Surround yourself in natural beauty at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. (📷 Joleen Pete)

Ultimate List of Things to Do Outdoors in Atlanta

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

Take an up-close look at a variety of orchids at Atlanta Botanical Garden
Take an up-close look at a variety of orchids at Atlanta Botanical Garden. (Photo by Joleen Pete)

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

Delight in nature at the Annual Flying Colors Butterfly Festival
Delight in nature at the Annual Flying Colors Butterfly Festival at Chattahoochee Nature Center. (Photo by Benjamin A. Pete)

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

Swing and slide in the trees at Dunwoody Nature Center
Swing and slide in the trees at Dunwoody Nature Center. (Photo by Joleen Pete)

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

Take a walk through WildWoods and Fernbank Forest
Take a walk through WildWoods and Fernbank Forest. (Photo courtesy of 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

People of all ages can enjoy a challenging but short hike up Stone Mountain
People of all ages can enjoy a challenging but short hike up Stone Mountain. (Photo by Joleen Pete)

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

Zoo Atlanta

Say hello to Baby Willie B. III, being held here by his mom, Shalia, at Zoo Atlanta
Say hello to Baby Willie B. III, being held here by his mom, Shalia, at Zoo Atlanta. (Photo courtesy of Zoo Atlanta)

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.

Piedmont Park

Spend some time outdoors in Atlanta with a visit to Piedmont Park
Spend some time outdoors in Atlanta with a visit to Piedmont Park. (Photo by Chris Watkins)

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

Westside Park

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

The Appalachian Trail Southern Terminus is located an hour and half drive from Atlanta
The Appalachian Trail Southern Terminus is located an hour and half drive from Atlanta. (Photo by Joleen Pete)

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.

Arabia Mountain

Experience nature and walk through history at Arabia Mountain Natural Heritage Area
Experience nature and walk through history at Arabia Mountain Natural Heritage Area

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

Visit the Becky Branch Falls on Warwoman Dell Trail
Visit the Becky Branch Falls on Warwoman Dell Trail. (Photo by Brian Greer)

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

Georgia Vintage Goods Summerhill event
Scooby (the dog) visits with Liz of Valley Street Vintage at the Georgia Vintage Goods Summerhill event. (Photo by Ashley White)

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

Callaway Gardens

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

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.

Joleen Pete lives outside Atlanta with her husband and their son. On the weekends they enjoy going into the city for family fun and exploration. Joleen is the family travel and lifestyle blogger behind Love, Joleen.

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