rope placed perfectly above the excitement of a gushing geyser.
5. Shoot the ‘hooch with the Family
Another undeniably Atlanta-only outdoors activity is a lazy float down the Chattahoochee River during warm-weather months. Canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are popular activities, especially for the adventure-seekers. But for a laid-back family trip, the inner tube or river raft option is especially ideal. You might spot wildlife while leisurely rolling past wooded stretches and swaths of lush greenery. It’s easy to dock your bunch for a midday picnic or a quick swim. You can bring your own gear, but rentals are available from businesses like Shoot the Hooch, headquartered at Azalea Park in Roswell, which also come through with snacks like Nathan’s hot dogs, pretzels and ice cream.
6. Day Trip to Lake Lanier
About an hour-and-a-half northeast of Atlanta is Lake Lanier, a reservoir that’s a famously popular site for warm-weather adventures. The beaches — 23 total on the 680 miles of shoreline, to be exact — make for picturesque swims, paddleboarding, tubing and other water-based fun. If your family has a dog in tow, try Laurel Park in Gainesville — pups are welcome at the Bark Park, and within its 136 total acres you’ll also find a paved trail, splash park, baseball field, and tennis and volleyball courts. Nearby Don Carter Park, a newer addition, is also stacked with options, from swimming to a multi-use trail and an adjacent hardwood forest waiting to be explored.
7. Discover a Treasure Trove of Fun at Toy Park
Maybe one of the quirkiest outdoor options — and one of the most memorable — for getting outdoors with the family is a visit to Toy Park on Nelson Ferry Road, just minutes from Downtown Decatur. Heaps of donated toys make for what is basically a kid’s dream come true. Tons of plastic mini cars and bikes, little houses, climbing structures — it’s all there, and there’s plenty to go around. It’s a relatively small park, but the kids won’t forget this unique spot. It’s not yet a landmark, but rather a hidden gem that’s wholly representative of Atlanta’s signature charm.
Get to know Atlanta, and discover the best things to do around the city.