Tour the Park 365 Days a Year

Due to the increasing popularity of the Piedmont Park Conservancy’s Docent-led History Tours, the Conservancy has decided to publish a self-guided tour! This allows tourists and locals to experience a tour of the Park regardless of what day or time it is. Download the printable and foldable PDF to experience Piedmont Park in a whole new way. From learning about how the Conservancy has impacted the Park to gorgeous views of Lake Clara Meer, the tour is sure to provide new knowledge and great photograph opportunities of Atlanta’s green heart.

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Snow Tips from the Piedmont Park Conservancy

Atlanta now has a snow day!

It is a wonderful time to come to Piedmont Park and capture that perfect photograph! From white landscapes to sledding, we want you to take advantage of this rare opportunity. We hope you have a safe and fun time in the park this weekend.

Please read the following important reminders to ensure that YOU and your friends/loved ones leave the park have the best memories with minimal park impact.

-Be mindful of park treasures: Please do not sled on or conduct any activities on sensitive areas. This includes areas but is not limited to flower beds, growing trees, wildlife habitats, and historical monuments. Do not climb poles or trees.

-BYOS: Bring your OWN sled. Please bring a safe material to slide on. Leave park materials (banners, trash lids) to avoid unintentional damage & costs to the Conservancy.

-Leave no trace: After sledding or making snowballs, bring your materials back home with you or dispose of them in the proper disposal bins. Staff is limited in the park this weekend, therefore trash cans may get full quickly. If we all pull together and bring our trash home, that would help immensely.

-Bundle your pup: Paws get cold too! We encourage you to dress your four-legged friends in warm attire so that they can enjoy the snow too!

We hope that you have an amazing time in the park! Thank you for reading these tips and keeping Atlanta’s favorite park safe and beautiful. Again, please share this with anyone you know that may come to the park to enjoy the snow.

Her Happy Place

Leaning forward and lacing her shoes, Sylvia Russell feels the calm breeze of fall hit her face.

Looking around, she sees a child gazing at her father with arms wide open. A biker leaves a swell of wind when she dashes past on a winding path.

Tap. Tap. Tap. At the Active Oval, Sylvia’s shoes hit the gravel as she begins her run.

Ever since she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Sylvia has been faced with a choice: take medications or do high intensity workouts to tackle the increased chance of osteoporosis.

“It makes a difference that I have Piedmont Park,” Russell says as she explains her choice of working out. “I don’t even feel like I am exercising.”

Her heartbeat increasing, Sylvia’s busy mind begins to slow down and find focus.

“Whatever problem I am facing or stress I’m feeling when I enter the park, by the time I leave, the load seems lighter,” says Russell, “that’s why I call Piedmont Park my happy place.”

As Sylvia finishes her final lap around the Active Oval, she looks around at all the people in the Park. “As I frequent this park, I see all walks of life come through here,” she says, “and it makes me feel good; it’s how I want the world to be.”

Like thousands of other Atlantans, Sylvia has found a place in beautiful Piedmont Park that makes health and exercise an enjoyable experience.


It’s because of the work of the Piedmont Park Conservancy that Sylvia and others have access to a 208 acre park that is beautiful, clean, safe and active. The Piedmont Park Conservancy, a nonprofit organization, raises and invests $3 million annually to enhance and program this historic green space.  Many do not realize that the Conservancy relies heavily on philanthropic donations as it does not receive direct funding from events or festivals.

Though, “to remain beautiful, the park needs help,” Russell says. “It depends on the contributions of the community. It feels free because you don’t have to pay to get in here, but it’s costly to run a park. And it’s worth it. It’s an investment for Midtown and Atlanta.”

Take pride and give promise to Piedmont Park by making a donation to the Piedmont Park Conservancy.

Something to Be Proud Of

Across the Table with President/CEO Mark Banta
By Annierra Matthews

Shuffling in my seat, I prepare to meet the face of the Piedmont Park Conservancy: President and CEO Mark Banta. He walks in with his typical jolly smile, and his token bottle of water. This month, the Conservancy is celebrating all of the pride for beautiful Piedmont Park. So this week, we wanted to hear it from the top: what is there to be proud of Piedmont Park?
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President and CEO Mark Banta

I start by asking “Why should neighbors and friends be proud of Piedmont Park?”

