RALtoday City Guide Play Banner

Explore 37 parks in Raleigh

We’re highlighting the 37 best parks that Raleigh has to offer — complete with playgrounds, trails, and tennis courts.

The pier at Lake Wheeler Park’s boat ramp.

Take in the views at Lake Wheeler Park.

Photo by RALtoday

Table of Contents

Whether you’re looking for a place to play with the kiddos or to decompress with some off-screen time, Raleigh features more than 200 parks and recreational spots to enjoy.

Ready to plan your trip to the park? Grab your shades and trusty water bottle — here are some of Oak City’s best:

Nature parks

Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park, NC Museum of Art, 2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Picnic on the rolling hills surrounded by art installations, take a stroll along the 4.7-mile path while reading informative trail-side signs, or participate in an interactive scavenger hunt.

A frame set up in front of a large open field.

Take a family picture at the NCMA Museum Park.

Photo by RALtoday

Blue Jay Point County Park, 3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
With 236 acres of hiking trails, open fields, fishing spots, and even a treetop adventure park, there is lots of scenery to take in from below… and above.

Durant Nature Preserve, 8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Once a Boy Scouts camp, this preserve offers plenty of nature-specific activities to earn your badge. Ask the park office about its Discovery Backpack program to learn more about the landscape or take a self-guided tour of the bird and butterfly garden.

Historic Yates Mill County Park, 4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
View a historic gristmill built in 1756 and explore three different hiking trails.

A wooden gazebo at JC Raulston Arboretum is adorned with white flowers and greenery.

JC Raulston Arboretum has many features for your photo shoot.

Photo by RALtoday

JC Raulston Arboretum, NC State University, 4415 Beryl Rd.
Sprawling 10.5 acres near NC State, the arboretum is home to more than 8,000 different types of plants — learn about the arboretum’s history. Psst... no pets are allowed at the arboretum.

Lake Johnson Park, 4601 Avent Ferry Rd.
Take a stroll along the water on the 2.8-mile paved greenway or the 1.5-mile unpaved nature trail loop. Enjoy other amenities like fishing boardwalks, rental boats, and hammock posts.

Lake Lynn Park, 7921 Ray Rd.
In December 2022, the City of Raleigh completed improvements including repaved surfaces and wider trail sections. Plus, spot local wildlife along the 2.8 mile loop.

Lake Wheeler Park, 6404 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Visitors can make their way around the walkway, paddle up and down the lake, and play volleyball in the sandbox court. Bonus: This landmark is one of Wake County’s major water suppliers and Raleigh’s main water source — learn more.

Water and greenery.

Try this: Reedy Creek Trail at Umstead State Park.

Photo by RALtoday

Neuse River Greenway Trail, parking lot: 1721 Riverview Rd.
This greenway sprawls ~30 miles through sections of Raleigh, Wake Forest, Knightdale, and Clayton and is a part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Shelley Lake Park, 1400 West Millbrook Rd.
Lace up your shoes to complete workout stations along the park’s 2-mile trail; there’s also basketball courts, a playground, and a fishing pier.

William B. Umstead State Park, 8801 Glenwood Ave.
As Raleigh’s only state park, this scenic sanctuary covers 5,599 acres and is filled with hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, plus amenities that include boat rentals and campsites.

Two girls picnicking in a large field.

City Editors Cat and Anne love to picnic at Dix Park.

Photo by RALtoday

Family parks

Dorothea Dix Park, 1030 Richardson Dr.
This park — which is one of Raleigh’s largest — offers downtown skyline views, a summer sunflower field, and special events like Dreamville Music Festival. Flowers Field features daffodil blooms in early spring and is the perfect spot for a family picnic.

Downtown Cary Park, 327 S. Academy St., Cary
Located in the heart of our neighbor to the west, this park features an elaborate playground, impressive waterfront views, and a dog park + bar with beer, wine, and non-alcoholic options.

An overview of a new dog park with logs for climbing and plenty of trees.

Guests must have an annual membership or day pass to use the Barkyard.

Photo by RALtoday

Eastgate Park, 4200 Quail Hollow Dr.
Take the kids to the playground featuring a hopscotch court, dome climber, and other play structures.

Eliza Pool Park, 1600 Fayetteville St.
This neighborhood park boasts a multi-purpose field and playgrounds. There’s also a shelter and outdoor volleyball court.

Fred Fletcher Park, 820 Clay St.
This urban, tranquil park has multiple picnic shelters, basketball and tennis courts, a softball and multipurpose open field, and a sand surface playground.

A large playground.

The Sassafras All Children’s Playground is accessible to people with disabilities.

Photo by RALtoday

John Chavis Memorial Park, 505 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
This park is on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places and has a wide variety of kid-friendly amenities. The playground is equipped with rubber safety surfacing and there is a splash pad available for the warmer months.

Junious N. Sorrell Park, 416 E. Lee St.
Two playgrounds are available for children ages 2-5 and 5-12. The playground features a climbing structure with shade, swings, and slides.

Laurel Hills Park, 3808 Edwards Mill Rd.
The Sassafras All Children Playground was designed to be inclusive to children of all abilities. Additional amenities include a small pond with a boardwalk, shelters, basketball courts, and fields.

People looking at the Freedom Park beacon.

There are plenty of spots to sit and soak in the park’s many testimonies.

