5 Best Parks In Charlotte: Complete Guide

Charlotte is an exciting city with plenty of interesting things to do. Still, sometimes you just need a place for the kids to play or a place to collect your thoughts. We get it.  These are the best parks in Charlotte and some of our favorites.

What Is The Best Park in Charlotte?

Each of these Charlotte parks has its unique vibe. Some parks have great playgrounds for kids, while other parks host senior league softball. Plus, a few of these parks have fantastic trails for walking or jogging. 

Deciding which park is best in Charlotte largely depends on how you intend to use the park. Fortunately, there are plenty of great options from which to choose.

Freedom Park

Playground at Freedom Park in Charlotte

Freedom Park sits between the Dilworth and Myers Park communities, two of the nicest neighborhoods in all of North Carolina. Still, the Little Sugar Creek Greenway connects Freedom Park to Uptown and other communities. The greenway connection makes the park very accessible. You will find a vibrant and diverse community at the park.

At nearly 100 acres, Freedom Park is absolutely massive. A small creek divides the park into two halves. A large playground and most athletic fields sit on the north side of a connecting bridge. 

Multiple parking lots are available, and the main park entrance is also on the park’s north side. The north side of Freedom Park is closest to Uptown and accessible from East Blvd. 

A large lake with ducks and fountains is prominent on the park’s south side. You will also find a playground for smaller children. This playground sits on a small hill above the lake. A small parking lot sits here, off Princeton Avenue. You can also parallel park on Princeton Avenue. 

Key Facts

  • 98 Acres with Lake
  • 8 Tennis Courts
  • 5 Shelters
  • 4 Baseball Fields
  • 4 Soccer Fields
  • 2 Volleyball Courts
  • 2 Playgrounds
  • 1 Basketball Court
  • 1 Amphitheater

A Lake, Playgrounds, and Athletic Fields

Soccer Fields at Freedom Park in Charlotte
Soccer Fields at Freedom Park in Charlotte

Freedom Park is the near-perfect place to go for a leisurely stroll or relax in a hammock. On the other hand, there are activities for everyone.  It doesn’t matter how old you are or what types of activities you enjoy. Nearly anyone can find something to love at Freedom Park.

There are multiple festivals and events at the park yearly. An amphitheater plays host to concerts and the occasional movie. Festival in the Park is one of the most popular events held in a Charlotte area park. It occurs every year in September. 

Naturally, you will see runners, joggers, and walkers using the many trails. You will also see families playing soccer and organized youth sports, too. Freedom Park is one of Charlotte’s most popular destinations in early springtime when temperatures first start to hit the 60s.

You may also be interested to know that Discover Place Nature sits just across the creek from Freedom Park. While the address for Discovery Place Nature is technically on Sterling Road, you can cross a bridge over Little Sugar Creek to get there. 

Freedom Park is one of our family’s favorite places. 

Romare Bearden Park

Romare Bearden Park in Charlotte

A few blocks from Trade and Tryon sits Romare Bearden Park. The park was finished in 2013, which makes it one of the newer parks in all of Mecklenburg County. It is also one of the most famous parks. Truist Field sits across the street from Romare Bearden Park. 

Together, Truist Field and Romare Bearden Park serve as the center of outdoor recreation in Uptown Charlotte. Bank of America Stadium is only a few blocks away, but Truist Field hosts events more frequently. Romare Bearden Park is a great home base for various events.

One example: several road races start between the park and Truist Field. 

Of course, Freedom Park is the better Charlotte park to visit if you are looking for physical activities and athletic fields. Nonetheless, Romare Bearden Park is perfect for a picnic in Uptown or some fresh air during your lunch break. 

The park is a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the center city. Luxury apartments line two sides of the park, while major corporations fill the skyscrapers a block away on Tryon Street. As a result, the views are incredible. 

