Forest Park is a city in Georgia’s Clayton County. It can be found nine miles south of downtown Atlanta.
Incorporated in 1908, it today finds itself immediately to the east of Atlanta’s main airport, Hartsfield-Jackson International.
This means that Forest Park offers an excellent base from which to explore everything the Georgia state capital and its surrounding area have to offer, from mountain vistas to world-class museums.
These are the 15 best things to do in and around Forest Park, Georgia.
1. Delta Flight Museum
While not located in Forest Park itself, the Delta Flight Museum is just a short distance away to the northern side of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. This can be reached in less than six miles from downtown Forest Park.
A great introduction to Atlanta’s industry, the museum makes use of two historic airport hangars dating back to the 1940s.
As its name suggests, the museum is particularly focused on the history of Delta Airlines, which has been flying passengers from the very earliest days of powered flight, as you will discover if you visit for yourself.
Being in hangars, there is plenty of space to display historic aircraft, from small six seaters to a 767 called the Spirit of Delta.
2. Reynolds Nature Preserve
Even closer to Forest Park at roughly three miles south of the city is Reynolds Nature Preserve.
Covering almost 150 acres, the preserve was designed to protect native woodland in the neighboring city of Morrow.
Visitors can do far worse than explore the range of wildlife ponds, wildflower meadows and the heritage garden, which ensure there’s something to see at any time of year.
The preserve also includes several civil war-era structures, including the Huie Barn, built in 1867 and pointing to the preserve’s original function.
3. Spivey Hall
Named after its benefactors, who were major real estate developers in the area, Spivey Hall is part of Clayton State University and stands within its Morrow campus next to the perfectly-named Swan Lake.
Recognized as a leading concert hall, it receives international audiences thanks to radio and online broadcasts of its regular performances of jazz and classical music.
Home to both the Spivey Hall Children’s Choir and Young Artists grouping, no expense was spared on creating this 500-seat auditorium in the early 1990s.
This included the construction of the Albert Schweizer 4,400 pipe memorial organ. Manufactured in the Italian city of Padua, it is named after the doctor and Bach lover who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.
4. Atlanta Farmers Market
A proud supporter of the ‘Georgia Grown’ campaign, Atlanta Farmers Market is one of many that offers a chance to sample all the produce this agricultural area grows.
Known as the Peach State, there’s certainly plenty to choose from, whether that’s freshly-picked fruit or peanuts from the farm of former President and Georgia resident Jimmy Carter.
Its multitude of sheds make it one of the largest farmers markets in the United States. It also features a garden center and a couple of café-restaurants that make use of all the wonderful produce that’s on sale here.
5. Panola Mountain State Park
Panola Mountain erupts from the Georgia countryside without much warning, being an isolated mass of natural rock that formed millions of years ago.
There are several such mountains in the region, each of which are protected with state park status, and while Panola isn’t the largest or the tallest it is considered to be the most unspoiled.
Part of the larger Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, ranger-led hikes are available for those looking to learn more about this natural habitat. Alternatively, there are multi-use paths that allow everyone to enjoy the park, as well as boat rentals and angling possibilities on its lakes.
6. Starlight Drive-in
The Starlight Drive-in Theatre lies about six miles north of Forest Park and combines the traditional American drive-in experience with modern digital projection technology.
Basking in its original art deco style, there are four different screens to choose from. Between them, they show a whole host of different movies, from Hollywood classics to B-movie horror films.
What’s more, roll up here and you’ll be treated to a double feature. Part of the charm, it would be hard to avoid the snack bar with classics such as hot dogs too.
But should you prefer a bargain to a film screening, the Starlight also hosts a flea market, with items that differ from day to day.
7. Constitution Lakes
In a very similar location north of Forest Park as Starlight Drive-in are Constitution Lakes. Like most of the lakes in the region, the Constitution Lakes are man-made rather than naturally forming, although this takes nothing away from their beauty.
In fact, Constitution Lakes were created out of the former quarries of a brick-makers. This water world today echoes with nothing more than the sound of bird calling to one another and the splash of breaching fish.
Both bird watching and angling are popular reasons for heading towards the lakes, which can be discovered with ease as a result of various walkways that take people around the water’s edge.
