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Atlanta’s beauty is at its peak during spring and, if you can handle the pollen, it’s the perfect time to get outside before the scorching heat of summer returns. But, skip the usual outdoor spots like Piedmont Park and the Beltline, and try these hidden city gems. One of them even has an emu!
1. Cator Woolford Gardens, 1815 S Ponce De Leon Ave NE Atlanta
This old-growth forest, located at the Frazier Center on Ponce De Leon, spans 39 acres. As one of the few remaining historic estates in the metro area, it’s a popular spot for weddings and events. The gardens serve as an enterprise of the Frazer Center, a nonprofit that serves children and adults with developmental disabilities.
2. The Multiple Parks of Ansley Park
The winding streets of Ansley Park boasts, not one but five separate parks, allowing for plenty of space to relax in the shade of big oaks and beautiful homes. The Beautification Foundation of the Ansley Park Civic Association maintains the parks and works with the City of Atlanta to add capital improvements to the areas for the benefit of local residents, but you can enjoy them too.
3. Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons
Located on the roof of Georgia Tech’s Student Center, this garden provides a unique view of the campus above the usual crowd. It’s not only a great place to recharge, it’s also an interesting lesson in eco-design. The roof is home to solar panels that provide on-site renewable energy, while other elements minimize and filter storm water runoff.
4. Kirkwood Urban Forest Preserve, 1807 Dixie St SE Atlanta
Formerly an illegal dump, this seven-acre slice of paradise started as an illegal dump. In 2010, it was transformed by volunteers into a forest filled with trails, a creek, and a community garden. There is also a picnic table, a sandbox and a bridge that kids will love.
5. Japanese Zen Garden at Grand Hyatt 3300 Peachtree Rd NE. Atlanta
Designed by a Kyoto-based architect, this hidden gem epitomizes feng shui. Enjoy a stroll along the walking trail, complete with a 32-foot waterfall, or spend some quiet time reflecting at one of the many seating areas sprinkled throughout.
6. Lake Claire Community Land Trust
Just 1.7 acres, this elevated piece of land next to the MARTA tracks used to be filled with kudzu. Now there’s a playground, community garden beds, a stage and amphitheater, a sauna, and a pond. Plus, no visit would be complete without greeting Big Lou, the resident emu.
7. Lullwater Preserve
This 154-acre preserve is owned by Emory University and features an awesome suspension bridge, trails and plenty of opportunity to see wildlife. Be sure to check out the ruins of the old octagonal powerhouse that once supplied energy to Lullwater House, a 1926 Tudor mansion.
8. Mountain Way Common 4124 N Ivy Rd NE Atlanta
Located beneath Ga. Highway 400 in a residential niche, this 13-acre park has undergone major upgrades, thanks to its link to PATH400. Native hardwood trees, native flowers, and woody shrubs has returned to the area, thanks to a major reforestation effort.
9. Springvale Park 889 Euclid Ave NE Atlanta
Designed by the famous landscape architect family, the Olmsteds, Springvale Park meanders through the heart of Inman Park. Enjoy a walk along the pond, set the little ones free on the cool playground, or just enjoy the spring sun from a spot on the grass.