Gwinnett's Best Parks
Explore local parks, pools and playgrounds
One of the many great aspects about life in Gwinnett County is its outstanding array of parks. Whether the goal is to get outside and explore nature, discover a spot for a pickup basketball game, find a beautiful place to bring the dog, or simply find a playground your children will love, this county has it all. While Gwinnett’s numerous parks all offer something special, the 15 on this list are a step above.
BEST DOG PARK
Duluth’s Chattapoochee Dog Park offers pet owners and their pooches an idyllic setting with numerous conveniences. Enjoy the wooded environs and rest on a bench while your pup runs and plays in the park most appropriate for his size (there are separate areas for small and large dogs). Dog bowls and a pup-friendly water fixture make for a comfortable outing. If your dog is a swimmer, you can take a short walk to the river for a dip or for a tranquil rest on the banks.
Go for a hike or a run at Tribble Mill Park and you’ll be rewarded with a bevy of picturesque views. The 700-acre park is located just outside of Grayson and east of Lawrenceville and is bordered by the pristine Ozora and Chandler Lakes. Admire massive trees and prehistoric ferns and boulders as you tramp along the 3.4-mile trail as it winds its way over the water. Not a fan of running or hiking? Bring your dog (on a leash) and find a seat on a sunny patch of grass for a quiet picnic. Or bring a fishing pole and try your luck at catching a fish in the lake’s glimmering waters.
BEST PLACE TO PADDLE
Next time you have the urge to paddle, get your hull on the Chattahoochee via Jones Bridge Park in Peachtree Corners. Surrounded by trees and accented by shoals, this shady patch of river is a beautiful place to canoe, kayak, or set up a picnic. In addition to river access, the 30-acre park is also equipped with restrooms, pavilions, three soccer fields, and a sand volleyball court. It is also a popular location for fishing and for admiring ducks and geese.
If you’re looking for a piece of contemplative beauty in the Gwinnett area, you’ll find a winner at Freeman’s Mill Park in Lawrenceville. The 12-acre park’s jewel is the small, trickling waterfall. Sit, watch, listen, and be still. Once you’re satisfied with your Zen moment, check out the park’s eponymous mill—restored from the 19th century—that was once fed by the Alcovy River. Other highlights include a half-mile paved trail, a playground, and public restrooms.
BEST TRAIL RUN
Need a new favorite trail to incorporate into your tested running repertoire? Lace up your sneakers and head to Dacula’s Little Mulberry Park. Here you can explore numerous paved and unpaved trails as they meander through wooded areas, along a pond, and beside Miller Lake. Additional features include a disc golf course, a fishing pier, a meadow, restrooms, and a 5.47-mile equestrian path. The 892-acre park has four entrances, so view the trail maps online first to determine which parking area makes the most sense for your visit.
The City of Suwanee’s 10,000-square-foot PlayTown Suwanee feels like a hidden gem. Shaded by an enclave of trees, this magical little playground is outfitted with swings, bridges, monkey bars, and a slide, as well as imaginative play structures for children to explore. These include an elephant, a rocket, a climbing wall, a log castle, and a cabin. The park also has picnic tables, public restrooms, and a pavilion (with electricity), which make longer play dates or birthday parties a breeze.
BEST FAMILY REUNION SPOT
Next time you’re gathering multiple generations together for that annual shindig, bookmark Pinckneyville Park. Located just outside of Norcross, the 93-acre park offers myriad options for enjoying the outdoors that will appeal to all ages—there’s a pond, a baseball complex, paved walking paths, a roller hockey rink, a dog park, a meadow (available for rental and with space for up to 1,000 guests), and public restrooms at your disposal. The Medlock Corporate Pavilion (5,000 square feet and equipped with a catering kitchen) is available for rental and can accommodate up to 400 people, while the more intimate Danny Cochran Pavilion is suitable for smaller groups.
BEST OUTDOOR POOL
Rhodes Jordan Park Pool is open only for a brief period each year (from Memorial Day to Labor Day), so it makes sense to get as much swimming in as possible at this outstanding Lawrenceville facility. Its zero-depth entry, waterslides, and water features make the pool family friendly and a gentle option for beginning swimmers. More-advanced swimmers, meanwhile, can fit in a workout in one of three designated lap lanes. Daily pool fees begin at $3.25 for Gwinnett residents. Take a look at the various economical FUNCARD options if you plan on swimming multiple days a week at pools across Gwinnett County.
The old-timey surroundings at McDaniel Farm Park make photo snapping (and holiday- card plotting) unavoidable. This Duluth park provides the perfect backdrop for family memory making with its restored farm—depicting 1930s Georgia farm life—complete with a furnished farmhouse, blacksmith shed, barn, carriage house, and tenant house. Take a tour of the property, and then enjoy the modern conveniences on site, including grills and a pavilion.
BEST INDOOR POOL
Whether your swimming aspirations are competing in the Olympics or merely completing a single lap, West Gwinnett Aquatic Center has you covered. The pool is 25 yards by 25 meters—offering training capabilities for both long and short courses—and has seating for up to 750 spectators in the stands. This spot gets bonus points for its summer swimming options. The outdoor pool features zero-depth entry, two waterslides, play structures, and more.
Channel those Wimbledon fantasies on the courts of Hudlow Tennis Center at Norcross’ Best Friend Park. Ask about summer camps, lessons, and reserving a court (it can get busy) inside the center. Seventeen courts are available for use and are lit at night, so your match doesn’t have to end when the sun sets. If you have the family in tow, your group can splinter off and explore the park’s other offerings, like a playground, baseball fields, a walking path, indoor badminton courts, and outdoor basketball courts. If you visit in the summer, be sure to visit the outdoor swimming pool, too.
Looking for that jaw-dropping photo to send the likes on your Instagram feed skyrocketing? Download your favorite app (or bring an old-fashioned camera) and head to Simpsonwood Park. Natural beauty abounds at the 223-acre park in Peachtree Corners. Take a leisurely walk along a wooded 3.1-mile trail, enjoy a picnic on the meadow, and admire the quaint chapel on site. An especially pretty pavilion (as well as restrooms and grills) makes longer visits appealing.
BEST DISC GOLF
Alexander Park is your Gwinnett County go-to when seeking a pristine disc golf course. Based in Lawrenceville, the 18-hole course is well marked and features a variety of challenging obstacles—wooded areas, hills, distance changes (and beware the pond at 17!). Lose a disc while you’re there? The park is just three miles from Disc Stalker, so you can resupply easily. The course is part of a large 91-acre park that is also equipped with a fishing lake, a pier, a horseshoe pit, a playground, restrooms, and pavilions.
BEST SKATE PARK
You’ll find skateboarders of all ages gathering at Lilburn’s Mountain Park. This outdoor skate park wins top marks for its dynamic bowl—a fun, fast, concrete ride riddled with curves and slopes. What the skate park lacks in outdoor lighting it makes up for in additional amenities, such as a volleyball court, seven baseball fields, public restrooms, six lighted tennis courts, playgrounds, and walking trails.
BEST SPORTS FIELDS
If yours is a family of athletes, you’ll find a huge win at Bay Creek Park. This sprawling complex in Loganville spans 154 acres and is well suited for both individual and team sports thanks to a smattering of basketball courts, seven baseball fields, a wheelchair-accessible baseball field and playground for children with special needs, a football field bordered by a well-lit walking track, four lighted tennis courts, and a lighted skate complex.
This article, written by Kelly Jordan, originally appeared in Volume III of Explore Gwinnett Magazine