Atlanta may be a busy metropolitan city with skyscrapers, highways and plenty of Targets, but it is also home to many naturally wooded sanctuaries. We’ve found twelve preserves that provide perfect opportunities for your family to get back to nature.

Chattahoochee Nature Center

Perhaps the most well-known of metro area’s nature destinations, this 127-acre center sits on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in Roswell. Kids flock to the CNC for its guided day and night hikes, canoe trips, animal encounters and the reptile and fish exhibit at the interpretive center. 9135 Willeo Rd., Roswell.

Cascade Springs Nature Preserve 

A lesser-known nature preserve in southwest Atlanta, this one has easy walking trails and a small, but beautiful waterfall. With three hiking trails (all suited for kids or beginners), families can spend a long time in this peaceful place and even see the remains of trenches from the Civil War battle of Utoy Creek. 2852 Cascade Rd. SW, Atlanta.

Elachee Nature Science Center

Visitors have frequented this center in Gainesville for more than 30 years because of its guided hikes, camp and field trip programs and 13 miles of trails. Kids love the “live animal” exhibit where they can get close to snakes, spiders and reptiles.
2125 Elachee Dr., Gainesville.

Dunwoody Nature Center

Photo courtesy of Dunwoody Nature Center.

Dunwoody Nature Center

Kids can climb trees, play on the playground or romp around the creek at this 22-acre preserve just outside the perimeter in Dunwoody. Kids can find beautiful migratory birds throughout the habitat as well as other wildlife. 5343 Roberts Dr., Dunwoody

Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve

They call themselves “an oasis in suburbia” and it is easy to see why. On the northside of bustling Decatur, this 28-acre preserve has several miles of trails and is a wildlife sanctuary. 2580 Pine Bluff Dr., Decatur

Lost Corner Nature Preserve 

Right in the heart of Sandy Springs, this nature preserve used to be a working farm (starting in the 1800s) and was donated to the city by the last owner. It has a cute bungalow on the property as well as a community garden. Visitors can hike the trail, which is just under a mile, and see lots of wildlife. 7300 Brandon Mill Rd., Sandy Springs

Autrey Mill Nature Preserve & Heritage Center

This land in north Atlanta flourishes with nature and wildlife. Families can regularly spot a box turtle, a midland water snake or the carnivorous lady slipper orchid while walking on the easy two miles of trails. Kids especially love a replica of a teepee. 9770 Autrey Mill Rd., Johns Creek

Tucker Nature Preserve

At just nine acres, this nature preserve’s smaller size makes it easy for families to navigate. A half mile trail winds through the scenic woods where visitors can see native plants, plenty of birds and also do some geocaching. 4408 Lawrenceville Hwy, Tucker

Big Trees Forest Nature Preserve 

A simple Sandy Springs escape which features just what you would think–big trees. There are three trails with bridges over a creek in this 30-acre plant, tree and wildlife sanctuary. 7645 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs

Morningside Nature Preserve 

This gem in Atlanta’s Morningside neighborhood boasts 30+ acres of woods along South Fork Peachtree Creek. A cool suspension bridge over the creek connects the trails. Visitors and their canine friends like to frequent the shore and shallow water under the bridge, which is known as “dog beach.” 1941 Wellbourne Dr., Atlanta

Davidson-Arabia Nature Preserve

Think Stone Mountain, only less crowded and less commercial. This mountain in Lithonia is part of a 2,550 acre preserve which includes two lakes. Visitors can climb the mountain or hike the paths around it.  3787 Klondike Rd., Lithonia

Blue Heron Nature Preserve

This small but scenic preserve in North Buckhead is great for a family stroll. Along the trails, visitors will see wildlife (including bee houses), eclectic artwork and a creek. Dogs are also big fans of this secluded spot in the city. 4055 Roswell Rd., Atlanta

Elsa Simcik contributed to this article

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