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A public redevelopment project, the Atlanta Beltline has established itself as one of the city's most popular recreation spots, and the location hosts marathons and other sporting events. Visitors to the Beltline can hike, bike, and walk the park's many trails or even visit the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark. The non-profit organization backing the Beltline also offers guided tours of the area explaining various aspects of the project, its history, goals, and purpose.
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.
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.
The most expansive and popular of Atlanta's city parks was 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.
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.
A Civil War landmark as well as an expansive verdant oasis, Candler Park offers tennis courts, basketball courts, soccer fields and an outdoor pool. Perhaps the park's most unique feature is its nine-hole golf course that winds its scenic way through one of the east side's most pleasant residential neighborhoods. Often crowded, Candler Park is not the ideal place for a quiet jog, but sports are always being played and everyone is welcome.
Just east of Atlanta, Stone Mountain Park is a 3200-acre (1300-hectare) park centers 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.
Peacefully residing in Douglas County, the Sweetwater Creek State Park is a breathtaking amalgam of history, nature, and biodiversity. Located within close proximity to downtown Atlanta, this state park is a serene sanctum, offering repose from the cacophony of the city. An incredible canvas of wilderness unfolds at the park, as rolling hills, meandering trails, and emerald thickets, all come together to form an ethereal site. The agile Sweetwater Creek slices through the diversified terrains of the park, whereas an assemblage of birds croons into densely wooded expanses. Amid all the blooming ferns, azaleas and magnolias, lie the enigmatic ruins of a cotton mill run by the erstwhile New Manchester Manufacturing Company. Anchoring a placid lake, picnic spots, a museum, yurts, campsites, and playgrounds, this state park hosts a range of activities like boating, birding, hiking, camping, fishing and more. The park's visitor center has gained much praise for its environment-friendly stride, housing exhibits, displays, and maps chronicling the region's history.
Encompassing 2550 acres (1031.94 hectares) of pristine forested swathes, the Davidson-Arabia Nature Preserve is framed by the marvelous Arabia Mountain, which largely looms over the Arabia Lake Reservoir. This preserve is fringed by a tapestry of dramatic rock outcroppings and incredible, rolling hills. The park's mountaintop terrain bears a fragile ecosystem, including several protected species of fascinating flora. Although the landscape of the park is known to be barren, deep in its recesses lies a wealth of Recherche, which brave the ruthless weather of the mountain, and bloom in all their glory. Seemingly metamorphosing into different landscapes as per seasons, this mountain preserves a tracery of trails wind past the park's lakes, through dense forests and up to the mountain's soaring pinnacle. Traces of ruinous quarry structures of a bygone industry validate the fact that the park is as much steeped in history as it is in nature.