Key Facts

  • 5 Acres
  • 2 Gardens
  • Waterfall Feature
  • Dining and Picnic Areas

Waterfalls and Green Space In Uptown Charlotte

View From Green - Romare Bearden Park

View From Green – Romare Bearden Park

Romare Bearden Park may not have soccer fields and big playgrounds, but it does provide a certain amount of culture that Freedom Park can’t match. The city named the park after an artist who rose to prominence partly because of the civil rights movement. Portions of the park are designed to honor Romare Bearden’s art. 

One prominent sculpture is known as Spiral Odyssey. Even the waterfall features a unique lighting scheme that is brilliant under the night sky. There are designated gardens and a crushed granite cafe-like seating area. The park is genuinely beautiful.

The other thing to love about Romare Bearden Park is that it is the center of nearly everything to do in Uptown Charlotte. You can tailgate near the park before a big game. You can just as easily go for a romantic stroll at one of the many upscale restaurants nearby after a date night. 

Multiple museums are also close, including the Mint Museum and the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. On a more fun note, the large green is excellent for fun and games. And kids love to play on the splash pad near the waterfall.

First Ward Park

First Ward Park in Charlotte

First Ward Park is also in Uptown but isn’t as centrally located as Romare Bearden Park. On most days, it is a little easier to park a car near First Ward Park is a little easier because the adjacent streets have metered parking. Additionally, First Ward Park is accessible from the CATS Blue Line. 

A large green field takes up most of the available acreage.  It is the perfect place for kids to run around or have a family picnic. Several park features focused on kids surround the edge of the park. For example, the park features a splash pad, which is fantastic for kids to enjoy on a hot summer day.

There is also a top-notch kids’ playground.  My favorite part of the playground is a Jungle Gym shaped like a sphere with intertwined ropes for climbing. I may have spent some time playing in the jungle gym while helping my oldest child learn how to climb.

Of course, most adults won’t play in the jungle gym, and I don’t blame them.  The park features a series of outdoor fitness equipment.  Various bars are available for you to use for bodyweight exercises, and a stationary bike is available to kickstart your cardio.

In all honesty, the exercise equipment looks kind of cool, but I don’t see many people using it. It is awkwardly placed in the middle of the park, and the equipment itself is awkward. For example, you can adjust the resistance for the stationary bike. At best, it might be helpful to spin out some lactic acid after a tough run. 

Still, First Ward Park offers something for everyone, and the skyline views make the park worth visiting. 

Key Facts

  • 4 Acres
  • Splash Pad
  • Jungle Gym
  • Playground
  • Adult Exercise Equipment
  • Feature Pool w/ Water Fountain

Near Light Rail, ImaginOn, and Discovery Place Science

Jungle Gym at First Ward Park
Jungle Gym at First Ward Park

The park itself is neat and worth visiting. Still, the other activities in First Ward may be the real draw. First Ward is home to multiple libraries, museums, and exhibitions. Most of these activities are kid-friendly or even kid-focused. 

For this reason, your family might consider planning an entire day to visit First Ward. ImaginOn features interactive activities, a dedicated library space for teenagers, and a separate library space for younger kids. 

The website livability.com ranked ImaginOn as the #1 Children’s Library in the United States. ImaginOn is also home to the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. Once you’re done at ImaginOn, you might head over to Discovery Place Science. It is a short walk away. 

Discovery Place Science is a children’s museum that teaches kids about science and technology. Its interactive exhibits are fun for people of all ages. You might go to Discovery Place Science for your kids’ benefit, but you will likely enjoy the experience too. 

There are many nearby places to eat, including the Market at 7th Street, and First Ward Park is within a 5-minute walk of ImginOn and Discovery Place Science. You could easily spend an entire day exploring First Ward.

Park Road Park

While Park Road Park isn’t quite as large as Freedom Park or McAlpine Creek Park, athletic fields cover its acreage. This is one of the significant reasons that Park Road Park serves as a magnet for South Charlotte residents. 

Whereas Freedom Park is part of the surrounding neighborhoods, Park Road Park is slightly more isolated. Despite its proximity to high-end communities and the South Park business district, its entrance and location are somehow unassuming.

The good news is that Park Road Park is very convenient for retail, restaurants, and nearly anything else you might need. 

