Ultimate List of Things to Do Outdoors in Atlanta
Published July 6, 2023
Last Updated February 6, 2024
Atlantans have plenty of opportunities to explore nature. From the Chattahoochee River to Stone Mountain and beyond, the city is home to breathtaking and family-friendly locations perfect for communing with the flora and fauna.
Explore the Outdoors at Atlanta Attractions
Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Botanical Garden is an urban oasis in the heart of Midtown Atlanta, with 30-acres of lush, colorful gardens. Kids delight in visiting the award-winning Children’s Garden, while garden aficionados enjoy the innovative edible garden complete with an outdoor demonstration kitchen. The Fuqua Conservatory houses important collections of tropical palms, conifers and the foremost collection of species orchids in the United States. In addition, the garden offers events and educational opportunities, which are listed on the website.
Where: 1345 Piedmont Ave. NE
Chattahoochee Nature Center
Chattahoochee Nature Center (CNC) is a 127-acre center dedicated to environmental education. In addition to the Discovery Center Museum and Nature Exchange with “hands-on, minds-on” exhibits focused on telling the story of the Chattahoochee River, CNC also is home to woodland trails for hiking, butterfly and native plant gardens and a river boardwalk. There’s a canopy walk and zip lining. Be sure to visit Chattahoochee Nature Center’s website to check out the ongoing list of fun and educational events for all ages.
Where: 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell
Dunwoody Nature Center
Nestled among thick, lush foliage and majestic trees, Dunwoody Nature Center provides opportunities for families to explore and play in the great outdoors. Dunwoody Nature Center features natural areas with places to jump, swing, teetertotter, splash, hike, play and more. Little kids love discovering play structures tucked among the trees, and everyone can enjoy resting in a hammock. Visit the website for upcoming programs and events including night hikes, yoga and camping.
Where: 5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Fernbank Museum of Natural History offers amazing exhibits including “Giants of the Mesozoic,” featuring the largest dinosaurs of all time. When you are inside Fernbank, you’ll walk on floors made of limestone tiles that showcase fossils dating back 40,000 years. In addition to dinosaurs, families love visiting highlights including a 900-gallon saltwater aquarium, children’s discovery rooms, a rose garden and a dining room. Kids especially love NatureQuest, an entire wing dedicated just to them. NatureQuest offers live animal habitats, interactive, hands-on activities and learning stations. Explore 75 acres of nature adventures through WildWoods and Fernbank Forest in the form of immersive trails and exhibits.
Where: 767 Clifton Road
Stone Mountain Park
A popular outdoor destination for Atlanta locals and visitors of all ages, Stone Mountain Park features 3,200 acres of natural beauty as well as a wide variety of family-friendly activities and attractions all year-round. Camping, hiking, treetop excursions, fishing, golf, bicycling and boating all are available. For a scenic view, hop on the Summit Skyride Tram for a trip to the top of the mountain.. Stone Mountain Park offers a wide variety of festivals and attractions. Visit the website for events, ticket pricing and “Stay and Play” packages.
Where: 1000 Robert E Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain
There’s so much to see and do at Zoo Atlanta — Atlanta’s 40-acre zoo featuring more than 220 species of animals from around the globe. Adults and kids of all ages love exploring the habitats, learning about favorite animals, experiencing feedings, shopping for gifts and enjoying playgrounds.
Where: 800 Cherokee Ave. SE
Atlanta Parks and Gardens
Check out our complete list of Atlanta parks and gardens before your next visit.
Centennial Olympic Park
As the centerpiece of downtown Atlanta, Centennial Olympic Park is more than just a green space. The 22-acre park is home to the iconic Fountain of Rings, numerous gardens, expansive lawns, playgrounds and landmarks. The park is a great spot to enjoy a take-out lunch or a quiet afternoon enjoying nature.
Located in the heart of Midtown is a 200-acre green space. Piedmont Park offers something for the entire family, from biking and jogging to playing in one of the playgrounds. Bring your four-legged friend to frolic around in two dog parks. During the summer, you can cool off at the splash pad or take a dip in the community pool. Piedmont Park hosts popular annual festivals and events including the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Atlanta Jazz Festival, Atlanta Ice Cream Festival and the finish line of the AJC Peachtree Road Race.
Where: 1320 Monroe Drive
Morningside Nature Preserve
Morningside Nature Preserve is a hidden gem in Atlanta, located just seven miles from Downtown. It is a great spot to get in a daily walk or jog. Or take your best four-legged friend for an adventure and stop by the “dog beach” for a little bit of play.
