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33 Atlanta Outdoor Spring Activities and Adventures (Plus Fitness Safety Tips)

33 Atlanta Outdoor Spring Activities and Adventures (Plus Fitness Safety Tips)

By Farhan Malik, MD
Atlanta Innovative Medicine

We originally published this blog at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic as a guide to more safely engaging in fitness and social activities through the local outdoors. But as Spring approaches with beautiful weather, the slew of reasons to go outside continues.

Atlanta’s colorful selection of outdoor spaces and activities like hiking, paddleboarding, horseback riding, and even organized bocce ball playing deliver unique ways to stay fit while also getting some fresh air and community connection—all of which is essential for our mental and physical health.

Of course, some of these new adventurous activities may pose unfamiliar challenges to your body, so it’s important to prepare intentionally.

Injuries are common if proper precautions aren’t taken before, during, and after the activity. So what are the best ways to prevent injuries to one’s joints, tendons, and ligaments with outdoor exercising?

A pre-workout stretching routine only takes five to 10 minutes total. Here are some healthy warm-up routine tips and injury prevention thoughts prior to embarking:

1. Dynamic Stretching—these stretches help prevent injury to one’s muscles by improving range of motion and flexibility. Most of the focus should be placed on the lower extremities (unless you’re rock climbing), and dynamic stretches involve moving through the stretch instead of statically holding it. Here are 5 of the best dynamic stretches.

  • Alternating Knee Lifts
  • Squat to hip flexor
  • Alternating high kicks
  • Torso Twist
  • Alternating quad stretch

2. Warm-Up Exerciseswhile dynamic stretches are fantastic for injury prevention, large muscle activation is helpful for preventing injury as well. The following 5 warm-up exercises will make one’s fitness activity easier.

  • Windmill lateral lunges
  • Squat into calf raise stretch
  • Fire feet (running in place)
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Forward split lunges

These warm-up exercises should be done 10-20 at a time, with progressive increases in the range of motion.

 

3. Proper Footwearjust as a carpenter needs to use the right tool for the job at hand, individuals need to use the right shoe for the outdoor activity. This should include durability, proper ankle support and enough give in the heel for the activity. Obviously hiking boots would not be appropriate for trail running and vice versa. The correct shoes will go a long way towards preventing injury from a fall, blisters, or a twisting accident. Over the past few years, shoes for outdoor activities have actually become much more specialized. There are trail running shoes, water sport shoes, mid or high support hiking boots, sports sandals, and many styles of running shoes. Make sure not only that the footwear fits well, but also don’t forget to break it in prior to a long outdoor activity.

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4. Be Realistic—Outdoor fitness activities are exhilarating and a fantastic way to get fit. However, people need to be realistic about how much to accomplish early on. For example, signing up for a 50-mile bike ride without having ridden a bike in years is a recipe for an injury. Same with going on a full day hike after having been in hibernation for months! A better idea is to start with a moderate activity that builds up to the more strenuous, which will condition one’s soft tissues for the strain.

5. Hydrate and Eat—A lot of time, those who participate in outdoor activities forget to plan for proper eating and drinking. Bringing enough water for the duration is key and drinking before severe thirst sets in will prevent cramping and overheating. For snacks, complex carbohydrates are best to provide the sustained fuel reserves needed to finish strong.

6. Static Stretching—after an outdoor activity, it’s a great idea to incorporate static stretching. This will minimize the resulting soreness and pain by allowing muscles to loosen up while increasing flexibility and range of motion. This will increase blood flow too to help muscles recover more quickly. Here are five top static stretching exercises to help prevent soreness and help with recovery.

  • Cobra pose
  • Seated butterfly stretch
  • Head to knee forward bend
  • Overhead triceps stretch
  • Biceps stretch behind the back.

Now that we’ve covered all the necessary warm-ups and stretches, we can move on to the fun part. OUTDOOR DESTINATIONS! We’ve created an expanded list of our top Atlanta hubs and hidden gems to help you plan your spring adventures. Happy exploring!

