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Mordecai Historic Park

6 Must-Visit Parks in Raleigh, the City of Oaks (2024)

Also known as the City of Oaks, Raleigh in North Carolina is popular for its gorgeous green parks and those impeccable outdoor spaces. The city is home to more than 200 parks, and that is definitely a huge number. While some of them feature greenway trails and natural trails, others focus on community centers, art centers, athletic facilities, and more engaging facilities. Since its foundation in 1792, Raleigh has been amended to preserve and grow more and more green parks.

The city of concrete and steel (quite literally), Raleigh is home to North Carolina’s first public park, Pullen Park. It even hosts one of the largest parks in the state, along with numerous wildlife preserves nearby. The parks in Raleigh not only provide walking and hiking opportunities but also boast fun options like fishing, canoeing, and bird-watching. You may even find parks with historical entities that will take you to the heritage days of Raleigh.

6 Must-Visit Parks in Raleigh, the City of Oaks

Sounds Exciting? Then why don’t you join us and find out about some Popular Parks to visit in Raleigh? Come, let’s start.

1. Pullen Park

If you are new to the city, you must add Pullen Park as the first and must-visit destination in Raleigh. It is North Carolina’s first public park, the United States’ 5th oldest operating Amusement Park, and World’s 16th oldest park. Pullen Park is located near the North Carolina State University and nearly 3 miles from downtown Raleigh. The 66 acres of park’s landscape covers a swath of green, rolling fields, a historic carousel, a medium-sized lake, sports fields, picnic grounds, dog areas, and endless other features. Since it is always a crazy crowd, the park also hosts a café that serves some delicious pizzas and popsicles. Pullen Park is undoubtedly a busy landmark with some or the other engaging activity going on around. You may get to see a theatre performance, participate in some art and craft classes, or simply go walking through the well-maintained green trails.

Pullen Park is always high on drama, and it is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Raleigh, North Carolina.

2. Historic Yates Mill County Park

Individuals who are interested in a little bit of history along with nature must add the Historic Yates Mill County Park into their Raleigh itinerary. Encompassing 174 acres, the park is home to the wildlife refuge, an environmental resource center, and the Yates Mill, a historic water-powered gristmill. The Yates’s Mill is basically the centerpiece of the park and belongs to the 18th (the 1700s) century. What surrounds the Mill is a beautiful 24 acres pond that visitors feel delighted to observe. Visitors can also take a tour of the historic Mill and learn how it used to power during its time of operations. They can also learn the farm-to-fork process, know about the corn grinding process and even take back bags of ground yellow and white cornmeal. Historic Yates Mill County Park is also popular for its several miles of hiking trails and the two boardwalks that facilitate fishing.

NOTE: The visit to County Park is free though the tour to Historic yes Mill costs an admission fee.

3. Umstead State Park or William B. Umstead State Park

William B. Umstead State Park is one of the most popular state parks you can explore in Raleigh, North Carolina. Being a State Park, it covers a huge mass of 5,500 acres that straddles between different cities of Durham, Cary, and Raleigh. The park is home to three human-made lakes, with Big Lake being the largest of them all. It even hosts sprawling 20 miles of multi-use trails that facilitate hiking, biking, and horseback riding. All three lakes and their connecting tributaries within the park offer recreational opportunities like canoeing, row boating, fishing, and even swimming (though it isn’t safeguarded). Overnight stayers can either book themselves a lodge at the historic Maple Hill or camp at the designated campgrounds in the park. A visit to this beautiful State Park will also introduce you to native North Carolina birds, deer, beavers, and a range of other wildlife.

NOTE: When here, do not forget to check out the 25 feet-long Oak tree, which is now transformed into a beautifully carved art piece. Reach it by following the Graylyn multi-use trail.

4. Lake Johnson Park

Located near the North Carolina State University, Lake Johnson Park is a local’s favorite in Raleigh. This 300 acre park is located on the outskirts of the city (a short drive from the downtown), boasting a lush and beautiful landscape. Park’s centerpiece is the 150 acres of a huge lake that offers opportunities like boating, fishing, and kayaking. Enthusiasts can utilize personal boat launches or take the benefit of boat rental services available on the spot. Fishing enthusiasts can find several catches, including carp, shell cracker, crappie, bream, catfish, and largemouth bass. Lake Johnson Park boasts some fantastic trails, a three-mile loop around the eastern side and two miles of unpaved trail around the western side of the lake. Walking here will introduce you to some beautiful and harmless wildlife in the park. Visitors can also find facilities, including picnic shelters, concessions, facility rentals, etc. Though Lake Johnson Park offers year-round, if you are here just for beauty, choose the fall season.

5. Anderson Point Park

Anderson Point Park is another haven for nature lovers in Raleigh. The centerpiece of this park is the astounding historic Anderson Family Homestead that belongs to the early 1900s. The park, though, is relatively newer than the homestead since it was established in 1988. While the homestead is popular for hosting a range of programs, the park facilitates activities like hiking and wildlife watching. Individuals often visit here in order to explore the section of the Neuse River Trail, a 27-mile paved trail that goes all the way long from Falls Lake in North Raleigh towards the Wake County border in the Southeast part of the city. Another popular activity here is Bird Watching. Before even the park was ever exciting, the wilderness area since then has been calling several birds. One can observe screech owls’ warbles, purple martins, bluebirds, and many more flying beauties. Anderson Point Park also features several launch points for canoeing.

6. Mordecai Historic Park

Once home to the largest plantation in Wake County, the Mordecai Historical Park is an unmissable spot in Raleigh. The park is famous for housing the collection of some of the oldest homes in the city and course, a ton of history. One can find the birthplace of Andrew Johnson (home), the oldest house in Raleigh’s Mordecai House, and many more remarkable structures. However, people tend to miss such spaces but consider checking out the Visitor Center. It is where you will get park information, tour tickets, find meeting space, and a gift shop to take back materialistic memories. Or, join the Haunted Trolley tour just before the dark. The tour includes a 45-minute trolley ride around downtown Raleigh where a guide narrates the story of many buildings and cemeteries. Mordecai Historical Park is green ad relaxing to walk about and is a fine pick for a good weather day.

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