Neighborhoods are a big part of Atlanta. Each area has its own unique specialties and attractions, and -- because Atlanta is incredibly fond of its green spaces -- parks, trails and other nature-centric attractions aren't hard to come by anywhere. While you could spend years exploring the diverse offerings, a few Atlanta neighborhoods really stand out in combining city life with outdoorsy options. Our five picks below, all of them within a few miles of downtown Atlanta, do just that -- and they never fail to exude that distinctive Atlanta charm.
Inman Park is filled with both Victorian-style homes and former industrial spaces that have been turned into bars and restaurants. (Eddie Krebs, flickr)
One of Atlanta's most celebrated festivals takes places in the tree-lined neighborhood of Inman Park, about three miles east of downtown. The annual Inman Park Fest has been running strong for more than 50 years. It opens with a tour of some of the area's ornate, historic Victorian-style homes, and throughout the rest of the weekend, local breweries, restaurants and food vendors fill the streets. You’ll also find an artist market, multiple live music stages and, of course, the Saturday afternoon parade, a crowd favorite.
The festival is a neighborhood centerpiece, no doubt. But there are plenty more outdoor attractions in Inman Park -- a lot of them year-round. Springvale Park, accessible from Waverly Way, is a tucked-away green space intersected by Euclid Avenue. On the northern side, the playground and duck pond see lots of action, while the southern area is less blissfully woodsy and ideal for exploring. The BeltLine Eastside Trail also runs through Inman Park, and part of Freedom Park overlaps it, too.
Zoo Atlanta may be its best-known landmark for some, but Grant Park boasts a slew of features that make it an outdoor lover's dream -- especially if you're into history. Nearby Oakland Cemetery, built in 1850, is a local treasure. Churches and Victorian-style homes built around the same time accent the park itself, which spans more than 130 acres. It's Atlanta's oldest city park and is dotted by five freshwater springs, a retention pond, stone fountains and a serene, picnic-perfect gazebo.
The Grant Park Farmer's Market, however, is the area's weekly must-do. Every Sunday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., an impressive roster of local organic farms and artisanal food vendors fill the street, and the crowds reliably come running. Be sure to check the calendar of special events to find out about celebrity chef demos, yoga, craft markets and more.
Old Fourth Ward
The Old Fourth Ward is known for its civil rights history and collection of murals. (Lisa Panero, flickr)
Martin Luther King Jr. grew up in the Old Fourth Ward, just a short walk from downtown Atlanta. His boyhood home, a Queen Anne-style house on Auburn Avenue, is open to visitors, and the area surrounding it is a full-fledged monument to the civil rights icon. You’ll find a rose garden and a striking statue built to honor his legacy as well as an inspiring educational center that attracts nearly a million visitors each year. Nearby, there's the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, an indoor strip of grocers and restaurants buzzing with shoppers since the 1920s.
There are lots of new additions within the Old Fourth Ward, too. After sunset, Edgewood Avenue becomes a thriving stretch of nightlife with its bars and restaurants filled to the brim with fun-loving patrons. Another obvious area standout is Ponce City Market, with its top-notch food hall and rooftop amusement park, which sits along the Eastside Trail of the BeltLine. On the same path, you'll also hit the newly built Historic Fourth Ward Park, championed for its innovative play structures and sizable public skate park. Plus, the district boasts a high concentration of the massive, breathtaking murals commissioned through Atlanta's international contemporary arts conference, Living Walls, the City Speaks.
East Atlanta Village
Located exactly where its namesake implies, the supremely walkable East Atlanta Village is chock-full of eclectic local businesses, from restaurants to coffeehouses to retail shops and music venues. Naturally, it's the backdrop for many a neighborhood fest: The East Atlanta Strut, with its parade, live music and classic car show, draws about 10,000 folks annually. There's also a craft beer fest, a bike race that draws skilled cyclists from around the Southeast, and, as of last year, EAV is also home to Project Pabst, part of a major fall music series organized by Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Just a few minutes down Moreland Avenue, you’ll find trails to hike at Constitution Lakes, two lovely bodies of water formed by excavations of Georgia red clay. While it's certainly picturesque, it’s also known for another novelty: Found objects like fishing rods, bits of discarded furniture and old toys are shaped into quirky folk-art pieces and placed sporadically along Doll's Head Trail. The endeavor was initiated by local artist Joel Slaton, who encouraged all visitors to add their own work. There's no other park like Constitution Lakes in Atlanta.
The Midtown neighborhood is home to Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Botanical Garden, two of Atlanta's top green spaces. (TimothyJ, flickr)
There's good reason that Midtown is known as the "heart of the arts," as it’s home to the bulk of Atlanta's most revered cultural institutions, like 14th Street Playhouse, Center for Puppetry Arts, Alliance Theatre, Museum of Design Atlanta, the historic Fox Theatre and the High Museum of Art. As if that weren't enough, though, Midtown also includes Atlanta's most famous green spaces: Piedmont Park and Atlanta Botanical Garden.
At a generous 185 acres, accommodating Piedmont Park's immense array of features was a breeze: There's the lovely Lake Clara Meer, which is open to fishing, plus there are basketball and bocce ball courts, softball and soccer fields, a dog park, wetlands and woodlands, two large meadows for picnics backdropped by the Atlanta skyline, and more. And at the neighboring Atlanta Botanical Garden, its 30 acres are packed with spectacular displays of flora -- the Japanese Garden, an edible garden, an orchid center, a rose garden, carnivorous plants and more.
Originally written by RootsRated for Atlanta CVB.