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Best Spot to Commune with Nature/Best Park

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Creative Loafing has been presenting Atlanta's Best People, Places and Events since 1972. These are some of the past winners for this category:

Best Park BOA Award Winner

Year » 2019
Picked By » Critics
Type of Award » Cityscape
Piedmont Park (Featured)

Best Place to Get Back to Nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2019
Picked By » Readers
Type of Award » Cityscape
Sweetwater Creek State Park (Featured)

Best Spot to Commune with Nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2019
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Tie: Atlanta with Nature Botanical Garden & Chattahoochee Nature Center

Best Place to Get Back to Nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2019
Picked By » Critics
Type of Award » Cityscape
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Best Park BOA Award Winner

Year » 2019
Picked By » Readers
Type of Award » Cityscape
Piedmont Park (Featured)

Best Spot to Commune with Nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2019
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Critics
Constitution Lake Park (Featured)

Best Park BOA Award Winner

Year » 2018
Picked By » Readers
Type of Award » Cityscape
Piedmont Park (Featured)

Best Spot to Commune with Nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2018
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Critics
Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area (Featured)

Best Park BOA Award Winner

Year » 2018
Picked By » Critics
Type of Award » Cityscape
Piedmont Park (Featured)

Best park BOA Award Winner

Year » 2017
Picked By » Readers
Type of Award » Cityscape
Piedmont Park (Featured)

Best zen nature spot within 17 miles of Downtown Atlanta BOA Award Winner

Year » 2017
Picked By » Critics
Type of Award » Cityscape
Sweetwater Creek State Park (Featured)
A quick drive west on I-20 from the connector delivers you to a serene environment that feels far, far away from the chaos of Atlanta’s urban center. At SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK you can find your bliss in myriad ways: Rent a canoe and go out on the 215-acre reservoir and contemplate the interconnectednessmore...

A quick drive west on I-20 from the connector delivers you to a serene environment that feels far, far away from the chaos of Atlanta’s urban center. At SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK you can find your bliss in myriad ways: Rent a canoe and go out on the 215-acre reservoir and contemplate the interconnectedness of us all or take a hike and praise the creator of your choice (or none at all, if that’s your thing). The best hike combines the White Trail with the Red Trail, leaving the visitor center and heading counterclockwise for a 4.5-mile loop jaunt. Starting with a warning not to disturb rattlesnakes about a mile in before winding through a forest past a turtle pond and climaxing with a roughly 2-mile ramble on the red trail, hugging the whitewater swells of Sweetwater Creek beside you. The sounds alone will provide salvation. Bathe in the water for a rebirth, with plenty of deer checking you out in the brilliant afternoon light. Whatever your chosen journey, Sweetwater Creek will deliver the zen you seek. 1750 Mount Vernon Road, Lithia Springs. 770-732-5871. www.gastateparks.org/SweetwaterCreek.

(Courtesy of gastateparks.org/PressRoom).

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Best spot to commune with nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2017
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Best local place to commune with nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2016
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Best local place to commune with nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2015
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Atlanta Botanical Garden (Featured)

Best place for a seance BOA Award Winner

Year » 2014
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Critics
Westview Cemetery Inc.

Best spot to commune with nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2014
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Sweetwater Creek State Park (Featured)

Best spot to commune with nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2014
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Critics
Constitution Lake Park (Featured)

Best local place to commune with nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2013
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Atlanta Botanical Garden (Featured)

Best riverwalk BOA Award Winner

Year » 2013
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Critics
Island Ford
If you want a quiet hike or run in one of the Chattahoochee River's more scenic and less crowded areas (with plenty of nooks where you can take a dip, depending on the water quality) head to Island Ford. The approximately 300-acre North Fulton enclave, which serves as the recreation area's headquarters,more...
If you want a quiet hike or run in one of the Chattahoochee River's more scenic and less crowded areas (with plenty of nooks where you can take a dip, depending on the water quality) head to Island Ford. The approximately 300-acre North Fulton enclave, which serves as the recreation area's headquarters, boasts a trail through the forest and along the river with clear views of gently flowing water, shoals, kayaking, and geese galore. Unlike other sections of the river, Island Ford is relatively free from development. If you have any questions, stop by the well-maintained visitor station that was once the 1930s summer home - made with timber from the Okefenokee Swamp and Stone Mountain rock - of former Georgia Supreme Court Judge Samuel Hewlett. www.nps.gov/chat. less...

