Our city’s beautiful weather means that many Atlanta outdoor activities are open and enjoyable all year round. In 2021, explore all that Atlanta has to offer with these 15 outdoor experiences. From meeting an emu to watching planes take off, these unique ideas are perfect for an outdoor Atlanta date, family time, or hanging with your friends.
TLDR: In this article, you’ll find:
- outdoor Atlanta activities for the family
- romantic outdoor date ideas in Atlanta
- ways to have fun outdoors in Atlanta
- Atlanta COVID-safe group activities
- things to do with your friends in Atlanta
Note: be sure to check each venue’s website and/or social media for up-to-date visitor information including hours, pricing, parking, and COVID-19 precautions and guidelines.
1. Meet Animals at a Wildlife Rescue Center
Located next to Arabia Mountain in Lithonia, AWARE Wildlife Center (Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort) hosts free hour-long tours each Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting. You’ll meet and learn about the organization’s Ambassador Animals. Get up-close and personal with critters like owls, hawks, possums, turtles, and more! Reservations are not required.
Afterward, hike around the beautiful Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. You can explore dozens of miles of trails and wander through meadows, across granite mountains, and along lakes and streams. Dogs are welcome at Arabia Mountain, too!
2. Take a Grant Park Walking Food Tour – One of Our Favorite Outdoor Atlanta Activities!
Experience the best of Atlanta’s food, fun, and history in one of the city’s most beautiful neighborhoods. On the Grant Park Past & Future Food Walk, you’ll explore Grant Park and taste 9 modern, Southern-inspired dishes. The walking tours include 3 food stops spread across 2.5 hours and 1.2 easy miles of walking. Taste foods like fried catfish, plus okra with cucumber wasabi sauce.
3. Hang Out at the Lake Claire Land Trust and Meet an Emu
Lake Claire is one of those “if you know, you know” outdoor Atlanta spots. At Lake Claire, you’ll find a playground, a pond, a children’s garden, and a community garden. Plus, visit Big Lou the emu, who has lived at the land trust for around twenty years.
Pre-COVID, Lake Claire also played host to festivals and drum circles. Keep an eye on Facebook to stay up-to-date when these events resume. Above the drum circle, you’ll find a pair of Adirondack chairs. From this vantage point – the highest in the area – you can take in views of Atlanta’s skyline as well as DeKalb Ave’s below.
4. Patio-Lounge, Eat, and Watch Planes at the 57th Fighter Group Restaurant
Featuring incredible views of Peachtree DeKalb Airport, the patio at the 57th Fighter Group Restaurant is a truly unique place to experience outdoor Atlanta dining. It’s located just at the end of the local airport’s south runways. Watch planes take off and land as you enjoy your dinner or lunch. The restaurant’s aviation theme allows you to fully immerse yourself in the world of flight.
Choose from steaks, salads, sandwiches, pastas, and mouth-watering appetizers and sides. If you have kiddos in tow, head to the PDK Airport playground after your meal to burn off some energy! This is one of our fave hidden gems.
5. Skate, Play Frisbee Golf, and Watch Pups Run Around at Brook Run
This 110-acre Dunwoody park was completely revamped in recent years. Brook Run now includes a large playground, a 2-mile multi-use trail, and a dog park. There’s also a skate park that’s the perfect backdrop for your latest IG or TikTok roller skating video. Plus, you’ll find a community garden, multi-use fields, event pavilions, an amphitheater, and a disc golf course.
If you’re feeling adventurous, Brook Run is also home to TreeTop Quest, an obstacle course and zip line course open to individuals and groups. Brook Run also hosts food trucks on Thursday nights during the summer.
6. Get Existential at Historic Oakland Cemetery
Nestled between Grant Park and downtown Atlanta, Oakland Cemetery is a popular and free outdoor Atlanta spot. It’s also Atlanta’s oldest public park. On any given day, you’ll find folks here who are seriously contemplating our city’s history and their own mortality. You’ll also find cheerful families out for a stroll, dogs sniffing everything in sight (they’re welcome!), and couples picnicking happily.
Noteworthy Atlantans who rest here include Maynard Jackson, Margaret Mitchell, Bobby Jones, and many others. Make it especially fun with a scavenger hunt purchased at the book shop.
Pro tip: Our Grant Park Past & Future Food Walk nearby includes a jaunt through Oakland Cemetery as well as 9 food tastings at 3 locally-owned stops, all led by an expert guide!
7. Brewery-Hop Around Avondale Estates
Recently, USA Today named Avondale Estates as the best small town beer scene in the country. This relatively small neighborhood boasts a great beer selection: Wild Heaven, The Lost Druid, The Beer Growler & Pint Haus, and (soon) Little Cottage Brewery. Take a self-guided brewery patio tour.
