Seven Exhilarating Outdoor Things to Do in Atlanta

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It’s easy to understand why the Peach State’s slogan is “Georgia on my mind.” How could it not be on your mind? This place is gorgeous. Mountains, beaches, swamps, rivers, forests, and lakes galore. Even if you’re not the one-with-nature hippie sort, Georgia’s vibrant capital teems with excitement. So next time you’ve got Georgia on your mind, check out seven fun outdoor things to do in Atlanta.

#1 Get High at Historic Banning Mills

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Photo Credit: Historic Banning Mills

Located just 45 minutes from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, Banning Mills boasts over ten miles of zip lines and dozens of sky/suspension bridges. Banning Mills is also home to the world’s tallest free-standing climbing wall as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records.

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Photo Credit: Bangor Daily News

Zoom through the air at heart-pounding speeds while soaking in the beauty of Snake Creek Gorge. The park’s longest zipline, The Amazing Flight of the Falcon, whisks guests down 3,400 feet of line at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour.

If you’re in the mood for some fun outdoor things to do in the Atlanta area, you won’t be disappointed when you visit Historic Banning Mills.For those less interested in a heart-dropping experience, Historic Banning Mills delivers. The park has full and partial RV hookups, a swimming pool, miniature golf, horseshoes, a fishing lake, and opportunities for paddle boarding and kayaking.

#2 Take a stroll on the Beltline.

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Photo Credit: Atlanta Journal Constitution

The Atlanta Beltline is still a work in progress. Upon its completion, it will consist of 22 miles of pedestrian-friendly rail transit and 33 miles of multi-use trails. The Beltline is awesome because it allows you to experience the best of what Atlanta has to offer. It runs alongside hundreds of shops, boutiques, and restaurants teeming with hipsters exuding the city’s vibrant culture. The Historic Fourth Ward Skate Park is located right next to an open field that hosts yoga classes, summer movie screenings, and more.

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Photo Credit: Atlas Obscura

The Krog Street Tunnel, famous throughout Atlanta for its ever-changing display of street art, is located mere steps from the Beltline. Ponce City Market is also conveniently located off of the Beltline. Breathing new life into the historic Sears, Roebuck & Co. building, the Ponce City Market is now home to a lively community of offices, apartments, food courts, and shops.

Furthermore, the path runs directly through Piedmont Park. Piedmont Park is a 185-acre oasis smack dab in the center of Downtown Atlanta. Whether you want to fish, go for a bike ride, fly a kite, or just people watch, you can do it at Piedmont Park. Afterward, be sure to stop by Woody’s for the best Philly Cheesesteak in town.

The Beltline runs through some of Atlanta’s most revered neighborhoods including Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Ansley Park, and Virginia Highland. A list of outdoor things to do in Atlanta would not be complete without it. For a full map the beltline, click here.

#3 Shoot the Hooch

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Shooting the Hooch is the name given by Atlanta natives to rafting, canoeing, kayaking, or tubing down the Chattahoochee River. The Chattahoochee is a family-friendly river; you won’t get visitors from around the world to Georgia just to shoot the Hooch. However, it is nice for those learning to canoe or kayak or those wanting to spend a day slow roasting out on the river. It’s also good if you’re looking for some outdoor things to do in Atlanta while getting some exercise.

The river can be broken up into several sections, each with different put-in/takeout points. I’ve only ever put in at Powers Island and pulled out at Paces Mill, but I hope to take some other routes in the near future now that my husband and I got new kayaks. The put-in at Powers Island is for hand-launched water craft only. However, the take out at Paces Mill is an actual boat ramp.

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Photo Credit: The Sixth Point

There are only a handful of outfitters along the Chattahoochee River that provide float rentals. Nantahala Outdoor Center rents dual-chambered and closed-bottom tubes for the float trip from Johnson Ferry to Powers Island as well as the trip from Powers Island to Paces Mill. Rental for one day is $24.99 and includes the tube, shuttle, a personal flotation device, and one small dry bag per group. Shoot the Hooch offers tube rentals in the Roswell portion of the Chattahoochee.

While the Chattahoochee is not a place for extreme adventure (definitely nothing like the Ocoee), it is a great place to spend a day relaxing on the river.

#4 Spend a day at Stone Mountain Park

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Photo Credit: Pixdaus

Stone Mountain Park is home to the world’s largest piece of exposed granite rock. It’s hard to believe that only one-third of this massive rock is exposed; it is estimated to extend over seven feet underground and into parts of North Carolina. On a clear winter day, you can see more than 45 miles of the surrounding Atlanta area.

