You can have a picnic, take a dog, play catch with a kid, relearn the joys of Bocce, get some walking in, meditate, or just take a break from the routine elements of your life.
Parks reintroduce us to nature in a way that Facebook never can. Possibly for this reason, the recent headline “Mark Zuckerberg wants you to get off Facebook and go run” highlighted the Facebook founder’s New Year resolution to run a mile a day in 2016, and to read more books.
We culled the best of Yelp, TripAdvisor, USA Today, WRAL, and Carolina Parent to bring you the highest-rated parks in the Oak city.
Pullen Park – Sure, on a summer Saturday this park is about as packed as the mall at Christmas, but at other points in the year it can be quite nice. No bands of kids to deal with, no parking to negotiate. Just a few parents trying to show their kids that they’ll support athleticism if they have to. You can rent boats, play tennis, eat on a table, and that historic, wooden carousel is in there, too. Overall we’d give it a B+.
Blue Jay Point County Park – This is a county park so it’s a bit grander in scale, if less personal. There are gardens, nature exhibits, fishing spots, hiking trails, and play areas for kids. If you’d like to stretch your legs, this is a good one to visit. We’d give it a B for naming itself after a bird.
Lake Wheeler Park – If you find water calming, then you’ll probably like this lake. Consider it the Amazon.com version of recommended nature. Like a good cabernet sauvignon it’s 800-acre size could be interpreted as bombastic and grandiose. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold charms that go beyond the manicured delights of your neighborhood toddler center. Be thankful; B-.
Shelley Lake Sertoma Park – This one focuses more on the arts with classes and workshops for painting, drawing, photography, pottery, and more. This could be an excellent choice for a corporate outing, or some other team-building venture. There are also basketball courts so be sure to impersonate an NBA player of your choosing. B.
Umstead State Park – The big kahuna is our only state park, the Umstead. It has enough hiking trails that you should probably let someone know beforehand lest you go all “127 Hours” on the place. The last time we were there we saw a convention of furries, and they were quite nice. The quietness on the trails is exquisite and it’s a great place to forget all your troubles, even if no there no knows your name. A-.
Those are our picks. What are yours? Tell us about it sometime, preferably on a test drive. There’s nothing more charming than a captive audience.