Best local place to commune with nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2012
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
TIE: Atlanta Botanical Garden and Piedmont Park

Local place to commune with nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2011
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Atlanta Botanical Garden (Featured)

Best urban wilderness refuge BOA Award Winner

Year » 2011
Picked By » Critics
Type of Award » Cityscape
Cascade Springs Nature Preserve (Featured)
You don't need to go to the North Georgia mountains to get into the wild. Just take a trip down Cascade Road in southwest Atlanta. Located deep in the heart of this affluent African-American community sits the Cascade Springs Nature Preserve, a dense, 120-acre woodland with steep inclines, a babblingmore...
You don't need to go to the North Georgia mountains to get into the wild. Just take a trip down Cascade Road in southwest Atlanta. Located deep in the heart of this affluent African-American community sits the Cascade Springs Nature Preserve, a dense, 120-acre woodland with steep inclines, a babbling creek and waterfall, deer and more than 150 native plant species. Moss-covered pathways lead to an outdoor education center. Established in 1979 with city, state and federal funds, the former Creek Indian settlement includes an old spring house where tourists once bathed and the remains of a quarry that produced materials to build nearby homes. The preserve could use some TLC, i.e., trail markers, historical plaques and some replacement boards on a bridge near the waterfall. But you have to admire the rugged, semi-forgotten feel of the site, which was also once the scene of the Battle of Utoy Creek, in which Gen. Sherman's Union forces suffered heavy casualties. 2852 Cascade Road. 404-546-6744. atlantaga.gov. less...

Best local place to commune with nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2010
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Atlanta Botanical Garden (Featured)

Runner-up: Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area


www.nps.gov

Rich Pick: Best place to commune with nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2009
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Critics
Sweetwater Creek State Park (Featured)
The most beautiful — and predictably, the most tourist-heavy — of the local parks, SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK is still best experienced by leaving aside the official trails and activities. With nine miles of hiking, it isn't hard to set your own path. For the athletic, the creek —more...
The most beautiful — and predictably, the most tourist-heavy — of the local parks, SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK is still best experienced by leaving aside the official trails and activities. With nine miles of hiking, it isn't hard to set your own path. For the athletic, the creek — especially post-rainfall — makes for an excellent kayaking run. For a more peaceful Sweetwater experience, there's usually ducks to feed along the reservoir, not to mention multiple docks for fishing. And while not technically a part of nature, the New Manchester Manufacturing Co., a textile mill burned during the Civil War, connects the site to the area's conflicted history and provides an imposing spot to take photos, have a picnic, or use as a landmark during treks. 1750 Mt. Vernon Road, Lithia Springs. 770-732-5871. www.gastateparks.org/info/sweetwater. less...

Best local place to commune with nature BOA Award Winner

Chattahoochee Nature Center

Best local place to commune with nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2009
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Chattahoochee Nature Center (Featured)

Runner-up
Stone Mountain
1000 Robert E. Lee Drive, Stone Mountain, 770-498-5690, www.stonemountainpark.com

Best Local Place to Commune With Nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2008
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Best Local Place to Commune with Nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2007
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Stone Mountain Park (Featured)

Best Place to Commune with Nature Without Leaving the City BOA Award Winner

Year » 2007
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Critics
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
Atlanta may not be the city in a forest anymore, but there are still forests in the city. Scores of wooded acres endure in scattered patches, but the undeveloped fringes of the Hooch are the most dramatic. The CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER NATIONAL RECREATION AREA is a collection of preserved tracts along themore...
Atlanta may not be the city in a forest anymore, but there are still forests in the city. Scores of wooded acres endure in scattered patches, but the undeveloped fringes of the Hooch are the most dramatic. The CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER NATIONAL RECREATION AREA is a collection of preserved tracts along the banks of Georgia’s aquatic aorta from Buford Dam to Atlanta, with ITP sections near Sandy Springs and Vinings. Year-round hiking, fishing, rafting, canoeing and kayaking are all copacetic during daylight hours, and alcohol without glass is, too. It would be wise to enjoy the river sooner rather than later, as our mushrooming metropolis is chugging it down and polluting it up faster than the Appalachian springs in northeast Georgia can trickle it out. less...

