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Hidden away from the crowded cacophony of the city life, William B. Umstead State Park stretches gloriously across 5579-acres (2257-hectare) crossing the border of Raleigh and spilling onto Cary and Durham. Endowed with tranquil lakes, picturesque pathways and dense drapes of forests, William B. Umstead State Park is a real boon for city-dwellers. An absolute delight for outdoor enthusiasts, numerous trails cut their way through the park's pristine span, offering off-road bicycling opportunities along with hiking and additional trails are also reserved for equestrians. There are numerous picnic spots scattered across the park and there are plenty of and campsites and cabins for those who wish to lodge overnight. A visitor center organizes a series of interactive exhibits, and park rangers regularly scheduled educational programs.
Lake Lynn Park is an impressively-equipped city park that offers visitors 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) of trails around a greenway great for walking, cycling, or running. On the grounds there are also batting cages, a playground, four tennis courts, two bocce courts, and a baseball field. The Lake Lynn Community Center on the north side of the park has basketball courts, meeting rooms, a dance studio, and an art room. Lake Lynn Park is a great place to enjoy a stroll, or to take advantage of first-rate outdoor amenities in a serene setting.
This park offers two miles of trails with work-out stations along scenic Shelley Lake, open fields, a basketball court, and a playground. The park is also home to the Sertoma Art Center, which hosts visual and performance art workshops, and exhibition and studio space. Take a leisurely walk around the lake and enjoy the natural setting, have a picnic, go fishing, paddle a canoe or rowboat around the lake, or just sit and watch sailboats go by.
Pull up a bench and revel in nature's beauty in this eight-acre (three-hectare) garden wonderland. This outdoor laboratory for the Department of Horticulture at North Carolina State University is a delight for visitors and locals alike. Sit in the shade of trees from over 50 different countries, wander down the 450-foot (137-meter) long mosaic of the Perennial Garden, or bring a good book and relax in the Reading Garden. The Victorian gazebo in the Klein-Pringle White Garden is a popular choice for local brides and the Japanese and Paradise gardens are must-sees.
Founded in 1934, The Sarah P. Duke Gardens offers 55 acres (22 hectares) of world-class gardens in the center of Duke University. More than five miles (eight kilometers) of pathways lead visitors on walks through four sections of beautifully landscaped terraces, gardens, and arboretums. The Duke Gardens host gardening, photography, and natural history classes, and a summer concert series. A cafe and a visitor center are on the grounds. Walking and trolley tours are given four days a week; reservations are recommended.
Lake Johnson Park offers visitors more than 5 miles (8 kilometers) of walking trails leading around a serene lake, past picnic shelters, a boardwalk, a public pool, and boat launches. Boat rentals are available through the park office. The park is a popular fishing destination, holds conference and event facilities, and hosts a public program of educational activities throughout the year.
The Raleigh Rose Garden displays dozens of varieties of roses, including all new roses presented by the All American Rose Society, on beautifully landscaped grounds just behind the Raleigh Little Theater. An outdoor theater with stone seating hosts theater and music performances from time to time, and a fountain and small stone shelter are the center of small private events and weddings. The roses bloom from late May until early fall in October and November; these times are best for visiting.
Once the site of the largest plantation in Wake Country, Mordecai Park is home to the Mordecai House, a registered historical landmark and local history museum. In addition to the house, the park includes other historic structures like the original birthplace of President Andrew Johnson, the Ellen Mordecai Garden, and St. Mark's Chapel. Visitors can enjoy trolley tours of the park, and hour-long guided tours of the grounds are offered from the visitor center.
Historic Yates Mill County Park is a 174-acre (70 hectares) wildlife refuge and environmental research center with open lands and a small pond offering visitors fishing, hiking, and bird-watching opportunities. Yates Mill is the last operating, water-powered gristmill in North Carolina’s Capital County. Mill tours and corn grinding demonstrations are offered throughout the year, as are seasonal educational and holiday programs. The visitor center sells finished stone-ground cornmeal and vintage postcards as souvenirs.