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Park Review: Raleigh's Lions Park features BMX track, new playground

Lions Park in Raleigh got a new playground last year thanks to a community effort. It's also home to the area's only BMX track.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
A reader recommended that I check out Lions Park last year. And I'll admit it took me a bit (there are a lot of parks around here!), but I finally made it late last year.

The east Raleigh park not too far from downtown features a brand new playground. There's also a recently renovated community center, ball fields, tennis courts and the Capital City BMX Track, which celebrates its 30th year this year.

The reader told me that I needed to check out the new playground specifically. It received a major overhaul last May when the old playground, built nearly 20 years ago, was torn down and replaced with new structures. One is designed for kids ages 2 to 5. The other is geared toward 5- to 12-year-olds.

The new playground was designed by community members, who also helped build them on a Saturday last May, Wayne Schindler, Raleigh's park superintendent, tells me.

"Basically, what's out there came out of the recommendations from the work of this committee," he said. "It's been absolutely well received and greatly appreciated by the greater community over there."

The play set got high marks from my five-year-old, who loved the structure for larger kids. There's a large sand pit that sits between the two play sets (just remember to bring some sand toys). And the tall trees will provide some nice shade this summer and a place for kids to explore beyond the play equipment.

The Capital City BMX Track makes the park a destination for fans of the sport, drawing people from the region and other states. Shane Gay, a volunteer and the track operator, tells me a couple of Olympic medalists recently visited the track, one of the few in North Carolina. Capital City BMX operates the track for the city and is responsible for some maintenance there as well.

The track is typically open from 4 p.m. to dark on Thursdays for practices and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays for practices and races. It's also open some Saturdays for clinics and other events, Gay tells me.

The two-hour clinics are free for first timers and provide a good introduction for those new to the sport, Gay said. People of all ages attend the clinics. Kids as young as three (and adults as old as 67) ride the track.The next clinics are April 16, May 21 and June 18. The BMX season around here runs from March to December.

But Gay said people are welcome to come out for practices and other events too to see what it's all about. Bikes and helmets are available to rent.

Before you make plans to go to the BMX track, be sure to check the website or call 919-834-4BMX for up-to-date information and what's required as far as pads and other safety requirements.
Check the Lions Park website for more on what is offered at the community center. And watch the video to get a look at the playground at Lions Park.
Lions Park is at 516 Dennis Ave. in Raleigh.
Looking for more things to do with the kids? Check our list of park and playground reviews and our growing list of Triangle family destinations.

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