As anyone who has ever visited Atlanta can tell you, if there’s one thing the city has an abundance of, it’s trees. Why else would there be more than two dozen thoroughfares called “Peachtree Street?”
All kidding aside, Atlanta is well-known for its trees. Called “a city in a forest” and “City of Trees,” the city is unique among metropolitan areas for its abundance of trees. Magnolias, dogwoods, Southern pines and oaks line many of the streets throughout the city, and the bustling downtown area gives way to heavily canopied suburbs. In a city where summer temperatures can be scorching hot, the trees add welcome shade while also helping keep pollution levels low.
It’s not hard to find trees as you explore Atlanta — there are abundant parks and green spaces throughout the city and even a festival dedicated to the beloved dogwood.
Atlanta’s answer to New York’s Central Park, Piedmont Park is a 211-acre oasis just north of downtown. A center of Atlanta’s outdoor scene, the park features jogging trails, tennis courts, basketball courts playgrounds and the city’s botanical gardens. While many residents come to enjoy the park for a jog or a picnic in the shade of leafy trees on a sunny afternoon, larger crowds arrive for events like the Green Market. Every Saturday morning from March through the fall, the park becomes a bustling farmer’s market, offering fresh local produce and prepared foods as well as lectures and demonstrations on gardening and cooking and free entertainment.
While Piedmont Park offers plenty of scheduled and formal events and camps, it’s also ideal for exploring on your own. The Piedmont Park Conservancy has even prepared scavenger hunt ideas to help visitors get the most out of the park. From animal tracks to butterflies to facts about the monuments, the scavenger hunts help visitors learn more about the features of the park while enjoying the green space. When looking at vacation ideas in Atlanta, include time in your itinerary for exploring the diverse offerings of this exceptional city park.
Within Piedmont Park at the botanical gardens is one of the most unique natural areas anywhere in the U.S. Amidst the many themed gardens that make up the larger park you’ll find the Kendeda Canopy Walk. This 600-foot-long skyway begins at a bluff within the garden and allows visitors to walk among the treetops, 40 feet above the ground. The Canopy Walk not only offers a view of poplars, hickories and oaks in one of Atlanta’s last remaining urban forests not normally seen from the ground, but it also provides an aerial view of the woodland gardens below.
Atlanta Dogwood Festival
Atlantans celebrate the blooming of the famous dogwoods each spring with the Atlanta Dogwood Festival. Held each April in Piedmont Park, the festival draws more than 200,000 people and features art, music and food amongst the flowering dogwood trees. The festival is one of the largest juried art shows in the country and draws hundreds of artists from around the country to show their works, which include paintings, sculptures and more. In addition, the Artist’s Market features craftsmen from around the world offering handmade and one-of-a-kind items for sale. Younger artists also have a chance to strut their stuff at the festival, with a high school art show and a kids’ village where the youngest attendees have the opportunity to try out different arts and crafts.
While Georgia might be associated with peaches, and Atlanta has multiple Peachtree Streets, you’ll be hard pressed to find many peach trees within the city that aren’t located on private property. If you absolutely must pick fresh peaches from the tree during the summer, your best bet is to head about an hour east to South Carolina, which offers an abundance of peach orchards. Or simply pick up some fresh local fruits at one of the city farmer’s markets.
Despite being the ninth largest metro area in the U.S., Atlanta is also one of the leafiest cities. From tree-lined streets to expansive parks to exciting festivals, trees play a major role in the everyday life of Atlantans and offer something different in an already vibrant and exciting city.
About the Author: Blogger and New England native Liz Goldman claims that she was born a few thousand miles too far north, as she loves Southern culture. Based just outside of Atlanta, she tries to spend as much time as possible in Piedmont Park.