Downtown Cary Park officially opened to the public on Nov. 19, 2023 — and in doing so, fulfilled more than 20 years of dreaming and planning, introducing an innovative urban oasis that spans 7 acres between Academy, Walker, Park, and Walnut Streets in Downtown Cary.
“I love the excitement and wonder that I see on people’s faces when they can actually get into the park and see it in its entirety,” says Joy Ennis, the park’s general manager. “We want this park to be a place where families can come and make memories, and we are honored to be a part of that.”
The park, Ennis says, has been thoughtfully and intentionally designed to ensure that everyone can enjoy the robust amenities spread throughout several program areas.
Towne Square, a major entrance point to the park, includes Cary’s iconic fountain and multipurpose lawn for future pop-up markets and fitness classes. The square also houses rotating public art and the permanent Sense of Place art installation — featuring four steel columns and a glass top that map out the entire town of Cary. Locals are encouraged to find the street they live on by exploring all 80 panels.
Visitors who wander over to Academy Pavilion, a rentable event space, will discover Market 317, a grab-and-go style café with locally sourced, healthy food options such as wraps, sandwiches, and charcuterie boards.
The Nest Play Area is the perfect spot for children to partake in imaginative play. Inspired by the natural elements of the area, this play space features two iconic 20-foot-tall cardinals surrounded by a tangle of scrambles and logs for climbing. Visitors can even venture inside to get a true bird’s-eye view of the park. The Nest also encompasses a toddler play area nestled amongst towering pine trees, multiple slides, and a splash pad.
At the heart of the park, you’ll find an expansive lawn and performance pavilion, designed to host casual picnics, yoga classes, concerts, and much more.
The Bark Bar and Barkyard deserves a round of apaws. With libations for the paw-rents and an off-leash park for the furry companions, it’s a perfect 5 o’clock meetup spot after a ruff day. Annual or one-day passes are required to enter all of Cary’s dog parks.
Lining Park Street is the park’s active recreation area, which includes table tennis, foosball tables, a putting green, and a turf arena perfect for volleyball, bocce ball, cornhole, theater-in-the-round, and much more.
The Gathering House sits in a quiet corner of the park, boasting 28 french doors that open to create an indoor/outdoor rental and program space. The adjacent Gathering Garden combines existing trees with new native and adaptive regional plants.
Ennis’ personal favorite piece of the park is the tiered water element, featuring a babbling brook connecting two ponds, thoughtfully designed to improve water quality and mitigate flooding downstream.
Last but not least is the impressive Skywalk, a 471-foot-long elevated walkway that lifts you 17 feet and into the tree canopy.
“My team and I are so excited to see people make this park their own,” says Ennis.
PLAN A VISIT
327 S. Academy St., Cary