When you’re craving some outdoor adventures in Buckhead, Georgia, there’s plenty to see and do right outside of the Atlanta metro area. You and your family will have tons of fun while experiencing the beauty and fresh air of the great outdoors. Check out one of these many nature-filled destinations today.

Chattahoochee River and Nature Center

If you’re ready for a full day of outdoor exploration and never-ending educational activities, the Chattahoochee River is the best destination for you and your family. The Chattahoochee River starts in North Georgia’s picturesque mountains and flows for hundreds of miles into its southern border, and there are plenty of opportunities to get active and learn about nature and the surrounding wildlife along the way.

Both you and the kiddos will learn fascinating facts about the plants and animals near the river when you sign up for one of the guided tours offered in the Chattahoochee Nature Center. You’ll also find a LEED-certified Discovery Center Museum and Nature Exchange inside this building, which provides exhibits that can teach the whole family about natural science, wildlife, and the history of the Chattahoochee River.

There are plenty of catfish and bass swimming around in the river as well, so grab a fishing pole and try your hand at catching a few. If you’re ready to take a dip in the river, you can stop by the Nantahala Outdoor Center right next to Downtown Atlanta to rent equipment like tubes, paddleboards, and kayaks for a relaxing day out on the water.

Callaway Gardens

A beautiful patch of azaleas on the edge of a river near Buckhead, GA.

Image via Flickr by utahwildflowers

No matter what season you’re experiencing, you’re bound to enjoy it at Callaway Gardens, which is about an hour and a half away from Atlanta proper. The flower and plant lovers of your family will be amazed by the 2,500-acre human-made garden landscape. At Callaway Gardens, you can go hiking, biking, golfing, zip-lining, and more, and as you stroll along the trails, you’ll see gorgeous azaleas, quaint stone chapels, and fresh pine trees.

For some education and relaxation, head into the Discovery Center resting at the edge of Mountain Creek Lake, where you can sit in a theater to watch and learn about the story of Callaway Gardens. You can also check out the exhibit hall and education wing to learn even more about nature and wildlife.

Callaway Gardens also hosts Birds of Prey shows, where you’ll discover different kinds of birds as they fly and swoop around overhead. For more flying creatures, check out the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, which features over 1,000 fluttering butterflies in one of the largest tropical butterfly conservatories in North America.

Lake Lanier

Whether you prefer to spend the day in or out of the water, you’re bound to have lots to do at Lake Lanier. Situated around 50 miles north of the downtown Atlanta area, you’ll find 38,000 acres of water, hiking trails, and beautiful greenery. For a fun beach day with your family, head over to the sandy shoreline that’s 690 miles long. You can spend the day lounging on the sand while your kids splash in the water.

When you’re ready to take a walk, you’ll find over 90 parks loaded with hiking trails and tons of North Georgia wilderness to gaze at along the way. If you’re in the mood for a moderate hike, check out the 4-mile Laurel Ridge Trail, which passes by the Buford Dam and the Chestatee River. For something a bit shorter, try the Huckleberry Trail or the Overlook Trail.

On the north end of Lake Lanier, you’ll find Don Carter State Park, which is the first state park in Lake Lanier and the newest in Georgia. It offers plenty of camping areas, cottages, fishing areas, and playgrounds for you and your family to enjoy while you spend the weekend exploring the wilderness. You can also go boating, biking, swimming, paddling, and horseback riding here, so there’s always plenty to do.

Stone Mountain Park 

Stone Mountain Park, Georgia’s most-visited attraction, is just 13 miles outside of Downtown Atlanta. This park contains more than 3,200 acres of land built around Stone Mountain, which is the world’s largest piece of exposed granite. Stone Mountain Park is a great place to visit during the holidays because they host annual events like the Pumpkin Festival, Stone Mountain Christmas, and a New Year’s Eve Celebration.

There are plenty of family-friendly attractions to experience here as well, like Dinosaur Explore, which takes you back to prehistoric times with 20 life-size dinosaurs that move around and roar for your entertainment. There’s even a night-time experience with dinosaurs that glow in the dark during the Pumpkin Festival. You can also climb aboard a full-size 1940s locomotive to take a trip down the Scenic Railroad, where you and the family can ride around in open-air cars to check out the gorgeous view of Stone Mountain.

If the many activities and 15 miles of hiking trails wear you out, consider staying for the weekend. Stone Mountain Park has campgrounds with RV and tent sites available, or you can stay at the Evergreen Marriott Resort or Stone Mountain Inn, which are both located right on the property.

Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary

If there are any animal lovers in the family, take them to this 250-acre animal sanctuary. It’s nestled in Locust Grove, which is only 30 miles outside of Downtown Atlanta. Over 1,500 animals are housed and rehabilitated in this sanctuary. You’ll find a wide assortment of both farm animals and exotic creatures, including monkeys, foxes, and even pet alligators.

See these animals up close through a self-guided tour, a behind-the-scenes professional guided tour, or the big cat feeding tour, which allows you to meet and learn more about the sanctuary’s tigers, lions, and other big cats. Have you ever seen an animal paint? You will when you visit the Painting with Doc experience, which features a 500-pound tiger named Doc who will create a special painting for you and your kids.

At Crème de la Crème of Buckhead, we value the importance of learning through real-world experiences and outdoor activities, and we believe that these are the best places around Buckhead, Georgia, to accomplish this.