The capital of North Carolina, Raleigh is famed for its many universities and its technological research parks. However, there's much more to the city than its academic side, particularly if you're interested in spending some time outside. An excellent assortment of parks can be found in and around the city, offering a wide variety of recreational opportunities, including historical carousels and amusement parks, large networks of walking paths, and plenty of sports courts and multi-use fields. A trip to Raleigh wouldn't be complete without paying a visit to at least one of its wonderful parks, and here are the best ones to choose from.
1.Anderson Point Park
Named in honor of the Anderson family who had their homestead on the property, Anderson Point Park was established in 1988. The park is crisscrossed with walking trails and it encompasses plenty of different animal habitats, making it an excellent destination for wildlife viewing. The beautiful, historic Anderson family cottage is available to rent; dating back to the early 1990s, it has a large room for entertaining guests as well as a spacious porch, a small kitchen, and a private dressing room. Visitors can also rent the park's three-tiered amphitheater or one of its two outdoor picnic shelters.
20 Anderson Point Dr, Raleigh, NC 27610, Phone: 919-996-5994
2.Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park
Given to the city by an accomplished local doctor, the Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park was established to encourage nature research and education. The park offers both indoor and outdoor natural history exhibits, and public programs take place all throughout the year. Special programs are offered for young children, including nature craft activities that change monthly and imaginative nature play days that take place in the park's wonderful nature play areas. There are also three short interpretive trails perfect for wildlife viewing, and binoculars are available for visitors to use free of charge.
5229 Awls Haven Dr, Raleigh, NC 27614, Phone: 919-996-6764
3.Apollo Heights Park
Home to the Ralph Campbell Neighborhood Center, Apollo Heights Park is a family-friendly park with a playground suitable for both toddlers and older children. The center has a public computer lab, and it regularly hosts family karate classes and after school programs. The park's basketball court is available on a first come first served basis, and there is a picnic shelter with six tables and a grill that can be rented out for private functions. There is no electricity in the picnic shelter, but guests can rent the warming kitchen in the Ralph Campbell Neighborhood Center to heat their food if needed.
756 Lunar Dr, Raleigh, NC 27610, Phone: 919-250-2757
4.Biltmore Hills Park
Sitting on a beautiful 39-acre property, Biltmore Hills Park boasts a paved walking trail and a community center with a gymnasium and a weight room that has a treadmill, an elliptical, and free weights. There is also a pool that is open on a seasonal basis. Three outdoor picnic shelters are available for rent, but anyone who would prefer to gather indoors can book one of the meeting rooms in the community center. Other park amenities include a concrete basketball court, a baseball field, a softball field, eight tennis courts with backboards and push button lighting, and a children's playground.
2615 Fitzgerald Dr, Raleigh, NC 27610, Phone: 919-831-6895
5.Brookhaven Nature Park
Offering plenty of wonderful wildlife viewing opportunities, Brookhaven Nature Park is a 26-acre park maintained by the Junior Woman’s Club of Raleigh. Despite the park's proximity to some of the city's busiest roads, it remains a surprisingly peaceful oasis that doesn't see as many visitors as some of the other parks in the area. The park is well-treed and quite shady, and it features an excellent network of hiking trails, some of which are paved and wheelchair accessible. There is a small pond to visit in the east side of the park, and several picnic tables can be found at the park entrance.
5125 Berkeley St, Raleigh, NC 27612, Phone: 919-831-6856
6.Buffaloe Road Athletic Park
Established in 2003, Buffaloe Road Athletic Park is a large park with plenty of modern facilities. The highlight of the park is its aquatic center, which features a three-story waterslide, a lazy river, water volleyball and basketball courts, and a zero-depth entry pool with a toddler's play area. The park also offers an excellent selection of outdoor recreation options, including a 400-meter track, six baseball and softball fields with halogen-lit diamonds and aluminum bleachers, and a children's playground with a separate area for toddlers. Dogs are welcome in the off-leash dog park, which features shady areas and drinking fountains for both humans and dogs.