Key Facts

  • 72 Acres
  • 12 Tennis Courts
  • 8 Basketball Courts
  • 6 Baseball/Softball Fields
  • 5 Shelters
  • Volleyball Court
  • Playground
  • Lake and Trails

Suburban Pathways, Waterfronts, and Sports For All Ages

Park Road Park stays busy at night and on the weekends. Aside from the traditional youth sports leagues, Park Road Park also hosts a popular senior softball league. While all parks are accessible to all ages, this park truly offers activities for all ages.

Park Road Park may be home to some epic senior league softball, but it also once hosted all Queens University of Charlotte softball home games. The university has more recently moved to new facilities. Still, it’s another reminder of how epic this facility is. 

The children’s playground sits atop a rubberized surface. While it looks a little funny, the rubber surface provides extra cushion for falls, scrapes, and bruises. Several picnic tables and trails surround the playground, so there are places for parents to sit nearby while maintaining a watchful eye. 

Adults appreciate Park Road Park as a fantastic place to get some exercise. Sure, it is a great place to play softball or pick up basketball. It is also a great place for a walk or jog. The scenic trails weave around the 10+ acre lake. It’s a surprisingly serene setting amid a well-populated region of a Top-20 city.

McAlpine Creek Park

Bridge Over McAlpine Creek

While several other parks on this list are highly developed with playgrounds and ball fields, McAlpine Creek Park is a little rawer in the best of ways. There is a massive dog park that is popular for large breed dog lovers. Still, there isn’t much else besides ball fields or playgrounds, aside from a few soccer fields.

The most prominent feature at McAlpine Creek Park is a championship-level cross-country course. It winds through the woods, across open fields, and around a lake. McAlpine Creek Park is usually relatively underpopulated. But don’t even think about visiting the park on the weekend of a Cross-country track meet.  There’s no parking to be found. 

Of course, cross-country meets are few and far between.  McAlpine Creek Park is peaceful and offers scenic trails and a pier for fishing.  The whole scene is an excellent place to gather your thoughts. 

Key Facts

  • 114 Acres
  • Nature and Biking Trails
  • 5K Cross Country Course
  • Dog Park
  • Lake
  • Fishing Pier

114 Acres of Nature and Biking Trails

McAlpine Creek Park probably isn’t the best park to visit if you are looking for activities. On the other hand, it might be the perfect place to visit if you just need some space to chill.

There are cross-country trails, as noted above, but this is a popular place to meet up with some cycling buddies. The McAlpine Creek Park connects to the McAlpine Creek Greenway, which stretches for more than six miles. 

Side note: Erin once tried to bring home a stray pit bull from McAlpine Creek Park. He was alone and took a liking to her. We thought better of bringing a stray and potentially aggressive dog into our home that day, but Erin put up a strong protest. 

At the time, we visited the dog park with our golden retriever and cock-a-doodle. We didn’t need to add a pit bull to the mix. Nonetheless, the dog park is a fantastic place to visit with your furry friends, even if it sometimes becomes a mud hole.

If you are looking for a dog park to try, in addition to McAlpine Creek, we also recommend that you check out Reedy Creek Dog Park.

Visit The Best Parks in Charlotte, NC

Charlotte, North Carolina, is full of exciting parks and greenways.  You might not know where to start if you are new to the area. Still, the parks listed above are among the best parks in Charlotte. Each offers a unique experience.

Charlotte is a booming city, but sometimes we all need to escape the busy roads and lit-up skyline. While the mountains and beach are both within driving distance from the city, sometimes you just need a few minutes to escape. The parks are one of the many reasons Charlotte is worth visiting if you don’t live here.

Freedom Park, Romare Bearden Park, First Ward Park, Park Place Park, and McAlpine Creek Park are among our favorite places in the city to visit.

Jeremiah moved to the Charlotte area with his wife, Erin, back in 2013. The family has grown over the years, and they now call the Carolinas home. They enjoy hiking and adventures, road trips, backyard fire pits, and pizza night. Jeremiah loves to explore, and looks forward to sharing tips, tricks, and resources for your next trip.