Twelve Days of Raleigh Parks

So, my friend, Kelly (see Sarah Duke Gardens post) has started a tradition of doing Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies that involves some 28 sticks of butter, pounds of sugar and flour, and different types of candies to make twelve different homemade batches of cookies.  Instead of getting elbow-deep in flour and sugar, Ashley and I are going to get knee-deep in some playground sand!  For the next 12 days, we’ll visit a new park each day and then hopefully get a mini-post added shortly thereafter.

If there are parks you’re looking for more information about or have suggestions for a park we should visit in Raleigh, please send them our way!

Pullen Park

A few weeks ago, I went to the Pullen Park VIP Event with my friend, Jason, from southwestraleigh.com.  This post originally appeared on southwestraleigh.com, where you can learn more about what a great place South West Raleigh is to live, work, and play.

Excitement was in the crisp Fall air during the Pullen Park preview event on Thursday afternoon and it’s not going to die down any time soon.  Children played on swings, adults rode the newly renovated carousel, and the train sounded off when leaving the station.  It’d been nearly two years since the amusement area had been open and the smiles say it all – it’s well worth the wait.

Pullen Park is located at 520 Ashe Ave, just west of Downtown Raleigh and at the edge of NC State University.  The renovations to the amusement center cost more than six million dollars and are part of the 2003 Parks & Rec Bond Referendum.  During the renovations, the Pullen Arts Center and Aquatic Center remained open.

Upon entering the park, your eyes are immediately drawn to the new sign extending across the walkway.  Near the entrance is the new Pullen Place, serving healthy, local fare at very reasonable prices.  Adjacent to the cafe is a large outdoor eating area, restrooms, and the Welcome Center where you can learn more about the park, purchase tickets for rides, or purchase park schwag.

If you head right, you can explore the various playground and climbing areas, swing sets, sand and water play areas, misting fountains, tire swing, and open play areas.  The different play areas have guides indicating the ages appropriate for the equipment.

Also in this area is a restored caboose with seating inside for having a picnic.  Smaller children can also enjoy a boat ride for one ticket.  A must-see attraction is the CP Huntington miniature train ride, which is great for all ages and a beautiful way to explore the park from the perimeter.  The views of the park from the train, especially around the lake, are gorgeous.

Another main attraction at the park is the carousel.  With over 50 hand-carved animals, it is a Dentzel Carousel housed in a gorgeous new building.  Among the animals you can ride are pigs, ostriches, horses, and billy goats, just to name a few.  The Wullitzer organ produces music that sets the mood.  The Pullen Park emblems outside the building provide a royal touch to the carousel.  The weather vein atop the building is unique in that it contains colored glass and animals other than just horses.

Heading from the carousel to the lake, you’ll pass a large pavilion with picnic tables, another restroom building, the pedal boats, and the Andy & Opie statue. Be sure to stroll around Lake Howell, where you can admire the waterfront views, stop for photo ops, or enjoy the fauna.  The new bridges are spectacles in themselves, adding a rolling hills feeling to the park.

With so many things to do, see, and hear at Pullen Park, you may not notice the attention paid to the small details.  The cedar shakes, green color palette, emblems, new landscaping mixed with mature trees, and stonework are also worth mentioning as it all adds to the atmosphere of the park.

The park’s grand opening was Saturday, November 19 from 10am-6pm.  Be sure to also purchase tickets for Holiday Express, where Pullen Park is transformed into a Holiday Wonderland from December 8-11, 4pm-7pm.

Thumbs up: playground area, views around lake, carousel, unique details in woodwork/design, miniature train ride, Pullen Place

Thumbs down: not many, but parking may be tough, especially in the beginning months

Eastgate Park

So, I’ve never had such a relaxing Thanksgiving week in a long time.  Our Thanksgiving holiday started by visiting Eastgate Park earlier this week. It was extra special because we were able to spend it with Bill, who took off for the holiday week. With us around I’m not sure it was much of a relaxing vacation for him, but we enjoyed having him around all week.

