What is the Atlanta BeltLine? It’s one of the biggest urban redevelopment projects in progress in the U.S., and it started as a grassroots effort! This 22-mile loop of historic rail lines, parks, trails, homes and transit currently connect five neighborhoods, but ultimately will link 44 communities. Free monthly bus tours and guided walking tours are available, but the best bet for small children are self-guided tours, printable from the BeltLine website.
Self-guided tours are broken up into five segments; Southeast, Southwest, Westside, Northside and Northeast. Our family decided to do the Northeast BeltLine segment, which leads from Monroe Drive to the Inman Park/Reynoldstown MARTA Station. We drove the tour, using the map, and watching as the trails changed from street level to under and over street level at points on our way.
The highlight for our family was stopping at the historic Fourth Ward Park, just south of Ponce City Market and just west of the BeltLine Trail. Fourth Ward Park is the first BeltLine Park to break ground and sits on the site of the old Ponce de Leon amusement park. My children enjoyed watching the ducks swim around the retention pond and the playground was a huge hit.
The tour gave us all a better understanding of the BeltLine’s depth. It’s not just a way to get somewhere; it encompasses transportation, public health initiatives, mixed-use projects, public art, and economic development. It was also a great lesson in social studies and science for my children as an in -progress example of what our capital city is doing in the Piedmont region, and we could see the work of Trees Atlanta in the green space we saw around us.
– Marteeta Cannon Spradling
Atlanta BeltLine Tours
Bus and Guided Walk Tours: (Best for ages 9 and older)
Self-Guided Driving Tours: (Best for younger children)
Completed BeltLine Parks and Trails: Parks.Beltline.org, trails.beltline.org