“Piedmont Park attracts over 4 million diverse visitors every year deriving from 134 zip codes,” says Banta, “The Park is neck and neck with Stone Mountain for the number one free place to visit in Georgia.” The park offers free access to over 200 acres to the Atlanta community and its tourists.

Also, Banta tells us that 88% of those visitors agree that Piedmont Park has enriched their life. “That is a statistic we should be very proud of,” he says.

Then I was curious and asked “How do you show your pride in Piedmont Park through your role as President and CEO?”

“[Being proud] is all encompassing in the job itself,” Banta says. “The role of the CEO is to make sure all the parts of the team work together to create the environment that we want: the customer service experience, the physical beauty of the park, and the programming. These are the elements that touch the public.”

I ask him what his favorite part of Piedmont Park is, and Banta gave me a direct answer. “I am proud that there is something for everyone,” says Banta, “the park is so big and active that different people with different interests all have something to find in Piedmont Park.”

“In what ways have your seen the local community show they’re proud of Piedmont Park?” I ask.

“When we have individuals who are willing to take their time—reducing their free time, exercise time or dog-walking time—and they instead come and invest it in Piedmont Park, then they are giving back to us,” he says. “They are being proud of this being their park, and they take ownership.”

“You’ll see people walk by and pick up and piece of trash, and you’ll see people say, ‘Hey, you have to clean up after your dog,’” Banta answers, “or they’ll tell the staff, ‘Thank you for what you do.’”

In addition, Banta shares another way the community expresses their pride for Piedmont Park. They recount memories and describe passion for the Park to the people in their lives. Fans “share their experiences with people through social media by posting pictures and sharing their stories,” he says.

I express to Banta that being the CEO to such a big park seems challenging. Banta responds that he “doesn’t look at being the CEO as a challenge, but rather an opportunity.” He describes the immense amount of possibilities for Piedmont Park and how the Conservancy is working every day to fulfill those dreams. “We just need to keep working on communication, be true to ourselves, and tell people who we are…then it gives them the opportunity to understand the importance of the Conservancy, appreciate that and support us.”

Seven Men. 208 Acres. One Big Impact.

Every morning around 7:30am, seven men wearing “Piedmont Park Conservancy” imprinted on their chest set out on golf carts, trucks and mowers to tackle the 200 plus acres of beautiful Piedmont Park. With the sun slowly rising, the smell of morning dew and a small collection of people seen jogging through the Park, each man starts the day on his own mission. Some will pick up rakes and blowers. Others will count out screws and wires. A few will check systems and computers, hoping no new surprises popped up overnight.

Amongst trees, flowers and open fields of grass, you will typically find Landscaper John Frazier. Being with the Piedmont Park Conservancy for over 14 years, John says that he loves his job because he can work with his hands and enjoy the outdoors, all while watching the fruits of his labor grow. John is usually paired with contract worker Chris who likes “making the Park look pretty for people to enjoy.”

“The atmosphere is great,” John says. “The people I work with have great attitudes. It’s a great learning process. Making the Park better each year is great.”

John Frazier

Peek between buildings and spot a red golf cart to find Operations Manager Todd Williard. Todd began working at the Conservancy because of his interest in the preservation of Piedmont Park.

“I demonstrate my love for the park by showing up every day,” Todd says. “I enjoy working outside, and I love being involved in the Conservancy.”

Todd, often found wearing his cowboy hat and a button down shirt, is the go-to man for detailed projects, broken machines, and handy work that the average person looks at with a blank stare.

Wind around the corner and find Stanley Lofton, another landscaper with a friendly personality and often a wave. Stanley spends his days blowing an immense amount of leaves, mowing large acres of grass, budding flowers to promote their growth and so much more. Ask Stanley how his day is going, and you are always met with enthusiasm and passion.

“I love the Park people,” Stanley says. Working in Piedmont Park has “a sense of freedom. Piedmont Park has history, you know? I’m from Atlanta, and Piedmont Park is the crown jewel of the city. I’m part of Piedmont Park, and Piedmont Park is part of me.”

