North Carolina Attractions September 27, 2017
The Whimsical Playground In North Carolina That’s Straight Out Of A Storybook
You might be familiar with the quote, “Once you grow up you can never come back,” and, while that’s certainly true, there’s small ways to gain back that childlike wonder in all of us. That can be through having your own children and watching their joy and wonder on Christmas morning, challenging yourself to a fun adventure that reawakens a youthful spirit, or even…visiting a whimsical playground and having no shame in flying through the air on a swing or charging down a slide. While Pullen Park in Raleigh is more than just a playground, the entire 66 acres is a great place to take the kiddos or even spend a day yourself.
Pullen Park is the 5th oldest operating amusement park in the U.S. and 16th in the world. Opened in 1887, it was also the first public park to open in North Carolina with founder Richard Stanhope Pullen dedicating family farmland to the citizens of Raleigh for an area centered around recreation and relaxation. The park is adjacent to downtown Raleigh and neighbors with NC State University. Today, it is known for the gorgeous pond, train, carousel and plenty of other recreational activities and playgrounds for children.
Throughout the years Pullen Park has undergone many renovations and facelifts to make it what it is today. A park with this much history certainly has had some interesting changes. There was a small zoo on the park from 1899 to 1938 and the iconic carousel was originally steam-powered. In 2000 the city decided it was officially time to start making plans for how to best accomodate the growing Triangle population in terms of the park. From 2009-2011 the park was closed for extensive renovations that included a new climate-controlled carousel house, train station and welcome center.
The park features four different amusement rides with a small charge for each. One central, iconic part of the park is the Carousel. It was built in 1900 by Salvatore Cernigliaro of the Dentzel Carousel Company. It features 52 hand-carved basswood animals, two chariots, 18 canvas panels, 18 large and a Wurlitzer 125 organ that dates back to 1924 and made by the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company. While the Carousel embodies whimsy and enchantment, it also has a bit of notoriety. Today, only 200 antique carousels exist in the U.S. with 25 of those being Dentzel Carousels.
Between 1977 and 1982 the Carousel underwent serious renovations which included paint restoration. In 1976 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, visitors enjoy choosing which animal to ride on...there's a tiger, ostrich, even giraffe. Little ones can also enjoy the carousel and the beauty makes for stunning photography.
While the Carousel might be the main attraction, there's another unique way to get around Pullen Park. The miniature train was added in 1950 and circles around the park and through a tunnel. Children of all ages can hop on and enjoy an open-air ride around. Just be warned, both the train and carousel might incite sayings like, "Can we please go again!" or "Just one more ride!"
Aside from carousels and trains, Pullen Park is home to the iconic Andy and Opie statue, a nod to Andy Griffith. There's also an island gazebo and a large playground that features swings, structures, and out-of-this-world jungle gyms for climbing.
There's also the kiddie boat station which allows small children to cruise around in a circular pond in mini-paddle boats, a fun activity for young adventurers not quite ready for open water! Adults can paddle along in the pond and take in vistas of the park.
Pullen Park is a magical place that makes adults feel like kids all over again, and gives kids a whole entire day of wonder and amusement. It's hard to not feel like you've stepped into a fairytale world filled with whirling carousels, a miniature train choo-choo-ing by, paddleboats peacefully floating about and bridges, green space and playgrounds for making an entire adventure out of one fascinating place.
What an amazingly unique place! While more-so a park, it’s basically like one giant playground! Have you visited here before?
For more information on tickets or special events,
Pullen Park –
408 Ashe Ave
Raleigh, NC 27617
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