Upcoming Fall 2017 Dorothea Dix Park Events

Dorothea Dix ParkHave you visited Dorothea Dix Park lately? Located just south of Downtown Raleigh, its rolling hills and grassy open fields are the perfect spot for a picnic, skyline photos (mine are courtesy of the super talented MasonDee Photography), or attending a City of Raleigh event or program.

The City of Raleigh purchased Dorothea Dix Park two years ago from the state of NC to develop a destination park. Though construction is still years away, master planning is underway. I’m super excited to begin my workgroup involvement in the master planning of the park this fall. I know the city will look for lots of public input into the park and now is the time to visit!

Whether you’re looking for child-friendly events, volunteer opportunities, or historical walking tours here are some of their upcoming park events:

  • Sun., Aug 13 from 2-6pm: Recess Raleigh – attend a free annual summer cookout to benefit Helping Hands Mission of Raleigh. Summer cookout features food and drink prepared by Capital Club 16, games, activities, music and art; FREE; all ages; Dix Park Athletic Field
  • Wed., Aug. 16 at 12pm: Urban Design Center Talks: Bold Ideas for Dix – visit the City of Raleigh Museum and listen to a monthly lecture series highlighting bold ideas, issues, and topics important to the development of the new Dorothea Dix Park. Each monthly lecture features a different presenter covering topics such as inclusivity, ecology, access, arts and culture, history, transportation, economic development, and connectivity; FREE and open to the public; registration not required
  • Wed., Aug. 16 at 1pm: Explore Dorothea Dix Park: Water Wonders – meet in the big field and explore activities and games featuring water! Ages 2+; free; pre-registration is required
  • Wed., Aug. 23 from 6-8pm or Tues., Sept 12 from 5:30-7:30pm: Explore Dorothea Dix Park: Guided Walking Tour – go on a 2 hour, 3.5 mile walking tour to learn about the history, current use, and future plans for the Dorothea Dix park; FREE; all ages; pre-registration is required
  • Sat., Sept. 9 from 9am-12pm: Explore Dorothea Dix Park: Volunteer Invasive Species Removal – round up your friends and neighbors and volunteer your time removing invasive plants threatening natural habitats of the park; FREE; ages 16+; volunteers under 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult; registration information via Cervistech
  • Wed., Oct. 18 from 12pm-1:15pm: Trolley Tour of Dorothea Dix Park – go on a 1.5 hour tour of Dorothea Dix Park and learn about the history, current use and future plans for the park; FREE; pre-registration is required

 

 

Dorothea Dix Park

View of downtown from Dorothea Dix ParkWhile reading this past weekend’s N&O article about the guided tours at Dorothea Dix Park, I was reminded that I never wrote about our visit to this soon-to-be developed park from earlier this year.  Dorothea Dix Park is over 300 acres of land sandwiched between the State Farmers Market and Western Blvd.  The City of Raleigh bought the land from the state last year after several year’s effort with plans to eventually make it a destination park.

The land housed Dorothea Dix Hospital for the mentally ill from 1856 until 2012.  The hospital was named for Dorothea Lynde Dix, a Maine native who tirelessly advocated for greater care and reform for mentally ill patients.  She also served as superintendent of Army nurses for the Union in the Civil War.  Today, much of the property is under lease, and many buildings are occupied by the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

IMG_3794We originally visited Dorothea Dix Park in late January after reading about the thousands of pink flags Matt Tomasulo (of Walk [Your City]) and other volunteers planted (read more about that here), creating small trails throughout the park to encourage folks to get out and explore the city’s newly acquired land.  Even though the flags have since been taken down, it gave us a means to get out and explore the area by foot.

We parked in a small parking lot near the intersection of Smithwick Dr and Umstead Dr and walked across the street using the little pink flags as our guide.  We mostly explored the area bordered by S Boylan Ave, Umstead Dr and Rocky Branch Trail which features century-old oak trees, rolling hills, and flatter land by Rocky Branch Trail.  The rolling hills provide amazing views of downtown Raleigh and interesting tests of little ones’ gross motor skills.  The girls had a great time flying down the hills and slowly coming back up.  We also flew our kites and drew with sidewalk chalk in the sparsely wooded area in front of Picot Dr.  We watched as another park patron was racing his drone around a self-made course through the trees.

IMG_3806According to the N&O’s article, the City of Raleigh is in the very early stages of park planning where they are now accepting applications for a committee of members to help design and engage the public in the park’s planning. The City of Raleigh is also offering free guided tours of the park (looks like they’re sold out) and is partnering with the Dix Park Conservancy to offer programs throughout the summer.

Even if you can’t make it to a guided tour or program, get out and explore the park on your own – bring a picnic, fly a kite, or kick a ball around. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk and there aren’t any public restrooms. The park’s potential is the perfect crossroads of nature, city and history – it’ll be interesting to see how things develop over the years!

Additional Resources

Thumbs up: beautiful rolling hills, views into downtown Raleigh, history of land, great picnic spots, destination park potential

Thumbs down: too early to tell 😉