Stanley Lofton

Keep walking through the Park, and find a man standing on a ladder tinkering away: Maintenance Engineer Michael Paul. Usually surrounded by an immense amount of tools and measuring tape, Michael performs multiple roles from technical projects to IT functions for the Conservancy. Michael expresses the same passion and dedication in his work as the other team members.

“I support the mission of the Conservancy,” Michael says. “It makes me proud because when people stop, ask me questions and say that they enjoy the Park, I know how much work goes into it. I get the opportunity to interact with the public which opens the door to talk about the Conservancy.”

Michael Paul testing Legacy Fountain under ground

Hop over to the Active Oval to see Landscaper Alan Wise, continuously mowing or raking the fields in systematic lines and patterns to beautifully curate the sport fields. Alan works hard to care for the fields which attract over 68,000 reserved players each year.

Alan loves Piedmont Park “because it’s the heart of the city [and] it connects people with nature.”

Some of Alan’s other duties include checking reservation permits, managing signage, and prepping bases, nets and other recreational items. When he isn’t working on the Oval, Alan aids the other team members to further beautify the Park such as mulching the Dog Parks, supporting volunteers and trash pickup.

Alan Wise raking the fields

Need to take a bathroom break? You might run into Landscaper Lorenzo Marshall. Toting buckets, cleaning supplies and a friendly spirit, Lorenzo is charged with taking care of all of the bathrooms in Piedmont Park. With an increased visitation of Piedmont Park, this job gets harder and harder every day. Yet, Lorenzo always shows up and gets the job done. After cleaning bathrooms, Lorenzo might be found clearing pathways, caring for plants and other landscape projects.

Lorenzo Marshall

Lastly, you might see Mark Nelson driving by checking on various projects or sitting in a meeting to strategize the next move. Mark, the Director of Operations, impressively manages the team and the countless projects that pop up all over Piedmont Park. He determines which projects are delegated to the Conservancy team or the City of Atlanta. He communicates with the rest of the staff to update them on projects and field incoming questions. Mark also gets his hands dirty, using his horticultural and landscape expertise to complete specialized projects with the Park.

Mark Nelson

Standing from any Piedmont Park gate looking in, anywhere your eyes can see is likely to be impacted by the Piedmont Park Conservancy operations staff. Whether you love to visit the Dog Parks, play in the playgrounds, shop at the Green Market, attend camp, splash in the Legacy Fountain, or jog around the running track, you can see the efforts of this hardworking team.  The Conservancy is lucky to have such a dedicated and self-motivated team that also hold personal passions for the work that they do. The next time you are out in the Park, give a wave hello and strike up a conversation. They’re friendly guys, and are definitely Piedmont Park Proud.

Four of the Best Fall Foliage Spots at Piedmont Park

UPDATE – November 6: Leaves are peaking! Visit Piedmont Park for that awesome fall photo and use #PiedmontParkProud when posting on social!

September 22 marked the first day of autumn, and we’re excited! During this season, plenty of fall activities occur. Families pose for holiday photos in front of red mountains. Children dive in large piles of crunchy yellow leaves for sport and contest. Couples partake in a picnic under the perfect orange-leafed tree. Others simply enjoy watching the leaves transform color, which they can easily observe at Piedmont Park. With that said, here are a few main areas that the Piedmont Park Conservancy recommends to view the fall foliage.

Piedmont Park in Fall

For one, the 14th Street gate near the Piedmont Driving Club is a popular location to watch the leaves change, according to Mark Nelson, the Director of Operations for the Piedmont Park Conservancy.

“We’ve got some large gingko trees that have a beautiful fall color,” Nelson says. “They turn bright yellow. When you have a nice clear day and that sun shines on those trees, it puts a yellow glow on the ground. A lot of people like taking photos under that tree.”

Nelson guesses that the gingko tree will probably turn quickly at the end of October, only lasting a few days.

Gingko Tree’s Leaves Changing

Gingko Tree’s Leaves Changing

Park Drive bridge, which is above the dog park and by the Meadow, is another location where visitors can watch the leaves change.

