What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Raleigh's flower trail: Your guide to the best blooms and springtime trails

Posted March 31, 2022 6:00 a.m. EDT

— It's springtime in Raleigh!

Downtown Raleigh and the surrounding areas are bursting with flowers, blue skies and sunny places for a beautiful stroll. There's even a place where you can do yoga in a field of bright yellow flowers beneath the Raleigh skyline.

If you're looking for the best trails and parks to take in the springtime sights and activities, take a stroll down the Raleigh Flower Trail – the seven best locations to see vibrant blossoms and make the most of springtime in the city.

Raleigh flower trail: Best springtime hikes, trails, parks and activities in Raleigh.

1. Raleigh Rose Garden

If you love roses, cobblestone and history, this may become your new favorite place! The Raleigh Rose Garden was built 70 years ago in the oval footprint of the old State Fairgrounds. Before that, it was used as a camp for soldiers during WWI.

A walk through the rose garden feels a bit like a romantic stroll through the Renaissance – with stone arches, creeping vines and hundreds of multi-colored roses. It's surrounded by an arboretum with a variety of trees. You can even find one of North Carolina's rare Redwoods.

It's the perfect place for a picnic lunch or a photo session.

Raleigh flower trail: Best springtime hikes, trails, parks and activities in Raleigh.

2. Raleigh's fairy forest

Hidden in the heart of Raleigh's first nature preserve is a magical little trail that leads to a genuine fairy forest.

Little handmade fairy houses peek out from holes in trees and logs. They dangle from tree branches, fluttering in the breeze. Families can come explore the fairy forest – and even create their own fairy house to add to the forest themselves.

The Annie Louise Wilkerson MD Nature Preserve is acres of sprawling, rolling green fields and nature trails through the woods. There's even a cove of giant boulders for climbing and exploring.

Raleigh flower trail: Best springtime hikes, trails, parks and activities in Raleigh.

3. Dix Park

Stroll through fields of yellow flowers beneath the Raleigh skyline. Dix Park offers the perfect landscape for a springtime picnic, a game of Frisbee, or just a place to relax in the sun.

Dix Park also hosts events, like walking tours and yoga classes.

Each year the flowers bloom – and in the summer, they usually grow an enormous field of sunflowers.

Raleigh flower trail: Best springtime hikes, trails, parks and activities in Raleigh.

4. Pullen Park

Pullen Park has been one of Raleigh's favorite springtime activities for over 130 years. It's one of the oldest public parks in the entire world.

Arched bridges, flowering trees and gazebos make for a picturesque walk. Plus, you can visit Andy and Opie before riding the carousel.

The park offers a 'build-your-own-picnic' area for ordering sandwiches, ice cream and drinks – conveniently located beside a grassy picnic field.

Raleigh flower trail: Best springtime hikes, trails, parks and activities in Raleigh.

5. WRAL Azalea Garden

Planted in 1959, the azalea gardens at WRAL started with 1,000 flowers.

Bursting with southern flowers – dogwoods, magnolia, hydrangeas and, of course, azaleas – it's a sanctuary of life in the middle of a busy city.

Marriages have begun there. Memorials have been left there.

A.J. Fletcher, the founder of Capitol Broadcasting and WRAL-TV, created the gardens as a "way of paying tribute to beauty for beauty’s sake."

Raleigh flower trail: Best springtime hikes, trails, parks and activities in Raleigh.

6. State Farmer's Market

While you enjoy the sights of spring, don't forget the tastes.

Whether you want to see flowers or buy flowers, the State Farmer's Market is the best place for a morning walk in springtime.

North Carolina's bounty overflows here: Farm fresh corn, sweet peaches and fat watermelons.

Enjoy the walk, then take home seasonal produce and flowers for your own home.

Raleigh Flower Trail

7. North Carolina Museum of Art

Pet-friendly, picnic-friendly and one of the most Instagrammable places in Raleigh – the NC Museum of Art has wide fields and hiking trails.

The museum grounds are decorated with enormous statues. A stone giant curls up and sleeps in the grass. A massive portal to another reality stands in the distance. There are even messages written on the grounds that can only be seen from far above -- in airplanes or satellite.

Down one trail is a 'hobbit's house,' which has proven to be one of North Carolina's most interesting attractions. Another trail has wooden bridges and weeping willows. You can spend the whole afternoon walking here and not see everything – and that doesn't even include all of the exhibits inside the buildings!

JC Raulston Arboretum

8. JC Raulston Arboretum

If you love flowers, Zen gardens, hidden coves and butterflies, then the magical JC Raulston Arboretum is perfect for a springtime walk.

The colorful butterfly garden lures butterflies and moths. Shady spaces and hidden pathways lead to wide-open Zen gardens, complete with brushed sand.

Opened in 1975 by J.C. Raulston, who taught in the Department of Horticultural Science at NC State University, it served as a "living laboratory" for students – and an incredible resource for the public.

The arboretum has reopened with limited hours, and regularly holds public classes and events.

Bursting wildflowers along Raleigh Greenway Trails. (Image courtesy of the City of Raleigh)

9. Wildflowers on the Raleigh Greenway Trails

Raleigh's Greenway Trails provide some of the most scenic hikes in the city – but did you know some of the Greenway trails have wildflowers blooming alongside them?

Last June, the Neuse River Trail had around 2 acres of vibrant yellow Coreopsis tinctoria putting on a vivid show for passersby.

The dynamic native meadows by Greenway trails often grow beautiful wildflowers during certain times of year. This location is at the Thorton Road trailhead.

Raleigh flower trail: Best springtime hikes, trails, parks and activities in Raleigh.

Did we miss anything?

Are there any other amazing places in Raleigh to see flowers, or incredible trails to hike? Do you have a favorite restaurant with a springtime menu, or a locally-made springtime dessert or cocktail? Let us know at hleah@wral.com and we may highlight it in a future story!

Until then, enjoy the Raleigh Flower Trail, and enjoy springtime in the city!

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