Play Local · Uncategorized

21 Days Outdoors – Durham’s Central Playground

Conventional wisdom advises that habits are ingrained after 21 days of repetition. If that theory holds true, then the eat~play~shop local habit requires time and effort to develop. Each month I’ll share “21 Days” of some event, place or organization in the Triangle, enabling (and I mean that in the most positive sense possible) your inner Localista to come out and join us. This month it’s all about the great outdoors in the Triangle – parks, trails and green spaces under blue skies. So brush up on your trail etiquette, lace up those shoes, slather on the sunscreen and join us for some fresh air and fun times.

You may know it as the location for the Durham Farmers’ Market. Or perhaps as the downtown spot where the almost bi-monthly food truck rodeos take place. Or you’ve driven down Foster Street and the bright red Durham Central Park sign painted on the brick wall caught your eye. Durham’s central playground may be smaller in acreage than some open green spaces, but it packs a whole lot of fun in that small package.

There’s a bit of history behind the park that you might enjoy reading (here). When you do read that history you’ll learn that it did indeed take a village of visionaries, instigators and community volunteers to create the park you see today with all its varied features. The most actively used feature is the 9,000 square foot pavilion where farmers from around the Triangle set up shop each Saturday morning. The open lawns adjacent to the pavilion contain various benches and spaces that invite visitors to linger and relax during special events. On the hillside behind the pavilion are paths that wind through a trio of gardens worth exploration and varied metal sculptures to appreciate. At the corner of Hunt and Foster Streets one finds the SEEDS Garden of Eatin’, a bountiful patch with fruit trees and shrubs, herbs, medicinals and veggies. That’s just one half of the park.

The other half of the park lies on the opposite side of Foster Street and is home to a 10,000 square foot custom concrete skate park with a floating quarter pipe, launch boxes, step-up bank, three stairwells with handrails, a street clam and an eight-foot trog bowl. From the skate park, it’s down hill across the Great Lawn to The Leaf, a shaded, open air performance area. Future plans for this side of the park include Mount Merrill, a handicap accessible children’s play mound with slides and climbing features. What else does the future hold for Durham Central Park? Well, certainly a great deal of change now that fences have gone up around the Liberty Warehouse building in preparation for future construction. But the area already has survived a great deal of change in its short twenty year history. It seems well supported to face that future.

You probably already know that this Sunday (June 14) is the next DCP Food Truck Rodeo and you can find a map of the food trucks here. Future rodeos are set for Labor Day weekend and Halloween weekend (and gosh I hope there’s a costume parade planned for the Halloween event). Did you know that you can also find free yoga classes, concerts and movies at the park? You can and they’ve listed all the upcoming events right on the website, real handy like. Next time you’re playing in Durham’s Central Park, take some time to wander around its edges, really get to know it, so you can appreciate it all the more.

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