The Atlanta Botanical Garden is one of my new favorite places to get outside in Atlanta!
This post contains affiliate links. If you have any questions about this, just click here! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.
One of the things I love most about Atlanta is that right outside midtown is green space. Whether you choose something like the Beltline or exploring the outdoor exhibits of the Atlanta History Center, there’s options to be in the sunshine with grass underfoot. My latest favorite is the Atlanta Botanical Garden!
This summer, the Atlanta Botanical Garden has a special exhibit called Imaginary Worlds. There are a series of mythical or fairy tale creatures scattered throughout the gardens. From phoenixes to peacocks, Rip Van Winkle to Pegasus, animals and characters straight out of fables appear larger than life made of flowers and plants. The attention to details is stunning, with succulents marking out scales on the dragon and fur out of long grasses on camels.
My advice is that once you walk in the door, follow the main path northeast and check out the canopy walk first. It’s beautiful and lush and doesn’t feel like anything you’d ever find in a city. The forest looms above in a way that my Oklahoma-residing self has missed! You’ll also find one of the Imaginary Worlds creations here: Rip Van Winkle. Fun fact: I recently learned is set in New York, and as such is one of the few fairy tales I learned as a child that began in America.
After leaving the canopy walk, you’ll naturally curve around to the most iconic part of the garden, the earth goddess. Counted as part of the Imaginary Worlds display, she fits in perfectly, but actually predates the temporary exhibit. The creation reminds me a bit of Te Fiti, the island goddess from Moana: lush and green, blending into the nature surrounding her.
As you turn back west towards the rest of the garden, stop in the Levy parterre – if nothing else than to see the gorgeous Chihuly glass fixture that’s a centerpiece for the space. There’s something so beautiful in the contrast between the vibrant flowers and striking glass with the Atlanta skyline at the tops of the trees.
The themed areas of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens are worth exploring. I’m a sucker for orchids and this spot has one of the biggest collections I’ve seen outside the Biltmore Estate. Their conservation garden has some of the biggest venus fly traps & pitcher plants you’ll see anywhere. The Japanese garden feels like a secret spot worth discovering, and don’t miss the edible garden for more types of herbs and spices than you could use in any one dish.
We saw nearly all the twelve displays that make up the Imaginary Worlds exhibit, and I still can’t seem to pick a favorite. The phoenix was striking. The scales on the dragon – along with the whimsy of the sleeping princess next to him – were beautiful. Rip Van Winkle looked like he fell asleep there so long that the local floral grew over him. I can’t seem to choose!
Obviously I went in the height of summer, but my local friends have told me how amazing this place is as Christmas. It would’ve never occurred to me to head to a garden in winter, but they swear it’s one of the best light displays in Atlanta! Each area has a unique take on Christmas decor, using all the twinkle lights your heart could desire while still choosing novel ways to light the place.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden isn’t far from the action, it’s just outside Piedmont Park and only a few miles from the heart of downtown. The entrance fee isn’t cheap, but they do offer military and group, discounts, so don’t be shy about asking.
I love finding lush getaways within urban areas! What’s your favorite green space within a city?