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Hiking, Climbing, & Trail Riding

JD’s Horseback Riding
Location: Atlanta, GA

Take a break from the concrete jungle and step into the serene wooded landscape of JD’s riding ranch. Whether taking a solo adventure, journeying with a friend, making memories with your partner, or treating the whole family, this small country retreat, conveniently located just outside the city, offers natural trails and breathtaking views that will make this feel like an unforgettable adventure and a tranquil getaway all at the same time. Choose from horseback lessons, guided trail rides, or even a special party or photoshoot.

Phone:  404-981-2361
Cost: Varies | Trail rides start at $65.

Stone Mountain Park
Location: Stone Mountain, GA

Stone Mountain Park features 15 miles of hiking and walking trails with varying degrees of difficulty. Enjoy the 5-mile trail around the base, the 1-mile trail to the summit, and more. Enjoy historical sites, recreation golf, or a ride to the summit!

Phone: 800-401-2407
Cost: Cost varies depending on daily or annual visits.

Arabia Mountain
Location: Hiawassee, GA

Enjoy over 30 miles of hiking, walking, and running trails! This beautiful destination has fields of exposed granite and is a great place to visit. Most popular? Hiking to the top! This is a kid-friendly hiking destination.

Contact: https://www.atlantatrails.com/contact/
Cost: Free!

Serenbe Mountain Community
Location: Chattahoochee Hills

The Serenbe Mountain Community, nestled in the picturesque Chattahoochee Hills, offers a range of activities for all ages, making it the perfect place for a full-day getaway. From horseback riding to hiking and bird watching, there’s no shortage of ways to connect with nature. And when you’re done exploring, you can take a break and enjoy some of the community’s award-winning dining options.

Contact: 770-463-2610
CostVaries based on activity

Panola Mountain State Park
Location: Stockbridge, GA

Only 15 minutes from Atlanta is a beautiful sanctuary created for all ages. From picnics to playgrounds, this park is truly a paradise. It offers archery, geocaching, orienteering, and dog walking. There are also hiking and running trails. Panola has been officially declared a National Natural Landmark.

Phone: 770-389-7801
Cost: Varies based on activities

Bouldering at Panola State Park
Location: Stockbridge, GA

If you had the chance to visit Panola State Park, you know that it offers gorgeous scenery and plenty to do, but you may not have learned that it’s home to a 100-acre granite outcrop with a host of climbing opportunities. The South River and Panola Mountain boulders offer close to 30 bouldering problems—including cracks, overhangs, and slabs, and ranging in difficulty from V0 to V6—making it ideal for beginners and experienced climbers alike. Before you climb, just register at the Nature Center to fill out a waiver and get your free permit—and don’t forget to bring a crash mat!.

Phone: 770-389-7801
Cost: $5 for parking

Nature Preserves & Waterfalls


Dunwoody Nature Center
Location: Dunwoody, GA

With 22 acres of forest right in the heart of the city, the Dunwoody Nature Center offers a quick and easy way to get in touch with nature. Bring the kiddos along for classes tailored just for them, or attend adult programs and events. With a playground and tree house, yoga classes and accessible trails, this dynamic nature center provides a way for everyone to release, destress, and unwind.

Contact: 770-394-3322
Cost: Free!


Morningside Nature Preserve
Location: Atlanta, GA

This hidden gem, tucked away in the beautiful Morningside neighborhood, is flush with 30+ acres of rolling forest. Boasting a vast network of hiking, walking, and running trails, a tall and charming swing bridge that spans the South Peachtree Creek, and one of Atlanta’s favorite dog beaches, this quiet oasis doesn’t require you to leave the city to escape the city.

Contact: 404-546-6788
Cost: Free!

