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Great activities meet the great outdoors at Forsyth County’s favorite parks and recreation sites. From rural retreats to inner-city escapes, our top parks all feature a special blend of ambience, energy, and one-of-a-kind amenities. Best of all, they offer locals a chance to break away from the everyday, giving us a feeling of going away without actually leaving town.

Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to picnic, a scenic path to exercise, or a new place for the kids to play, you’re sure to find a local park for all your outdoor adventures.

Best amenities: TANGLEWOOD PARK

There is much more to Tanglewood Park than Christmas lights and golf. While the park might light up at the end of the year with its annual Festival of Lights, it truly shines during the summer thanks to its expansive aquatic area.

Renovated in 2012, the aquatic center features pools, water slides, diving boards, a lazy river, an expanded deck for sunbathing, and a playful children’s pool and splash area. If you’re not into swimming but still love the water, stop by Mallard Lake for fishing, paddle-boating, or to simply feed the ducks.

For nature lovers, the gardens at Tanglewood should not be missed. The Arboretum and a nearby Rose Garden offers a charming setting to view all forms of flowers and plants. There’s also numerous nature paths for walking, running, mountain-biking, and even horseback riding. Other park highlights include tennis courts, a BMX bike course, multiple playgrounds, countless picnic areas, a stable with horses, and the newly opened Tanglewoof Dog Park.

And don’t forget about golf. Aside from a driving range and Par 3 course, Tanglewood has two world-renowned 18-hole golf courses. This includes the Par 72 Championship Course—which hosted the 1974 PGA Championship—and the Par 72 Reynolds Course, a smaller yet equally scenic course.                                                                     

Where: 4061 Clemmons Road, Clemmons

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Best Nature Site: HORIZONS PARKS

With 492 acres of woods, fields, and streams, Horizons Park is a great place to get reacquainted with the great outdoors. Located in Rural Hall, the park offers a multitude of natural settings and provides plenty of opportunity for exploration.

“We love to walk the trails here,” says Emily King of Winston-Salem, who recently visited the park with her 10-year-old son, Ethan. “I love looking at the plant life and saying the names of all the plants, or looking at bugs and learning about them,” adds Ethan.

Horizons is also home to a popular leash-free dog park, Happy Hounds, with separate areas for small dogs and larger dogs. Other park highlights include mountain-bike trails, horseshoe pits, sand volleyball courts, playgrounds, and a softball field.  But if you’re looking for the park’s most out-of-the-ordinary amenity, look no further than its 18-hole disc golf course.

Built in 1981, the course has the distinction of being the first disc golf course in North Carolina. It’s notably shorter than most modern courses with holes averaging around 230 feet. While veterans of the sport might want more of a challenge, it’s a perfect place for beginners. As an added perk, the course is free to use and offers great views of nearby Pilot and Sauratown mountains.

WHERE: 2835 Memorial Industrial School Road., Rural Hall

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Best center-city Escape: MILLER PARK

If you’re looking for a place to unwind and recharge in the middle of the city, look no further than Miller Park.

This tranquil retreat in Ardmore is set amid rolling terrain and towering hardwoods, providing a genuine sense of peace and quiet. While strolling along the park's paved pathways, it's easy to forget that you’re just around the corner from Stratford Road—one of the city’s busiest streets.

In addition to two small playgrounds for kids, Miller Park features basketball courts, a bocce complex, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, and softball fields. The park also houses a large recreation center that hosts a number of special events, classes, and community programs, along with several rec-sport leagues (including dodgeball and a wheel-chair basketball league).

Those looking for a superior workout should check out the paved trails that trace throughout the park, as they have many hills and stairs to intensify a runner’s normal routine. The nature trails are also a great place to take a leisurely walk, even with strollers on some paths.

After getting a workout in, you can get refreshed and enjoy a nice lunch or snack at one of the park’s multiple and well-shaded picnic areas. 

WHERE: 404 Leisure Lane, Winston-Salem

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Best Playgrounds: TRIAD PARK

Straddling both the Forsyth and Guilford county lines, Triad Park is more than just a popular recreation site—it’s a symbol of two counties working together on a mutual endeavor. Both of the counties help fund and maintain the massive 426-acre park, which opened in the late 1990s.

For parents with little ones, Triad Park has three fun and well-built playgrounds that are set on a rubberized surface. There’s also a unique rock-climbing playground with walls made of artificial boulders (none of which are more than 10 feet tall). After exploring the various playgrounds, you can have a family picnic at one of the park’s tables with grills or one of the three gazebo shelters. The gazebos are first-come first-serve, so it’s best to scout them out early in the day.

