7 Gwinnett parks offering unexpected discoveries


Rushing Waters

Just off Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville, Freeman’s Mill Park draws nature lovers to the cascading waters of an 1870s grist mill on the Alcovy River. The picturesque stone dam and the mill, which was functional until 1996, are popular photoshoot backdrops. A half-mile trail and a playground also make this historic treasure a top spot for families.

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Stealth Shangri-La

Who knew that just behind a Duluth car dealership, there is a vast green space with three miles of trails? Locals seeking an excellent place to run, a roomy dog park for the pooch, or somewhere the kids can work off the wiggles need look no further than McDaniel Farm Park. In addition to the farm-themed playground, there’s a perfectly preserved 1930s farm and a restored 1956 tractor.

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Dinosaurs near the mall?

Not far from Mall of Georgia, Buford’s sprawling Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center offers dozens of ways to get in touch with nature—and prehistoric creatures. The center boasts more than five miles of trails for all fitness levels, including a braille trail for the sight-impaired. Explorers will find dinosaur statues along the trails, and adventurers can tackle Treetop Quest, with ladders, ropes, and zip lines in the canopy.

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Whole lotta history

In the mid-1800s, Gwinnett’s Thomas Hudson was a guy who did all the things: local postmaster, storeowner, state legislator. Now, visitors looking for a dose of olden times can visit his post office and home at Lilburn’s Yellow River Post Office and Hudson-Nash Farm. This quiet little park—just five acres—features a short trail, a picnic area, and restrooms.

Yellow River Park


A classic gathering place

Duluth’s Shorty Howell Park draws families, sporty types, and those who just want to get outside. The park is home to bustling youth baseball and softball leagues as well as an activity building that hosts fitness classes. Many organizations hold events here, and kids love the playgrounds and find the small lake and its bossy geese irresistible.

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Ghosts versus brides

It's hard to compete with the splendor of the dozens of weddings that take place at Lawrenceville Female Seminary every year. Still, the word is at least one ghost, that of a former student, makes herself known around the place. A regular stop on local ghost tours, the 1850s Greek-style building is home to the Gwinnett History Museum. It shares a gracious lawn with the historic Isaac Adair House.

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Tranquility, trains, and trolls

Loganville’s Vines Park is a low-key garden with scenic paths surrounding a lake. It’s popular with those in search of a serene escape from the noise and bustle—though yogis unrolling their mats should watch out for the troll who lives here. (Look for eyes peeking out of a mound of dirt.) A miniature railroad with more than 1,000 feet of track is maintained by volunteers and runs during the summer.

lake and trees

This article, written Lane Holman, originally appeared in Volume V of Explore Gwinnett Magazine.