Pack a Basket and Head to Atlanta’s Top 5 Picnic Spots

Georgia’s cultural and economic hub, Atlanta is home to 17.8 square miles of green space. That adds up to — yowza! — roughly 1,025 square feet of open, urban land per resident. Amid all that flora and fauna? Loads of picnic-friendly places. Add in the natural beauty just outside of city limits and the possibilities are endless.

Whether you want to park it amid flowers or linger over a sandwich in the park, stunning outdoor environs — like these — await. 

 

Boasting 180 verdant acres just northeast of downtown, Piedmont Park (1320 Monroe Dr. NE, piedmontpark.org) is nestled between the Midtown and Virginia Highland neighborhoods. Designed by Joseph Forsyth Johnson and built to host the 1887 Piedmont Exposition, the land was first owned by Dr. Benjamin Walker, who later sold it to the Piedmont Driving Club. Beyond establishing an exclusive club and racing ground for horse enthusiasts, the club made an agreement with the Piedmont Exposition Company that the land could be used for fairs and expositions. In the early 20th century, it saw a redesign — called the Olmsted plan, courtesy of Frederick Law Olmsted’s sons — ushering in scenic paths and a link to the Ansley park system. Offering picnic shelters and a smattering of tables throughout the park, it also features trails; a lake stocked with crappie, bream, Largemouth bass and catfish; and the Atlanta Botanical Garden (1345 Piedmont Ave NE, atlantabg.org), with its tranquil Japanese garden and Canopy Walk bridge — shaded by oak, hickory and poplar trees and suspended 40 feet above blooms.

 

Featuring wide, open lawns perfect for picnicking, 17-acre Historic Fourth Ward Park is built on the former site of the Ponce de Leon amusement park and connected by the Beltline to Freedom Park and Piedmont Park. Beyond the playground’s slides, swings, rock walls and splashpad, you’ll find an urban forest, waterfall-frocked pond, wildflower meadow and skatepark, which was christened by Tony Hawk when it opened in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood in 2011. Say you don’t feel like packing a picnic yourself, swing by Krog Street Market (99 Krog St. NE, krogstreetmarket.com) first. Set in a former cast-iron stove factory, it brims with buzz-worthy prepared fare.

 

Locals flock to 30-acre Morgan Falls Overlook Park (200 Morgan Falls Rd.,Sandy Springs, 720-770-5600, sandyspringsga.gov), perched on a hill above the Chattahoochee River, where Morgan Falls Dam creates Bull Sluice Lake. The picturesque cove — all the more beautiful at sunset — features not only prime picnic spots, but also leafy trails, an impressive playground, and a floating dock for launching canoes and stand-up paddleboards. 

 

Located in east Douglas County, 15 miles from downtown Atlanta, 2,549-acre Sweetwater Creek State Park ( 1750 Mount Vernon Rd, Lithia Springs, 770-732-5871, gastateparks.org/SweetwaterCreek) is named for the rolling creek that intersects it. The pretty park is marked by rugged hills, rocky outcrops and historic mill ruins. Meanwhile, its trails take visitors through fields and hardwood forest stippled with ferns, magnolias and wild azaleas. Take time to ascend its rocky bluffs, where you can take in views of the rapids below. There’s also a campground and yurt village for day-into-nighttime affairs.

 

Owned by and located on the grounds of Emory University, 154-acre Lullwater Preserve (1463 Clifton Rd., Decatur, 404-727-6123, emoryhistory.emory.edu) is a sight to behold. Keep watch for frogs, salamanders and newts as you cross the lake by suspension bridge and hike trails, where fox, beaver and bunny sightings are the norm. Be sure to check out the ruins of the old octagonal powerhouse, too, which supplied energy to 1926 Tudor mansion, the Lullwater House.

 

Want to uncover more essential and under-the-radar Atlanta spots? Check out our insider’s guide to the city.

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