The Japanese Garden at Atlanta Botanical Garden is the oldest “room” in the garden, having been in Piedmont Park since the 1960s — before Atlanta Botanical Garden was chartered. Contributed by Atlanta Botanical Garden

5 places in Georgia to visit to find peace and relieve stress

Everybody needs a little “me” time to help relieve stress. Luckily, we live in a city with many opportunities to unwind and give ourselves the gift of self-care. After all, people need a break sometimes – whether that means relaxing in the tranquil beauty of nature in Atlanta’s outskirts or visiting a business that specializes in something fun you love. Here’s a starting point, with just a few ideas to help you unwind, recharge, recuperate and be your absolute best, because taking care of you should be a priority item on that ever-increasing to-do list.

Atlanta Botanical Gardens – Japanese Garden

While one could argue that pretty much anywhere inside Atlanta Botanical Gardens a sense of peace, and calm can be obtained, there’s something special about the Japanese Garden. With its irises and azaleas blooming bright and lovely in spring, its maple trees shifting gorgeous hues in the fall and its many evergreen offerings always boasting the most vibrant of greens, the environment to reminds us that when life gets chaotic, nature is always there to show us the way back to serenity.

9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $21.95 for adults, $18.95 for children ages 3-12, and children under three get in free. 1345 Piedmont Ave. Atlanta. 404-876-5859, atlantabg.org.

Java Cats Café

It’s understood that some of us are cat people, while others prefer the companionship of a dog. For feline fanciers, there’s a special place here in Atlanta where one can sip coffee (or tea) and play with all different sizes, shapes and breeds of kitty cats. Because, sometimes you just need to forget your worries, pick up a plastic toy with a feather attached to it and watch a cat go nuts.

11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. 415 Memorial Drive SE, Atlanta. 470-305-7575, javacatscafe.com.

Big Trees Preserve

Sometimes, a walk in the woods is just what you need. How about a stroll beneath soft, green canopies, shoes padding over wooden bridges while water ripples in slow-moving streams beneath it? Sound good? Great, but don’t forget the bug spray. It is after all late spring, and you’re going to be walking through the north Georgia woods. This is a peaceful hike through a 30-acre Fulton County tree, plant and wildlife sanctuary.

Open seven days a week. 7645 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. bigtreesforest.com/home.html.

Floatation Therapy

Ever considered sensory deprivation tanks? While the idea might be a little much to the claustrophobics in the crowd – floating in a small space with nothing but your own thoughts – there are many who would find this to be a relaxing experience. For those who want to try it, there’s a place called FLO2S in Atlanta, boasting “the largest floating chambers in Georgia.” Among the many benefits touted on the business’ website is stress reduction, heightened creativity, relief from chronic pain and enhanced athletic performance.

9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Starts at $75 for a 90-minute “float.” 427 Moreland Ave. NE, Suite 800, Atlanta. 678-856-8060, flo2s.com.

The Lake and the Mountains

It may seem a bit obvious, but sometimes those who have lived here for a while tend to forget there is a massive body of water about an hour north of here, offering endless opportunities for relaxation—be it fishing, boating or just lounging beside the rippling waters. There are fishing tours, boat rentals and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers parks aplenty lining the shores of beautiful Lake Lanier. But, watch out for that red mud. Drive another half hour north of Lanier, and watch your everyday horizon change from skyscrapers to the beauty of the North Georgia mountains, where everything from hiking to camping can take you out of the daily hustle and into a more relaxing place, both mentally and physically. To get started scouting a mountain or lake excursion, visit gastateparks.org.

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