8. East Point Historic Civic Block
Six miles northwest rather than due north will see you instead arrive at East Point Historic Civic Block in south Atlanta.
The block consists of Atlanta’s Victory Park together with three important buildings dating from the 1920s and the 1930s – City Hall, the New Deal Library, and City Auditorium.
Victory Park was created to commemorate those who died in the United States military, with old armaments to be found among the memorials and planting.
Meanwhile, both City Hall and City Auditorium were constructed in a mix of Colonial Revival and antebellum (pre-civil war) styles, matched by the detailing of the New Deal Library.
9. Road to Tara Museum
Forest Park’s Clayton County was the setting for the civil war epic Gone with the Wind by Atlanta author Margaret Mitchell, and so it’s no real surprise that the area has several museum’s dedicated to this important book and film.
The Road to Tara Museum in Jonesboro cleverly uses this fictionalized account of the civil war period to describe the facts of what citizens endured during this troubling period of American history.
When it comes to artifacts, the museum is able to boast original props from the film, scripts handled by the cast, and reproductions of some of the outfits worn by Vivien Leigh in playing the lead role of Scarlett O’Hara.
Jonesboro is around 15 minutes south of Forest Park by road.
10. Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area
Just half an hour east of Forest Park is another of northern Georgia’s natural wonders – Arabia Mountain.
The granite from which this monolith of rock formed has been dated to 400 million years ago, and is of such quality that hand cut blocks of it can be found forming part of New York’s Brooklyn Bridge.
These old quarry sites do nothing to take away from the majesty of the mountain however. This is probably best enjoyed by heading out on one of the many signposted trails that lead through the park, taking in noteworthy sites that date to the earliest arrival of Europeans in the area.
11. Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Young when compared to the great age of Arabia Mountain are the skeletal remains of the dinosaurs at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History just outside of downtown Atlanta.
Its atrium hosts the fossilized remains of a Giganotosaurus, last seen walking the Earth around 100 million years ago, as well as an Argentinosaurus skeleton. At 120 feet long, this is one of the largest dinosaurs ever to exist.
Moving further into the museum, visitors will find exhibits displaying Georgia’s natural history as an example of how the Earth was formed and developed.
There is also a small area of ancient forest outside of the museum which has been opened up to the public thanks to walkways and information boards.
12. Uptown Comedy Corner
On the eastern edge of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Uptown Comedy Corner has been serving up world-class comedy to the residents of southern Atlanta for years.
Well-known by those on the circuit, this small non-descript performance space attracts those trying to make it as a comedians, while also welcoming back big names such as Chris Rock.
On rare instances, the Hollywood elite drop by too. In the past both Jay Z and Snoop Dogg have been spotted in the audience.
13. Clayton County International Park
The depths of Clayton County might seem like an odd place to have an ‘international park’. But this green space outside of Jonesboro was created as a result of the Summer Olympic Games of 1996.
The games were hosted by Atlanta, and the park was constructed to hold the beach volleyball competition. After the games, it was handed over to the people of the area as a lasting and permanent legacy of the games.
Needless to say perhaps, its sand beaches are a big draw, as are the theme park-style water slides that penetrate the light blue skies.
What’s more, the park is just 20 minutes south of Forest Park.
14. Krog Street Tunnel
An identical distance north of Forest Park is Atlanta’s Krog Street Tunnel. We wouldn’t normally hail a road tunnel as one of the best things to do anywhere. However, the Krog Street Tunnel has become a mecca for the region’s street artists.
Its concrete walls and columnar supports are almost entirely covered with works of graffiti, many of which come across as being of gallery quality to the average passer-by.
Short of attempting to stop or disrupt this artistic output, the Atlanta authorities instead welcome it, with the earliest images known to have been sprayed in the 1960s.
15. SkyView Atlanta
From the Krog Street Tunnel you can do much worse then head the few blocks towards SkyView Atlanta, by way of the Fairlie-Poplar District.
The district is the location for a range of architectural styles dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and demonstrate the move from brick and timber to steel and concrete.
The views of the district from SkyView Atlanta are all the more impressive, since this Ferris wheel rises to a height of a 20-story building.
As the gondolas slowly circle, you’ll be able to look down upon many of Atlanta’s most important landmarks, including the next door Centennial Olympic Park.