One usually thinks of the Deep South, Coca-Cola and boiled peanuts.
Rarely would someone compare any part of Atlanta to the Pacific Northwest.
However, I found a small piece of the Pacific Northwest less than 20 minutes from my home.
Today, my husband and I wanted to do something different with our children. I wanted to go tour a historic home in Roswell, Thing One wanted to go to the zoo, Thing Two didn’t want to go anywhere, and hubby said we had to do something outdoors. Somehow, we settled on taking our dogs to the newly opened Atlanta Beltline trail.
As we were driving there, I searched online at maps, trail events and other activities. I saw on the www.beltline.org website that we were going to be near the Historic Fourth Ward Park. I had never heard of it before as it is only two years old, but the pictures looked interesting so we decided to try it.
I’m not sure how to officially access the Eastside Trail section of the Beltline, but we usually park at the Kroger next to the old Atlanta City Hall Annex building and climb up the embankment. Once we got on the trail, there was a fair amount of joggers, cyclists and people walking their dogs. It’s refreshing to see an urban oasis of people getting outdoors an enjoying the day.
To access the park, we exited the Beltline at Ralph McGill Avenue. I saw parts of Atlanta I had never seen before including many funky warehouses that now housed creative companies.
We arrived at the park.
I was amazed.
I felt someone had dropped me in a downtown Seattle park — but I was in Atlanta.
Where we entered the southern end of the park, there were gardens and walkways next to newly built apartments. Several people were sitting on benches drinking coffee, reading the newspaper, talking on cellphone. Then, we arrived at a huge splash pad where children were running around through the fountains. The mom in me quickly noticed there were clean, working restrooms and a water fountain located nearby. After kicking ourselves for not bringing bathing suits, we headed to the playground which had large disk swings similar to what we had seen in Vancouver a year ago.
I can’t resist a good playground.
I got on one of the swings with Thing Two and we went so high I had butterflies in my stomach. Hubby took pictures while the dogs enjoyed resting next to a park bench.
When it was time to leave, we continued north to an amazing sunken lake area with a grassy tiered amphitheatre. Again, it reminded me of the sunken gardens we had visited in British Columbia. Two sides of the lake had interesting waterfall sculptures and a person could sit there and block out Atlanta, traffic, the world.
According to the Historic Fourth Ward Park website at www.h4wpc.com, it turns out this area constantly had problems with drainage so the city, many groups including the Trust for Public Land and a newly formed Park Area Coalition, got together to turn the area into a 2 acre lake. Additionally, there is a skatepark (the first in Atlanta) that runs adjacent to the Eastside Trail. If we had stayed on the trail instead of getting off at Ralph McGill, we would have seen it.
So if you’re in the downtown area of Atlanta, make sure you don’t miss this hidden gem. Bring your bathing suit, a picnic lunch, a soccer ball and plan to spend a leisurely afternoon.