5812 Buffaloe Rd, Raleigh, NC 27616, Phone: 919-831-6836
7.Dorothea Dix Park
Encompassing almost 310 acres, the Dorothea Dix Park is the biggest park in the city. The terrain ranges from rolling hills to shady treed areas, and the park often hosts special events like live music, stargazing sessions, fitness classes, and educational nature programs. The park is open to the public every day between dawn and dusk, and on-site parking is available on weekends and after 5 p.m. on weekdays. Leashed dogs are welcome in all parts of the park, but there is also an off-leash dog area for pet owners who want to let their dogs run free.
2105 Umstead Drive, Raleigh, NC 27603, Phone: 919-996-3285
8.Durant Nature Preserve
Dedicated to preserving the area's natural beauty and making it available to the public, the Durant Nature Preserve offers excellent educational and recreational opportunities. Five miles of trails wind their way through the park; hikers will enjoy walking alongside the park's two lakes, passing through pine forests and wetlands, and seeing beautiful wildflowers and foliage. When the ground is dry, certain trails are open to mountain bikers as well. Children will enjoy the park's nature play garden and playground, while visitors of all ages are welcome to explore the park's bird garden, butterfly garden, and interpretive tree trail.
8305 Camp Durant Rd, Raleigh, NC 27614, Phone: 919-870-2871
Tucked between Royster St and Oxford Rd, Fallon Park is a narrow 10-acre park perfect for walking, jogging, and picnicking. A small stream runs through the park; children will enjoy splashing around in the water on a hot day, and the park's main trail meanders alongside the water, providing wonderful views. The lower section of the park has a large grassy area that's popular with Frisbee players on sunny days, and there are plenty of picnic tables and benches scattered throughout the park. There is also a charming gazebo, which is open to the public whenever it's not booked for a private event.
2401 Oxford Rd, Raleigh, NC 27608, Phone: 919-996-3285
10.Forest Ridge Park
Occupying 587 acres right next to Falls Lake, Forest Ridge Park is best known for its excellent network of trails, which includes single track hiking trails and mountain biking trails as well as paved multi-use trails. However, there are plenty of other things to see and do as well; fishing is permitted from designated areas along the bank, and the park's beautiful wildlife garden is planted with native plant species. Visitors are also encouraged to stop by the park's Welcome Center to get up-to-date information about the park or to borrow a complimentary children's Explorer Backpack or an adult's Art Backpack.
2100 Old North Carolina 98 Hwy, Wake Forest, NC 27587, Phone: 919-556-6781
11.Fred Fletcher Park
© Sergey T./stock.adobe.com
Formerly the site of the Methodist Home for Children, the Fred Fletcher Park features a gorgeous water garden with four large pools and a wonderful variety of perennial and evergreen plants and flowers. The garden is the perfect ecosystem for many different types of animals, and wildlife lovers will often be able to spot frogs, butterflies, ducks, and more. Peaceful walking paths can be found in other areas of the park as well. An outdoor basketball court, a softball field and two tennis courts are available on a first come first served basis, and the park's picnic shelter can be rented for private events.
820 Clay St, Raleigh, NC 27605, Phone: 919-996-6833
12.Green Hills County Park
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Previously known as the North Wake Landfill District Park, Green Hills County Park is a welcoming green space with recreational opportunities for people of all ages. Paved walking trails meander through the park and cross over a beautiful creek, and a gravel multi-use trail leads up to the top of the nearby landfill hill and offers stunning views of the city skyline. The children's playground includes a toddler's area as well as a section for older children, and several picnic tables are scattered throughout the park. Because of the park's proximity to the recently-closed landfill, grills and open fires are not permitted.
9300 Deponie Dr, Raleigh, NC 27614, Phone: 919-856-6670
13.Historic Oak View County Park
Situated on the grounds of a 19th-century farmstead, Historic Oak View County Park became part of the park system in 1995. The Visitor Center offers plenty of information about the history of agriculture in North Carolina, and visitors also can take a self-guided cell phone tour of the park's historical sites. There are several permanent exhibits housed inside the historic buildings in the park, including an exhibit about the history of cotton farming housed inside a cotton gin building. The park is open every day except for select holidays, and there is no admission fee.
