Peter’s Chief Operating Officer was home from work for a stay-cation last week, so we were excited to get out and explore a park together. Not only that, but cold weather was (and still is, I guess) on the way, so we want to savor every beautiful day with temperatures in the mid-60s while we can. We once again pulled out our Town of Cary Bike & Hike map, and found a park that was not too big, but not too small to check out. Little did we know what an amazing adventure was in store for us. Here are your quick park facts with the Park Points, but read on below to Peter's Perspective for more details on why this park is truly unique.
Location: 5077 Sears Farm Road, Cary, NC 27519 Stroller friendly? Yes, there are many paved pathways. Also, a paved small pavilion, and a deck by the playgrounds. Toddler friendly? Generally yes. The playgrounds have mulch and a sand pit, and there are some hilly areas, but overall a good toddler park. Bathrooms? Yes. Two stalls, clean, well stocked. Fan and light inside. Not much of note. Changing table? Yes, in the women's bathroom. Water fountain? A few scattered throughout the park and a two-level one by the bathrooms. All seemed a bit grungy, so I wouldn’t be too keen on drinking out of them. Benches/tables? Yes, lots. Honestly, the seating options are one of the highlights of this park. There are multiple benches, pavilions, and covered tables all throughout the park. Even a few swinging benches. Covered areas? Yes, there are a few covered pavilions throughout the park. Also, the playground geared toward kids ages 5-12 has great tree coverage. Parking? Not a large amount. The lot is a one-way circle and there are probably about 10 spots.
Greenway access? There were not any overt signs that we saw, but the Green Hope School Greenway does run through and around the park. We did see a few areas where you could head into the wooded area that we did not have time to explore - these were likely the entrances to the greenway. Jungle gyms? Yes, 2 - one for older kids and one for littler toddlers. Plus 2 sets of swings. Other cool information: There are some neat public art installations that are worth the trip along. (More details below.) • Basketball courts.
The weekend before we visited Sears Farm Road Park was the Daylight Saving Time time change, and it hit Peter hard. He was already in the strange place of trying to move from 2 naps a day to 1, and having teeth come in, then add the clock change and this made for an out-of-whack little man. On the day we went to Sears Farm Road Park, we tried to put him down for his usual nap and that just wasn't happening. We figured, let's head to a park so he can get some energy out and then maybe he'll have a nice afternoon nap. But we don't want a huge park that will be overwhelming, so let's find something that is not too big, but also not too small, and also not far from home. The Sears Farm Road Park looked like it checked all those boxes, but honestly, we weren't expecting a whole lot. This is a park we'd never even heard about until checking the Town of Cary Bike & Hike map, but we were ready to see what it offered.
As we were driving up, my first impression of the park was, "Wait... is that an enormous grass... bowl in the ground of that field???" (I honestly am at a loss for words at how to describe this thing, but it will make sense if you look at the our photos and keep reading.) Little did we know, this turned out to be one of the many interesting, nature-art sort of mash-ups that the park had to offer.
The parking lot is a one-way loop with a circular median in the middle. After spending time at the park, we were a bit surprised there was not more parking available because there is plenty of space and we could see it getting busy on the weekends.
After parking and doing our normal intro by the sign, we walked to the playgrounds area and both the toddler playground and the older kids playground had some neat features. The toddler playground had a sandpit, which had some really cool digging contraptions where you can move the handles and dig up sand. (As with many things at this park, we need to direct you to the photos because they paint the better picture.) By the toddler playground, there were a few uncovered benches to sit, as well as a small pavilion with one picnic table.
The bigger kids playground had a feature I have never seen at any playground before - a bridge from the jungle gym set to a wood deck (like a deck you'd find attached to the back of someone's house), which had seating options.
After checking out the playgrounds, we explored some of the other open areas of the park. The first thing we investigated was a large art installation that is by the sidewalk near the road. We saw this while we were driving up to the park, but did not put it together at first that it was in the park. The sculpture is called Curvaceous Kiss by Russ RuBert and is very whimsical and a bit hard to describe as it doesn't look like any one thing, as you can see from the pictures included in this post. It has three large metallic pieces that curve up and meet each other, with a pendulum-looking piece in the middle. These pieces look somewhat like a three-pieced wishbone. At the top is a big metal piece with 3 prongs (which look vaguely like the trinacria Sicilian symbol), that each then have a metal globes on the end of those pieces. Because the piece in the center almost looks like a pendulum, we were expecting that to move back and forth; however, it instead turns clockwise and turns the three-pronged piece at the top. Every time we turned it, though, we noticed some wasps come out of the top piece and suspect there is some kind of nest up there as of the writing of this post. We were not worried so much as that was many feet above our heads, but still something worth noting.
Surrounding the sculpture are three whimsical benches made out of the same metal as the sculpture. It is also worth noting that at the entrances to the sculpture, there are signs indicating that because it and the benches are metal, there is the potential for these to get very hot. You should always lightly test the sculpture and benches before going all in on touching, sitting, or climbing on these. As for the back story on the sculpture, it was placed in the park by Cary Visual Arts, and we have included a photograph of the informational placard about the artist in the photographs.
We moved on from the sculpture to find a small stone-fence circular enclosure that had a checkered pattern of bricks and grass. It almost looked like an area where you could play human chess or checkers. While walking throughout the park, we found a few similar little circular areas or enclosures where you could sit.
At this point, we got back to the walking path that took us to a few tables which had permanent umbrella covers, another grouping of benches in a circle, and the curious adjoining mountain and previously-described giant grassy bowl in the ground. Peter had a fun time climbing up to the top of the grassy mountain and back down with his COO. He was a bit more suspect of the giant grass bowl. This area, though, could be a great, fun way to teach your kids about the concepts of concave and convex. Past the grassy knoll and the circle of benches is a basketball court, but after all the mountain climbing, Peter was ready to call it a day.
As we mentioned at the beginning of the post, this park was truly unique because of the art installations. Also, even though it looked relatively small on the map, there was plenty of open space for kids to run around and explore. Peter is looking forward to going back to this park in the future.