Autrey Mill Nature Preserve is a 46-acre heritage site tucked in the rolling forested hills of Johns Creek, an hour's drive north of Atlanta. It has an array of historic farmstead buildings and meticulously collected exhibition pieces that transport visitors back in time to the late 1800s. The backdrop is a stunning natural landscape with over 3 miles of scenic walking trails that provide an immersive experience in Native American settings.

Many visitors like to explore the preserve on their own with the assistance of an audio tour. You can also sign up for one of the many ranger-led programmes for the full experience. The preserve is also a popular summer camp, where kids can learn about animals and the area’s history.

Autrey Mill Nature Preserve near Atlanta - one of the highlights of 10 Best Free Things to Do in Atlanta (Read all about Atlanta here)

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What are the highlights of Autrey Mill Nature Preserve?

Autrey Mill Nature Preserve is an education-filled attraction, showcasing the region's diverse heritage and stunning topography. The experience centres around the Heritage Village, comprising 7 historic buildings from the mid-1800s to early 1900s.

The Farm Museum focuses on the farming practices of the local area, displaying tools such as ploughs and corn shellers – all donated by local, long-term residents. The Green Country Store sheds light on the simple items sold in a rural general store, as well as how the owners kept track of the stock via ledgers. The 2 other noteworthy buildings/collections to check out are the Green Store, which has familial items tied to the noteworthy family, and the Forsten Collection, showcasing a unique set of Southeastern Indian projectile points.

For those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy nature, the walking trails are a huge draw. The trails transport you through miles of hardwood forest, over scenic creeks, across bridges, past an old mill and even into a gold mine – you are sure to be rejuvenated after a day in these woods. To enhance all the experiences, the Autrey Mill Nature Preserve provides a free audio tour via your cell phone to accompany all activities.

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What are the best things to do in Autrey Mill Nature Preserve?

A big draw of Autrey Mill Nature Preserve is the substantial camp and field trip opportunities available for kids and school groups. Half- and full-day programmes are available for children up to the age of 11.

The preserve's popular field trips are available as a unique corporate team building event. The Nature Field Trip focuses on visiting and learning about animal habitats, the region’s flora and fauna, and even about the Japanese tradition of fish printing called gyotaku.

Alternatively, the Heritage Field Trips centre on the Heritage Village is a great place to learn about the region's farming and gold mining history, while getting a chance to enjoy a History Hunter scavenger hunt. No matter your age or interest, Autrey Mill Nature Preserve has a programme for you.

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Good to know about Autrey Mill Nature Preserve

Autrey Mill Nature Preserve is completely free to visit, running completely on donations. Consider leaving a few bucks at the end of your visit. Make sure to check the website or call ahead, as the hours are subject to change if there is an event on-site.

Once you’ve had your fill of the John’s Creek area, head up to Lake Lanier where you can rent a pontoon, or south into Atlanta, the south-easts largest metropolis. Centennial Olympic Park is a great base for exploring the many attractions in downtown Atlanta, especially the Georgia Aquarium which is arguably the best in the entire country.

Autrey Mill Nature Preserve near Atlanta

Location: 9770 Autrey Mill Rd, Johns Creek, GA 30022, USA

Open: Daily from 8 am to 9 pm

Phone: +1 678-366-3511

Ryan Thomas McNutt | Contributing Writer