For our family recently, parks have been a refuge. They’re our something to do. They’re an easy way to help us forget all the places we can’t go right now during COVID – Story Time, the Chick-fil-A playground, music class (at least not indoors) etc. As a mother of three boys ages 4, 3 and 3, I’ve come to the realization lately: a good way to change up the routine is to vary the parks we visit.
We are so lucky to live in Charlotte where we have so many incredible options, especially at a time when playing outdoors is our best option to keep our kids safe from COVID. Some of my personal go-tos are powerhouses like Freedom Park and Park Road Parks. But those can get crowded at times, and we all know Charlotte has so much more to offer.
Breaking out of the usual park rut has given us a breath of fresh air lately. We had a playdate recently with our twins’ preschool class at Romare Bearden Park uptown. It’s the center city park along Church Street, adjacent to BB&T Ballpark. Normally I wouldn’t bother with the trek uptown when we have church and city parks right around the corner from us, especially on the weekend. But after spending a glorious couple of hours there one recent Sunday afternoon, picnicking with three other families, watching our kids run around the green space, it was more than worth it. The company, the conversation, and the change of scenery were perfect.
(Speaking of perfect, the weather has been so park-friendly even as we approach Thanksgiving, but even after it turns colder, they’re still a great option. You can stay warm by running around with your kids, or at the very least finding a spot in the sun.)
I’ve compiled a list five “other” parks to visit, with an assist from some twin mom friends with the Charlotte Mothers of Multiples club. A couple of these you might even be tempted to keep to yourself, because it’s nice not to have crowded parks these days. But hey, we’re here to do a public service and help some parents!!
1. Romare Bearden: The flat greenspace is the terrific for picnicking while also being able to see – or join – your kiddos playing soccer, frisbee, or in our case “Ring Around the Rosie.” One family brought a pizza from Mellow Mushroom right across the street. Great idea! You think it might not be that toddler friendly so close to busy uptown streets but the greenspace is so wide and flat that it’s easy to keep track of your littles (says the twin mom of 3-year-olds, before you’re tempted to judge – LOL.)
2. Colonial Park: This little gem along Providence Road in Myers Park is convenient to uptown, it’s got grassy fields for running and playing, as well as age-specific playground equipment – one area is geared toward 2-4 year-olds and another for ages 5 and older. My 3-year-olds can scale the rock wall on the “bigger” kid area too. And speaking of big boys, I’ve been eyeing the tennis courts and the basketball half-court there for when they get older.
3. Princeton Road Playground: It’s technically part of Freedom Park, but it’s far enough off the beaten path that it’s easy to miss. It’s the playground located along Princeton Road adjacent to the Dilworth Little League Field. No. 1 it’s fenced in, which makes it a great option for children ages 2-5. (With Freedom Park – and a duck pond – especially with twins, you’re running some risks!) There’s also a spacious shelter in the middle, which is great for picnics and parties.
4. Latta Park: This beautifully sprawling expanse in Dilworth gives you a great mix of natural areas – my boys calling it walking in the woods when we stroll the wooded trails there if we’re early to Soccer Shots – safe playgrounds, sports fields (and basketball and tennis courts) as well as a splash pad for the summer months!
5. Windsor Park in Matthews: Not to forget our friends on the Southeast side…Windsor Park is rarely crowded. It’s got a walking trail, and a zipline, in addition to the playground and grassy play area. And there’s a picnic shelter with a large grill and seating for 30, 40 people, which would be great when we get back to the days when COVID is not a factor.