Six Atlanta community parks to discover

Your guide to great neighborhood spots
Fourth Ward
Historic Fourth Ward Park

Photograph by John E. McDonald

Historic Fourth Ward Park and the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark
This Old Fourth Ward park is the most dazzling gem so far in the Atlanta BeltLine’s emerald necklace. Dedicated four years ago this month, the park transformed an eyesore of broken asphalt into a popular gathering place, anchored by a two-acre retention pond. There’s no swimming, but you can cool off at the spacious splash pad past the playground. The best pastime at Fourth Ward, though, is people-watching, especially at the nearby skatepark, where you can gape at skateboarders dropping into bowls up to 11 feet deep.
Where to park Surrounding streets Angier Avenue and Willoughby Way.
Can I take MARTA? Grab the Route 2 bus to the corner of Ponce de Leon and Glen Iris or the Route 16 to Glen Iris and Ralph McGill.

Little Nancy Creek Park 
Saved from development bulldozers in 2007, this five-acre peaceful refuge is North Buckhead’s first park. The picnic-friendly spot includes a playground designed with input from students at Sarah Smith Elementary School. A 1.2-mile woodsy walking trail is bisected by gently gurgling Little Nancy Creek, which you can cross via a stepping-stone path. There’s also a 21-plot community garden, and construction is underway for a nearby covered pavilion.
Where to park A parking lot inside or street parking at Winall Down Road.
Can I take MARTA? Nope.

Olmsted Linear Parks
Premier landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted—father of New York’s Central Park—contributed to the design of these six adjoining parks. More than a century later, they’ve been lovingly rehabilitated, a $10 million process completed in 2012. Five of the six segments—Springdale, Virgilee, Oak Grove, Shadyside, and Dellwood—are gently rolling knolls, perfect for jogging, sunbathing, and meditating (just tune out the traffic). But the easternmost segment, Deepdene, is a 22-acre steep-sloping wooded retreat with walkways, a granite and pine log bridge, and—if you look carefully—exposed trolley tracks from the early 1900s.
Where to park Side streets from Clifton Road to Fairview off Ponce de Leon.
Can I take Marta? The Route 2 bus makes several stops along Ponce de Leon, parallel to the parks.

Perkerson Park
Disc golf at Perkerson

Photograph by John E. McDonald

Perkerson Park
Set in the Capitol View neighborhood, this 50-acre Atlanta BeltLine park boasts an 18-hole disc golf course, which offers two levels of play and meanders through a hilly hardwood forest. Other recreation options include six tennis courts, softball and baseball diamonds, a basketball court, a playground and splash pad, and a covered picnic pavilion that you can reserve for birthday parties. For peace and quiet, head to the shaded rocky stream.
Where to park On-site at 770 Deckner Avenue.
Can I take MARTA? Just east of the park, exit the Route 95 bus at Metropolitan Parkway and Claire Drive; on the west side, take the Route 79 to Sylvan Road and Woodbourne Drive.

Washington Park
In the early 1900s, blacks were not welcome in Grant or Piedmont parks. So in 1919 Heman Perry, a local African American developer, donated land to create an integrated park in the historically black Washington Park neighborhood 2.9 miles west of downtown. Today the 20-acre grounds, which bump up against the Atlanta BeltLine, draw a diverse crowd thanks to a popular natatorium, which houses a 25-meter pool with 10 lanes. There’s also a large new playground and a state-of-the-art tennis center with eight courts and stadium seating.
Where to park On-site at 102 Ollie Street
Can I take MARTA? The Ashby rail station is a little more than a quarter mile away.

Whittier Mill Park
In 1895, the Whittier Mills took root on the west side of Atlanta, where they remained in production until 1971. Afterward, the property became neglected and overgrown; most of the brick mill buildings were demolished in 1988. A few years later, though, local homeowners enlisted support to turn it into a greenspace, which was dedicated in 2003. Now, only two remnants of the mill—the brick ruins of the mill tower and the carpentry shed—stand sentry inside the 22-acre park, which hugs the Chattahoochee and connects with the Chattahoochee Trail Park. There are hiking and bike trails along the river, or you can spread a blanket on the wide-open field and adjacent playground. A visit should also include a stroll through the Whittier Mill Village historic district.
Where to park Spad and Wales Avenues, off Bolton Road
Can I take MARTA? Grab the Route 58 bus to Bolton Road and Peyton Road, then walk up Whittier Avenue.

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This article originally appeared in our June 2015 issue.