There's no better place to enjoy an afternoon of North Carolina blue skies than one of Charlotte's, beautiful city parks. Whether you're looking to work up a sweat, take the kids out or just want to soak up some sun, there are plenty of options to explore throughout the city's distinct neighborhoods.
One thing to know about Charlotte is that it's located within North Carolina's Mecklenburg County, which is home to more than 200 parks and facilities. Whether you've lived here for years or you're preparing to move to the area, you're sure to find a favorite of your own. Here's a list of the best that the city has to offer.
Nestled between Charlotte's historic Dilworth and Myers Park neighborhoods, Freedom Park has long been a local favorite. Its sprawling 98 acres are centered around a scenic lake and provide a picturesque setting for almost any outdoor activity.
A long and winding paved path, baseball fields, batting cages, soccer fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, picnic areas, two playgrounds and even a bandstand provide something for everyone. If laying out a blanket and relaxing is more your style, there's plenty of green space to spread out and shady trees to relax under.
One of the city's newest parks is located in the heart of Charlotte's bustling Uptown District. Romare Bearden Park is named after a famed local artist and was opened in 2013. Although it is only 5.4 acres, it has become a popular gathering spot for people seeking a place to relax and enjoy the fresh air while uptown.
The park features two gardens, a courtyard with tables and chairs, an open green space, a play area and several statues and water features. The spectacular views of the city skyline also make it one of the most Instagrammable places in town.
First Ward Park is another great, relatively new option for a breath of fresh air in uptown Charlotte. Located in the First Ward, the park is within close proximity to popular attractions such as the 7th Street Market, as well as the light rail. It's a convenient spot to meet someone before or after doing some shopping or attending an event, and it's easily accessible.
The park offers new workout equipment, which is basically the adult version of a playground. Live music draws crowds in the summertime, and it's a really nice spot to set up a blanket and enjoy an evening in the city.
McAlpine Creek Park's championship cross country course makes it an ideal location to train for your next 5K. However, it also offers a one-and-a-half-mile scenic nature trail for those seeking a more leisurely pace, a two-mile bike trail if you prefer to ride and a dog park so you can bring your canine companion along.
The serene lake and shady trees provide a great backdrop for any activity and a little added motivation to push farther to see what lies ahead.
Removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, Reedy Creek Park's sprawling 146 acres make it a great place to get away without having to go too far. There's something for everyone to enjoy. Highlights include a fishing pier, a community garden, 18-hole disc golf course, dog park and the Reedy Creek Nature Center, which offers fun interactive exhibits for kids.
The adjacent Reedy Creek Nature Preserve also boasts an impressive 10 miles of hiking trails, which are among some of the most popular in the city limits.
Though it's only a half an hour drive from the city center, a trip to McDowell Nature Preserve will make you feel like you're a million miles away. Sitting on a massive expanse of 1,132 acres, Mecklenburg County's oldest nature preserve's focal point is the beautiful banks of Lake Wylie.
The preserve is popular for its public boat ramps, guided kayaking tours and multiple fishing docks. Another onsite educational nature center is a fun stop for the little ones, and there are plenty of trails to enjoy stretching your legs. It's also a great spot to camp with 56 sites within the preserve for tent camping and full RV hookups.
If you're looking to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, Charlotte's best parks provide plenty of options. Whether you're looking for a place to exercise, organize a pick-up game, relax or bring the family, chances are you won't have to go far to find it in the Queen City.