Eastgate Park is located at 4200 Quail Hollow Dr, not far from North Hills Mall.  The parking lot is located on Quail Hollow Dr, but side-street parking is also available on Wingate Dr.  After parking in the parking lot, you can head to the left towards Cooper’s Pond.  This a small pond with an small overlook area and opportunity for fishing or visiting with the fauna.  Around the pond, you’ll also find a cleared path and covered pavilion with picnic tables and charcoal grill.  The path this week was covered with large leaves, perfect for great photo ops!

Eastgate Park has an unstaffed community center that is available for rent and commonly used for recreational programs.  There is also a large open field with several soccer goals, basketball courts, and tennis courts.  We spent a lot of time at the playground area this particular day.  This playground is really nice for a few reasons: 1) the spongy surface, 2) the area is fenced in, and 3) both playground areas are near each other and have several swings.  Even though Ashley is only 8 months old, she thoroughly enjoyed crawling around on the spongy surface and swinging on the tot swings.  I consider both features to be crucial if you have a non-walking child!  Babies and mulch just do not mix!

The playground has swings, slides, and climbing areas.  There is also a sandbox and musical area in the smaller child playground.  Another great feature of this playground are the benches lined around the perimeter.  It’s a great place for parents to enjoy watching their children play.  Down from the playground is a collection of covered picnic tables and sidewalk games like four square and hopscotch.

Thumbs up: sidewalk access to park, pond area, photo ops, playgrounds, benches near playground

Thumbs down: unattractive community building

Kiwanis Park & Crabtree Creek Trail

A few weeks ago we headed down to Lassiter Mill Park again to access the nearby greenway via Crabtree Creek Trail for a run. Little did we know that after a mile and half into our run, we would come to Kiwanis Park. It was a nice surprise and a good break from the run, as we weren’t anticipating either!

Following the greenway was a bit tricky in some places.  If starting near Lassiter Mill Park, you’ll  eventually come to Claremont Rd, where the greenway signs stop.  Take a left onto Claremont Rd and then cross Anderson Dr where Claremont Rd turns into Oxford Rd.  Stay on the sidewalks and you’ll shortly see the next portion of the greenway on your left, which will lead you straight to Kiwanis Park.  Despite the trickiness of the greenway, this has turned out to be one of the favorite running trails in Raleigh.  It is super FLAT and the bridges and scenery you pass make the running seem effortless at times.

The Kiwanis Park is located at 2525 Noble Rd just inside the beltline. It has a playground area with a jungle gym, but no swings. There are also several large open fields, mostly used for playing soccer. There is a sand volleyball court, baseball fields, and a basketball court. The nearby community center is not staffed and is available for rent.  The large pavilion has several picnic tables and restrooms.

Even though you can get to the park by car, why not make this a greenway/park/brunch adventure with the kids! 1) Run/walk 1.5 miles with the stroller on the greenway to the park, 2) let them burn up some energy on the playground while you rest from your run/walk, 3) then run/walk 1.5 miles back followed by 4) yummy brunch at Nofo at the Pig!

Thumbs up: flat portion of greenway, scenery along greenway, playground, open fields at park, recreational sports

Thumbs down: signage along parts of greenway, no swings on playground

Method Road Park

This post originally appeared on southwestraleigh.com, where you can learn more about what a great place South West Raleigh is to live, work, and play.

Method Road Park is a busy park with several recreational and community activities going on, despite the small footprint you see from the road. Method Road Park is located at 514 Method Rd, just inside the beltline, near the intersection of Beryl Road and Method Road. There is a large community center building with indoor basketball courts and bleacher seating. The Method Pioneers Building is nearby and available for rent.  The center has information about programs for all ages. Here are a few to highlight:

  • Method Halloween Festival (Oct 28, 5-7pm, ages 6-11)
  • Free English classes for beginning students (Oct 27-Dec 8, Thursdays, 6:30-8pm)
  • Daily open gym times (call (919) 831-6066 for hours)
  • Haunted Mordecai Lantern Tour (Oct 29)
  • Foster Grandparent Program

If outdoor activities is what you’re looking for, this park has plenty to offer. There are lighted tennis courts, a basketball court with bleachers, baseball fields, a large open multi-purpose field with soccer goals, a large pavilion with picnic tables, and oodles of shady spots and benches for picnics. The old playground area near the front of the park is getting a major facelift. The new playground area will have several swings, a large jungle gym with slides, unique seating, and fun activity equipment.  The playground is currently being renovated and should be finished within the next few months.