Best Place to Get in Touch with Your Inner Ty Pennington BOA Award Winner

Year » 2007
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Critics
Ormewood Park
The problem with neighborhoods is, once they become the Place to Be, you can no longer afford to move there. You’ve got to catch them on the upswing, somewhere between semisqualor and universal respectability. That pretty well describes ORMEWOOD PARK, where it’s still possible to findmore...
The problem with neighborhoods is, once they become the Place to Be, you can no longer afford to move there. You’ve got to catch them on the upswing, somewhere between semisqualor and universal respectability. That pretty well describes ORMEWOOD PARK, where it’s still possible to find affordable bungalows and rehab projects for DIYers on shady, tree-lined streets. Ormewood is close to I-20, and benefits from the recent openings of nearby restaurants and bars in the Glenwood Park development and in East Atlanta Village. A final selling point for those who think long-term: when the Beltline is finished, you’ll be able to take your grandkids to Piedmont Park on the trolley. less...

Best Local Place To Commune With Nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2006
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Chattahoochee Nature Center (Featured)

Best Place to Commune with Nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2005
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Atlanta Botanical Garden (Featured)

Best Place to Commune With Nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2005
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Critics
Ignatius House
Standing on the grounds of IGNATIUS HOUSE, one can’t help but evoke the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” With 20 acres to explore, including a natural waterfall and an outdoor chapel, it’s hard not to quiet yourself at the Sandymore...

Standing on the grounds of IGNATIUS HOUSE, one can’t help but evoke the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” With 20 acres to explore, including a natural waterfall and an outdoor chapel, it’s hard not to quiet yourself at the Sandy Springs prayer and meditation center run by Jesuit priests. If you’re really stressed out, try partaking in a silent weekend retreat. No talking is allowed for two days, so bring all those unresolved issues.
6700 Riverside Drive. 404-255-0503. www.ignatiushouse.org.

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Best Place to Commune with Nature BOA Award Winner

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Best Place to Commune with Nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2004
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Chattahoochee</p> <p> Nature Center

Best Place To Commune With Nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2003
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Chattahoochee River

Best Park BOA Award Winner

Year » 2002
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Piedmont Park (Featured)

Best Place to Commune with Nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2002
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Readers
Chattahoochee River

Best Place for Men to Pick Up Men BOA Award Winner

Year » 2002
Type of Award » After Dark
Picked By » Readers
Backstreet Atlanta

Best Park BOA Award Winner

Year » 2002
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Critics
Sweetwater Creek State Park (Featured)
We're lucky the state set aside SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK 33 years ago, because it's quickly getting surrounded by Douglas County's sprawl. Sweetwater, which is just west of Six Flags, packs a lot into its 2,500 acres: A nature trail runs by the ruins of the New Manchester mill (which was destroyedmore...
We're lucky the state set aside SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK 33 years ago, because it's quickly getting surrounded by Douglas County's sprawl. Sweetwater, which is just west of Six Flags, packs a lot into its 2,500 acres: A nature trail runs by the ruins of the New Manchester mill (which was destroyed by Sherman's troops in 1864) and onto a bluff overlooking the creek (which offers a difficult kayak run in high water). There's even a beautiful little lake for fishing, rowing and canoeing - plus rental boats, picnic tables, you name it. "Mount Vernon Road, Lithia Springs. 770-389-7275 "http://gastateparks.org/ less...

