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Play time

The University City area and north Charlotte is chock-full of parks of all sizes, each offering some of the same features – like playgrounds and picnic tables – and many offering special attractions. Is playing disc golf your thing? You’re in luck; Reedy Creek Park and others have courses. Want to go fishing? The parks and recreation departments in both Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties have you covered – just make sure you cover yourself by getting a fishing license if you’re over 16 years old. Or, if you’d prefer to play bocce ball or run through a giant sprinkler, you should check out Nevin Community Park. And if you’re into bikes – whether racing them BMX style or through the woods – there’s a park for that, too.Check out our review of area can’t-miss parks for more on what they have to offer and the inside scoop on some of the parks’ special features.

CharlotteClark’s Creek and Mallard Creek Greenways9801 Mallard Creek RoadAmenities: Small playground, picnic area, 4.3 mile greenway alongside Clark’s CreekThe Scoop: Want to feel like you’re on a nature trail without getting too far out into the woods? This is the greenway for you. It’s bordered by Clark’s Creek, which has several rocky spots where you can take a break and enjoy a moment of nature submersion without leaving the city. Note: The parking lot is adjacent to Mallard Creek Elementary School. (Avoid having your car locked in the school’s parking lot by parking in the small lot outside of the yellow gate.)

Eastway Park423 Eastway DriveAmenities: Eighteen-hole disc golf course, two soccer fields, volleyball court, playground, picnic areaThe Scoop: This is one of Charlotte’s newest parks. The neighboring community helped design the playground and the Arts and Science Council donated the artwork near the restrooms. The main field is currently closed, or “resting,” to allow time for the grass to grow. But the brand new disc golf course, installed about a year ago, is teeming with “golfers.” New to the game? Ask one of them for some tips, or check out the Charlotte Disc Golf Club.

Hornet’s Nest Park6301 Beatties Ford RoadAmenities: Two basketball courts, 1,150-foot regulation BMX bicycle track, two 18-hole disc golf courses, horseshoe pits, lighted tennis courts, covered picnic shelters, a pond with a fishing pier, paved and planked walkways, two volleyball courts, two playgrounds, four lighted softball fields, a concession stand that’s open during most softball gamesThe Scoop: Pick up disc golf scorecards at the building near the tennis courts. To sign up for BMX classes, contact Mark Coates, track director, at 704-226-8420; ncbmxer@aol.com. Note: the disc golf courses make great nature trails – just be sure to allow the “golfers” to play through if you end up at a hole at the same time.

Kirk Farm Fields210 E. Mallard Creek Church RoadAmenities: Five youth soccer fieldsThe Scoop: The Mallard Creek Greenway begins in this park with a plank trail situated over wetlands near UNC Charlotte, then connects with Clark’s Creek Greenway near the university’s Ben Craig Center. In fact, when the parking lot is full due to soccer games or practice – and it often is, you can park at the Clark’s Creek Greenway parking lot and walk the trail in the other direction. UNC Charlotte students can also connect to the greenway from campus.

Mallard Creek Community Park3001 Johnston-Oehler RoadAmenities: Covered playground, four softball fields, eight soccer fields, two covered picnic areas, a concession stand that’s open during some games, volleyball court, playground, a walking trail that winds between the sports fieldsThe Scoop: At 515 acres, this is Mecklenburg County’s third-largest park, after the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, which is nearly 1,400 acres, and Reedy Creek Park and Nature Preserve, which is over 700 acres. Youth and adults alike take over the fields while their parents and spouses often – especially during warm-weather months – working in their daily exercise on the trail while their loved ones play.

Nevin Community Park6000 Statesville RoadAmenities: Five bocce ball courts, six horseshoe pits, three shuffleboard courts, four lighted softball/baseball fields, three soccer fields (two are lighted), concession stand that’s open during some games, three playgrounds – one has a racetrack theme, paved and gravel trail, SpraygroundThe Scoop: The Sprayground’s bright blue roof is visible from Statesville Road. Open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., it’s a place where people can go to play in a super-sized sprinkler, allowing them to cool down on hot summer days without having to slather up with sunscreen. And it’s free!

Reedy Creek Park2900 Rocky River RoadAmenities: Basketball court, two softball fields, soccer field, cricket field, four volleyball courts, community garden, nature preserve, nature center, ten miles of hiking trails, 18-hole disc golf course, three ponds, fishing pier, picnic shelters – one is indoors, dog park, two playgroundsThe Scoop: While this park is a great stop for science classes, it offers the community so much more than a fieldtrip destination. The playground is one of the most creative in the city, with imagination stations that encourage students to learn about nature and even build forts. There are also gardening and composting demonstrations, excellent hiking trails (especially if you like hills) and athletic fields for a wide variety of sports – not to mention a popular disc golf course.