“You have a couple of bald cypress,” Nelson says. “You have red dawns and redwoods. They turn a really brilliant rust color. The bald cypress are in the lake, and the red dawns are behind it. They look like the same tree, but they’re not. If you come down Park Drive, on the left-hand side, just before you get to the garden and beehives, there’s a hickory that turns bright yellow. It’s really beautiful.”

Red Dawn Trees Along Lake Clara Meer

Oak Hill and the Active Oval are two more go-to spots for this activity.

“If you get up on Oak Hill and stand at the top, looking down toward the lake, you can see a lot of different colors, especially all the trees that surround the lake,” Nelson says. “It’s a nice area to look at fall colors, too. If you’re standing in the Active Oval and you look toward the city, you can see a lot of fall colors there, too.”

Pignut Hickory on Oak Hill

Nelson mentions the leaves aren’t changing as of yet. Perhaps the leaves may turn the first week of November.

“We’ve had such dry weather here in September leading into October,” he says. “They’re kind of late right now falling; we hadn’t had the cold temperatures yet for them to turn. However, we recently had a few cold mornings and cold evenings that tend to turn the leaves quicker. This week, I think we’ll get to see quite a few leaves turn color.”

He also lists a variety of trees to watch for during the fall, such as dogwoods that turn rich red and sugar maples that change to a vivid orange-yellow.

Sugar Maple Leaves

Red Maple Trees

“Blackgum trees turn a bright red,” Nelson says. “October glories are a red-orange color or a red-sunset. We have all kinds of oaks that have different colors to them. They kind of have more of a red tint to them. Green ash turn a really beautiful yellow.”

Director of Operations Mark Nelson

With over 115 tree varieties, residents and Atlanta visitors can visit Piedmont Park to submerse themselves in vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges that will awe them at every turn. As Nelson reminds us, “If you live in the city and don’t see a lot of trees, then you can come to Piedmont Park and see them.”

Tag Piedmont Park on Instagram @piedmontpark of your latest fall photos. Also, check out Piedmont Parks’s self-guided tree tour.

UPDATE – November 6: Leaves are peaking! Visit Piedmont Park for that awesome fall photo and use #PiedmontParkProud when posting on social!

Guest Post by Annierra Matthews

Happy Wet Dogs Enjoy the 2017 Splish Splash Doggie Bash

On Saturday, October 7 and Sunday, October 22, the Piedmont Park Conservancy welcomed over 800 dogs at its annual Splish Splash Doggie Bash at the Aquatic Center. With some arriving almost an hour early on Saturday, dogs and their owners eagerly waited for the pool gates to open. While they anticipated the event, they were welcomed by Ponce, Piedmont Park’s Dog of the Year, and t-shirt giveaways. You could see the excitement in the eyes and tails of all the attendees.

“We love this,” says Lon Williams with his dog George, both residents of Midtown Atlanta. “We’ve come every year, since it started. It’s so organized this year. It just keeps getting better and better each year.”

Not only did frequent residents support the event, but newcomers attended Splish Splash, too, as was the case with Katie Johnson.

“This is my first time,” Johnson says. “It’ll just be fun to watch all the dogs play in the water.”

When the gates finally opened, dogs hurried toward the pool. They were so enthusiastic to jump into the cool water that they impatiently tugged their owners through the entrance. Balls and frisbees were tossed everywhere in the pool with pups jumping in behind them. Some dogs preferred doing doggie paddles in the deep end while others preferred to wade in the zero-entry part of the pool.

Smyrna resident Randall Walsh says Splish Splash is a great way for his dog, Kiya, to release energy, and that this was the only time she could swim.

Meanwhile, for less brave dogs, Splish Splash was one of the most intense moments of the fur-filled lives: these cautious dogs stuck in the tip of their paw to test the water. For every dog making an outrageous dive, another one decided the grassy area better fit their comfort level.

For both dogs and their owners, dog vendors set up merchandise tables near the walls and along the fence. Dogs sniffed their tables for treats, and at one point, some of them even hopped on the tables in order to gratify their curiosity. Some dogs dried off their coats by running around to every possible corner of the pool area while befriending and playing with other dogs.

