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Best Outdoor Activities in Raleigh/Durham

By: Cityseeker
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William B. Umstead State Park

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.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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Lake Lynn Park

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.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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Dead Broke Farm

Dead Broke Farm offers horseback riding on more than ten miles (16 kilometers) of trails on 110 acres (44.5 hectares) of land half an hour outside of downtown Raleigh. Take a western style riding lesson on bridles trails past creek crossings, hardwood forests, and wildlife. Rides are between one and six hours long, and horses can be rented for overnight and weekend camping trips. There are some age restrictions, as children less than six years old cannot ride alone. The farm also has campsites and fishing ponds.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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Shelley Lake Park

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.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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Durham Cycles

Durham Cycles is a well-run and locally owned and operated bicycle shop in the heart of downtown Durham. The store provides sales of over a dozen bike brands, bike rentals, and repairs. Patrons can expect a nice variety of bikes to rent including hybrids, fitness bikes, and a limited number of high-end carbon road bikes. The staff here is friendly and accommodating, and offers free maintenance seminars several times a year that cover basics like changing a flat tire and minor adjustments.

Durham, NC, United States
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Duke University Golf Club

This beautiful 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones opened in 1957, and is one of Durham’s outdoor highlights. The club has been the site of championship level play, and is routinely considered one of the top courses in North Carolina. Rates vary depending by day and time, and pull carts, gold cars, and clubs are available to rent. The course is part of the Washington Duke Inn, and golfers can expect to play with hotel guests alongside Duke University students and faculty.

Durham, NC, United States
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Lake Johnson Park

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.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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Raleigh Rose Garden at Raleigh Little Theatre

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.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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Triangle Glides

Triangle Glides offers Segway, electric bike, and stand-up paddleboard sales, rentals, and lessons. Located inside the historic City Market, the store is a great place to begin a local outdoor adventure. City explorers can choose from a number of guided Segway tours around parts of Raleigh, including downtown, Oakwood, the City Center, and elsewhere. The electric bikes make riding up the city's hills a breeze, and paddleboards are a great way to check out local water features like Lake Wheeler.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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Crowder District Park

Crowder District Park offers visitors 33 acres (13.35 hectares) of wetlands and hardwood forests, and is a hub of outdoor activities and educational opportunities. Park amenities include picnic shelters, walking trails, playgrounds, a volleyball court, an outdoor amphitheater, and a 3-acre (1.2 hectares) pond with a boardwalk and an observation deck. Educational activities designed for children and their families are held at the park throughout the year. The park is a great place to enjoy an afternoon walk, or take part in organized arts and crafts activities and stargazing nights.

Apex, NC, United States
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Jordan Lake State Recreation Area

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area is a North Carolina state park with seven beaches and more than 1,000 campsites along the shoreline of an undeveloped, 14,000 acre reservoir. The lake is a popular destination for boaters, and offers a range of other outdoor activities including swimming, fishing, camping, and hiking along 14 miles (22.4 kilometers) of hills and lake shore. Ospreys and bald eagles are often spotted along the trails. Every year on the first Saturday in October, the Lake hosts a heritage day festival to celebrate the cultural and natural resources of the region, and agricultural, industrial, and Native American history.

Apex, NC, United States
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Eno River State Park

Spread over 4,200 acres (1699 hectares) of opaque forested areas, the Eno River State Park is a popular outdoor destination that boasts of nearly 28 miles (45 kilometers) of some of the finest hiking trails in North Carolina. The Eno River runs alongside these trails, which leads hikers through old-growth forests, rocky landscapes, and historic vestiges. The vestiges are mainly gristmills from the time of the Eno River's settlement, with as many as 30 mills lining the river's banks at the time. A number of interesting trails help explore various corners of the park, from the steep trail leading to Cox Mountain, to the Eno Trace that offers avenues to view wildlife. In spring, the Pump Station trail is an excellent way to take in views of wildflowers sprinkled across small mounds. Other popular activities in the park include angling, camping, wildlife photography, picnicking, and canoeing and kayaking.

Durham, NC, United States
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