Ride a horse, ride the rails at Shelby park

Ride a historic horse, board a train, spread out a picnic: These are just a few of the offerings of Shelby’s City Park, located just a mile from the city’s historic Courtsquare.


From Charlotte, Shelby is an easy 50 miles, about a one-hour drive.

To see and do

If you are a kid, or even a kid at heart, this classic city park has a lot to offer.

Within literally yards from each other, the park offers a historic carrousel, a miniature diesel train, a playground and picnic shelters.

The carrousel is a classic 1919, rebuilt-by-hand, all-wood Herschell Spillman model. Housed in a weather protected pavilion, it began its new life in 1998. The merry-go-round operates year-round but sees its heaviest volume during the summer months. Kids can choose their mounts and ride like the wind for only 50 cents.

Right next to the carrousel is the “Rotary Special” miniature train that was restored and put back “on track” in 2002. Plop down your two quarters, wait for the conductor to cry out “All aboard” and you can experience a little slice of Americana by rail.

To further deplete energy reserves, there is a well-designed, free playground inside the train circuit, along with a couple of picnic tables. Your kids can swing, slide and climb to their heart’s content.

While the park is certainly geared to kids, there are activities adults might enjoy. These include newly renovated and lighted tennis courts (free) and a nine-hole golf course that is more challenging than it might appear. Open 364 days a year from 8 a.m. until dusk, it will cost you $16 for a round ($23 for 18 holes), which includes the cart. Special events and rates are worth exploring as well.

Charlie Holtzclaw, the park director, notes the park was begun in 1948 and continues to grow; new ball fields, picnic areas and a playground were completed in 2011. “Our ball fields and pool (open summers only) host several regional events each year and the park has become Cleveland County’s top tourist destination,” he said. He also says with pride that it is rare for such a park to have so many amenities at one site.