Grant Park is not only Atlanta’s oldest park but also one of its most diverse destinations. Covering more than 130 acres, Grant Park is the perfect place for visitors to explore an urban oasis beyond the hustle and bustle of Downtown while soaking up the history of bygone eras. Nearby, an array of shopping and dining options makes it a cinch to mingle with locals in beloved neighborhood spots. Meanwhile, Zoo Atlanta and the serene acres of Oakland Cemetery, the most historic cemetery in the city, are other highlights of the area and its namesake park, a must-do whether you’re a longtime local or just in town for a few days.
Rich History and Outdoor Recreation
Inside the green space of Grant Park, there are walking and jogging paths, two natural springs, a recreation center with adjacent basketball and tennis courts, a playground plus historic landmarks like the restored Milledge Fountain. In the park’s southeastern corner, a Civil War fort stands more than 1,000 feet high, offering a lesser-known spot where you can get an incredible view of the Downtown skyline.
The Wonders of Zoo Atlanta
Zoo Atlanta, originally known as the Grant Park Zoo, was established in 1889, just a few years after the park itself. Today, the zoo is home to some 1,500 animals, including pandas, zebras, orangutans, gorillas, crocodiles, tortoises, snakes, a variety of birds and many other species. To provide a deeper understanding of the animals, zookeepers offer educational talks, and visitors can also take advantage of presentations like raptor flights and “wild encounter” programs that allow close-ups with animals. In recent years, the zoo has added even more specialty programs, such as animal-themed family yoga, cultural heritage festivals and art exhibits.
During the fall, the popular Boo at the Zoo, which is held over four days, transforms the space into a family-friendly Halloween festival; entry is free with zoo admission.
Zoo Atlanta is home to at least 1,500 animals. (📷 Jim Bowen)
One of the City’s Best Farmers Markets
Grant Park is especially busy on Sundays when the hugely popular Grant Park Farmers Market, a favorite of local chefs and foodies, draws more than 50 vendors. All along Cherokee Avenue, you’ll find fresh produce and specialty groceries (sauces, breads, chocolates, pasta), ready-to-devour fare (crepes, pastries, pizza, kombucha) and handmade goods like jewelry, sustainable bath and body products and more. The market runs from April through mid-December, with vendors rotating during different seasons. Events also include chef demonstrations, with occasional appearances from hometown stars like Hugh Acheson or Kevin Gillespie.
Restaurants and Bars Near Grant Park
On any given day round the clock, you can walk to the end of Cherokee Avenue and find something to please your palate in the cluster of bustling neighborhood restaurants like Dakota Blue and Grant Central Pizza. Around the corner on Memorial Drive are a slew of additional hot spots, such as Mezcalito’s Cocina and Tequila Bar, the seafood-centric Six Feet Under whose name is a nod to historic Oakland Cemetery just across the street, and from the balcony,you can get a prime view of the serene rows of tombstones and the much-beloved brunch mainstay, Ria’s Bluebird.
Grant Park Visitor Information
Where to Park
Free parking is available in the Public/Zoo Atlanta Parking Lot (800 Cherokee Ave. SE). You might also find street parking near the park, but be sure to observe signs and don’t block driveways.
Written by Jhoni Jackson for RootsRated Media in partnership with Atlanta CVB.
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