Cascade Springs
Location: Atlanta, GA

Cascade Springs is truly an interesting place to visit. Surrounded by the urban busyness, but completely at peace with itself. Enjoy this beautiful waterfall and historic springhouse destination. Mounded earthworks from the Civil War can be found here. Wildlife abounds and you can escape the city life for a few hours here!

Contact: https://www.atlantatrails.com/contact/
Cost: Free!

Vickery Creek Trail at Roswell Mill
Location: Roswell, GA

Historic mills, covered bridge, majestic waterfalls… Should we go on? This is truly a gem to visit. You can hike or use the paths as running trails. It goes without saying that you should take care while walking on rocks as they may be slippery. This is a 5-mile exploration that is definitely worth it. Be one with nature in the forest and truly disconnect. You will want to take advantage of this awesome destination!

Contact: https://www.atlantatrails.com/contact/
Cost: $5 Day Pass

Amicalola Falls Trail
Location: Near Ellijay, GA

Hike to the top of this natural wonder (the tallest waterfall in GA) and catch breathtaking scenery. You can even see some of the Appalachian Approach Trail and East Ridge Trail. This trail is a bit more on the difficult side, you may not want to take the kids for the first go, but it is definitely worth a visit. This is a pretty popular trail, so don’t expect to have it all to yourself!

Contact: https://www.atlantatrails.com/contact/
Cost: $5 Day Pass

Jogging, Walking, & Biking Trails

 

The Silver Comet Trail
Location: Mabelton, GA

f you’re looking for an accessible, scenic adventure, check out the Silver Comet Trail! This fully paved rail trail spans over 60 miles and takes you on a journey through some of the most beautiful parts of Cobb, Paulding, and Polk counties. You can walk, hike, rollerblade, stroll with your pup, ride horseback, or go for a long-distance bike ride. And if you don’t have enough bikes for your crew, Comet Trail Cycles, located right off the trail, rents bicycles for anywhere from one hour to multiple days.

Contact: 770-819-3279
Cost: Free | Bike Rentals are $10/hour or $40/day

 

Atlanta Botanical Garden
Location: Atlanta, GA

Since opening in 1976, Atlanta Botanical Gardens has become a horticulture hub and one of the city’s natural jewels. The garden’s 30-acres host an enchanting Children’s Garden, a therapeutic Canopy Walk, and a Skyline Garden that brings botanical beauty together with stunning skyline views. This is a great place for a peaceful walk, a quiet run, or an engaging family activity exploring one of their many events, classes, or exhibitions.

Contact: 404-876-5859
Cost: Varies based on age and day | Membership available

Beltline
Location: Atlanta, GA

The Beltline has SO much to offer. From bus rides to bike rides, to arboretum walking tours, you will not be bored. There are also FREE fitness classes, art to be admired, and races to run! Certain parts of the Beltline do cost money, due to the growing demand, but your money goes to great causes! You can read more on that here!

Contacthttps://beltline.org/contact/
Cost: Varies based on activity

Piedmont Park
Location: Atlanta, GA

It doesn’t matter what your goal is. Get in shape, stay in shape, or stress release, Piedmont Park will satisfy all your needs. With the motto ‘Healthy Minds, Healthy Communities,’ they strive to provide activities that promote a healthier community. This park is kid-friendly and a great day away for the family!

Phone: 404-875-7275
Cost: Varies based on classes

Path 400
Location: Atlanta, GA

PATH400 is part of the ongoing project to add more parks and trails to Georgia. It runs along the spine of GA 400 and, once complete, will provide a 5.2 mile greenway through the heart of Buckhead, connecting neighborhoods, office and retail locations with a path for bicyclists and pedestrians. This is still under construction in some areas, so you may find there are certain parts of the trail not open to the public.

Phone: 404-842-2680
Cost: Free!

