Good day, friends! Here I am again with 20 more places to add to your Southern Summer Bucket List. I've made it a point to search out 100% free places to explore nature in Georgia. What I mean by free is no charge for admission or parking. A lot of these places will accept donations. So, if you particularly enjoy your visit, consider making a small donation to help with preserving our natural heritage!
This first section lists and describes natural areas that include visitors or learning centers with indoor exhibits, as well as the outdoor natural areas. The, "Nature Preserves & Parks," section lists and describes natural areas that do not include an indoor visitors or learning center.
If you're looking for destinations that include an indoors exhibit for an after-hike cooldown, you'll appreciate these Nature Centers. Listed in alphabetical order of city. Remember, all admission and parking is free. If you find a mistake, let me know. Visit the links to see more photos and information about each place.
Athens - Sandy Creek Nature Center
Sandy Creek provides 4 miles of trails through woods & wetlands with connections the North Oconee River Greenway & Cook's Trail. In the visitor center, you'll discover live animals, aquariums & natural history exhibits.
205 Old Commerce Rd.
Athens, GA 30607
Columbus - Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center
Oxbow Meadows offers nature trails, displays, exhibits and programs designed to educate about ecology and natural history of the region. While most of the center is free, there is a "Treetop Canopy Trail," that requires an admission fee. It looks pretty cool, too.
3535 South Lumpkin Road
Columbus, GA 31903
Cumming - Sawnee Mountain Preserve
The visitors center is a great place to begin, with interactive exhibits about the natural & cultural history of the area. Play on a playground, hike trails & check out the "Indian Seat" rock formation. Check out photos of my friend's visit, here.
4075 Spot Road, Cumming, GA 30040
Hampton - Newman Wetlands Center
A 32-acre site featuring wetlands trail and informative exhibits & learning videos in the visitor center.
2755 Freeman Road
Hampton, Georgia 30228
Johns Creek - Autrey Mill Nature Preserve & Heritage Center
Autrey Mill Nature Preserve boasts over 2 miles of trails that explore forest, creek & wetland. There is also a heritage village & representations of American Indian dwellings. In the visitor center you'll find several animal exhibits.
9770 Autrey Mill Road
Johns Creek, GA 30022
Kennesaw - Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Hike to the top of Kennesaw Mountain where you can take in a scenic view, or enjoy easier nature walking throughout the area. In the visitor center, you'll find a souvenir shop and an interesting historical video.
Morrow - W.H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve
Hike 3 miles of trails through mixed forest, preserved in its native state. Explore the rolling hills, ridges, wetlands and natural springs. The interpretive center provides exhibits of native species.
Nature Preserves & Parks
You won't find indoor escapes from the heat at these locations. But, you'll enjoy some quality connection with nature. Listed in alphabetical order of city. Remember, all admission and parking is free. If you find a mistake, let me know. Visit the links to see more photos and information about each place. To view Free Nature Centers around Georgia that DO include indoor visitors & learning centers, click here.
Atlanta - Blue Heron Nature Preserve
Trails are free and open from dawn to dusk.
4055 Roswell Rd. Atlanta, Georgia 30342
Atlanta - Cascade Springs Nature Preserve
Cascade Springs is an urban forest. Located in southwest Atlanta, you'll explore moderate-strenuous hiking trails, two natural springs & waterfall.
2852 Cascade Road SW ~ Atlanta, GA 30311
Atlanta - Morningside Nature Preserve
2 miles of trail winding through rolling hills & forest.
No specific address. Find it on Google Maps, here.
Augusta - Phinizy Swamp Nature Park
Trails on the 1100 acres of Phinizy Swamp Nature Park offer excellent opportunities for visitors to view wildlife like hawks, herons, otters and alligators in their natural habitat. Group events such as hikes & bikes are often organized.
1858 Lock and Dam Road, Augusta, GA 30906
Buford - Mill Creek Nature Center
88 acres of wetlands & wildlife preserve with natural & boardwalk trails. Trail features include 2 bridges crossing Ivy Creek, an observation tower and benches along the way.
2355 Mall of Georgia Blvd, Buford, GA 30519
Covington - Alcovy River at East End
Rambling trails through forest & wetland with rock outcrops and a canoe launch.
No specific address. East End Rd, Covington. Find map & directions at link.
Decatur - Clyde Shepard Nature Preserve
A wildlife sanctuary featuring trails & boardwalks through wetlands, forest & pine groves. My friend, over at 365 Atlanta Family, recently visited with her two sons and provides a great overview of their experience. "Great places to wade in the water, play in the sand, and picnic along the creek" (Photo courtesy of 365 Atlanta Famiy)
2580 Pine Bluff Dr.Decatur, GA 30033
Dunwoody - Dunwoody Nature Center
A color-coded trail system, boardwalks, treehouse, native plant & animal habitat gardens make this a fantastic spot to go learn something about nature. Lesli Peterson, Atlanta family attractions guru, is quoted as saying, "there is enough to do to fill an awesome afternoon for any age kiddo!" Read more about her experience, with her little ones, at Dunwoody Nature Center.
5343 Roberts Drive
Dunwoody, GA 30338
Peachtree City - Flat Creek Nature Area
Mulch trail & 1200 ft boardwalk with viewing platforms, benches and species id markers on trees.
201 McIntosh Trail
Peachtree City, GA 30269
Peachtree City - Line Creek Nature Area
Enjoy hiking the hardwood forest & granite outcroppings, wade in the stream, go fishing at the pond and have a picnic.
No specific address. Find location using Google Maps, here.
Roswell - Roswell Trail System & River Walk
Trails & Greenspaces throughout Roswell and along the Chattahoochee River, conveniently listed & described by Roswell's Visitor Bureau.
Sandy Springs - Big Trees Forest Preserve
This Tree, Plant & Wildlife Sanctuary is a remarkable urban forest. Along one & a half miles of mulched trail, you'll discover 100-200 year old white oaks along with 2 creeks.
Sandy Springs - Morgan Falls Overlook Park
Less than a mile of shady nature walk, through hardwoods and pines, offering scenic views.
200 Morgan Falls Rd, Sandy Springs, GA 30350
Silver Comet Trail
The Silver Comet Trail is 61 miles long! So, pinning down a location to list it under isn't an easy task. It runs from Smyrna to Cedartown, near the GA/AL state line. This is a paved trail that families enjoy walking, biking and even skating. There are many offshoots, from the main trail, that lead you meandering through the forests and alongside creeks.
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