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Explore 33 parks in Raleigh

We’re highlighting the 33 best parks that Raleigh has to offer — complete with playgrounds, trails, and tennis courts.

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

Take a family picture at the NCMA Museum 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 for you to enjoy.

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

Nature parks

Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park, NCMA, 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.

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.

JC Raulston Arboretum during Moonlight in the Garden.

The gardens were illuminated for Moonlight in the Garden.

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 here. Pets and emotional support animals are not allowed.

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.

Lake Wheeler Park, 6404 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Visitors to Lake Wheeler 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 like 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.

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.

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, 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.

A large playground.

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

Photo by RALtoday

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

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

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 grass-covered, newly-renovated park. There is a water station for humans and pets.

Jaycee Dog Run, 2405 Wade Ave.
There are benches and trash cans near the playground.

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 dog areas for small and large 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. Pro tip: Download the app before going to make your dog a profile and to add its vaccination records (required).

RAL-LionsPark-Jan23

The Capital City BMX race track at Lions Park.

Photo by RALtoday

Sports parks

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.

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