Where: 2020 Lenox Road NE
One of the newest jewels in Atlanta’s expansive park system, Westside Park offers 280 acres surrounding Bellwood Quarry offering walking and bicycling trails, playground and stunning views.
Hiking and Backpacking Near Atlanta
When most folks think of Atlanta, they visualize a metropolitan city, home to the busiest airport in the world, world-class dining, major shopping and hustle and bustle, but there are hidden gems tucked around the city that offer a selection of great day hikes. Atlanta is also a short drive from the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail for longer hikes and backpacking. Check out our guide to hiking and backpacking in Atlanta.
A lesser-known gem in Atlanta’s outdoor offerings is the Arabia Mountain Natural Heritage Area, which spans more than 2,000 acres where people have lived for more than 10,000 years. Despite its long history, there are vast areas of undisturbed land: rolling hills, peaceful streams and sharp ridges. Of course, you won’t want to miss the two giant, exposed monadnocks, each of them hundreds of millions years old. Located just 30 minutes from the city, the Arabia Lake, Boardwalk and Summit trails all promise a surreal outdoor experience.
Warwoman Dell Trail Waterfalls
A well-kept secret among Atlanta outdoor lovers, Warwoman Dell is a tucked-away spot about two hours northeast of Atlanta in Clayton, Ga. The eponymous trail and the Bartram Trail travel along a pebble-lined stream, through densely green forests and past a pastiche of wildflowers and ferns. The hike’s best features, though, are the Becky Branch Falls at .3 mile and the Rabun Bald, the second-tallest mountain summit in the state, which features a stunning panoramic view.
Discover the Atlanta BeltLine
The Atlanta BeltLine consists of miles of multiuse trails linking 1,300 acres of public parks and neighborhoods. Explore via foot, bike or scooter. Dine, shop and explore. Take a virtual tour before your visit and check out our ultimate guide to the Atlanta BeltLine trails for more information about access points and things to do while you’re there.
Outdoor Shopping and Farmers Markets
Support local farmers and find fresh ingredients at one of Atlanta’s many farmers markets, where you’ll find everything from fruits and veggies to homemade preserves and sweet treats.
Find one-of-a-kind gifts, decor, and arts and crafts, as well as unique vintage clothing and more at one of the many outdoor festivals and pop-up markets found year-round in Atlanta.
Atlanta Day Trips and Getaways
Located about 90 miles from Atlanta proper, Callaway Gardens is worth a trip. There is so much to see and experience you might not be able to do it all in a single day. Fortunately Callaway Gardens is a resort with full accommodations, making it easy to make a long weekend or vacation of your getaway. Callaway Gardens is housed on 2,500 acres of spectacular landscape including extensive gardens and wooded areas. Each season offers a different display of foliage and color for you to explore via hike, bike, car or even boat. There are activities, events and unique educational opportunities. Visit the website to see all that Callaway has to offer those who love getting outdoors.
Lake Lanier is about 50 miles north of Atlanta, and with 38,000 acres there is no shortage of outdoor adventure. The large lake accommodates water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding and fishing as well as wake boarding and water skiing. Prefer to stay on dry land? There are more than 90 parks to hike, bike and explore. There is so much to do and see at Lake Lanier, you could spend every weekend for a year there and never see it all.
Phinizy Center for Water Sciences
About two hours east of the city, Phinizy Center for Water Sciences is a free swamp and nature park featuring 14 miles of trails for exploring and sightseeing the myriad of wildlife in the area. You might see frogs, alligators, hawks, otters and the occasional bobcat. Want a great learning experience? Sign up for a guided tour to get the most out of this 1,100-acre park.
Located just 40 minutes from downtown Atlanta, Serenbe is a gem for nature lovers, “crunchy” parents and outdoor activity buffs. Serenbe is a sustainable community of homes and businesses nestled inside acres of preserved forests and meadows in rural Chattahoochee Hill Country. With a 25-acre organic farm, seasonal farmers market, farm-to-table restaurants, horseback riding, hiking, spa, outdoor theater, festivals and shops, Serenbe offers something for everyone looking to beat the hustle and bustle of city life. While Serenbe is certainly close enough for day trips, it also offers weekend getaways or extended stays at the inns, making for a magical retreat from a hectic life.
Get to know Atlanta, and discover the best things to do around the city.