This would be a great park to bring your mommy/baby/toddler groups for playtime followed by lunch or a great place to bring the older kids for open gym, flag football, or kickball.  Visit raleighnc.gov for more information about Method Road Park.

Thumbs up: picnic spots, basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball fields, shady areas

Thumbs down: noisiness from I-440

Roanoke Park Playground

So, a few weeks ago when my mom came into town I wanted to do a picnic lunch in the park, but wanted to have food from a new (to us) place and explore a new park. After some quick online surfing we decided on take-out from Nofo at the Pig followed by a trip to Roanoke Park Playground. Both ideas turned out to be absolutely fabulous!

Roanoke Park Playground is located southeast of Five Points at 1500 Cherokee Dr.  It’s located in a quiet neighborhood in the median between W Aycock St, Cherokee Dr, and Greenwood St.  This was a part of the Five Points area I had never been to and quickly fell in love with the homes and the nearby shops.

On one side of the park is a large open field perfect for a pick-up game of flag football, kickball, or volleyball.  There are numerous shade trees along the perimeter, which gave us ample of shade for our picnic lunch.  There’s also a small pavilion with picnic table, but having a baby in the prime of her crawling meant we were having lunch in the grass!

After lunch, we followed the wooden path to the other side of the park that contains the playground area.  Along the way we passed a large wooden deck with built-in benches.  There are two swing sets complete with tot swings for the little ones.  The jungle gym has several slides and climbing areas atop a mulch base.  The sand box area has a few diggers and other play equipment.  We were also shocked to see numerous riding cars sitting in the toy corral area.  It was welcoming to know that neighborhood toys could sit in a park and go without being stolen.  After some more research on this park, I learned that the neighborhood partnered with the City a few months ago to fund some of the toys you see in the park.  At the far end of the park there’s also a full-size basketball court.

This park was so delightful that I packed a picnic lunch and visited it again the next day with my husband, baby, and dog!

Thumbs up: shadiness, peacefulness, swing sets, open fields, friendliness of neighbors

Thumbs down: nothing to report 🙂

Clayton Community Park

One of the best ways to explore a park is with a friend.  It’s even more special when it’s with an old high school friend and you’re both meeting each other’s infants for the first time!  A few weeks ago, I finally caught up with my friend, Melissa, and her adorable baby boy, Braxton at the Clayton Community Park.  This is a park usually known for it’s big 4th of July celebration, but even the small visits with a friend can be big too!

Clayton Community Park is located at 1075 Amelia Church Rd in JoCo. Yes, I promise we’ll get back to a Raleigh Park soon, but this one is only a short 25 minute drive south of Raleigh.  After getting the babies situated in their strollers, we headed off on the 1/2 mile paved trail that surrounds the three baseball fields.  While on the trail we passed a small pond, eight bocce ball courts and a shelter, and some unpaved trails that we explored too.  We also came upon the strangest amphitheater (we both thought it was a cult gathering area) and a few bridges for crossing the small streams.  Nonetheless, it made for a relaxing stroll on a beautiful fall day.

Paved walking trail around park
Small playground area near walking trail
Picnic tables near baseball fields
Baseball fields
Building near baseball fields with restrooms
Small pond along trail
Another view of the pond
Braxton & Ashley chilling on the walk
Braxton enjoying the sunshine
Bocce ball courts
More bocce ball courts
Pavilion near the bocce ball courts
Unpaved path through the woods
Amphitheater
Benches near the stream along the unpaved trail

After some walking we headed over to the pavilion to relax and play with the babies.  Next to the pavilion are sand volleyball courts, six lighted tennis courts with a shelter, and some of the most unique playground equipment.

Playground near the large pavilion
Sand volleyball courts
Charcoal grill near the large pavilion
Picnic tables at the large pavilion
Ashley & Braxton crawling around
More of the babies first park visit
The lighted tennis courts
Another view of the tennis courts
Signs with information about tennis leagues
A view of the large parking lot
Front entrance sign

What a fun day catching up with an old friend and her baby boy!  Visit the Town of Clayton Parks & Rec department for more information about this park and the nearby community center.

