Explore Arabia Mountain, a rocky outcropping east of Atlanta. The red splash of color is diamorpha, which grows all over the mountain. SHANE HARRISON / SHARRISON@AJC.COM
Photo: SHANE HARRISON / SHARRISON@AJC.COM
Photo: SHANE HARRISON / SHARRISON@AJC.COM

Keep your distance, commune with nature at these Atlanta spots

While “self-isolating” seems to be the phrase of the moment, it doesn’t mean one has to sit alone binge-watching television shows in the house. It’s getting warmer and a little exercise will brighten up the day and your spirits.

Here are several ideas for having outside “me-time” in and around metro Atlanta.

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Parks

There are several parks throughout the intown area where it’s perfect to find a bench, read a book or commune with nature. Let’s face it, the city’s major parks — Piedmont Park, Candler Park, Centennial Olympic Park, Historic Fourth Ward Park and Woodruff Park — are all big enough to give you distance from others while being outside. But there are also smaller nuggets of park gems throughout intown.

Ansley Park is a delightful neighborhood with winding streets and hidden parks. It’s a fun area to meander and get lost — but you really can’t. Eventually you will find your way to Peachtree Street. Our favorite getaway is Winn Park by 15th Street and Peachtree Circle. It’s a 10-acre park with mature trees, benches, a pond and grassy areas where you can spread out a blanket and ponder life. McClatchy Park is another perfect park to relax and enjoy nature. 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Free. 32 Lafayette Drive NE, Atlanta. 404-546-6744. McClatchey Park: Avery Drive and Westminister Drive. 404-546-6744, facebook.com/AnsleyBeautification.

Water fowl make their way across Duck Pond Park at Peachtree Heights East in Atlanta. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM
Photo: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

A few miles north in the Peachtree Heights neighborhood is another secluded park that boasts seven-and-a-half acres of green rolling terrain. Not only is it perfect for a quiet afternoon, but it’s ideal for a walk around the park as it is ringed by quiet streets. The best part about it is that it is aptly named. Yes, Duck Pond Park is now home to more than 40 specials for birds and the ducks who line up to be fed. Free. 6 a.m.-11 p.m. 70 Lakeview Ave. NE, Atlanta. buckhead.com/parks/duck-pond.

The Daniel Johnson Nature Preserve and Herbert Taylor Park has something for everyone — even your dog. The 26-acre Herbert Taylor Park is located within the Daniel Johnson Nature Preserve. The park, located in the Morningside-Lenox Park neighborhood, features more than one miles of trails along Rock Creek and South Fork Peachtree Creek, just perfect for walking or a short jog. Don’t forget your dog as long it Fido is on a lease, the welcome sign is out. The park has a diverse population of native plants and trees, including old growth forests. 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Free. 1301 Beech Valley Road NE, Atlanta. 404-546-6788, mlpa.org.

The Morningside Nature Preserve is a 75 acre sanctuary with a one-mile hiking loop that winds through the woods across the South Fork of Peachtree Creek. It’s a perfect place to walk, jog or spend time with your dog but keep in mind the preserve is also home to foxes, deer, beavers, turtles, hawks and birds. 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Free. 2020 Lenox Road, Atlanta. 404-546-6788, mlpa.org.

For those on the Southside, a trip to Perkerson Park will offer lots of fun “me” activities. The 50-acre park in the Capitol View/Sylvan Hills neighborhood boasts a huge canopy of oak trees along with a variety of recreational options including walking trails as well as a playground, tennis and basketball courts and recreational fields. It is also the only site of a permanent public disc golf course in the city. 6 a.m. - 11 p.m. Free. 770 Deckner Ave. SW, Atlanta. 404-756-1859, beltline.org/places-to-go/perkerson-park.

Webb Bridge Park in Alpharetta has a peaceful and easily walkable trail, a leafy loop of less than 1.5 miles. It’s a popular place, especially with dog walkers, but if you time it right, you can probably avoid the crowds. The gravel covered paths are wide and well-maintained, and blissfully shaded for those warmer spring and summer months. 8 a.m.-10 p.m. 4780 Webb Bridge Road, Alpharetta. 678-297-6123, alpharetta.ga.us.

The waterfall at Vickery Creek. SHANE HARRISON / SHARRISON@AJC.COM
Photo: SHANE HARRISON / SHARRISON@AJC.COM

Near Roswell, Vickery Creek Trail at Roswell Mill offers a bucolic stroll through an area of exceptional natural beauty. There’s a gorgeous waterfall and the ruins of the old mill to keep things interesting, but the quiet and solitude is more than enough to warrant a visit. The extensive trail system makes it a great place to keep fit in these days of social isolation. Vickery Creek is part of the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area, which has an extensive system of trails to explore. 400 Riverside Road, Roswell. nps.gov/chat.

East of Atlanta, Arabia Mountain can make you feel like you’re on another world. The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area is located a short drive outside I-285 on Atlanta’s east side. The area boasts more than 2,000 acres, two monadnock mountains and fascinating historic sites. The top of Panola Mountain is only accessible via guided tours, but you can explore Arabia Mountain on your own. It’s easy to practice social distancing there. Depending on when and where you go, you might see only a handful of people. At times, you could easily find yourself all alone in the rocky landscape. 3350 Klondike Road, Lithonia. arabiaalliance.org.

Potters Field in Oakland Cemetery. CONTRIBUTED BY OAKLAND CEMETERY
Photo: CONTRIBUTED BY OAKLAND CEMETERY

Other Places

Jimmy Carter Library and Museum has one of the most beautiful parks in the city. Its 35 acres of ponds, rolling grounds and beautiful gardens, especially when the 40 varieties of roses bloom as well as the azaleas, rhododendrons, Japanese maples, river birch, golden raintree, camellia and barberry bushes in the Japanese Garden. The Japanese Garden was designed by Japanese Master Gardener Kinsaku Nakane and donated by the YKK Corp. While the library and museum are currently closed until further notice, there are three acres of undisturbed natural areas that are fun to explore. If you want your moment of zen, sit by the two waterfall fountains or watch the fish in the Koi Pond. Free. 441 John Lewis Freedom Parkway. 404-865-7100, jimmycarterlibrary.gov.

Looking for peace and quiet? What better place than a cemetery? Historic Oakland Cemetery is Atlanta’s oldest public park and the final resting place of some of the city’s leading citizens, including Mayor Maynard Jackson and Margaret Mitchell. However, its 48 areas are a fantastic place to walk around, look at the sculptures and read the headstones. You can even have a picnic and walk your dog. Though the visitors center is currently closed, the cemetery grounds remain open. 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Free. 248 Oakland Ave. SE, Atlanta. 404-688-2107, oaklandcemetery.com.

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