Green Guide to Atlanta

National Parks
by Julie Schwietert Mar 18, 2008

Photos by Kery Libby

From farmers’ markets to folk music festivals, granola to gourmet organic dining, Atlanta is peachy green.
Practical Information

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, considered the busiest passenger airport in the world, is expansive, but the inter-terminal train arriving in two-minute intervals shuttles passengers around quickly and efficiently. Getting from the airport to the downtown area, which is about 15 minutes by car, will take longer by MARTA, the city’s public transportation system, which does have an airport hub. Public transportation doesn’t have a loyal or dense ridership in the South, but most of the places in our green guide can be reached by MARTA, which includes rail and bus service.

The Great Urban Outdoors

Whether you’re a whitewater paddler or a grassy lawn picnicker, Atlanta has an ideal spot for you. Here are some of our favorites:

The Chattahoochee River and Recreational Area: You’ll need a car to reach this National Park Service site, which boasts 50 miles of hiking trails, 48 miles of river for canoeing, kayaking, and rafting (rental gear available in the park), and trout fishing for the angler. There are also trails for biking, mountain biking, and horse riding.

Chastain Park: In the summer, Chastain Park’s amphitheatre is THE venue for music under the stars. Past performers have included hometown duo the Indigo Girls, Norah Jones, Lyle Lovett, and many more. The 2008 calendar features Santana, The Moody Blues, Sheryl Crow, Duran Duran, Donna Summer, REO Speedwagon, and others. Unlike most other concert venues in the country, Chastain still permits picnics during events (bring candles!).

Piedmont Park: Dropped right in the center of the city, the 185 acre Piedmont Park is a hot weekend spot for locals. You can rollerblade, skate, bike, run, fish, grill, and play soccer, tennis, or volleyball on Atlanta’s favorite playground.

University Parks & Greens: Atlanta is a college town, and though their green spaces are often overlooked, these are some of the finest and best tended natural spaces in the city. Our favorites are Emory University’s Lullwater Park and the quads of Agnes Scott College and Spelman College. The Carter Center, associated with Emory University, also has an excellent outdoor park that’s so peaceful you’ll find it hard to believe you’re even in the city.

Arts & Culture

The High Museum of Art: The High Museum of Art has always been the visit-worthy centerpiece of Atlanta’s art and cultural institutions, but a recent renovation and a partnership with The Louvre (yes, THE Louvre) make the High a must-see for the art lover. If time is short, be sure to focus on the Folk Art Collection, which features work by popular outside artist Howard Finster.

National Black Arts Festival: Though the name suggests that this is a summer festival (which it is), the NBAF is also an organization that offers year-round programming at various locations throughout the city. Events include the visual arts, music, theatrical performances, literary readings, film series, and more. Guests are local artistic luminaries and ingénues, as well as nationally and internationally acclaimed performers.


Arguably the culinary capital of the South, Atlanta has a host of restaurants offering organic and/or locally sourced food. Some of our favorites are The Flying Biscuit, Watershed, Your DeKalb Farmers’ Market (an enormous international farmers’ market and food court),


Atlanta’s Virginia Highlands neighborhood is great for walking and shopping, and offers plenty of places to stop for a coffee or tea, a snack, or a meal. There are also green shops along North Highland Avenue, including the organic lifestyle boutique, Eco Bella, and, on Saturday mornings, the Morningside Farmers’ Market.


Emory University’s Conference Center Hotel, not just for conference goers, is Green Seal Certified. The hotel is set in a wooded area that’s integrated into the Emory campus, providing easy access to Lullwater Park. It is also within walking distance of a MARTA bus stop.

The Gaslight Inn is consistently ranked as travelers’ favorite B&B in Atlanta, and its location makes it just a short walk to restaurants, shops, and the Morningside Farmers’ Market.

The Atlanta Hostel is for the budget-minded traveler, and is also within walking distance of sights, shops, and restaurants, as well as public transportation.

Community Connection

Various members of the Matador Community are from Atlanta, such as Editor David Miller, and sustainable business entrepreneur Chris Johnson.

Also, a couple prominent members have been road tripping through the ATL lately, including Eva Holland, and Keri Libby, who wrote the the Low Down on How to Throw Down in Atlanta parts 1 and 2.

Discover Matador

Save Bookmark

We use cookies for analytics tracking and advertising from our partners.

For more information read our privacy policy.