4028 Carya Dr, Raleigh, NC 27610, Phone: 919-250-1013
14.Historic Yates Mill County Park
The Historic Yates Mill County Park encompasses almost 175 acres of beautiful property only a few minutes outside of downtown Raleigh, but the biggest attraction in the park is the Historic Yates Mill, the area's only water-powered gristmill that is still in working order. Visitors who want to learn more about the mill and its history are encouraged to check out the Visitor Center, which offers a fascinating exhibit hall. Mill tours and corn-grinding demonstrations are also offered between March and November. Entrance to the park is free, but there is a small fee for the guided tours.
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd, Raleigh, NC 27603, Phone: 919-856-6675
15.Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
Set on a U-shaped piece of land that was formed by the Neuse River, Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve is primarily made up of woodlands and open fields. There are several short paved and unpaved trails in the park; bicycles are only permitted on the paved sections, and all visitors are asked to stay on the trail to help protect the land. The park's picnic shelter is open to all visitors on a first come first served basis. Public restrooms can be found in the park, but visitors should be aware that there is no running water.
2900 Horse Shoe Farm Rd, Wake Forest, NC 27587, Phone: 919-870-2871
16.John Chavis Memorial Park
© Denys Kurbatov/stock.adobe.com
Located near Shaw University, the John Chavis Memorial Park is an excellent place to come for a day of family fun. The park is home to a charming 1923 carousel, which visitors can ride for a small fee, and there is a children's playground as well. Half a mile of the Capital Area Greenway Trail runs through the park, and there is also a walking track with sprint lanes for visitors who would like to get some exercise. Other features of the park include two tennis courts, a youth baseball field, and four picnic shelters, two of which are available for rent.
505 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Raleigh, NC 27601, Phone: 919-831-6989
17.Lake Johnson Park
Surrounding the 150-acre Lake Johnson, Lake Johnson Park offers plenty of opportunities for recreation both on and off the water. Part of the Walnut Creek Greenway Trail runs through the park; both paved and unpaved sections can be found here, and cyclists are permitted on the paved section. The lake itself in an excellent destination for boating and fishing, and kayaks and other non-motorized boats are available to rent between May and the end of September. Swimming in the lake is not permitted, but the park offers a seasonal swimming pool with a spray ground and a baby pool.
4601 Avent Ferry Rd, Raleigh, NC 27606, Phone: 919-233-2121
18.Lane Street Mini Park
Despite being just over half an acre in size, Lane Street Mini Park is a great place to go for a few hours of fun if you're on the eastern side of downtown Raleigh. The park received a much-needed update in 2009, and since then, it has become a popular destination for children and families. The playground has both a toddler's section and an area for older children, and it's nicely shaded by the park's beautiful trees. There is also a basketball court that all park visitors are welcome to use on a first come first served basis.
920 E Lane Street Raleigh, NC 27601, Phone: 919-831-6640
19.Laurel Hills Park
Featuring a beautiful pond and nature area with a boardwalk, Laurel Hills Park has been one of the city's most popular parks since it was established in 1975. The park's large playground was designed to be inclusive and to be used by children of all abilities, and there are several basketball courts and fields that children can play on as well. There is also a wonderful community center in the park, which hosts regular fitness classes and art programs for people of all ages. Other highlights of the park include two basketball courts, two baseball fields, and a picnic shelter with ten tables.
3808 Edwards Mill Rd, Raleigh, NC 27612, Phone: 919-996-2383
20.Method Community Park
Founded in 1982, the Method Community Park is the home of a community center that was named in honor of civil rights activist Harveleigh Monte Rivera White. It's also the location of the Pioneer Building, a historic rural high school building that offers tours and several exhibits. The community center regularly hosts fitness programs and art classes, and it also offers a gymnasium and a fitness center. Children are encouraged to play on the park's exciting rubber playground, and visitors of all ages are welcome to use the park's indoor and outdoor basketball courts, pickleball courts, and volleyball court.
514 Method Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607, Phone: 919-996-6066
21.Mordecai Historic Park
As the site of the oldest house in Raleigh that still sits on its original location, Mordecai Historic Park holds an important piece of the area's history. Visitors are advised to begin their trip to the park at the Visitor Center, where they can view informative exhibits and purchase tickets for a guided tour of the property and its numerous historic structures. Tours last approximately fifty minutes and are offered every hour on the hour between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and special trolley tours in the historic Raleigh trolley are also offered on Saturdays between March and December.
