Secret Gardens to Explore in Atlanta

Get away from the madding crowd at these tranquil parks

We all know about Piedmont Park and the BeltLine, but where do you go when you want a taste of the outdoors without the crowds? Here are three spaces that make it easy to escape the bustle of the city without actually leaving.

MORNINGSIDE NATURE PRESERVE

Morningside, the upscale neighborhood between Midtown and Druid Hills, has its very own secret garden. The Morningside Nature Preserve features more than 30 acres of wooded forest and nature trails that wind through kudzu and trees. The trail gives way to the beautiful South Fork-Peachtree Creek, where there’s a beach and a wooded suspension bridge. Don’t be surprised if you see pups frolicking in the creek—there’s a reason it’s unofficially called Atlanta’s dog beach.

OLMSTED LINEAR PARK

Olmsted Linear Park is hiding in plain sight. It sits off Ponce de Leon Avenue between Druid Hills and Decatur, but it may be easy to overlook. It’s worth a quick detour, though, to wander through the 45-acre greenspace designed in the late 1800s by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (who also designed New York’s Central Park and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville).

The park is made of six segments, including an old-growth forest, connected by paved trails. Each segment has unique elements, such as flower and tree varieties and a waterfall. It’s hard to believe, but this gem was almost lost to a freeway in the 1980s. Thankfully, a grassroots effort prevented that from happening. Need an excuse to go? Each fall and spring is the Festival on Ponce. The park comes to life with artists selling a variety of crafts, live music and food vendors.

SPRINGVALE PARK

Historic Inman Park is one of Atlanta’s hottest neighborhoods, thanks to all the great dining and retail that’s popped up there in the past five years. Visit the heart of its residential area, though, and you’ll find Springvale Park. The park is divided into two parts by Euclid Avenue. There are paved trails, a playground, and a pond, all of which make a peaceful distraction from the business of city life. It’s further proof that you don’t have to go very far to find a little peace and quiet in the Big Peach.

 

Lia Picard
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