Now Open: Downtown Cary Park Anchors a Booming Visitor Destination
Wednesday, January 10, 2024, 12pm by visitRaleigh
A big new attraction is now open in Cary, N.C.
Downtown Cary Park—a seven-acre, state-of-the-art playspace for all ages—opened in the heart of downtown Cary in late 2023. The early reviews are in: this is undoubtedly one of America's best new public gathering spaces.
After more than two years of construction (and nearly two decades of planning), Downtown Cary Park has delivered on its bold vision for creating a larger-than-life playground that draws visitors from across the Tar Heel State and beyond.
From places for views (the elevated Skywalk) to places for brews (beer at The Bark Bar, coffee at Market 317)—plus a playground, performing arts pavilion, fire pits, a sports lawn, dog park and so much more—Downtown Cary Park will now act as the anchor of a fast-growing, easily walkable downtown area that has become a popular destination for visitors in recent years.
[A stay at the charming Mayton Inn; good eats at La Farm Bakery, Pizzeria Faulisi, MC Restaurant, SAAP and Geluna Gelato; drinks at Bond Brothers Beer Company, The Walk Up, Cotton House Craft Brewers and RBF Champagne Bar; and extra curricular fun at Graffiti (an axe throwing bar) and The Albatross (a golf simulator bar) would make for an excellent itinerary by anyone's standards.]
The $68 million park is expected to host nearly 500 programs and events each year—think fitness classes, movie nights, concerts, public art walks, story times and more—and already is the new home of the Cary Downtown Farmers Market (held year-round on Saturday mornings), plus was the site of many of Cary's holiday-themed events (including a free-to-use ice skating rink) this winter.
Considering your own picnic day or family getaway in the near future? Read on for the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Downtown Cary Park!
Where is the park located? Where can I park my car?
Downtown Cary Park is located at 327 S. Academy St. in downtown Cary, N.C. For more context, the park is approximately 18-20 minutes by car from the center of downtown Raleigh.
The easiest place to park is at the deck at the Cary Regional Library which is directly beside the park. The library is located at 315 Kildaire Farm Rd. There is also free street parking available surrounding the park, and a deck at Cary Town Hall (316 N. Academy St., approximately 0.4 miles from the park).
What are the hours? Is there a cost?
Downtown Cary Park is open daily from 7am-11pm.
Most amenities of the park will always be free to use. There will occasionally be events that require a fee to attend or participate in.
Are dogs allowed?
Yes! Friendly pets on a leash are welcome throughout the park.
Access to the Barkyard—two off-leash spaces for dogs (big and little)—requires a pass and a signed waiver. Day passes can be purchased for $5. Local residents can purchase a day pass or an annual pass to all three of Cary's dog parks for $40.
Is there food available? Can I bring my own?
Yes and yes!
At Market 317 you'll find grab-and-go meals, pastries, snacks, coffee and other beverages (plus some gift items, too). At The Bark Bar you'll find locally brewed beer plus wine and light snacks.
And of course you're welcome to bring your own picnic. There are also water bottle filling stations throughout the park.
Can I bring alcohol? Can I walk around with a beer in hand?
You are not permitted to bring your own alcohol to the park, however, there is now a Downtown Cary Park Social District that allows guests to walk around with beer and wine in to-go cups within a defined area that includes the park and some immediate surrounding businesses.
The Downtown Cary Park Social District allows guests to carry and consume alcohol purchased from Market 317 and The Bark Bark, plus Peck & Plume at The Mayton, SAAP and Cotton House Craft Brewers. Guests can walk between businesses and the park while using designated cups.
The social district is in effect daily from 11am to 11pm. Get full details here.
Are there major events in Cary I could plan a trip around?
Yes! Aside from keeping your eyes on the Downtown Cary Park's own calendar of events, these favorite annual events in Cary would be excellent to plan a visit around:
- Tacos 'N Taps at Koka Booth Amphitheatre, April 6, 2024
- Town of Cary's Pimento Cheese Festival in downtown Cary, April 13, 2024
- Spring Daze Arts and Crafts Festival at Bond Park, April 27, 2024
- Fest in the West at Thomas Brooks Park, May 2024 (exact date TBD)
- The Soccer Tournament at WakeMed Soccer Park, June 5-10, 2024
- Independence Day Celebration at Koka Booth Amphitheatre, expected to take place July 4, 2024
- Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival at Koka Booth Amphitheatre, Aug. 2-3, 2024
- Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival in downtown Cary, Aug. 24-25, 2024
- Triangle Oktoberfest at Koka Booth Amphitheatre, October 2024 (exact dates TBD)
- North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival at Koka Booth Amphitheatre, November 2024 through January 2025
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