This past Sunday my husband and I took the kids out to Harper Park to watch the ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony for the town of Knightdale, NC’s brand-new all-inclusive playground.
On This Page:
Where Is Harper Park Located And What Else Does the Park Have?
Located at 207 Main Street in Knightdale, NC, Harper Park is truly a treasure to the community. Large grassy areas and shade trees line the south side of the park, and the north side closest to Main Street is now adorned with this beautiful new playground.
In between these areas are lighted pickleball and tennis courts. There is a covered pavilion with seating where you can take a much-needed break or wait for your next game. The park also has other covered pavilions with bench seating further out by the trees. There are also restrooms and vending machines.
Wait, Did You Say Pickleball?!?!
Full disclosure, I’m not a pickleball player, but my mother and father-in-law are and they tell me that people from all over other areas of the Triangle like to drive out to Harper Park due to the friendliness and diversity of the players here in Knightdale.
It’s also known locally that our state Representative James Roberson is an avid pickleball player and frequents the Harper Park pickleball courts as well. In fact, they are named after him as Rep. Roberson is also Knightdale’s former Mayor and was a big advocate for those courts to be built.
All I know is that every time I drive by, those courts are hopping and alive with the whack of that ball and with people sitting around and chatting while they are waiting to play their next round.
How Did Harper Park’s New Playground Come to Be?
According to the press release issued by the town of Knightdale, the park was made possible through a generous donation from Wake Stone Corporation, which is a managed construction aggregates company headquartered in Knightdale. Wake Stone has a very long history of giving back to their community. The park’s playground is dedicated to the founder of Wake Stone, John Bratton Jr. Pictured below is the memorial stone with more information.
So, What Equipment Does the Playground Have?
Keeping my kids at bay in order to maintain the dignity of the dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting was tough. The playground equipment just looked so cool! According to Knightdale’s press release, “It features a variety of inclusive equipment and amenities, including zero entry merry-go-round, inclusive swings, sensory play equipment, and more.” There are two areas identified for age-appropriate play, one dedicated to ages 5-12, and another for ages 2-5.
Large swings, a ring-a-bell wall, multiple drums, slides, a ropes course, walkways, bridges, and that merry-go-round were all immediately in use by the patiently waiting kids once the ribbon was cut. I think the zero-entry merry-go-round was a serious hit! Kids took turns pushing it and jumping in and out of it, trying to not get dizzy. Ah to be a kid again!
I also appreciated that the playground section was relatively open. This design allowed for good visibility and sight lines. Underneath the majority of the equipment was the softer, more bouncy pour and play surface. This makes inevitable falls a bit less painful. I know my kids had a blast for the short amount of time we were there and were asking on the way home if we could go back soon. By the way, if you’re looking for another playground close by, you should also consider Knightdale Station Park!
But I Need a Break! Or My Child is Overstimulated on the Playground…Where Can I Go?
Thankfully, there is a covered pavilion area with picnic bench seating near the shade trees. These make for a good place to plop down your inevitably overstuffed bag filled with kid stuff. The restroom facilities are family restrooms, making diaper changes and potty breaks easier to navigate. There is also a vending machine if you forgot to pack snacks (or you’re just trying to avoid that hangry kid or adult meltdown).
There is another large open pavilion on the south side of the park. This area might eventually contain game tables. It is my understanding that the parks department will be getting some type of furniture for that area, so hopefully more seating soon! (See Updates Below!)
On the plus side, La Mexicanita Bakery is within walking distance of here on the corner of Main Street and First Avenue. So swing by and pick up some freshly baked pastries on your way in or out!
If your kids are a bit older and enjoy gaming, you can also walk them over to Rewind Retro Bar before 8 pm (when it then becomes 21+ only) for some retro video games. Try something from one of their rotating food trucks, and a mocktail or cocktail for you. Lastly, if you have any train enthusiasts in the family, go check out the red caboose across the road on First Avenue by the train tracks.
What Are the Cons of the Harper Park?
So, I hate to be critical of such a beautiful, brand-new wonderful addition to our community. But there are a few things you should note if you are considering visiting the playground.
- The playground equipment is adjacent to a street and it currently does not have any fencing around the play area. If you have a child that is prone to elopement, this may be a challenge.
- This area gets a LOT of direct sunlight. Some of the slides and swings felt hot to the touch. I do not know if there is a plan to install any sort of shade canopies for these spots, but I am hopeful that the town will include this sooner than later.
- Outside of the pavilion, there is currently not a whole lot of bench seating around the play areas. More seating would be much appreciated!
- If you can’t or don’t want to play pickleball or tennis, there isn’t much for older kids or adults with physical limitations to do, other than admire the cool wall mural. I’m hoping this will improve if game tables are installed.
**Update As of July 8, 2023**
We happened to drive by Harper Park this evening on the way home from dinner. The first thing I noticed was the new fencing to the front and back of the property, which is such a welcome addition! It is split rail fencing (and therefore easy for a child to slip through). However, just seeing the barrier there may help children slow down by the roadways.
There are also now picnic tables underneath the covered pavilion, as well as two new benches in the park to add seating near the play structures. It is wonderful to see the Town of Knightdale taking its citizens’ feedback so seriously!
I Can’t Forget About the Surrounding Beauty
The park’s main building houses the Parks and Rec Department and a police substation. It has a beautiful, colorful, and bold mural completed in 2022 by Sarahlaine Calva. The shaded trees in the back also help create a really nice area to kick a ball around. Or, maybe it’s the perfect spot to just sit and relax with a good book. Another advantage of having such mature trees is being able to listen to the songs of the birds. Although, their songs might get dulled by the whacking sound of a pickleball!
I’ve been told that on some mornings, the smell of the pastries coming from the bakery wafts over. This can make for some hungry park visitors!
Have you been to Harper Park yet? What are your thoughts?
Come on out soon and take a look! Pictured below are some more events coming up in or around Harper Park. And please, if there is anything else that I might have missed or another feature about the park that I didn’t highlight here, please comment or feel free to contact me to let me know!