Photo by RALtoday

NC Freedom Park, 218 N. Wilmington St.
Honoring Black North Carolinians, this park is topped off with the Beacon of Freedom and was designed by the late architect Phil Freelon, who also led the design team for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

Pullen Park, 520 Ashe Ave.
As the first public park in NC and the fifth oldest operating amusement park in the US, this Raleigh staple offers carousel and train rides, rental pedal boats, playgrounds, courts, and fields.

A sign that reads "Pullen Park" and a trash can overflowing with flowers.

Take a visit to NC’s first public park.

Photo by RALtoday

Dog parks

Buffaloe Road Dog Park, 5900 Buffaloe Rd.
This off-leash park has designated fenced-in large and small dog areas and drinking fountains.

Carolina Pines Dog Park, 2305 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Dog parents can enjoy picnic tables while their companion runs around the small or big dog area; the area is lit at night.

Dix Park Dog Park, 1800 Umstead Dr.
Let your pooch run free at this newly renovated grass-covered park. Plus, there’s a water station for humans and pets.

Jaycee Dog Run, 2405 Wade Ave.
There are benches and trash cans near the playground for your convenience while Fido runs off-leash.

Kiwanis Park Dog Run, 2525 Noble Rd.
This park has a wood chip surface, benches, and a waste bag dispenser.

Millbrook Dog Park, 1905 Spring Forest Rd.
Raleigh’s oldest dog park, which opened in 2003, features agility equipment, drinking fountains, picnic tables, shade structures, and the area is lit at night.

Oakwood Dog Park, 910 Brookside Dr.
This pup spot has two separate areas for small and large dog breeds.

Bonus: West Street Dog, 400 W. North St.
There is something for both humans and pooches at this indoor off-leash dog park. Grab a drink from the bar and watch your pup mingle. Download the app before going to make your dog a profile and to add its vaccination records (required).


The Capital City BMX race track at Lions Park.

Photo by RALtoday

Sports parks

Baileywick Park, 9501 Baileywick Rd.
The park’s newly renovated pavilion includes covered pickleball courts and a court for futsal, a sport similar to soccer played on a hardcourt.

Buffaloe Road Athletic Park, 5900 Buffaloe Rd.
Used for many NCAA sports and special events, facilities include an aquatic center, outdoor track, fields, trails, and playgrounds.

Brentwood Park, 3315 Vinson Ct.
This neighborhood park offers lighted tennis courts, basketball courts, sports fields, playgrounds, and a rental facility on 19 acres of land.

Lions Park, 516 Dennis Ave.
With 41 acres, this community park features a fitness center, lighted basketball and tennis courts, athletic fields, and a BMX race track.

Marsh Creek Park, 3050 N. New Hope Rd.
This forested spot features a skate park, an inline rink ($30 an hour), playgrounds, and a community center.

Walnut Creek Athletic Complex, 1201 Sunnybrook Rd.
This complex consists mostly of softball fields with 18 bull pins and a food truck plaza.

Millbrook Exchange Tennis Center, 1905 Spring Forest Rd.
This tennis hangout has 23 lighted hard surface courts and ball machines available.

Bonus: Some parks are getting a facelift and new parks are coming soon, thanks to the recently approved Parks Bond.

Your park grab bag

Picked your perfect park? Make the most out of your experience with our favorite items for a relaxing day outside:

  • Is there anything quite like sitting in the shade and enjoying a good book? Check out our guide to books by local authors to help choose your next great read.
  • The Kindle Paperwhite is a lightweight e-reader option that stands up to bright sunlight.
  • A good water bottle keeps you hydrated — we’re big fans of the best-selling Owala FreeSip + this insulated stackable tumbler from Asheville NC-based retailer Pirani.
  • Heading to the park with kids? Check out the Owala FreeSip for kids.
  • Don’t forget the travel-size bug spray and sunscreen.
  • These sunglasses from Nordstrom Rack are available at discount prices + have a style for everyone.
  • Keep it all together in a handy tote bag — these adorable tote bags are all crafted by small businesses and local makers.

Ready to visit these local parks but don’t know where to start? We’ve created this handy map so you can find all of these featured parks.

Check out our other Guides
Make the most of the warm weather with this list of the best local events and activities happening this summer in Raleigh.
Looking for the best coffee in the City of Oaks? Whether you’re aiming for a quick caffeine fix or a place to relax and enjoy a cup of joe, find your new favorite coffee shop with our guide featuring 35+ local cafes.
Your home, your favorite coffee shop, your daily commute aren’t just written in the skyline — they may be written in the stars. Keep reading to find out the zodiac signs as Raleigh neighborhoods.
Learn about the biggest industries and employers in Wake County with this guide to local business.
Whether you’re looking for your next leisure read, a book for the whole family, or a thrilling fictional novel, we’ve got a list of books written by local authors in Raleigh.
We’re highlighting the best kid-friendly activities that Raleigh has to offer — complete with art classes, animal encounters, and outdoor fun.
To help make your entire process at RDU as smooth as possible, we’ve created a guide that covers everything from gates and parking to details on the airport’s 48 nonstop routes.
Dig into Raleigh’s must-try pizza shops including NC State hangouts, high-end Detroit-style pizza, and bagel shops moonlighting as pizzerias. Whatever style you prefer, there’s pizza in Raleigh for you.
Whether you’re a weekend warrior, or the next Tiger Woods, these 18 golf courses around Raleigh are sure to make for a good round.
The cold has already hit Raleigh. Stay warm and in-the-know about 2023 winter weather, including snow predictions, the coldest months of the year, and more.
RALtoday phone
Good news for Raleigh.
Get the best local news & events sent to your inbox each morning, for free.