Atlanta’s Best Kept Secret

It’s summertime again, or maybe finals time, if you are like me. Honestly, I am to the point where my brain is feeling simply fried and I absolutely need to unwind, but I also need to study and kind of want to have some summer fun, too. There is only one true solution to all of these problems…. Its about time I shared with you what may be Atlanta’s best park.

Grant Park is absolutely a fairytale. Its ancient trees make it shady and cool when it starts to warm up around here, but you can also always find a sunny spot on its rolling hills, where you can lay out a blanket of a towel and hit the books or catch a nap.

I should also mention that it is generally very empty. It is not eerie, or creepy, like you might find in some smaller parks, but it is peaceful. On some days it is so quiet you can even hear the lions roaring in the nearby zoo. That’s right, I wasn’t kidding when I said fairytale.

The park isn’t trying to “make a buck” on you either. If you want to splash in the park’s pool as the city slowly starts turning into “Hotlanta,” you can do it for free from 1:30 PM until 4:00 PM; prime swimming time.

Not only that, but as many of you many know the famous (or infamous, depending on how you look at it) Peachtree Road Race is rapidly approaching, and if you or a friend/ family member is looking for somewhere to train, don’t hit the gym, hit the park! Grant is very well known among runners for being great for light hill conditioning and varied terrain. Plus, it’s downtown, so you can get used to running in the city, and outdoors.

Of course you are probably busy, but there is no way, especially in the up and coming summer months, that you will be too busy to visit Atlanta’s most underrated park. It is about time for some “you” time, and time you checked out Atlanta’s best kept secret, Grant Park.


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Chastain Park

You may have recently visited a park or two, but I know from personal experience that when I choose a smaller park, I often have to pick between two good things.

For example, I may have to choose between location and atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, parks are still my favorite places, but sometimes the compromise of a “perfect park” seems just out of reach.

Chastain Park is the epitome of this “perfect compromise.” Nestled in a quiet neighborhood, you can easily avoid having to be around busy exhaust ridden streets, but it is also walking distance from cool restaurants and places to hang out; restaurants like Fellini’s Pizzeria. (Which is pretty good, and also inexpensive, I must say).

Chastain is also huge! The sheer number of amenities that are available to members and non-members alike is insane. You can go for a swim, play tennis walk on the trails or, if you are willing to shell out a couple extra bucks, you can take horse-riding lessons!

Another thing I love about Chastain is the space it covers. The park is incredibly spacious. You will never feel crowded on a field at Chastain, unless it is the green of Chastain’s popular amphitheater.

If you want to listen to live music but can’t afford a ticket, Chastain Park is even listening distance from the amphitheater! So you can grab a picnic blanket and enjoy. You can even bring some friends and have your own sort of mini concert party.

It does not matter what you are looking for, if it involves parks you can find it at Chastain. The park is so big that you can go for a peaceful walk at one end, and listen to a rock show in another part. It is ideal for running swimming and tennis. It is truly the best of both worlds.

OnAir says: What are your favorite green spaces in your community? Leave us a comment about your favorite parks and what you like to do there.

Photo credit: PATH Foundation

Stone Mountain

Ok, so if you live in or around Atlanta I am willing to bet you or someone you have visited Stone Mountain Park. True, it is a lot more commercial now than it used to be, but it still has so much to offer with regards to nature.

For 10 dollars a vehicle, or 35 dollars annually, you can enter a pretty cool place. It’s about a mile walk to the top of the mountain, and not a particularly painful of rigorous course. Some people even run up and down the mountain as a workout!

The view from the top is absolutely great, and you may even encounter some friendly critters on the way up. Stone Mountain has a famous songbird trail in addition to its normal trail, if birds are your thing.

All this great stuff can make it hard to leave the park! That’s totally understandable, and makes the fact that Stone Mountain allows overnight camping for fairly low fees pretty convenient. If you are interested in this, I would recommend checking out the rules, rates and regulations on their official website:

Other than a campground and lots of hiking trails, there are picnic areas, and a lake at the base of the mountain. Pretty cool, huh? Its not like you’ll find a lot of mountains around the city, so cram as many pals as you legally can into a car, and go climb a mountain!

Spring Is Here!

photo credit: IgoUgo

Springtime is finally here and along with it a chance to get back to nature! I know I have been missing the warm weather, and the winter schoolwork rush has had me inside more than I’d like but now that that’s over I can’t think about a better place to reconnect with the natural world than the Chattahoochee River Park.

This location has the potential to be whatever kind of park you are looking for. Some days I go just to listen to the river flow and the critters scurry along but other days I spend my time on the river, white water kayaking. You can have a peaceful or exciting time. It’s up to you! This is the park where my father proposed to my mother and where my sister and I used to scrape our knees hiking, as kids.

The fun times you can have don’t stop at boating, hiking, biking, bird watching and picnicking. On Wednesday the 27th there is a special park ranger led wildflower tour available with reservation and at no extra cost to you. That means for just six dollars total, you and a special friend can go see some of Georgia’s truly native beauty.