Then, head to My Parents’ Basement, a “friendly neighborhood comic book bar” with pinball machines and plenty of comic books and fandom merch for purchase. Lounge on their patio and enjoy a local craft pour along with modern pub fare. And, you are not too far away from Stone Mountain Park, making it easy to burn off those beer calories.
8. Get Weird in Little 5 Points – One of Our Favorite Outdoor Atlanta Activities!
Little 5 Points is known for being proudly unique and expressive. Tattoos, piercings, and bold outfit choices are the norm in this hip neighborhood. While L5P is known for some of its indoor shops, it’s still a fantastic place to spend a day outdoors.
Hit up the patio or rooftop bar at Corner Tavern. Or, grab some juice from Arden’s Garden or coffee from Aurora or Java Lords. Then, head to nearby Freedom Park for a stroll or ride around its 200 acres and 8 miles of paved paths.
9. Stargaze at the Jon Wood Astronomy Field
This spot is considered one of the best places to stargaze within an hour of Atlanta. The Jon Wood Astronomy Field is located in the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield, GA, 50 minutes southeast of Atlanta. Your drive can be rewarded with stunning, star-filled views away from the city’s lights.
10. Explore the Carter Center’s Gardens – One of our Favorite Atlanta Outdoor Activities
Sure, the Carter Center has a fantastic museum and library. But, did you know that this is one of the best-kept secret outdoor Atlanta spots as well? At the time of writing, the Carter Center’s indoor facilities are closed due to COVID-19.
However, the property’s 35 acres include gardens that are open for exploration. Experience formal gardens, sculptures, a koi pond, and waterfalls tucked between two small lakes. Plus, stroll the Rose Garden with more than 40 varieties of roses – including the coral Rosalynn Carter rose!
11. Bike Around the Silver Comet Trail
As much as we love the Atlanta Beltline, it can get a little crowded on the weekends. Instead, head to the Silver Comet Trail, tucked away in Smyrna. This super-long (61.5-mile!) paved, dog-friendly trail heads all the way to the Alabama state line. You can walk, rollerblade, run, push a stroller, and cycle on this multi-use path.
For all your bicycle needs, head to Comet Trail Cycles located at the Floyd Road Trailhead. This shop offers bikes for sale, bike rentals by the hour or day, and bike repairs.
12. See an Outdoor Theatre Performance
The Alliance Theatre’s Under the Tent Series performances take place outdoors at the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown. Playing through June 6, Working: A Musical features original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Stephen Schwartz, and James Taylor. The show explores what makes our work meaningful across all walks of life, reminding us to celebrate not just what we do, but how we do it.
13. Learn Outdoor Skills with REI
Have you craved more outdoor adventures, but aren’t sure where to start or what equipment you need? Check out REI’s Atlanta outdoor classes. With free and paid classes, you can learn about hiking, backpacking, and stargazing. Plus, schedule a free virtual outfitting session.
You can find everything you need, whether you want to hit the hiking trails or the Chattahoochee River.
14. Pick Local Fruit – One of Our Favorite Atlanta Outdoor Activities!
There’s almost nothing more delicious than juicy, in-season produce picked straight from the ground with your own hands. At Southern Belle Farm in McDonough, you can pick strawberries in spring, peaches in summer, pumpkins in fall, and holiday trees in winter. At their country market, you’ll also find a variety of fresh-picked produce, baked goods, and local jams, honeys, and pickles.
15. Hike Around the Morningside Nature Preserve
Morningside Nature Preserve feels like a haven of wilderness in the heart of metro Atlanta. This 2-mile hike guide shared by Atlanta Trails is an easy, dog-friendly jaunt. Or, explore the park’s full 33 acres of rolling forest in the Morningside-Lenox Park neighborhood.
The trail terrain includes dirt paths, wooden boardwalks, and a suspended bridge. A sandy beach-like area underneath the bridge is a favorite spot for dogs to splash in the river. Morningside Nature Preserve is also a great bird-watching spot.
16. Take a Stroll Around Centennial Olympic Park
There is so much to see at Centennial Olympic Park, even if you don’t go inside the museums. Start in the morning and walk from the World of Coca Cola to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Then, walk past the Georgia Aquarium. Enjoy the fountains and the bricks with names.
If you have time, hop on the Streetcar to visit the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site, which is completely outdoors.
17. Make it a Midtown Day
While Midtown is the heart of Atlanta’s city center, there is lots of green space, too. Start at Piedmont Park, then head into the Atlanta Botanical Garden. After lunch at Ponce City Market or Atlantic Station, visit the High Museum of Art. You don’t even need to go inside to have an enjoyable outdoor Midtown day.
In Atlanta, there are so many ways to have fun outdoors in 2021. Have fun exploring!