Sugaw Creek Park943 W. Sugar Creek RoadAmenities: Community/recreation center, 18-hole disc golf course, six lighted tennis courts, playground, lighted baseball field, lighted multipurpose athletic field,  lighted soccer field, volleyball court, picnic shelters, nature trailThe Scoop: A true urban park, located between uptown and University City, it’s not uncommon for people to see boxers in satin robes preparing for a round in the community center, or disc golfers digging through their specially designed bag of discs for a putter or driver.

Thereasea Clark Elder Park6315 Rockwell Church RoadAmenities: Picnic shelter with grill, playground, field, basketball court, 1/2 mile walking trail leading to three neighborhoods.The Scoop: Named after a veteran community advocate, this 12-acre park draws early-morning dogwalkers and afterschool basketball players. The playing field has been used for everything from team sports to back-to-school children’s events to a high school graduation ceremony for a nearby charter school.

Cabarrus CountyFrank Liske Park4001 Stough Road, ConcordAmenities: Fishing pond, paddle boat rentals, soccer fields, baseball fields, miniature golf course, several playgrounds, covered picnic shelters, gravel walking trails, horseshoe pits, tennis courtsThe Scoop: This park used to be a farm – thus the farm equipment you’ll see on display, and the high probability of running into primary school field trips during the school year at the park’s barn. Paddle boat rentals and the miniature golf course are only available on weekends from noon until 7 p.m.

North Cabarrus Park760 Orphanage Road, KannapolisAmenities: Pond with fountain, two playgrounds (one of them is covered), paved/ gravel/ plank nature trail with exercise stations every few feet, basketball courts, volleyball court, horseshoes pits, nine-hole disc golf courseThe Scoop: Nature programs are offered the fourth Saturday of each month at 10 a.m.; prices and topics vary. In the future, the park will include tennis courts, mountain bike trails and a bridge to cross the creek. But a real bonus for health-conscious moms is having a place to take their children to play – the covered playground, where they don’t have to worry about sunburns.

Village Park700 West C St., KannapolisAmenities: Amphitheater for performances, walking trail, splash pad, playground, a classic train that runs on a one-mile track, picnic shelters.The Scoop: The beautiful amphitheater is home to an annual summer music concert series, movies in the park and performance groups. (See more at www.cityofkannapolis.com/summerevents). Rides on the Rotary Express Train cost $1.

HarrisburgHarrisburg Park191 Sims ParkwayAmenities: Soccer fields, two multipurpose fields, volleyball court, mountain bike trail, paved walking trail, horseshoe pits, playground, shaded picnic area, renovated historic buildings, miniature railroadThe Scoop: This park shares its property with the Harrisburg Library and the farmer’s market and is abuzz with life every day of the week.

Pharr Mill Park6775 Pharr Mill RoadAmenities: Two volleyball courts, vending machines, picnic shelters, large playground, gravel and paved walkways, fishing pondThe Scoop: The park is the original site of the Rocky River Presbyterian Church and the home of Cabarrus County’s first graveyard. Fishers: Feel free to drop your line in the pond, just make sure you have a fishing license if you’re over 16 years of age.

HuntersvilleBlythe Landing15901 N.C. 73 HighwayAmenities: Sailboat rentals, boat launch, café, beach, volley ball courts, playground, picnic areaThe Scoop: This park is perfect for staycationers who need a beach fix but can’t afford to get away for more than a day. Call ahead to reserve sail boats and volley ball courts. Also note: Armin’s Sunshine Café is only open April through Oct., Mon. through Sat. from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Latta Historic Plantation and Nature Preserve6211 Sample Road Amenities: Nearly 16 miles of nature trails, a nature center, a live-history plantation, the Raptor Center, a canoe and kayak launch, an equestrian center, picnic shelters, an outdoor stage, beachesThe Scoop: Fishing poles can be checked out at no cost from the nature preserve, so too can explorer backpacks that are full of information about the park. While the park is officially managed by the county, it’s actually run by several non-profit organizations. For example, the historic plantation, which prides itself on living-history reenactments, is run separately from the rest of the park and charges an admission fee of up to $7 (children get in for free and the rate is reduced for students and seniors). Learn more at lattaplantation.org. While there, be sure to check in on the plantation’s newest tenant: Nathalie, a baby sheep born in April. More informationFor more information on the parks’ rules and regulations and to reserve picnic shelters or other amenities, visit:Cabarrus County here.

Mecklenburg County here.

City of Harrisburg here. Under residents link, click Park & Rec.

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