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Mapping Out Atlanta's Best, Lesser-Known Public Parks

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It's long been our contention that Piedmont Park, the emerald of Atlanta's crown, is one of the most underrated municipal parks in America. But this is no time to talk Piedmont. Here, we shed a little spotlight on 10 great Atlanta green-spaces that you might not have heard of, our city's unheralded jewels. The picks range from active neighborhood nucleuses to bucolic urban wonderlands. Presented in no particular order, many of these public parks are no longer secrets — they're just underappreciated. Atlanta is technically one big urban forest, after all, so we're bound to miss something. Let us know what parks deserved to make the list in the comments section. Your fellow outdoor enthusiasts will be obliged.

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Morningside Nature Preserve

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This leafy sanctuary is tucked on the South Fork of Peachtree Creek in Atlanta’s upscale Morningside neighborhood. Outdoor advocates Atlanta Trails describe the preserve as “a hidden yet well-loved matrix of hiking, walking and running trails that traverse over 30 acres of rolling forest.” Check out the sweet suspension bridge.

Perkerson Park

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This 50-acre spread neighbors Capitol View and Sylvan Hills south of downtown, and it’s home to Atlanta’s only permanent public disc-golf course. Perkerson Park recently welcomed a splash pad and enhanced playgrounds to its shady canopy of oaks. One day the Beltline won’t be far away.

Olmsted Linear Park

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This lovely chain of trail-connected parks along Ponce de Leon Avenue was designed in the 1890s by Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., whose work included the Emerald Necklace of Boston, The Biltmore Estate in Asheville and New York City’s Central Park. These six segments of parks collectively form an Atlanta treasure. Period.

Bessie Branham Park

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Tucked in the residential bosom of historic Kirkwood, this seven-acre rectangle acts as community nerve center for events as disparate as Easter egg hunts and Kirkwood’s signature shindig, the Spring Fling. The updated playground and lush lawn are hits with kiddos and kite-flyers alike.

Atlanta Memorial Park

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Sure, this sprawling recreational hub covers 200 acres and includes the famed Bobby Jones Golf Course and more than 20 tennis courts, but it’s much less known than its Buckhead cousin, Chastain Park. Memorial Park hugs pretty Peachtree Creek and offers lovely running trails and wide-open fields.

McKoy Park

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Contrary to popular belief, Historic Fourth Ward Park doesn’t have the ITP skate-park market cornered. McKoy Park, a nine-ace neighborhood treasure, is a draw for skaters, baseball players and Decaturites who enjoy a leisurely picnic.

John Howell Park

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This little 2.8-acre gem in the geographic heart of Virginia-Highland is a convenient hotspot for tot frolicking — or for watching hard-bodies play volleyball. The Georgia Department of Transportation cleared 11 houses from this land decades ago to build Interstate 485. Hats off to the Va-Hi stalwarts who stood in the way of that project.

Brownwood Park

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Just south of the East Atlanta Village, Brownwood Park is a long, linear collection of playground equipment, picnic pavilions and tennis and volleyball courts. The Brownwood Park Community Garden is a nice touch for a park that frequently appears in listings as a true neighborhood perk.

Springvale Park

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At the center of Inman Park lies this little wind-sheltered jewel. Girded by Victorian manses, Springvale Park offers plentiful shade, a serene pond and the most badass slide this side of the county fair. Be mindful of goose droppings.

Lullwater Park

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When it comes to urban nature preserves, this tucked-away, 154-acre beauty on Emory University’s Clairmont Campus has laid claim to the title of “Atlanta’s best-kept secret” for years. Offerings include a 210-foot suspension bridge, winding trails and the ruins of a 1920s powerhouse.

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Morningside Nature Preserve

This leafy sanctuary is tucked on the South Fork of Peachtree Creek in Atlanta’s upscale Morningside neighborhood. Outdoor advocates Atlanta Trails describe the preserve as “a hidden yet well-loved matrix of hiking, walking and running trails that traverse over 30 acres of rolling forest.” Check out the sweet suspension bridge.

Perkerson Park

This 50-acre spread neighbors Capitol View and Sylvan Hills south of downtown, and it’s home to Atlanta’s only permanent public disc-golf course. Perkerson Park recently welcomed a splash pad and enhanced playgrounds to its shady canopy of oaks. One day the Beltline won’t be far away.

Olmsted Linear Park

This lovely chain of trail-connected parks along Ponce de Leon Avenue was designed in the 1890s by Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., whose work included the Emerald Necklace of Boston, The Biltmore Estate in Asheville and New York City’s Central Park. These six segments of parks collectively form an Atlanta treasure. Period.

Bessie Branham Park

Tucked in the residential bosom of historic Kirkwood, this seven-acre rectangle acts as community nerve center for events as disparate as Easter egg hunts and Kirkwood’s signature shindig, the Spring Fling. The updated playground and lush lawn are hits with kiddos and kite-flyers alike.

Atlanta Memorial Park

Sure, this sprawling recreational hub covers 200 acres and includes the famed Bobby Jones Golf Course and more than 20 tennis courts, but it’s much less known than its Buckhead cousin, Chastain Park. Memorial Park hugs pretty Peachtree Creek and offers lovely running trails and wide-open fields.

McKoy Park

Contrary to popular belief, Historic Fourth Ward Park doesn’t have the ITP skate-park market cornered. McKoy Park, a nine-ace neighborhood treasure, is a draw for skaters, baseball players and Decaturites who enjoy a leisurely picnic.

John Howell Park

This little 2.8-acre gem in the geographic heart of Virginia-Highland is a convenient hotspot for tot frolicking — or for watching hard-bodies play volleyball. The Georgia Department of Transportation cleared 11 houses from this land decades ago to build Interstate 485. Hats off to the Va-Hi stalwarts who stood in the way of that project.

Brownwood Park

Just south of the East Atlanta Village, Brownwood Park is a long, linear collection of playground equipment, picnic pavilions and tennis and volleyball courts. The Brownwood Park Community Garden is a nice touch for a park that frequently appears in listings as a true neighborhood perk.

Springvale Park

At the center of Inman Park lies this little wind-sheltered jewel. Girded by Victorian manses, Springvale Park offers plentiful shade, a serene pond and the most badass slide this side of the county fair. Be mindful of goose droppings.

Lullwater Park

When it comes to urban nature preserves, this tucked-away, 154-acre beauty on Emory University’s Clairmont Campus has laid claim to the title of “Atlanta’s best-kept secret” for years. Offerings include a 210-foot suspension bridge, winding trails and the ruins of a 1920s powerhouse.