The most expansive and popular of Atlanta's city parks were originally laid out for the Cotton States and International Exposition of 1895, and it now attracts more than 2 million visitors annually. Dog owners, sun-seekers and sports enthusiasts flock to the Piedmont Park to enjoy the fair weather, largely unaware that this was the spot of the Battle of Peachtree Creek during the Civil War. Its picturesque locales also offer a romantic ambience. The 189-acre (76.48-hectare) facility is home to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and scenic Lake Clara Meer, and plays host to many of Atlanta's favorite concerts and festivals.
Atlanta History Center is a great spot for history buffs. This comprehensive museum complex was founded in 1926 and chronicles the region's history which includes sections on the Civil War, Civil Rights movement, Southern folk crafts, Atlanta's expansion and much more. Spread across 33 acres (13.5 hectares), it consists of the Atlanta History Museum, Swan House, Tullie Smith Farm (Smith Family Farm), Margaret Mitchell House, Centennial Olympic Games Museum, Kenan Research Center and six beautiful gardens. It has various programs, festivals and events going on throughout the year. Considered to be among the biggest history museums in the country, each space is unique and distinct, giving a glimpse of an era bygone and stories to enthrall everyone. The Margaret Mitchell House is a hub for authors and amateur writers as it hosts yearly creative writing programs to keep the legacy of the celebrated writer, whose novel Gone with the Wind, is among the most loved books. Don't miss this center when in Atlanta.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden is one of the largest spectacles of plant life in the Southeast. Sprawling over 15 acres (six hectares), this natural oasis was established in 1976 and is located within stumbling distance of the famous Piedmont Park. It is home to the Fuqua Conservatory and Japanese gardens, both rich in globe-spanning flora. Follow a walking trail, great for couples, and admire exotic rose plantations and carnivorous specimens. In addition, guided tours and seasonal shows guarantee an entertaining botany lesson.
Just east of Atlanta, Stone Mountain Park is a 3200-acre (1300-hectare) park centres on the world's largest exposed granite mountain. Skylift gondolas whisk visitors 825 feet (251 meters) to the top, where commanding views of the Georgia countryside await them. The north face's bas-relief memorial to Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson is one of the world's largest. An antebellum plantation, an antique auto museum and a petting zoo are all located within the park. Playing host to myriad activities such as camping, dining, and lodging, this park bears wooden mountain slopes bearing recherche Georgia oak, natural pools as well as delightful, verdant foliage. During the summer, there are evening laser light shows on the mountain, whereas the Great Barn and Geyser Towers are other attractions in the park. Some of the major trails coursing through the park include the Cherokee Trail, Walk-Up Trail, Nature Garden Trail, and Songbird Habitat Trail.
A rolling oasis nestled in the heart of downtown Atlanta, this lush park is interspersed with sprawling rock gardens. Built to enhance the infrastructure for the 1996 Summer Olympics, this park is fringed by a tapestry of buildings significant to the city, like the CNN Center, Philips Arena, and the Georgia World Congress Center. The nearly 500,000 commemorative bricks that make up its main walkway were part of fundraising efforts for the Games. During scorching Atlanta summers, children frolic in the ground-level Olympic Rings, which periodically shoot streams of water through their seven rings. One of the most promising features of the park is the fascinating 'Fountain of Rings', a technology-controlled fountain complete with music, light towers and a splash pad; not only is the fountain is a hive of fun and frolic, but it is also a great architectural feat. The park is also home to several other water features and is a massive locus for live music in the city's downtown. Bearing stunning semblances of natural wonders and an iconic Olympic legacy, Centennial Olympic Park is a site that Atlanta holds close to its heart.
The Georgia Aquarium opened in 2005 as one of the largest aquariums in the world. Located in downtown Atlanta, it is undoubtedly a breathtaking experience for all its visitors. A generous endowment from Bernard Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot, made this dynamic aquarium possible. It showcases exotic sea creatures such as giant groupers, beluga whales and whale sharks. With 500 species, you will see something new and different no matter when you visit. One can opt for sleepovers with friends and enjoy a night-time experience of the aquarium. In addition, it also offers an expansive educational program for students of all ages and several interactive animal experiences.
Spread over 6 acres of lush greenery, the Woodruff Park enjoys a splendid location in the heart of the student, financial and nightlife districts. Atlanta's green lung in every way, this park is equipped with fountains, water-coolers, shaded areas, sculptures, bandstands and pruned lawns so that students, office-goers and tourists can seek respite for a while. Cultural and community events are a regular occurrence too.
Created mostly with land granted by Colonel Lemuel Grant, the "Father of Atlanta," Grant Park is the oldest surviving park in the city. Its landscape was part of the defensive line against Union forces in the Civil War, and the breastworks of Fort Walker remain as evidence of the Confederacy's defeat. The Cyclorama, a circular building filled with the world's largest painting, tells the story of the battle. The park's other main attraction is Zoo Atlanta, one of the only places in the country that you can see a set of giant pandas.