Best Place to Commune with Nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2002
Type of Award » Cityscape
Picked By » Critics
East Palisades
Intowners don't even have to venture OTP to feel as if they've left the city behind when they visit the EAST PALISADES overlooking the Chattahoochee River. Park at the small lot at the end of Indian Trail off Northside Drive and you can be enveloped by the woods in a matter of minutes. There's none ofmore...
Intowners don't even have to venture OTP to feel as if they've left the city behind when they visit the EAST PALISADES overlooking the Chattahoochee River. Park at the small lot at the end of Indian Trail off Northside Drive and you can be enveloped by the woods in a matter of minutes. There's none of the crowds that clog the trails on the west bank or the Cobb side of the river, thanks to the seeming remoteness of the high bluff. It's a steep descent down to the water, with rock outcroppings marking the way. Take the time to stop and listen to the sounds of the forest; there aren't many places in Atlanta to find that kind of solitude. www.nps.gov/chat/. less...

Best Place for Men to Pick Up Men BOA Award Winner

Year » 2002
Type of Award » After Dark
Picked By » Critics
Ansley Mall Starbucks
ANSLEY MALL STARBUCKS is called "Bearbucks" by some (for the preponderance of burly, buff men), "Daddy" Starbucks by others (for its surplus of potential sugar-daddy mates). Either way, it's a casual locale to cruise men while not looking terribly desperate. Every day of the week, you'll find dozensmore...
ANSLEY MALL STARBUCKS is called "Bearbucks" by some (for the preponderance of burly, buff men), "Daddy" Starbucks by others (for its surplus of potential sugar-daddy mates). Either way, it's a casual locale to cruise men while not looking terribly desperate. Every day of the week, you'll find dozens of guys sipping coffee, reading books, chatting with friends and hunched over laptops - all while eyeing the talent in line. "1544 Piedmont Road. 404-876-0629. www.starbucks.com." less...

Best Place To Get Back To Nature BOA Award Winner

Palisades of the Chattahoochee
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area 770-952-4419 www.nps.gov/chat Despite the polluted water, the metro 'Hooch still provides our most complete, nearby escape from the human-made world. The National Recreation Area consists of 16 tracts along the river from Buford Dam to the U.S. 41 bridge.more...
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area 770-952-4419 www.nps.gov/chat Despite the polluted water, the metro 'Hooch still provides our most complete, nearby escape from the human-made world. The National Recreation Area consists of 16 tracts along the river from Buford Dam to the U.S. 41 bridge. Each section has its own network of trails and stretch of river to explore. The Palisades - which border extreme northwest Atlanta - provide the most spectacular scenery for dayhikers and boaters. It's where the river is forced into a hard right turn when the water hits the Brevard Fault. That's created a 200-foot escarpment, complete with small cliffs and scenic overlooks. On foot, go to the end of Indian Trail Road (the one off Northside Drive in Atlanta); you'll find a trailhead that leads to a beautiful overlook and side trails down to the river itself. But you'll really feel you've left the pace of the city behind if you get "on" the river. Put in your raft, canoe or kayak at the Powers Island Unit (off Interstate North Parkway) and take out just before U.S. Highway 41. This stretch of river contains small rapids, which can be hazardous for canoes when the water is high; so if you're not experienced, go in a raft. And the water quality usually isn't suitable for swimming. For rentals, contact the Chattahoochee Outdoor Center, 770-395-6851, which has a concession at the put-in and runs a shuttle at the take-out. less...

Best Place to Get Back to Nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2000
Picked By » Critics
Type of Award » Cityscape
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park (Featured)

Once upon a time, you could amble from a country road up the side of Kennesaw Mountain, then look south and east over a green carpet. In those days, metro Atlanta truly was what some liked to call it: "a city in a forest."

Today, subdivisions creep within rifle range of Kennesaw's pinnacle. A beige-and-gray jumble of stores, roads, office towers and parking lots lies shrouded in a monstrous ozone smog that screams: "I am what you've done to this once-fair city!"