Not only is it the Chattahoochee River Park a site full of opportunities, but it is also rich in Georgia history. The word “Chattahoochee” is actually a Cherokee word meaning, “Painted Rocks,” like the ones along the banks of this beautiful river. The Cherokee people actually used to camp along the banks of the Chattahoochee for many years. The park rangers will be more than glad to talk to you about the history if you ask! Trust me.

If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, some fun in the sun, a bit of history, or just a peaceful place to eat lunch, Chattahoochee River Park is the place to be! It simply is perfect for the season, but don’t take my word for it. Grab some friends and see for yourself.

Green Space Spotlight: Henderson Park

Atlanta has a lot of parks, but have you ever gone to an inner city park and found it to be crowded? I know I have. Of course, it’s great that there are people in these parks, and even better that you want to be one of them, but sometimes a more peaceful and under-the-radar park is the way to go.

If you live in Tucker, GA, then you may have heard of Henderson Park. It is probably one of the most scenic parks in the Atlanta area that I have ever been to, particularly around this time of year. First of all, the park is 114 acres, so there really is no risk of it becoming crowded. Then of course it has soccer fields, tennis courts, playgrounds and picnic areas–but my favorite parts of this park are its lake and trails.

I have personally visited Henderson a few times with my friend’s family and I don’t believe I have ever run into another person while walking around the trail. The experience of walking past beautiful plants and lovely miniature waterfalls is simply breathtaking, and because the park is such a quiet place, it is a very peaceful experience also.

I know no one wants to think about it or talk about it, but the picnic areas here are perfect for doing homework. I bet I sound crazy, right? Saying that you should go to a public place for some peace and quiet. I’m actually really serious, though. We have all had those days where we are trying to work but someone at home is doing the dishes or talking on the phone, or playing loud music. Trust me, Henderson Park is a great place to go for peace and quiet, and when you finish your homework it is a great place to pass the time.

Maybe call up a friend and go have a picnic together, or go for a jog. Skip rocks on the lake, take your dog out, or just get a breath of fresh air and relax. Whatever the reason, Henderson offers you that “you” time that everyone needs now and then, without the cost of the movies or hassle of a crowd.


OnAir says: Parks are the best places to get a breath of fresh air. So keep the air fresher by getting there without gas–walk, skate, or ride your bike!

Running to Brook Run

What do dogs and skateboards have in common? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not the latest viral Youtube video. Still haven’t got it? It’s Brook Run Park! Brook Run Park in Dunwoody, GA is actually two separate parks. The first is a 4-acre dog park. The second is really cool skate park.

The Dog park is completely free. You can bring your buddy, and meet other loving pet owners such as yourself. There are trails and benches and you can bring toys. It is a great way to spend a Saturday and your furry friend will be forever grateful.

The skatepark is also a great way to spend time, and meet lots of cool people. It accommodates not only for skateboards, but also BMX bikers, and in-line skaters. It costs $3 for minors, and $4 if you are over 18. The crowd In the park is mostly teenagers, and everyone is very friendly.

I highly recommend visiting both websites to read all of the fun things the parks offers, as well as get your release forms for the skate park and read the reasonable regulations. Especially now that the weather is getting cooler, I’m sure you want to be inside with the heater cranked up but remember that you can stay warm, stay fit, and help keep our world cleaner if you get outside and get active!

Historic Fourth Ward Park

Hi guys! So, a while back I posted about Historic Fourth Ward Skate Park.  But did you know that the skate park is just a tiny piece of one of Atlanta’s largest and greatest public parks?

Located on the Atlanta BeltLine, Historic Fourth Ward Park is one of the first sections open of the BeltLine project. This project plans to build multiple parks and trails on over 22 miles of old train track. It will encourage more people to get out and get active without polluting the air!

Historic Fourth Ward Park is a beautiful example of the great things to come from the BeltLine project. The park is wonderfully scenic with a wildflower meadow, an urban forest, a lake, a stream and even waterfalls. It’s like going on a road trip without leaving the city!

Among the lawns and scenery there is also a “splash pad,” which is basically a set of fountains for you to cool off in on hot days. Plus, you are not far from a thriving part of town.

Old Fourth Ward is an historic area, which has recently undergone lots of changes, making it a much cooler, safer place to hang out. The park is definitely one of them.  Along with new, recently opened condos, the Masquerade (a concert venue), and some interesting new restaurants, it is succeeding in bringing a whole new caliber of fun, young people (such as yourself) to the area.

Another great thing about the park is its location. From the park it is just a short walk or bike ride to downtown, midtown, Virginia Highlands or the Little Five Points/ Inman park area.

There are no excuses not to stop by!

Centennial Olympic Park

The Olympic games are an international tradition that have their roots in Roman times. These games are the world’s linchpin. They are something that connects us all to one another.

