Fall is the perfect time to get outdoors, and there’s no better way to experience the beauty of Atlanta’s crisp, mild temperatures than to check out one of these outdoor events. From free community festivals to intense 100-mile bike rides, there's an event for athletes and outdoor lovers alike.
1. Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parade, September 12
The Atlanta Beltline has become Atlanta’s unofficial foot-traffic highway. Once a year to celebrate the fall Art on the Beltline Series, throngs of people take to the two-mile path for the Lantern Parade . Imagine the beauty of hundreds of paper lanterns, all uniquely decorated, floating along the Beltline, illuminating Atlanta’s skyline. It’s a sight to be seen. Decorate your lantern and head out to the event. Tailgating begins at 7:30 p.m. and the parade kicks off at 8:30 p.m. The parade begins at Irwin Street, goes the length of the Eastside Trail, and ends with festivities in Piedmont Park. Then head over to the Old Fourth Ward Fall Fest .
2. Atlanta Streets Alive, September 27
In a world where Atlanta’s streets are jammed not with car traffic, but pedestrian traffic... you’ve found Atlanta Streets Alive . The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition makes this dream a reality a few select times a year, and this fall’s event in the Highlands shuts down three of the neighborhood’s main streets to cars and opens them to walkers, runners, cyclists- really any type of non-motorized traffic. The event begins with its popular bicycle parade, followed by an afternoon of community and wellness-inspired happenings, such as an REI “village,” bike mechanic booths, local restaurant samples and more. The 4.5-mile route loops around Highland Ave., North Highland Ave., Boulevard, and North Ave.
3. Six Gap Century, September 27
Just an hour north of Atlanta is a cyclist’s paradise, with hundreds of miles of winding roads perfect for long, steep climbs and exhilarating descents. Dahlonega’s Six Gap Century is one of the most difficult century rides in Georgia, and also one of the most beautiful. Cyclists will test their limits on 11,200 feet of vertical climbing on a 104-mile course (a little over a century). Between the six gaps, elevations range from 1,400 to 3,460 feet. If you aren’t quite up to the century, sign up for the Three Gap Fifty—just as difficult, but half the mileage. Spectators can line along Highway 60 or hang on the porches of Downtown Dahlonega’s tasty local restaurants to watch all the action.
4. Mountain Mystery Half and Full Trail Marathon, October 11
Fall color begins to peak in October, and this marathon and 12-miler trail race offers a unique way for you to challenge your endurance with distracting views of Fort Mountain State Park’s beautiful foliage. As you climb and descend on singletrack trails, you’ll log more than 15,000 feet of elevation change. While the mountainous climbs seem daunting, the views of the surrounding mountains are worth the pain. What’s the mystery? Fort Mountain, a mysterious rock wall built on the mountain more than 1,000 years ago.
5. Tallulah Gorge Whitewater Releases, November 7-8, 14-15, 21-22
Tallulah Gorge State Park in North Georgia straddles Tallulah Gorge, a two-mile long, 1,000 foot canyon. On the first three weekends of November, whitewater kayakers paddle through the gorge, where an average of 500 to 700 cubic feet per second create Class IV and V rapids . In order to get to the put-in, kayakers must carry their kayaks down 600 steps to the cascading water’s edge. The most popular rapids are the Class V Oceana and Class IV Bridal Veil Falls. For those that don’t have the guts to paddle, you can watch the kayakers from high above the gorge on the East and West Rim lookout trails.
6. Helen Holiday Half Marathon, November 29
After Thanksgiving, why wouldn’t you want to run a half marathon to burn off all your turkey? Unicoi State Park lays the backdrop for this half, making for a beautiful race that’s perfect for first-time trail runners. The course runs through singletrack hiking and mountain biking trails and is far less technical than many other trail races, however runners will still have to roller coaster over the park’s many up-and-down hills. Warm up with the 5k on Friday night, where the website says “drinking is encouraged.” Registration is super cheap, only $50 until October 1. The post-race party happens in Helen, known as North Georgia’s Bavarian town, where this is the first weekend of the annual Holiday light display.
7. King of Pops Free Yoga, Every Tuesday
This is one of those events that makes you really proud to be an Atlantan. Every Tuesday night at 7 p.m., hundreds of people converge on the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark (well, the lawn beside the skatepark) for a free yoga session . The instructor, Charlie Baxter Graham, makes this outdoor yoga class fun and approachable for all levels of yogis. A bonus: the King of Pops window, just a few blocks from the park, stays open late for yogis. Popular flavors include Chocolate Sea Salt, Cookies ‘n’ Cream, Raspberry Lemonade, and Banana Puddin’.
8. The Mobile Social, Every 2nd Friday of the Month
Every month, no matter what the temperature is, The Mobile Social takes to the streets of Atlanta for a group bike ride. There’s something fascinating about riding through rush hour traffic on a Friday, surrounded by bikes. From the backdrop of Atlanta’s skyline to the lush greenery of Piedmont Park, you see the city from a different vantage point on the bike. Generally, more than 300 cyclists, from those on mountain bikes to road bikes to fixies and commuters, join in on the ride with one common goal: riding a bike around the city. Each month the route changes, but always ends at a local bar making for a great opportunity to meet new friends. The Mobile Social meets at 6:30 p.m. at Piedmont Park by the Charles Allen and 10th Street Gate, or at 7 p.m. from Woodruff Park.