Still, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park remains an island of nature in Atlanta's sea of asphalt — one in a surprisingly rich archipelago of green-ness. You can march eight miles there along the wooded spine that formed the battle line of the Confederacy's only true victory over Sherman. Beyond its bloody history, Kennesaw is the best example of the Appalachians so close to town. Steep slopes. Rocky gullies. Hardwood forests. It's a great place to take a run in the woods, to play on the rocks or simply to bird watch.

Other refuges from the humanity of it all lie scattered across the metro area. You just better get there soon, because many of them are slated for disfigurement. To the west, in Douglas County, is Sweetwater Creek State Park, where a tax-base-hungry government is encouraging vast new developments. Sweetwater is an under-recognized asset. A beautiful trail there wanders past an imposing old mill ruin and on to a vista over an exciting rapid. Though dirty because of development, the creek itself is a great post-rainstorm run for experienced kayakers.

To the east, lies Stone Mountain, where a shortsighted privatization scheme between the state and (the name says it all) Silver Dollar City is threatening to turn a world-class geological wonder into a theme park. The park is so popular that a walk up its famous rump can hardly be called "getting lost in the wild." Still, the granite behemoth is an awesome reminder of the power of nature.

Two less-awesome granite outcrops, south of Stone Mountain, are a lot less crowded and offer more solitude. Mount Arabia is a county park, and Panola Mountain a state park.

Directly south of the city, High Falls State Park does for water what Stone Mountain does for granite: It's a display of ancient power. You can stick a canoe in the Towaliga River below the falls and ride for a half-day between fairly unspoiled banks.

Another nice spot for a canoe trip is the Alcovy River, just downstream from Covington. It has at least one portage, around a rocky ledge. For most of the way, the Alcovy offers surprisingly pristine voyage. (Before heading down any river check a guidebook and ask experienced canoeists for safety tips.)

Of course, the most popular metro float is the Chattahoochee. For 45 miles, from Buford Dam to U.S. 41 (just above where Cobb and Atlanta sewage starts getting dumped into the river), the 'Hooch is a tree- and cliff-lined wonder. Construction silt makes the water murky but bearable enough to carry you along in raft or canoe.

You can actually sneak away from the crowds on the river by taking a hike instead. The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is comprised of a string of 13 forested units — most with lovely hiking trails. Our favorite is just outside the Atlanta city limits: It's at the dead end of Indian Trail Road in Sandy Springs. The trail, whose poor markings can make it adventurous, offers three options, each of which wanders through heavily forested ravines featuring oaks, dogwoods, rare bigleaf magnolias and other hardwoods. You can head downstream to a trail along the river, upstream to another trail along the river and the site of an old mill, or straight to an overlook about 150 feet above a dramatic bend in the river.

It's a rare view of Atlanta's astoundingly beautiful natural setting — a setting too often paved over or disregarded.

Best Place for Men to Pick Up Men BOA Award Winner

Year » 2000
Picked By » Readers
Type of Award » Cityscape
Piedmont Park (Featured)

Best Place to Get Back to Nature BOA Award Winner

Year » 2000
Picked By » Readers
Type of Award » Cityscape
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Best Park BOA Award Winner

Year » 2000
Picked By » Critics
Picked By » Readers
Type of Award » Consumer Culture
Piedmont Park (Featured)
You know that Piedmont Park is Atlanta's most popular park, but did you know that Booker T. Washington gave a speech right next to the soccer fields? Or that in 1864, Piedmont Park was part of the Civil War's Battle at Peachtree Creek when that asshole Sherman was attacking? Or that Piedmont Park hasmore...
You know that Piedmont Park is Atlanta's most popular park, but did you know that Booker T. Washington gave a speech right next to the soccer fields? Or that in 1864, Piedmont Park was part of the Civil War's Battle at Peachtree Creek when that asshole Sherman was attacking? Or that Piedmont Park has served variously as: a farm; a World War I encampment; a driving club; the grounds for the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition? Now you do. less...

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After Dark
After Dark
Cityscape
Cityscape
Consumer Culture
Consumer Culture
Index
Index
Oral Pleasures
Oral Pleasures
Poets, Artists & Madmen
Poets, Artists & Madmen