Thumbs up: paved trail around pond, playground area, picnic tables in pavilion, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts

Thumbs down: lots of flies at pavilion (I believe due to full trash cans), creepy amphitheater

Pollock Place Playground

When Ashley was 2 weeks old my best friend, Jennie, came to visit with her mom and son, Dean. At the time, Dean was an 18 month old energizer bunny so we headed out to the neighborhood playground half a mile away. We took a few pictures that day but since Ashley is 3 months today we decided to head back to the same place our adventures first started, Pollock Place Playground.

Pollock Place is a fantastic playground located between Dixie Trail and Meredith College at 3301 Pollock Place. It is in a quiet neighborhood in a triangular median between Taylor St, Merriman Ave, and Pollock Place streets. There are two jungle gyms with slides for different age groups, a swing set, metal benches with artsy designs, 3 picnic tables with a charcoal grill, and a sandbox. The playground is covered in a hardy mulch base, which is not a bad surface for strollers. My favorite parts of this playground are the enormous trees that provide an abundance of shade and tranquility.

Ashley at 2 weeks with Bill and Jennie


The hardy mulch base and Ashley at 3 months still napping at Pollock Place Playground


Picnic tables, grills, and benches


Swing set and jungle gyms



Raleigh really is an amazing city with great places to explore! It seems like with every street or neighborhood you drive by there’s bound to be a nearby park, trail or playground. Raleigh has several neighborhood playgrounds throughout the city so take a walk through your neighborhood and explore!

Thumbs up: shade, tranquility, jungle gyms, swing set
Thumbs down: none, unless you think napping all day under the shade trees is wrong 🙂

Adventures at Jaycee Park

Oh the Jaycee Park…something for everyone!  As a member of the Raleigh Jaycees since 2007, I’m proud of this park and what it provides to the community. The Jaycee Park was built in the 1960’s and the Raleigh Jaycees were instrumental in helping raise funds by selling targets at the Turkey Shoot at the NC State Fair. Since then it has provided years of recreation for people of all ages.  There’s such a wide variety of things to do here, it’ll take you half a day to explore them all.

If you’re looking for recreational activities, this is the park!  It has 3 lit baseball fields, a large community center, 6 lit sand volleyball courts, 2 lit tennis courts, and a large sandy playground. Next to the sand volleyball courts there’s even a shower faucet for post-game rinses.  The shade trees and benches next to the playground provide great picnic spots. There is also a large recycling drop-off area, community center, administration building, pavilion with charcoal grill and restrooms, and a hemerocallis (daylily) garden.

This park is located at 2405 Wade Avenue inside the beltline and has two entrances with parking lots, one from Wade Ave and one from Chamberlain St.  From Wade Ave, you can easily get to the community center, administration building, and hemerocallis garden.  To get to the recreational areas you can walk up a hill or drive around to the other parking area.  The hill isn’t very steep, but there’s not a paved path so I don’t recommend it with a stroller.

Views of the baseball fields


Tennis courts and sand volleyball courts


Wade Ave entrance, administration building, and community center


Pavilion with restrooms and charcoal grill and playground


Ashley enjoying a shady spot near the playground


Raleigh Hemerocallis Garden and gazebo within the garden


3 of the 50+ different species of daylilies featured in the garden


Brick path that allows you to meander through the daylily garden


A plaque memorializing the daylily gardens in honor of Charles Benjamin “Ben” Huyett



Enjoy your time at Jaycee Park and don’t forget to appreciate how it came to be!  If you’re interested in learning more about the Raleigh Jaycees come visit us at a meeting or better yet…come out to the Beer & Wine Tasting tomorrow night at Tir Na Nog to benefit the HOBY NC East program.

Thumbs up:  condition of tennis/volleyball courts and baseball fields, landscaping, shady spots for picnics, daylily gardens, playground, parking

Thumbs down: Wade Ave entrance, lack of sidewalks near Wade Ave entrance, lack of signage