Outdoor Art at Freedom Park
Location: Atlanta, GA

Officially designated Atlanta’s Art Park, Freedom Park acts as a sort of immersive outdoor art museum. Installed throughout the park’s 210 acres is an impressive collection of both temporary and permanent art installations created by renowned artists from around the world. Freedom Park creates an opportunity to experience Atlanta’s rich culture through unforgettable art and stories, all while getting the exercise of a miles-long walk through its green landscape.

Phone: 404-480-3018
Cost: Free!

Farmers Market

 

Southern Belle Farm

Location: McDonough, GA

The spring season at Southern Belle Farm begins on April 1st, and that means fresh strawberries and idyllic family adventures around the corner! For a small fee, you can meander through a 15-acre patch and handpick your own quart or gallon of sweet, fresh strawberries straight off the branch. Alternatively, you can buy a bucket of pre-picked strawberries and let the kids romp around the farm, filling up on activities that range from pedal cart driving and pillow jumping to train riding, tube sliding, and gem mining.

Phone: 770-288-2582
Cost: Varies based on activity

 

Grant Park Farmers Market
Location: Atlanta, GA

The Grant Park Farmers Market is truly a delight to behold. Watch celebrity chef demonstrations and fill your fridge all in one go. You can get the best locally-grown veggies, meats, breads, and artisanal foods available in Atlanta! With plenty of seating and picnic areas, there’s a space for everyone to relax and enjoy a wonderful morning of community and food.

Phone: 404-919-3619
Cost: Only what you buy!

Decatur Farmers Market
Location: Decatur, GA

The Decatur Farmers Markets boast proud residents and neighbors who are all about keeping it “Indie-Catur.” This market is the cornerstone of the community. There is plenty of space at this market for picnics and taking the family! There are currently COVID restrictions, so please check those out prior to going! You will not want to miss this market experience.

Phone: 404-919-3619
Cost: Only what you buy!

Oakhurst Farmers Market
Location: Oakhurst, GA

Not only do you get out of the house for a bit to the grocery store, but it’s ALSO enjoyable! This farmers market boasts the freshest of produce, meats, treats, and so much more. You can also watch live music and chefs create masterpieces. There may even be a seasonal beer collaboration… Keep up to date by checking out their website!

Phone: 404-919-3619
Cost: Only what you buy!

Sports Leagues

Kickball
Location: Atlanta, GA

Who doesn’t love kickball? There are multiple leagues you can join depending on location. Nervous about joining? No worries! This is to try something new, fun, and most importantly? To be social! Whether it’s been YEARS since you’ve played or you’ve never played, there is a spot for everyone. Come have fun and join a team!

Phone: 678-869-4690
Cost: Varies, but the registration fee for individuals is $60

Pickup Ultimate Frisbee
Location: Atlanta, GA

This one is seriously SO cool. You can find pickup games in your area and then… Go join them! Each destination has some established times, so start saving that slot on your calendar and start attending weekly ultimate frisbee games. Not only is this a workout, but it’s a great way to make new friends and liven up the social calendar.

Cost: Free!

Atlanta Bocce League
Location: Varies

Make some friends and show off your bocce skills with the ATL Bocce league—an adult co-ed program that provides the space, equipment, and even cold beer to facilitate 7 weeks of friendly competition that ends with a player appreciation party. You’ll have the chance to win prize packs from sponsors and qualify for location playoffs—and if your team qualifies, you might even compete in the state tournament!

Phone: info@atlbocce.com
Cost: $63 to register

Hobbs Farm Disc Golf Course
Location: Carrollton, GA

This award-winning 18-hole course brings together shady open holes, tricky forested holes, and even some water crossings—talk about a workout! Whether you’re a frisbee golf pro, a casual regular, or a total newbie, this beautiful landscape will make your disc golf adventure an enjoyable activity, with or without an official game.

 

Phone: 770-832-1161
Cost: Free

Flag Football
Location: Atlanta, GA

You can get involved with flag football through Atlanta Sport & Social Club as a team or go solo. This is a great way to make new friends and get some physical activity in, not to mention it’s fun. This one can get pretty intense, but if you’ve got that competitive edge, you’re going to love this one!

