Green Acres: Explore Atlanta's Lively, Versatile Piedmont Park

Grab your dog and your other best friends for a splendid day in beautiful Piedmont Park.

With more than 200 acres of green space, a variety of pursuits await inside Midtown’s Piedmont Park; hundreds of events take place there every year, a farmers market showcases healthy foods and artisanal goods, pooches can run free at an off-the-leash dog park, there’s even a resort-style public pool. No matter how you play, there’s a pursuit to be had. 

Walking Tours

Mother Nature is the No. 1 attraction at Piedmont Park. From history tours to bird walks to the entrancing Lake Clara Meer, there are multiple attractions to view and ways to explore the park.

Ornithologists, rejoice! The Piedmont Park Conservancy partners with the Atlanta Audubon Society for monthly bird walks. Birding enthusiasts of all levels will enjoy up-close views of Piedmont Park’s varied habitats, and can explore to see blackbirds, larks, grebes, herons, thrushes, vireos and warblers among the 178 species that have been spotted throughout the park during the past 30 years. Piedmont Park bird walks usually start at 8 am the first Saturday of every month.

Learn about the park’s vibrant past and present on a Piedmont Park History Walking Tour, led by docent volunteers most Saturdays at 11 am through November. Hear about the park’s evolution from forest to farm to fairgrounds for the Piedmont Exposition of 1887 and the Cotton States International Exposition of 1895, then see how it’s been transformed to its present glory. Tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis; groups of 15 or more should contact the park for accommodations.

Of course, if you want to strike out on your own, the conservancy offers a map for self-guided tours. One of the recommended sites is Lake Clara Meer, which was created in 1887 by diverting a spring near what is today the park’s visitor center; in 1895, it was enlarged to its present size of 11.5 acres. The map will also direct you to the best spots to take a selfie, a family portrait or get a stunning view of the Atanta skyline. For more information on any of the above tours, contact tours@piedmontpark.org.

Play, Swim, Splash

Recreation goes hand in hand with a city park, and Piedmont Park offers myriad opportunities to get your blood pumping. Visit the Active Oval, a former race track, for a running track, two soccer fields, two softball fields and two sand volleyball courts. From September-May, the areas are open from 8 am-8 pm; areas can be reserved by obtaining a permit and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Fridays are open-leisure play; reservations for two-hour increments can be made at the north and south ball field kiosks. 

Need to cool down? A visit to the park’s aquatic areas is in order. The Aquatic Center & Pool boasts a renovated 1970s pool with four lap lanes, beach entry with current channel for floating, a landscaped deck and locker rooms with showers, all ADA accessible. Pool season lasts through Labor Day weekend.

Those looking for a more casual cooling should stop and play in the Legacy Fountain Splash Pad. The fountain has more than 70 water jets that reach heights of up to 30 feet, timed to LED lighting—more than 1 million lighting configurations are possible. The splash pad is open from 8 am-8 pm daily.

Farmers Market

No green space would be complete without a farmers market, and Piedmont Park doesn’t disappoint. The Green Market could otherwise be called “Sustainable Saturday;” since it’s open Saturdays from 9 am-1 pm March to December. The market is a hot spot for healthy foods and artisanal goods such as produce, eggs, meat, jam, preserves, coffee, kombucha, wellness items and oh-so-much more. Enter through the gate at 12th Street and Piedmont Avenue.

Off the Leash

Named as one of the area’s top dog parks by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Piedmont Park Dog Park offers 3 acres in which pooches can run free. Not suprisingly, the off-leash area sees upward of 700,000 visitors a year. There are separate enclosures for dogs over and under 30 pounds, water spigots and dog popsicles on the weekend. For the canines’ human companions, there are shaded areas, benches and restrooms. 

Special Events

Diversify your events calendar with festivals, special events and concerts that take place in the park. Every fourth Monday, there’s Free Yoga on the Promenade.

Dine and Unwind

After an afternoon in the park, you’ll want to kick back and unwind. Willy’s Mexicana Grill serves tacos and burritos at the 12th Street Gate; dine outdoors at Sean’s Heart of the Park. For great views of downtown Atlanta, decadent burgers and a full sushi menu, the indoor/outdoor Park Tavern is a must-visit. Enjoy the patio with a group of friends or man’s best friend.

Jennifer McKee
About the author

Jennifer is the Managing Editor of Morris Visitor Publications, where she has worked since 2005. She grew up in small...