There's a lot going on at the 50-acre Jack Smith Park, named after the long-time and current member of the Cary Town Council.
There's a large dog park, the second for the town; greenway trails; a 10-foot-tall climbing rock for beginners to experienced climbers; public art; and a picnic shelter. For families, the biggest news is that the property includes not only another playground for the town, but it's very first sprayground, which will be open through mid-September.
The park opened for play last week with a grand opening celebration planned on Sept. 10. Already, it's attracting lots of families. I got there early one morning this week and, by 9:45 a.m., there were half a dozen families checking out the new play pieces and waiting for the sprayground to open at 10 a.m. More were pulling up into the parking area right next to the play area.
I'll focus on the playground and sprayground here.
The playground is designed for kids ages 2 to 12 and includes traditional belt and bucket swings, a tire swing, slides and some spring riders, those little bouncy seats that young kids love. The surface under the play pieces is rubber matting, which is great if you don't feel like taking home a bunch of sand or mulch in your kid's shoes.
The playground has two larger play structures. One, with a cover over it to block the sun, is designed for kids ages 2 to 5 or so. There are slides and easy climbing pieces for them to master. For older kids, ages 6 to 12, there's another structure with ropes and rings for them to climb in and around. There's no tarp over this piece.
Just down a small hill from the playground, you'll find a scattering of sheep - all sculptures, created by artist William Moore. Kids are welcome to climb on them (Moore is the artist behind KATAL the Dragon at Kids Together Park, also in Cary). This large open space also is great for pick-up games of soccer, tag, picnics and whatever else the kids come up with.
The 10-foot-tall climbing rock is impressive. No kids attempted it when I was there, though they were all very young. It also sits on that rubber surfacing and has four sides, which all appear to offer various levels of difficulty.
Finally, the sprayground isn't the biggest in the Triangle (that honor probably goes to Fuquay-Varina's, which opened last year). But it a great offering for Cary which, until now, had no free, public sprayground. The sprayground, or splash pad, has seven water features, including jets that shoot up and buckets that pour down. It's best for ages 12 and younger, though one Go Ask Mom reader recommended it for kids 8 and under because of its size and offerings. The water is chlorinated.
The sprayground sits right next to the bathroom where there are showers, a family restroom and drinking fountains, including a spout to fill up water bottles. Park hours are sunrise to sunset. The sprayground is scheduled to be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., daily, through mid-September. There's a large parking lot next to the playground and sprayground.
The park is at 9725 Penny Rd., Cary.