When the sky turns blue and redbuds send out purple blossoms above pink azaleas, I take to the streets. Just as the flowers emerge to shine in the warm day, I, too, shed any winter blahs with a springtime walk.
Some of the South's prettiest seasonal displays bloom this month and next in Atlanta. The city's neighborhoods invite us to park our cars and leave the traffic behind. Many times I explore alone or with a friend, better to concentrate on the glorious natural adornments of the handsome historic homes. Other times, I'll join a guided tour and learn some background on how these communities stay vibrant. So grab a map, and join me.
Ansley Park's Dogwood Days
Sometimes the best walks await just around the corner. Such is the case with Ansley Park, a garden neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places and tucked between Peachtree Street's High Museum of Art and Piedmont Park. You can get there from the MARTA Arts Center Station. (MARTA is Atlanta's public transportation system.)
Ansley's curving streets offer sidewalks that meander under towering trees with Midtown's skyscrapers peeking between the tiny new leaves. Developed around 1905, the community has wide green lawns and pretty little parks that can keep you happy for half an hour or half a day. Bring along a picnic lunch to plop down at Winn Park. (Try carryout from Woody's.) Here a lovely swing catches breezes, while a stream trips and falls between azaleas. The homes all show the affluence of their time, mixing Italianate villas with Romanesque, Craftsman, and Georgian styles.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden and Piedmont Park border the east side of Ansley. Both include traditional walking paths that stay busy with strollers on good-weather days.
Recently renovated Piedmont Park shows off its best side during the Atlanta Dogwood Festival (April 11 through 13). Springtime revelers fill this huge urban green space with three stages, dozens of musicians, hundreds of artisans, and the fun-to-watch Disc-Dog Southern National Competition.
- Suggested Ansley Park route (about 45 minutes): Park along Peachtree Circle, and walk south. Turn left onto Lafayette Drive at Winn Park. Turn right onto Yonah Drive. Turn right onto 15th Street, which leads to Peachtree Street. Walk north past First Church of Christ, Scientist; the Woodruff Arts Center; and the First Presbyterian Church. Then turn right onto 17th Street, which leads back to Peachtree Circle and your car.