Even if you don’t have children, there are plenty of non-kid activities available at Triad Park. This includes an intricate paved path system that’s ideal for skating, biking, and walking, and a small catch-and-release fishing pond that is stocked seasonally. Those looking for sports can also enjoy the park’s soccer field, softball field, sand volleyball courts, and numerous horseshoe pits.

WHERE: 9652 E. Mountain St., Kernersville

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Best place to cool off: BOLTON PARK

With its numerous amenities and open spaces, Bolton Park offers plenty of room for playing and roaming. Angie Maser of King says, “I love how this playground, unlike many others, has all the play areas in sand.”

The sand here is not only fun for little ones but much softer on the falls and tumbles that inevitably occur on playgrounds. While the children play, parents can take advantage of the surrounding walking paths, workout stations, or adjacent tennis courts.

But without a doubt, the biggest draw to Bolton is its king-sized swimming pool—the largest in the county. The facility features a children’s pool and splash area called the “Sprayground” with a lots of water-fun options. Those unphased by heights can take a plunge from the pool’s multiple array of diving boards, which includes a 4-tiered Olympic tower dive. The pool is open to the public from now through Sept. 2; admission is $3 for adults and $2 for kids/teens 17 and under.

Bolton’s lively setting makes it easy to get excited about being outdoors, even in the middle of summer. After all, you can’t go wrong by visiting a park with a pool beside it.

WHERE: 1590 Bolton St., Winston-Salem

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Best picnic spot: C.G. HILL PARK

If you’re hosting a summertime cookout or a family get-together, be sure to check out C.G. Hill Park in Pfafftown. The 73-acre park features a number of picnic tables that offer nice views of the surrounding landscape. Once you finish eating, you can burn off some of those hot dogs and hamburgers by walking either of the two paved trails that surround the C.G. Hill lake, which serves as the park’s focal point. Fishermen can cast out from any spot along the shore of the lake, which is stocked seasonally with bass and bream. (Just remember to have an N.C. fishing license handy.)

Aside from the lake, one of the coolest features at C.G. Hill is an ancient yellow poplar tree known as the “Loving Tree.” At some point, the tree was struck by lightning and hollowed in the center, creating a perfect hiding place for locals and their possessions. In fact, it’s rumored that a man once hid his cow and calf there to save them from Union soldiers during the Civil War. No one knows how long the tree has stood here exactly, but experts say it sprouted well before Columbus set sail for the new world.

WHERE: 5600 Balsom Road, Pfafftown

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A FEW MORE FAVORITES

10 more of Forsyth County’s top parks.

Bethabara Park. More than just a park, Bethabara is also a huge part of our city's history. Along with archaeological ruins, a restored church, and a wetlands area, the park features 20 miles of nature trails to explore. 2147 Bethabara Rd, W-S.

Fourth of July Park. Set on a shady site in Kernersville, this park features a couple of great playgrounds to keep the kids entertained. Multiple trails and creeks only add to the ambiance. 702 W. Mountain St., Kernersville.

Granville Park. This small park in West Salem is quite the hidden gem. It features a fantastic playground modeled after a castle, along with walking trails, picnic tables, and a kid-friendly water-mister. 700 Granville Drive, W-S.

Hanes Park. As the centerpiece of West End, Hanes Park always seems to be pulsing with activity. We love the stone bridges, tennis courts, and the expansive playground—arguably the best in the city. 1406 Northwest Blvd., W-S.

Hathaway Park. Sitting in a neighborhood off Country Club Road, Hathaway Park is home to basketball courts, a softball field, and a popular playground facility. Kids will also love the water-mister feature. 301 Anita Drive, W-S.

Joanie Moser Memorial Park. This family-friendly park in Lewisville packs a lot of amenities into a relatively small space. Highlights include a softball field, tennis courts, picnic shelters, and multiple playgrounds. 601 Lewisville Clemmons Rd., Lewisville

Little Creek Neighborhood Center. Tucked inside a neighborhood off Jonestown Road, this recreation area features walking trails, a playground, a full-size basketball court, and a large field for playing pick-up soccer games. 610 Foxcroft Drive, W-S.

Reynolda Gardens. Part of the Reynolda Historic District, Reynolda Gardens offers an ideal retreat for nature lovers. Visitors can peruse the formal gardens or explore the various walking trails along the property. 100 Reynolda Village, W-S.

Salem Lake. A favorite haunt of runners and bikers, Salem Lake is hallmarked by a scenic seven-mile greenway that loops around the lake shoreline. Visitors can also rent boats and kayaks or fish off the recently remodeled pier. 1001 Salem Lake Rd., W-S.

Washington Park. With its stone bridges, towering trees, and sloping terrain, this large neighborhood park has a wondrous, old-fashioned quality about it. Amenities include softball fields, nature paths, and a popular off-leash dog park. 1490 Broad St. W-S

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