First Ward Park (Charlotte): Complete Guide

First Ward Park is one of the newer parks in all of Charlotte, much less in Uptown Charlotte. The park is next to UNCC’s Uptown campus and the Blue Line. Charlotte’s Rail Trail runs along the side of the park. 

There aren’t many central business districts in major cities adding new parks. Still, First Ward Park in Charlotte opened in relatively recent history (December 8, 2015). As you drive through Uptown Charlotte, it might seem like First Ward Park is off to the side of Uptown. The park’s eastern flank is largely undeveloped.

In reality, the park sits within a short walk of Fortune 500 skyscrapers. The Bank of America headquarters is less than half a mile away. Truist’s headquarters is even closer than that. The newly developed park and adjacent land represent a major opportunity to shape Charlotte’s future growth. 

Guide To First Ward Park in Charlotte

First Ward Park features outdoor exercise equipment for adults and playgrounds for kids. A beautiful pool and water fountain sit on the park’s edge. The Market at 7th St and ImaginOn is located across the street, making the park an awesome place to visit for a fun family outing. 

You can get a pretty good workout using the exercise equipment. Several devices and bars are designed to facilitate body weight exercises, like dips. Pictorials positioned next to the equipment will guide your movements in case you need a little help getting started. Some of the equipment is awkward (nearly unusable), but much of it is worth checking out.

Naturally, more kids make use of playground equipment than adults. And there are some legitimately cool setups. You will find kids hanging out near the splash pad during summer. 

Still, the centerpiece of the playground equipment is a large sphere with ropes connecting across the middle. It is one of the coolest climbing-centered jungle gyms I’ve ever seen. 

The park’s center offers a large grassy area where kids can run around. The park has awesome skyline views, so the grassy area is also great for a picnic. 

Fountain at First Ward Park

Uptown Activities Near First Ward Park

The park is great, but most people visit it because of its central location. Imaginon is Charlotte’s children’s library, and it is visible from the park. First Ward Park is an excellent place to take your family on a weekend afternoon. 

You can play at the park and then walk over to ImaginOn for an interactive learning experience. Discovery Place Science is also a short walk away from the park. 

The Market at 7th Street is also directly across the street from the park. The market is an incubator for local small businesses. It is a low-key location to grab some food in Uptown at an affordable price. Order a pizza and dessert, and support local businesses.

Eating in an incubator food market is also just a fun atmosphere. 

First Ward Park is great for families with kids because it is nearby so many family-friendly activities like ImaginOn and Discovery Place Science.

Still, if you are looking for more to do, you can also hop on the light rail and the nearby stop.

Parking At First Ward Park

The streets running alongside First Ward Park offer metered parking, but it is free to park on Sundays. The 7th Street parking deck also sits across the street from First Ward Park. The Market at 7th Street sits at the bottom of the parking deck. Parking is convenient.

You will also remember that the light rail runs alongside the park, which makes the park very accessible. 

How Many Wards Are In Charlotte?

Trade and Tryon in Uptown Charlotte divide the downtown area into four wards. Each ward constitutes its own neighborhood with a unique vibe and density. Uptown Charlotte is circled by I77 and I277, so on a map, Trade and Tryon slice this downtown pie into nearly equal fourths. 

First Ward is the eastern quadrant and is home to First Ward Park, UNCC Center City Campus, Spectrum Arena, and ImaginOn (the children’s library).  

Why Does Charlotte Have Wards?

The intersection of Trade and Tryon has nearly always been Charlotte’s center of commerce, and much of the original city was densely populated around this anchor. The four wards were originally defined as election districts, with Trade and Tryon serving as the district lines. 

Several schools were named after this ward system, such as First Ward Elementary Schoo on Caldwell Street and Second Ward High School, which is now gone. Today, the wards live on as neighborhoods with distinct feels but no longer represent election districts.

Granite Sign at First Ward Park

Where Is First Ward Park?

First Ward Park is located at 301 E 7th St in Charlotte, North Carolina. If you are familiar with landmarks in Uptown Charlotte, First Ward Park sits next to UNCC’s Center City Campus, which was designed to look like stacked academic books. 

The Blue Line runs along the park’s northern edge and prominently features a nearby stop. The park sits in the shadows of the skyline yet feels distant from the bustling city. A residential neighborhood is one block to the southeast of the park. 

You may also be familiar with an Uptown apartment tower called The Ellis.  It is easily recognizable because it features yellow accent paint at the top of the high-rise tower. The Ellis sits just across the light rail tracks from the park.

Should You Visit First Ward Park?

Parks such as Freedom Park feature better playgrounds and youth athletic fields, but First Ward Park is much smaller and still serves an important purpose.  The splash pad is fun for kids, and the spherical jungle gym provides loads of entertainment. There is also a restroom on-site, which is always convenient.

Plus, First Ward Park is easily accessible via light rail, and it is usually pretty easy to find on-street parking. We think the best reason to visit First Ward Park is its convenience to other First Ward destinations.

The convenience makes First Ward Park one of the best parks in Charlotte. You can visit First Ward Park, drop by ImaginOn, and then eat at the Market at 7th Street. Discovery Place Science is close by, too. 

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.