Phone: 678-869-4690
Cost: $95/Individual or $850/team

Obstacle Courses

Treetop Quest
Location: Gwinnett, GA and Dunwoody, GA

Treetop Quest parks are truly a delight to be had by all. Reach new heights, connect with the environment and explore with a unique community of people. From treasure hunts to team building exercises, there is something for everyone here. Part of a company that you think would benefit from this awesome destination? They have corporate team building sessions as well!

Phone: 770-365-0356 (Dunwoody), 404-277-6113 (Gwinnett)
Cost: Varies

Sojourn Adventures
Location: Johns Creek, GA

Could this be an adventure of a lifetime? Guess you will have to visit and find out. This destination is great for parties, teams, and schools to grow together and have a blast! The rope courses are amazing and, when paired with trained facilitators, you will find that they forge strong friendships, bonds, and reveal deep personal values. Definitely worth checking out!

Phone: 678-405-2106
Cost: Varies based on group

Kayaking, Canoeing, & Paddle Boarding

Chattahoochee River Tubing
Location: Duluth, GA

Looking for an adventure and a leisurely day on the water? Hop on a tube and take a 4-mile float along the scenic Chattahoochee River. This locally owned rental company offers open and closed tubes, as well as kayaks, so everyone in the family can pick their preferred ride and go as fast or as slow as they’d like!

Phone: 678-349-6880
Cost: $26–50/rental depending on type ($2 National Park Fee not included)

Lake Allatoona
Location: Canton, GA

Enjoy kayaking and paddleboarding on this beautiful destination. The owners have been in the business for a long time and are committed to providing you with the best experience possible. Explore the lake and the many nooks and crannies it offers. You can also take advantage of the restaurants and other activities in the area.

Phone: 678-672-9917
Cost: Varies based on group

Atlanta Row
Location: Atlanta, GA

The Atlanta Rowing Club is a non-profit organization formed and maintained to promote the sport of rowing. Since then, the club has welcomed athletes from a diversity of backgrounds and a variety of interests. From learning to row to recreational rowing to competitive rowing, you will find there is something for everyone with Atlanta Row. They’re doing some pretty cool things for the community. Check out their website to find out more!

Phone: 678-885-7697
Cost: Varies based on activity

Nantahala Outdoor Center
Location: Atlanta, GA

In need of some real family engagement? Ideal for families with kids aged 13 and up, the Chattahoochee River Intro to Whitewater Kayaking Course is a full-day experience guided by professional instructors from the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Enjoy a day filled with camaraderie and the thrill of paddling—while also learning the fundamental skills you need to guide your own family adventures in the future!

Phone: 828-488-7249
Cost: Starts at $140

 

Sweetwater Creek State Park
Location: Stockbridge, GA

Sweetwater Creek State Park is a magical spot that feels like you’re miles away from Atlanta, but really it’s only a hop and a skip away. Take a stroll down a wooded trail that leads to the ruins of an old textile mill, or if you’re up for a bit of a climb, head to the top of rocky bluffs for a stunning view of the rapids below. The park is also home to the George Sparks Reservoir: while swimming is not allowed, you can enjoy the water with a paddleboard, a kayak, or even a pedal boat. And if you want to extend your stay, campsites and yurts are available too.

Phone: 770-732-5871
Cost: $5 for parking

We hope this gave you a few ideas for expanding your outdoor adventures this spring—and hopefully for making some new local discoveries! Just don’t forget to warm up, grab your water bottle, and tag AIM in your adventure posts on Facebook and Instagram!

This article, originally published on September 17, 2022, titled “Atlanta Weekend Warrior Safety Tips + 19 Amazing Outdoor Activities,” has been updated to reflect more outdoor venues and activities in the Atlanta metro area.

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