Some of you might not know this, or even have been born at the time, but in 1996 Atlanta had the honor or hosting these games. The 1996 Olympic games were highly eventful, and left an impact on Atlanta that can still be experienced today. Probably the most visible impact that was left is Centennial Olympic Park.

This park is probably one of Atlanta’s most active parks. It is constantly putting on concerts, such as “Party in the Park.” It also has fountains to enjoy and cool off in, fields, festivals, an ice skating rink (only in the winter), and it is conveniently located downtown, so you are never in need of a place to go eat.

Centennial is a point of pride for Atlanta. The airport has a mural of it, it is in a lot of our tourism adverts, and it is just generally well-known. This place is totally unique to this city, and is beloved by the population here. The park’s construction was even partially funded by residents who paid to have their names carved onto bricks in the park. It is definitely a great place to go.

Whether you are visiting the city, or have lived here your whole life, Centennial Olympic park is the place to be, especially now. It is a great way to view and experience some of our city’s history, as well as have a good time. In 1996 the whole world saw the park on their televisions. Now it is time to go and visit it in real life.

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OnAir says: You know what else was great about the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta? They prompted a city-wide clean air effort that would become The Clean Air Campaign! And yeah, we kinda like those guys. Click here to learn a little more about how that went down.

A Park Themed Vacation

Photo credit: National Geographic

The first half of summer is already over for most people, and the camps and time spent at the pool are starting to become mundane. Now it is about time to take the great family vacation, which can be the best or the worst part of the entire break.

On one hand, you may get to go somewhere new or cool, but on the other hand, you will have to share a room with your whole family for possibly a number of weeks, and you might not really enjoy the activities that your parents pick.

A good idea is to give a little friendly input about the trip. I’m not saying you will get to pick the location, but I bet your parents want you to have a good time on the trip, too. If they didn’t, then they wouldn’t pay the money to bring you along.

Probably one of the best suggestions you can make would be to spend part of your time outdoors. You won’t get cramped into small spaces with your baby brother, and you can pick from thousands of things to do. Each state has its own, very unique features, activities and scenery, but most importantly each state has its own national parks!

National parks are some of this country’s most underestimated sources of not just fun, but of beauty and wonder. The western national parks and forests in the United States will literally take your breath away. Pictures can’t even depict the magnificence of the natural world. Water is so blue it looks unreal. Trees are bigger than thirty houses, and pebbles shine like millions of diamonds.

No matter what state you are in, and no matter where you are in that state, a national park is never more than a car ride away, and is always more fun than anything your parents will think of. This summer, think whitewater kayaking in a river, not White Water rides.

This summer, think park themed, and not theme parks.

OnAir says: Wanna visit a national park, but not sure which one’s closest? Check out the National Park Service’s Find a Park page. Enter your location or just click on the map to find the park closest to you. Now go outside!

Get outside.

Passing time is one of summer’s only great challenges. Its fun to watch TV and sit at home for a few days, but after the first few weeks of vacation, those activities become increasingly dull. A great way to spice up the summer is tennis. Tennis is a great game, because to play a legitimate game of tennis, you can play with two or four people. Plus you can invent your own tennis type games for different numbers, and if all of your friends are out of town, you really just need a wall, a racket, and a ball.

Blackburn Park has an incredibly well equipped tennis center. The park allows for reservations of courts, and even has a store where you can buy tennis accessories. Another great thing about the Blackburn tennis center is that it hires some local teen tennis players. If you don’t feel like you are a talented player yet, the center offers junior classes and private instruction, plus you can always learn by doing.

Never really cared for tennis? What about softball? The park also has softball and baseball fields. Never one for those sports? The park has a trail, and the trail is marked, so you get to see exactly how far you have traveled. If you just want to grill or picnic, you won’t find a better place to do that either. Plus if you get stuck in the rain, the picnic area is covered, so you won’t have to get wet.

This might seem strange, but I think Blackburn is probably my favorite park to throw around a Frisbee. Maybe it’s the wide, open spaces, or the lovely picnic area, but something about this park just encourages lighthearted fun. The park ends in a small field, and then a family friendly grille. Also within short walking distance of the park are a sushi restaurant, a pub that allows families, a wing restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, and a Thai restaurant. I mention this because in my experience, having a midday picnic in the park with some friends, and then hanging out for a few hours and attending one of the restaurants for dinner has always been a good way to fill a day for me. The grille and pub also allow for you to sit outside with your dog while you eat, so you can bring your furry buddy along, too.

Between the sports, the walking, and the picnicking, I assure you that you will not be bored. Blackburn is a relaxing, yet youthful and fun place to spend a lazy summer day. A day in this park may leave you tired, but it will leave you content as well, not with one of those headaches you get from staring at the television for an extended period of time. Lying in the grass and watching the clouds move, you absorb vitamin D from the sun. Lying on the couch and watching a screen (especially at night) can release a hormone in your brain tricking your mind into thinking it is day, and keeping you from a healthy night’s sleep.

The more entertaining activity is obvious, and so is the healthier one. Save yourself the headache and the insomnia. Get outside.