Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

#19 in Best Things To Do in Atlanta
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area  picture
Straystone/Getty Images

Key Info

1978 Island Ford Parkway

Price & Hours

Dawn-dusk daily


Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend


  • 3.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

This massive national recreation area is actually 15 individual land units connected by 48 miles of the Chattahoochee River. In addition to being fun to say, the park offers an abundance of activities for all kinds of adventurers. Those who wish to relax outside should opt for a tube or raft to float down a stretch the river. More active travelers can kayak, canoe or paddleboard down the Chattahoochee or hike the miles of trails that wind through the park. Bikers have access to 7 miles of trails, while anglers can fish for bass, catfish and trout during all park operating hours.

Outdoor enthusiasts liked the park's varied pursuits, especially the hiking trails. The gorgeous scenery also wins praise from visitors, with some saying it is the perfect place to escape Atlanta's busy city atmosphere.

The park is open from dawn to dusk daily. The Island Ford Visitor Contact Station is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The Chattahoochee River National Recreation area sits about 10 to 20 miles north of Atlanta, depending on which individual land unit(s) you wish to see. The area has several parking lots. Parking fees (which double as your entrance fee to the park) are $5 for the day or $40 for an annual pass. If you have an America the Beautiful pass, you can use that to enter the park for free. Visit the area's website for more information.

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Time to Spend
#1 Atlanta History Center

Spread across 33 acres in Atlanta's trendy Buckhead neighborhood, the Atlanta History Center seeks to explore Georgia's past through comprehensive exhibitions, historic homes and miles of gardens and trails. The center's primary facility is the Atlanta History Museum, which showcases exhibits that span the region's history, from Native American culture to life in the antebellum South. 

Near the museum is the Swan House, a restored estate originally built in 1928. Living up to its name, every room allegedly features at least one swan (motif). Outside the house, the Swan Woods Trail is lined with beautiful plants native to Georgia. Nearby, you can also see how the other half lived at the Smith Family Farm, a plantation house from the mid-1800s. Meanwhile, bookworms won't want to miss a tour of the Margaret Mitchell House, where the author penned her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "Gone With the Wind."

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