The region of North Carolina we call the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding areas) is known for its education, scientific research, technology, and arts. Name any of the cities that make up the this area and you can pretty much identify that city with something (i.e. Chapel Hill – UNC Chapel Hill, Durham – the DPAC or the DBAP, Raleigh – Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts or the Convention Center). But, did you know that the Triangle is home to numerous outdoor parks and recreation facilities that rival any major metropolitan area? As a matter of fact, because the Triangle consumes a wide area of land, our parks and recreation systems are endless…and some are connected.
Winter weather usually conjures up thoughts of indoor activities like taking the kids to Marbles Kids Museum or catching a flick at the IMAX theater or bowling a game or two at the local bowling alley. This season, we’ve seen more days than not that have been so nice many of us have scrapped our plans indoors for some outdoor fun. In this post, we are going to concentrate on some of the parks and recreation areas we recommend here in the Triangle.
Chapel Hill – Chapel Hill Community Center
“(The Center) has a beautiful rose garden reflection park next to a wonderful playground. In the center, they offer lots of classes and activities for kids and adults. It is a beautiful, quiet setting not far from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce and is a wonderful place to have a picnic lunch in good weather. The Community Center is definitely one of the gems in Chapel Hill that is sometimes overlooked, since it is tucked in off of Estes and you have to actually turn in to see the beautiful garden.”
Two other notable parks of interest are the NC Botanical Garden and of course, Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. With the plethora of activities Jordan Lake provides (boating, camping, fishing, etc.), it’s a popular place to retreat to year-round.
Durham – American Tobacco Trail
Spanning some 22 miles through the City of Durham and Durham, Chatham and Wake Counties, the American Tobacco Trail is a popular place on a beautiful weekend afternoon. In Durham, bikers and walkers (some with dogs or kids in tow) take advantage of the clean paved trail way that extends from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP) through to downtown Carrboro. The leisure walkers and riders take their time enjoying the scenery that surrounds them while the more adventurous and exercise-minded ride the trail to get a good workout in. The American Tobacco Trail is a definite draw on a sunny January afternoon.
Raleigh – North Carolina Museum of Art Museum Park and Nature Trails
Another fantastic place to spend an unusually warm January afternoon is at the North Carolina Museum of Art’s Museum Park and Nature Trails. Art lovers get to check out the outdoor art sculptures (many of which with digital camera in hand) while those that want a bit more exercise hit the trail that meanders through the park. It’s a win-win for either individual!
Garner – White Deer Park/Lake Benson Park/South Garner Greenway
Lake Benson Park has been a staple for the Garner community for years. Host to the annual Fourth of July celebration that draws thousands each year as well as Scotty McCreery’s American Idol hometown concert in May 2011, the spacious park contains walking trails, playgrounds for the kids, and shelters to rent for your next big celebration.
Just across the street and accessible via the walking trails is White Deer Park. Opened in 2009, the Park contains 2 additional playgrounds and 5 shelters, another 2 miles of paved trails, and a nature center. Connecting to the White Deer trail is the newly opened South Garner Greenway, an additional mile of paved trail essentially contributing to a total of nearly 5 miles in paved trails along both parks. Again, a GREAT place to be on an unseasonably warm January afternoon.
Morrisville – Lake Crabtree Park
Located a stone’s throw from Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Lake Crabtree Park in Morrisville offers its visitors numerous opportunities for outdoor fun and recreation. From catch-and-release fishing to mountain biking through more than 7 miles of trails to boating and picnicking, you’ll find Lake Crabtree Park a favorite, especially for those that live in the nearby towns of Morrisville, Cary, Raleigh, and RTP.
Cary – Wake Med Soccer Park
If soccer is your game, reserve one of the many fields in this 150-acre multi-use complex. Wake Med Soccer Park is known for hosting the Carolina Railhawks professional soccer team and the ACC soccer championships. If you’d rather hit the cross country course that encircles the park, it is open to the public during park hours when it’s not reserved.
Wake Forest – E. Carroll Joyner Park
The town of Wake Forest’s newest AND largest park, E. Carroll Joyner Park is located just one mile east of Capital Boulevard on Harris Road. With restored farm buildings, a pecan grove, a restored long cabin, a 1,000 seat amphitheater, and a garden, the park was originally a farm owned by Willie Lee and Mamie Tee Walker. Host to its popular Six Sundays in Spring concert series, this park has a lot to offer for just about anyone. It includes 3 miles of paved walking trails as well.
The next time our Triangle weather turns unseasonably warm…or in any season for that matter…if you’re looking for some outdoor recreation to enjoy with the whole family or to build up those muscles, look no further than any of our local parks. The Triangle has MUCH to offer! This was only a taste.
What’s your favorite park in the Triangle? We’d love to hear all about it. Please leave a comment below. Perhaps you’ll inspire another blog post!