My son has been called a “kinetic little boy.” He started walking at 9 months and the climbing, running, and jumping that quickly followed meant that I became an expert in outdoor attractions. Lucky me, I live in an area with many great park and recreation opportunities. Pullen Park in Raleigh re-opened about two years ago and it’s such an amazing place– I always vow to go more often each time I make the drive into Raleigh.
This photo right here says it all. Look closely.
1. Age-appropriate and segregated play structures.
2. Fences to keep the little ones in said play area. In case you are, um, distracted for a moment.
3. Shade and benches for people who appreciate things like comfort and relaxation.
4. Aforementioned seating is actually in close proximity to play areas so kids can be supervised without hovering.
5. Rubber-ish play surface. No twigs, no loose gravel, no loose soil that’s going to get muddy, not to mention thrown. You can get a better view in the photo below. (Plus I got a shot of my new Dansko shoes for outdoor play, holla!) Point is that if the kid falls on this surface from a reasonable height they don’t get hurt. Less tears = happy Mama.
Oh and there’s also play areas with sand and water (in the warm months) so BYOB. That’s B for Bucket. Ha.
So my son is at the age now where he is starting to make “friends” on the play ground. It’s really cute. He starts playing with someone and if they leave he looks around for them and says, “Friend? Where’d ya go?” Of course for him play means following and more importantly chasing. I’m wondering if this might be a good time to sign him up for a little soccer league or something so he can make friends in a semi-structured environment. Big kid stuff!
In addition to the excellent play area, there’s a gorgeous indoor carousel. It was purchased in 1920. Yeah. So Pullen Park isn’t just a great park for play, it’s also a piece of history. It’s the oldest public park in the state and the 5th oldest in the country. Everything is extremely well cared for and the antique carousel has been painstakingly restored to sparkling condition. Want to take a ride? Tickets are $1.
Rides around the park and over the bridge on the darling little train are also $1. My son was thrilled by the experience. The whistle. The sights. My little lady sat in my lap. She enjoyed it as well. It was her first train ride!
Out by the lake are some nice picnic pavilions. You can bring food, but there’s also a food vendor called Pullen Place that sells reasonably healthy snacks and a reasonable cost. They have fresh and local items like Loco Pops, Organic Popcorn, Grilled Sandwiches and more. They sell coffee too. I always remember where coffee is available.
And paddle boats for the warmer months!
And a nice little monument to North Carolina’s biggest star: The Andy Griffith Show. Seeing this show always reminds me of my dad. We would watch this show together on weekends. I was impressed he could whistle the theme song.
So there’s Pullen Park: my hands-down favorite park in the area. It’s a great value. There’s no fee to park and the rides are oh-so-reasonably priced at $1. The only drawback for me is the distance from my house, which is about a 30 minute drive. Have you been? What’s your favorite local park?