Things to Do in Raleigh: Pullen Park

As the oldest public park in North Carolina, Pullen Park is a staple in Raleigh, NC. Residents have been enjoying its open spaces and park amenities for over one hundred years. Just west of downtown, Pullen Park is adjacent to North Carolina State University. It sits on Ashe Avenue and covers an area between Western Boulevard and Hillsborough Street.

History of the Park

Pullen Park was founded in 1887 when Richard Stanhope Pullen donated farmland to the city of Raleigh. Pullen helped oversee the transformation of the land into a public park by financing landscaping, pavilions, a fountain, and the city’s first swimming pool. The pool was eventually replaced by the Aquatic Center in 1992.

Pullen Park Raleigh NC

For a time there was also a zoo at Pullen Park, from 1899-1938. An official baseball field was added to the park in 1920 and the famous Dentzel carousel was installed in 1921. In 2000, several updates were made to Pullen Park’s playgrounds, with input from the community. With its long history, Pullen Park is a vital part of Raleigh.

Pullen Park Amenities

Pullen Park’s 66.4 acres is full of attractions, playgrounds, greenways, pavilions and other amenities that make it one of the most popular parks in Raleigh. There’s Pullen Amusements, which is said to be the 16th oldest operating amusement park in the world. You can buy tickets for the carousel, train, pedal boats, and kiddie boats.

Pullen Park also features a Community Center for various events and meetings. There’s also an Aquatic Center with indoor pools for exercise and recreation. In addition, Pullen Park has playgrounds situated throughout for kids of different ages to play on, like the Preschool Playground which has a fence and vegetation barrier. Pullen Park also features greenways and walking paths. It’s part of the 3,000-mile-long system of trails connecting Maine to Florida, the East Coast Greenway.

Pullen Park also has six tennis courts, several shelters and rooms available for rent, an Arts Center, the Pullen Place Café, and Theatre in the Park. You’ll never be bored on a visit to Pullen Park!

Events in Pullen Park

Pullen Park hosts many events year-round in its various buildings and attractions. The Aquatic Center hosts regular exercise and aquatic therapy programs, as well as a city swim league. It also holds local, regional, and state swimming competitions, including North Carolina’s annual Special Olympics.

At the Pullen Arts Center, you can take classes in pottery, painting, printmaking, jewelry-making, and other arts. It also features special events and gallery exhibits throughout the year.

You can see a show at the indoor, air-conditioned Theatre in the Park. There are four mainstage productions, along with ongoing classes and workshops.

Events are also held in Pullen Park’s many outdoor spaces, like pop-up and family picnics, or charity walks.

Pullen Park is truly one of Raleigh’s best features. With its long history and as the site of many community events, Pullen Park is an important fixture in the city of Raleigh.