Fifteen miles of hiking and walking trails offer some breathtaking views. Go fishing in the 363-acre lake, or tee off on one of the two beautiful golf courses. There is much to offer in terms of fun and entertainment. You can catch a glittering display of lasers, epic fireworks, iconic music, and astounding fire effects dance across the mountain’s carving every Saturday night. Other attractions include the Summit Skyride, the Farmyard, the Scenic Railroad, Ride the Ducks, several museums, and more.

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Photo Credit: YouTube

Out-of-state travelers or those seeking to spend more time in the park can set up shop at one of the campground’s 427 sites. The campground has full hook-ups (water/electric/sewer) as well as partial hook-ups (water/electric) and can accommodate tents, pop-ups, and RVs. You can also rent a yurt, a trailer, or pitch a tent on one of the 46 primitive tent sites.

Granted, Stone Mountain Park is not the ideal location for extreme isolation in nature, since it is a bit touristy. However, the park offers tons of attractions, especially for families with younger children.

#5 Take a hike at Cloudland Canyon State Park

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Photo Credit: State Parks

Cloudland Canyon is situated in northwest Georgia near Lookout Mountain. Just the sheer size of the park is impressive—3,488 acres of canyons, sandstone cliffs, caves, creeks, wildlife, and thick forests with over 30 miles of trails ranging from easy to strenuous.

There are two waterfalls located within the park: Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls. What’s great about these falls is that you can get up close and personal with them. Although there is a sign warning against swimming in the pools at the base of the falls, we did it anyway, and we’re still here to talk about it.

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Photo Credit: Explore the USA

The entire park cannot be explored in one day, and trust me, you’ll want to take in everything that this beauty has to offer. Fortunately, there are three different campgrounds. 62 campsites can accommodate a tent, trailer, or RV. Each site has its own fire pit, grill, picnic table, electricity, and water. There is also a comfort station with restrooms, showers, and laundry on site. While there are electric campsites on both the east and west rim, in my opinion, camping on the west rim is way better. The sites are spread further apart, giving you more privacy.

And while you’re there, make the 37-minute drive to downtown Chattanooga and hit up Maple Street Biscuit Company. Order “The Five,” and prepare to have your world rocked!

#6 Hike a Monadnock at Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

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Photo Credit: Phil Varney

Arabia Mountain is kind of like Stone Mountain except significantly smaller, a lot less touristy, and everything is free! The self-guided tour to the monadnock’s summit is a fantastic place to catch a sunset as well as a slight view of the Atlanta skyline. It’s also the perfect place to go for New Years and Fourth of July. From the top of the mountain, you will be mesmerized as you witness all of the firework displays going on around the city.

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Photo Credit: Arabia Alliance

The mountain itself is part of DeKalb County’s Davidson-Arabia Nature Preserve, a 2,500-acre park. The park features pine and oak forests, wetlands, multiple streams, and several lakes. AWARE, an animal rehabilitation center, is situated at the base of Arabia Mountain. Several forms of wildlife and wildflowers find their home in this park. The South River also flows through portions of the Nature Preserve.

Visitors can navigate through the park via the various marked trails. In addition to trails within the park, you can access trails built by the PATH Foundation. These multi-use trails are designed to connect cultural, scenic, natural, and historic sites. The path’s northern terminus is located near Lithonia’s Stone Crest Mall and ends some 30 miles south at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. Click here for a complete self-guided tour of the PATH trails.

#7 Go rock climbing at Tallulah Gorge State Park

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Photo Credit: Glen-Ella Springs

Don’t let the touristy interpretative center fool you. Tallulah Gorge is wild! This is not a place for climbing beginners. Besides a few moderate lines, the climbing trails at Tallulah Gorge are rigorous. Most are hard multi-pitch trad or mixed aid/trad. While it is perhaps one of the stoutest and most laborious areas to climb in Georgia, it is possibly the most beautiful.

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Photo Credit: Rain0975

All climbers are required to get a permit from the interpretive center, and the office only issues 20 each day. However, getting there and not being issued a pass is almost unheard of. Since it is a state park, rock climbing doesn’t usually take precedence. During the first three weekends in November and the first two weekends in April climbing is restricted. It is also not allowed during other scheduled water releases.  Be sure to check the park’s website before setting out.

In addition to climbing, Tallulah Gorge offers over 20 miles of hiking trails, a 63-acre lake, a swimming beach, and excellent camping.

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Photo Credit: Amicalola Falls Lodge

Georgia is the perfect place for some outdoor adventures. Its epic scenery makes the ideal backdrop for amazing memories that will last a lifetime. Next time you’re in Georgia, check out some of these thrilling outdoor things to do in Atlanta.

What other exciting things have you found to do in and around Atlanta? Comment below!

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