The official Pullen Park website boasts that the park, the first in North Carolina, was founded in 1887 and is the 5th oldest operating amusement park in the US. Key attractions include the C.P. Huntington train ride and a 1911 Gustave A. Dentzel Menagerie Carousel. Mix in a world-class playground, pedal boat rentals, and picnic shelters and Pullen Park is the recipe for a great family outing.
The travel guide, Fodor’s The Carolinas & Georgia 2015, reports that Pullen Park attracts more than 1 million visitors annually. What are the odds of capturing a photo with no tourists in the scene? My photographer caught these shots shortly after the park’s 10 a.m. opening on a sweltering August morning.
I’ve not met many kids who could waltz by this cool bench without a test sit. Access to the water is restricted by substantial fencing to enable free-ranging kiddos on the boardwalk.
The vistas are impressive and give the sense the park is much larger than its 66 acres. I discovered in my research a 440 page city document, the Pullen Park Master Plan, which offers design detail on how the park has been face-lifted to create the present visual feast. Many minds, many hands, and many dollars brought this gem into reality.
As we rounded the lake the shrill whistle of the C.P. Huntington captured my attention. I was overcome by a sudden desire to run to the box office, secure a ticket, and scramble for a place in line at the train station. I was careful not to trample any children in my mad dash, but I was determined to get on that train.
Finally! We’re onboard cruising the park.
I attempted multiple selfies. Can you say, “Epic fail!” Shawn asked for my phone and captured a focused image to commemorate our visit to Pullen Park. I still don’t know how she does that. Perhaps I need more practice?
Who doesn’t love Andy Griffith? Those of us who grew up on a steady diet of his shows still pause in our channel-surfing to catch a few minutes. This “Andy & Opie” statue awaits your family for a photo opportunity, perhaps next year’s Christmas card image?
The strange-shaped building houses the carousel. We popped inside to watch and enjoy the cool.
The creatures are impressive, but the rotation may be a bit fast for those prone to motion sickness.
We refrained from taking too many playground shots. The place was crawling with kids even with the August humidity, and some parents are skittish about strangers snapping pictures of their kids. Visit the park with your children and learn firsthand how they rate the equipment. You may have to peel them away and drag them back to the car.
Peeking from behind this chaste tree is one of the two restrooms. Parents of smaller children and wives of older men usually must locate that facility immediately upon entering the park. I found the restrooms to be conveniently located and very clean.
Entrance is free. Tickets for the rides are $1 for older children and adults. The park does have minimum height restrictions on the amusements. No one wants an outing to become a tragedy.
Turn off the video games, mute the cell, pack a picnic, grab the family and enjoy the outdoors with a visit to Pullen Park.
Thanks to Shawn Rae Nichols for her photography.