Needless to say, the dogs and their owners had a “pawsome” time, so much so that some of them returned to one of the other two sessions.  Sunday’s Splish Splash session was a post-poned session that had to be re-scheduled due to inclement weather. The event raised approximately $24,000 for the Piedmont Park Conservancy and the three-acre off-leash dog parks.

Event Site

Guest Post by Annierra Matthews

4 Reasons to Take the Piedmont Park History Tour

There is nothing like the experience of immersing yourself in history, especially if the history is about your city’s backyard. Here are four reasons to take the Piedmont Park History Tour.

1. Discover Something New

Purchased by the City of Atlanta in 1904, Piedmont Park is rooted in Atlanta’s history. While many Atlantans have visited and treasure beautiful Piedmont Park, they may not know what was happening on the same ground under their feet dozens of years before. On the tour, you will discover its vivid history, stunning resilience and growth, and abundant beauty. From the accounts of Booker T. Washington’s mark on the Atlanta Exposition to the cluster of trees dedicated to well-renowned literary authors, the fascinating facts about Piedmont Park are timeless. Whether you are on your first or fifteenth visit, the tour awards you with the pleasure of establishing a new understanding of the Park and its influence on Atlanta’s history.

“The tour is such a great reminder of how Piedmont Park is woven into the fabric that is Atlanta.” – Kathy Ashe, Olmsted Society Member of the Piedmont Park Conservancy

2. Meet Like-Minded People

The Piedmont Park History Tour is a great way to meet new people or spend time with those who share a passion for Atlanta history or green space. The tour attracts neighbors, frequent visitors of the park and first-time visitors. Perhaps you’ll befriend another park lover on the tour, and then exchange contact information or enjoy a post-tour cup of coffee at the Green Market.

3. Instill Passion for Parks

With its unique and earthy history, the tour also encourages weekend family outings. If your family members love to engulf themselves in lush greenery and distinctive wildlife, or if historical landmarks and old truths thrill them, the park tour is perfect. The experience cultivates enthusiasm, dedication and love for all of what has Piedmont Park to offer. When you discover that Piedmont Park has been the backdrop of Gay Pride since 1972, for instance, or the home to the highly anticipated Atlanta Dogwood Festival, you will leave with a better understanding of why it is so important to preserve this gorgeous green space as a resource to Atlanta’s cultural and recreational events.

The tour is family and dog friendly. Grab your stroller and spend a day in the Park! Maybe the tour will persuade you or your guests to get involved with the Piedmont Park Conservancy such as helping to maintain the park’s beauty and cleanliness, all the while ensuring a safe space for the local community.

4. Make a Day at Piedmont Park

If you are new to Atlanta or only visiting with family and friends, the Piedmont Park Tour is a great resource for experiencing most of Piedmont Park in a short amount of time. First, arrive early to check out Green Market, where local farmers display tables of colorful veggies, fruits, and other merchandise. Then, take the docent-led guided tour to relive the park’s history. The docent will show you monuments, gorgeous trees, great Atlanta skylines (photo op!), and more – all within 60 to 90 minutes. Plus, both the Green Market and the tour are free to attend!

From learning about the contemporary design of the 1976 Noguchi Playscape to the Active Oval which was formerly a horse race track, the Piedmont Park History Tour is a noteworthy event to attend. It is hosted during Green Market which is on Saturdays from March to December (exclusion dates apply – check calendar for confirmation). The market is open from 9am-1pm, and the tour starts promptly at 11am. The market is at the 12th Street and Piedmont Avenue gate. Meet at the Piedmont Park Conservancy and Green Market information table. *$5 donation encouraged.

Guest Post by Annierra Matthews

Navigating the Park During Music Midtown

Music Midtown is a highly anticipated event that thousands look forward to each year. Filled with dance and music, the park turns into an outdoor concert venue featuring top headliners such as this year’s Bruno Mars performance. Due to such a large production and set-up, the Piedmont Park Conservancy offers park visitors some suggestions on how to get around the 170+ acres of green space still available during the event’s impact – actual event days are September 16 and 17.

Downloadable and Printable Map – Click Here

Dog Owners: 

The Piedmont Park Dog Parks do remain open during the entire Music Midtown festival. Depending on your origin, getting there may need some adjustments.