1 Mimosa St, Raleigh, NC 27604, Phone: 919-996-4364
22.Neuse River Trail
Stretching for 27.5 miles along the Neuse River, the Neuse River Greenway Trail was created to connect the beautiful parks that sit next to the river. The trail is mostly paved, but some sections that go through the wetlands consist of boardwalk. It begins at Falls Lake Dam and ends at the Johnston County Line, and it runs through four other riverside parks, which are conveniently spaced out every two to three miles. Interpretive signs can be found at various points along the trail, and parking is available at each one of the parks that the trail runs through.
Raleigh, NC 27610, Phone: 919-996-3285
23.Oakwood Commons Park
A key part of the historical Oakwood neighborhood, Oakwood Commons Park is a small fenced park conveniently located right in the city. The playground is particularly well-suited to toddlers and younger children, and it sits on a soft woodchip surface. There are also several small sitting areas for parents to relax in while their children enjoy the playground, including a small picnic table with a built-in chess board. Because of the park's small size, it can get quite busy on weekends and on sunny summer days, so it's best to visit mid-week if possible. Dogs are not permitted in the park.
535 N East St, Raleigh, NC 27604
Established in 1887, Pullen Park was the state's first public park. The on-site community center has a bustling activity schedule for people of all ages, and there are six tennis courts and plenty of children's play areas, including a swing area and a sand pit. The park also boasts one of the oldest amusement parks in the country, which features a 1911 carousel, pedal boats, and a miniature train. Tickets are required for all rides. A cafe can be found near the entrance of the amusement park, and there are nine picnic shelters for visitors who bring their own food.
520 Ashe Ave, Raleigh, NC 27606, Phone: 919-996-6468
Managed by the Sertoma Arts Center, the Peter Williams Park is a small 9-acre park located next to Lynn Road Elementary School. The park's multipurpose field is perfect for soccer and other sports, and there is a children's playground suitable for children between the ages of five and twelve. The park also offers two tennis courts and a sand volleyball court, which are available for visitors to use on a first come first served basis. The on-site picnic shelter has four tables and a grill, and although it's usually open to the public, it can be rented out for private events.
6601 Lead Mine Rd, Raleigh, NC 27612
25 Best Raleigh Parks
- Anderson Point Park, Photo: spacedrone808/stock.adobe.com
- Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park, Photo: FreeProd/stock.adobe.com
- Apollo Heights Park, Photo: minianne/stock.adobe.com
- Biltmore Hills Park, Photo: kvdkz/stock.adobe.com
- Brookhaven Nature Park, Photo: Foap.com/stock.adobe.com
- Buffaloe Road Athletic Park, Photo: themorningglory/stock.adobe.com
- Dorothea Dix Park, Photo: pabrady63/stock.adobe.com
- Durant Nature Preserve, Photo: Bouke/stock.adobe.com
- Fallon Park, Photo: Harry/stock.adobe.com
- Forest Ridge Park, Photo: alex/stock.adobe.com
- Fred Fletcher Park, Photo: Sergey T./stock.adobe.com
- Green Hills County Park, Photo: Tanya Rusanova/stock.adobe.com
- Historic Oak View County Park, Photo: pixarno/stock.adobe.com
- Historic Yates Mill County Park, Photo: Eifel/stock.adobe.com
- Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve, Photo: tonktiti/stock.adobe.com
- John Chavis Memorial Park, Photo: Denys Kurbatov/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Johnson Park, Photo: muratani/stock.adobe.com
- Lane Street Mini Park, Photo: Martinan/stock.adobe.com
- Laurel Hills Park, Photo: piyaphunjun/stock.adobe.com
- Method Community Park, Photo: 621513/stock.adobe.com
- Mordecai Historic Park, Photo: lspi138/stock.adobe.com
- Neuse River Trail, Photo: DSGNSR/stock.adobe.com
- Oakwood Commons Park, Photo: mashimara/stock.adobe.com
- Pullen Park, Photo: alj0718/stock.adobe.com
- Williams Park, Photo: RK008/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Samuel/stock.adobe.com