7 of the most serene places in metro Atlanta to get your zen on

One of the waterfalls in Cascade Springs Nature Preserve runs below a busy bridge.
Contributed by Atlanta Trails

Sometimes, we all need a moment to rest and relax from the craziness of our daily lives. Luckily, Atlanta offers a variety of nature preserves and urban hikes surrounded by lush greenery, wildlife and hardly any traffic noise. There are also opportunities to reconnect with body and mind at spiritual centers that offer guided teaching. If you’re looking to take a few hours of your day to recharge without wanting to actually escape the city, look into the seven locations below that offer quiet spaces to think and reflect.

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Cascade Springs Nature Preserve

120 acres of stunning greenspace can be found at the Cascade Springs Nature Preserve, located just off busy Cascade Road in southwest Atlanta. When you hike this tranquil oasis offering lush foliage, serene streams, plentiful wildlife and historic ruins, you won’t even feel like you’re still in the city limits.

Location: Southwest Atlanta - 2852 Cascade Rd

Chattahoochee East Palisades Trail

It is easy to forget you are still in an urban area when you get lost within the Chattahoochee East Palisades trail, just off the busy Interstate 75. This area features lush trees, chirping birds, historic ruins, views of the Chattahoochee River and even a towering bamboo forest that stretches up into the sky.

Location: Sandy Springs - 4058 Whitewater Creek Rd NW

Drepung Loseling Monastery

On Dresden Drive in the city of Brookhaven, you can find a magnificent Tibetan Buddhist temple. Drepung Loseling Monastery offers opportunities to learn meditation at beginner to advance levels, concentrating on mental clarity and focus. You can also learn more about Tibetan Buddhist culture, traditions and customs.

Location: Brookhaven - 1781 Dresden Dr; Website: drepung.org; Contact: 404-982-0051

Jimmy Carter Presidential Center Gardens

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Center, which is located just off the Freedom Park Trail, features an impressive set of gardens and forestation on its grounds. Some of the gardens are in front of the center at no cost, while others are part of the cost of admission to the center ($12 for adults; $10 for seniors, military, and college students; free for children 16 and under). Explore the Entry Gardens, Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, Native Oak Forest, Pollinator Garden, Sundial, Koi Pond and more.

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Location: East Atlanta - 453 John Lewis Freedom Pkwy NE; Website: cartercenter.org; Contact: 404-420-5100

John Ripley Forbes Big Trees Forest Preserve

This lush 30-acre forest can be found in the heart of Sandy Springs. Despite being located just off busy Roswell Road, it is extremely quiet and peaceful and perfect for taking a short meditative hike. Interesting fact – in 1989, the land was about to become a car dealership before namesake and founder John Ripley Forbes, an environmental advocate, worked to save the forest and preserve its natural beauty.

Location: Sandy Springs - 7645 Roswell Rd NE; Website: bigtreesforest.com; Contact: 770-730-5600

Lullwater Preserve

Located on the campus of Emory University lies the serene, quiet 154-acre Lullwater Preserve. Just as the name would imply, you’ll be lulled to the sounds of the water in the lake, waterfalls and streams in this hidden oasis featuring meandering trails. You can also explore octagonal abandoned powerhouse ruins from the 1920s.

Location: Decatur - 1463 Clifton Rd

Zonolite Park

Off the banks of the South Fork Peachtree Creek lies the quiet, hidden Zonolite Park. Maintained by the South Fork Conservancy, Zonolite Park got its name from being the site of industrial waste manufacturing under the trade name Zonolite. But you won’t find industrial waste here. You’ll find a beautiful meadow, songbirds and other wildlife, a garden full of flowers and peaceful streams.

Location: North Druid Hills - 1164 Zonolite Rd NE; Website: southforkconservancy.org/zonolite

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