  • North: Cross the Monroe Drive pedestrian signaled crosswalk into the Piedmont Commons, and then head south with a pleasant walk through the Northwoods. As seen on the map, you will veer left at the fork and the dog parks are ahead (map items #24 and #16).
  • West: Walk through the 12th or 14th Street gates and then follow the map northeast. You will go above the Active Oval, past the tennis center, and then down a hill to access the dog parks (map items #24 and #16).
  • East: Dog owners can access the park through the Park Drive entrance and then go down the stairs on the right. Turn left, and the dog parks are straight ahead (map items #24 and #16).
  • Avoid: 10th Street, Charles Allen Gate, Meadow, Oak Hill, and the Lake: The festival’s footprint reaches these areas, and dogs are not allowed at Class A festivals.

Cyclists/Pedestrians:

  • North: Cross the Monroe Drive pedestrian signaled crosswalk into the Piedmont Commons, and then head south with a pleasant walk/ride through the Northwoods. As seen on the map, you may enjoy the park north of Park Drive, Lake Clara Meer, and the 12th Street Gate.
  • West: Enter through the 12th or 14th Street Gate sidewalks and head northeast. You will go above the Active Oval, past the tennis center towards the back of Magnolia Hall. As seen on the map, you may enjoy the park north of Park Drive, Lake Clara Meer, and the 12th Street Gate.
  • East: Enter through Park Drive and then either stay straight or down the stairs on the right. As seen on the map, you may enjoy the park north of Park Drive, Lake Clara Meer, and the 12th Street Gate.
  • Avoid: 10th Street, Charles Allen Gate, Meadow, Oak Hill, and the Lake: The festival’s footprint reaches these areas, and you may need a wristband / ticket to access these areas.
  • Additional Tip for Cyclists: Please be aware that before, during and after the festival, many of the dedicated bike lanes, particularly 10th Street, may be inaccessible. For those that are not comfortable using the streets, please refer to the map for alternative routes.

Other Tips:

  • Green Market will resume on Saturday, September 22.
  • The Tennis Center will remain open.
  • The Piedmont Park Aquatic Center and Pool is closed for the 2017 season.
  • The playgrounds will remain open.
  • The Active Oval (running track and sport fields) will operate as normal.
  • The Parking Garage will have a special event rate (determined by Lanier Parking).
  • Legacy Fountain Splash Pad is scheduled to be open, but is contingent on remaining repairs.
  • The basketball courts will operate as normal.

Top Things You Need to Know about Splish Splash Doggie Bash

On the first week of October, Atlanta’s pups are going to be wet and wild! The Piedmont Park Conservancy will be hosting Splish Splash Doggie Bash on October 7 and 8, a sell-out dog pool party that makes for great headlines and pictures. Come join the fun with hundreds of other pooches and people this fall. Here are the top things you can be excited about for this year’s bash.

  1. This is the ONLY weekend that dogs get to “take a dip” in Piedmont Park’s pool!
  2. We have supporters and sponsors giving away a ton of FREE dog-related swag, treats and toys.
  3. People can enjoy adult beverages at a cash bar while their four-legged friends practice their dog paddle. (Exception: We cannot sell alcohol on Sundays prior to 12:30pm.)
  4. Meet Ponce – Piedmont Park’s Dog of the Year- and her owners at some of our sessions.
  5. Don’t have a dog but want to join the fun? This is the first year that we have audience viewing tickets that do not require a canine.

Wondering if your dog is suitable for the event?

  • Swimming or not, dogs can have a great time at this event. Dogs that are comfortable with jumping in will have plenty of opportunities. Also, less comfortable dogs can use the zero entry area, or sit poolside bathing in the sun.
  • Lastly, don’t think that the size of your dog will determine his or her boldness to play along! We have seen Olympic-courage from small dogs and giant dogs that prefer the shallow end.

Tickets go on sale to the public on September 1. Are you a member of the Piedmont Park Conservancy, or want to join? Members get early registration from August 28 through August 31.

Link for more information and registration: https://www.piedmontpark.org/splishsplash/