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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.
Just minutes from downtown Atlanta in historic Grant Park, the exciting Zoo Atlanta features the Southeast's most impressive collection of wildlife from around the globe. Legend says that the zoo got its start when the owners of a traveling animal show went bankrupt and suddenly fled town. Today, popular exhibits include daily elephant demonstrations, giraffe feedings, and the acquired Chinese pandas. Various spots within the zoo make for wonderful locations to host private celebrations.
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.
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.
Surrounded by the residential neighborhoods of Roswell and Sandy Springs, this beautiful park is a popular site for family picnics, quiet strolls, and dog outings. Trails are marked out throughout the park for hiking, running, and biking. Picnic sites are arranged along the banks of the slow-rolling Chattahoochee, the longest river in Georgia. Canoes and rafts are available for rent, and make for great summertime adventures. Take the Roswell Road off Interstate 285, go north to Azalea Drive and turn left for a day of recreation.