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10 great parks, secret gardens, and unsung green spaces for spring wandering in Atlanta

Where to see the city bloom—minus the crowds

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Glorious spring is here, Atlanta, and summer will follow before we know it.

With bearable temperatures on tap, it’s time to go outside and actually enjoy the experience, provided you can handle the pollen.

Atlanta has tons of fantastic outdoor spaces—Piedmont Park, Chastain, Centennial Olympic Park, the Beltline, etc.—but if you want to slink away somewhere quiet, there’s plenty of lesser-known places, too. One even has a resident emu.

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1. Cator Woolford Gardens

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1815 S Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307

Located at the Frazer Center, this 39-acre old-growth forest is one of the few remaining historic estates in the metro area and a popular spot for weddings. The gardens are a social enterprise of the Frazer Center, a nonprofit that serves children and adults with and without disabilities.

2. The Parks of Ansley Park

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Ansley Park
Atlanta, GA

With five separate parks nestled among the winding streets of Ansley Park, there’s plenty of space to relax in the shade of big oaks, surrounded by beautiful old (and newer) 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 these areas for the benefit of local residents.

New sod in the Rock Garden area of Winn Park. Two Bradford Pears were removed after they split apart and with the new sunshine we have more green!

Posted by Ansley Park Beautification Foundation on Saturday, January 16, 2016

3. Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons

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Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons
Atlanta, GA 30313

Located on the roof of Georgia Tech’s Student Center, this garden provides views across campus above the bustle of the quad. In addition to a quiet place to recharge, the roof also is home to solar panels that provide on-site renewable energy, while other aspects minimize and filter stormwater runoff.

4. Kirkwood Urban Forest Preserve

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1807 Dixie St SE
Atlanta, GA 30317

Formerly an illegal dump, this seven-acre slice of paradise was transformed by volunteers in 2010 to a forest filled with trails, a creek, and even a community garden. With a picnic table, sandbox, and improved access via a bridge, it’s also a great place to bring the kids.

5. Japanese Zen Garden at Grand Hyatt

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3300 Peachtree Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 237-1234
Visit Website

Epitomizing feng shui, complete with a 32-foot waterfall, the park was designed by a Kyoto-based architect, making it super-legit. Stroll along the walking trail, or spend some quiet time reflecting at one of the seating areas located throughout the garden.

6. Lake Claire Community Land Trust

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270 Arizona Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307

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 complete with resident emu, Big Lou, more than 60 community garden beds, a stage and amphitheater, a sauna, and a pond. It’s a popular gathering spot for small festivals and drum circles, too.

7. Cocktails in the Garden

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The Prado NE
Atlanta, GA 30309

While the Atlanta Botanical Garden isn’t all that secret, not everyone knows about their Cocktails in the Garden series. Because plants are a lot more interesting when there is alcohol, live music, entertainment, and games. This event generally runs each week from May through September.

8. Lullwater Preserve

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1463 Clifton Rd
Decatur, GA 30033
(404) 727-6123
Visit Website

Owned by Emory University, this 154-acre preserve near the heart of campus features a too-cool suspension bridge over a lake, plus trails and plenty of opportunity to see wildlife. You even can peruse the ruins of the old octagonal powerhouse that supplied energy to Lullwater House, a 1926 Tudor mansion.

See the original and other amazing photos of Lullwater Park athttp://tinyurl.com/8c9ndlf

Posted by Lullwater Park, Atlanta GA on Thursday, October 4, 2012

9. Mountain Way Common

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4124 N Ivy Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30342

Located beneath Ga. Highway 400 in a secluded residential valley, the 13-acre park has undergone major upgrades for its linking to PATH400. In addition, reforestation efforts have resulted in the return of native hardwood trees, native flowers, and woody shrubs.

Trees and grass in front of an elevated stone bridge. Michael Kahn, Curbed Atlanta

10. Springvale Park

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889 Euclid Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 546-6788
Visit Website

Stretching through the heart of Inman Park, gulley-like Springvale Park was the brainchild of Joel Hurt and designed by famous landscape architects the Olmsteds. Enjoy a walk beside the pond, bring the kids to the impressive playground, or spread out a blanket on the grass and bask in the sun.

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1. Cator Woolford Gardens

1815 S Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

Located at the Frazer Center, this 39-acre old-growth forest is one of the few remaining historic estates in the metro area and a popular spot for weddings. The gardens are a social enterprise of the Frazer Center, a nonprofit that serves children and adults with and without disabilities.

1815 S Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307

2. The Parks of Ansley Park

Ansley Park, Atlanta, GA

With five separate parks nestled among the winding streets of Ansley Park, there’s plenty of space to relax in the shade of big oaks, surrounded by beautiful old (and newer) 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 these areas for the benefit of local residents.

Ansley Park
Atlanta, GA

3. Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons

Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons, Atlanta, GA 30313

Located on the roof of Georgia Tech’s Student Center, this garden provides views across campus above the bustle of the quad. In addition to a quiet place to recharge, the roof also is home to solar panels that provide on-site renewable energy, while other aspects minimize and filter stormwater runoff.

Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons
Atlanta, GA 30313

4. Kirkwood Urban Forest Preserve

1807 Dixie St SE, Atlanta, GA 30317

Formerly an illegal dump, this seven-acre slice of paradise was transformed by volunteers in 2010 to a forest filled with trails, a creek, and even a community garden. With a picnic table, sandbox, and improved access via a bridge, it’s also a great place to bring the kids.

1807 Dixie St SE
Atlanta, GA 30317

5. Japanese Zen Garden at Grand Hyatt

3300 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30305

Epitomizing feng shui, complete with a 32-foot waterfall, the park was designed by a Kyoto-based architect, making it super-legit. Stroll along the walking trail, or spend some quiet time reflecting at one of the seating areas located throughout the garden.

3300 Peachtree Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30305

6. Lake Claire Community Land Trust

270 Arizona Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

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 complete with resident emu, Big Lou, more than 60 community garden beds, a stage and amphitheater, a sauna, and a pond. It’s a popular gathering spot for small festivals and drum circles, too.

270 Arizona Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307

7. Cocktails in the Garden

The Prado NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

While the Atlanta Botanical Garden isn’t all that secret, not everyone knows about their Cocktails in the Garden series. Because plants are a lot more interesting when there is alcohol, live music, entertainment, and games. This event generally runs each week from May through September.

The Prado NE
Atlanta, GA 30309

8. Lullwater Preserve

1463 Clifton Rd, Decatur, GA 30033

Owned by Emory University, this 154-acre preserve near the heart of campus features a too-cool suspension bridge over a lake, plus trails and plenty of opportunity to see wildlife. You even can peruse the ruins of the old octagonal powerhouse that supplied energy to Lullwater House, a 1926 Tudor mansion.

1463 Clifton Rd
Decatur, GA 30033

9. Mountain Way Common

4124 N Ivy Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30342
Trees and grass in front of an elevated stone bridge. Michael Kahn, Curbed Atlanta

Located beneath Ga. Highway 400 in a secluded residential valley, the 13-acre park has undergone major upgrades for its linking to PATH400. In addition, reforestation efforts have resulted in the return of native hardwood trees, native flowers, and woody shrubs.

4124 N Ivy Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30342

10. Springvale Park

889 Euclid Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

Stretching through the heart of Inman Park, gulley-like Springvale Park was the brainchild of Joel Hurt and designed by famous landscape architects the Olmsteds. Enjoy a walk beside the pond, bring the kids to the impressive playground, or spread out a blanket on the grass and bask in the sun.

889 Euclid Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307