11925 Wills Road, Alpharetta
Just inside the Old Milton Parkway parking lot entrance, a castle-like collection of slides, bridges, and monkey bars—topped by Medieval-looking spires—is one of the coolest playgrounds in metro Atlanta and a source of pride for volunteers who built it in 1997. From there, hit the two-mile walking trail, which winds through the park’s 120 acres, past 10 baseball fields, two rec centers, the Waggy World dog park, and an Olympic-sized pool with a new 2,000-square-foot splash pad.
Know before you go Three of the park’s five pavilions are rentable, as are the tennis courts and baseball fields, but you can also walk up for free on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Deer Lick Park
2105 Mack Road, Douglasville
Fans of disc golf, aka “Frisbee golf,” flock here for the well-kept 18-hole course. But there’s more to this 70-acre spread—located off I-20, about 20 miles west of downtown—than flying saucers. Active types will find batting cages, a volleyball court, bocce, mini-golf, and softball fields. More leisurely attractions include pavilions for picnicking, two playgrounds, walking trails, and even a small fishing pond.
Know before you go Large special events can cause parking pinches, so check the schedule at celebratedouglascounty.com.
Old Mill Park
95 Mill View Avenue, Roswell
Not far from Roswell’s bustling restaurant scene, this 38-acre scenic gem is a magnet for history buffs, photographers, and stressed-out commuters. Battling it out for most picturesque spot: the ruins of the Roswell Manufacturing Co. Mill, once one of North Georgia’s largest cotton mills; a covered pedestrian bridge spanning Vickery Creek; and a hiking trail that takes you past a 30-foot waterfall spilling over an old stone dam, a former power source for the mill.
Know before you go Proper hiking boots are recommended if you want to see the dam from creek level, though the walk isn’t too strenuous.
Flat Creek Nature Area
201 McIntosh Trail, Peachtree City
For a peaceful walk in the woods, Flat Creek Nature Area offers 513 acres of unspoiled wetlands in the middle of Peachtree City, with connections to the city’s famous system of golf cart paths. The main attraction is a 1,200-foot boardwalk with observation decks, where visitors can spy native trees such as the American hornbeam alongside turtlehead ferns and cardinal flowers.
Know before you go The primary rule here: Stay on the boardwalk. And remember, these are wetlands, so load up on bug repellent.
Little Mulberry Park
3800 Hog Mountain Road, Hoschton
At an elevation of 1,206 feet, this sprawling, 890-acre greenspace is one of the highest points in Gwinnett County (great for bird-watching and stargazing). Attractions include a fishing pier, new playgrounds, and 12 miles of trails. Don’t miss the two waterfalls, especially after a rainfall. Find one on the steep initial incline of the Carriage Trail; reach the other via a spur that branches off the scenic Ravine Loop Trail.
Know before you go Little Mulberry has four separate entrances. For the largest parking lot, head to 3855 Fence Road.
Clayton County International Park
2300 Highway 138, Jonesboro
This 200-acre park was private land until Clayton County purchased it to host beach volleyball during the Olympics (thus the “International” name). Hollywood came calling in 2012, when the marquee attraction—a lakeside beach—was transformed into a set for Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Afterward county officials began a major renovation that saw the addition of four towering waterslides, a rock climbing wall in the lake, and an expansive kiddie pool area.
Know before you go Beach admission is $11 for adults, $9 for kids ages three to 12 (tots two and under are free).
em>This article originally appeared in our June 2015 issue.