Explore Summertime

There comes a time during every summer when the hot afternoon sun starts to lull people into boredom. This year, cure summer sluggishness with a little adventure right in your own hometown. Here are some suggestions for a few off-the-beaten-path places to cool your jets and have some summer fun.

                      Dylan Aubry practices his tricks at the Sk8 Park in Cary. The park is open daily for
                      inline skaters, skateboarders and BMX bikers.

Catch Some Gnarly Air

The Sk8-Cary Skate Park is a 12,000-square-foot facility in Godbold Park offering a full range of services for skateboarders and BMX bikers from the greenest novice to seasoned pros.

Facility Supervisor Billy Dexter says this skate park differs from others in the area because of its emphasis on safety. “We require people to wear pads and helmets and do things the right way,” he says. “That makes it a great facility to get into the sport, and makes it safer for everyone.”

For newcomers interested in trying out a skateboard or BMX bike for the first time, or those who want to learn new skills, camps, track-out programs and lessons cater to a wide range of abilities. During the weeklong camps, students spend the entire day skateboarding or biking and come together at the end to play games and group activities. In addition to learning more about the sport, instructors also focus on team building and confidence.

For those looking for a little practice time on the course, or just a fun way to get some exercise, the park is open daily for two-hour skate or bike sessions.

Special memberships are available for $30 per year for Cary residents and $60 per year for non-residents that include discounted rates, free sessions and monthly promotions. Two-hour skate sessions are $9 for non-members and $4 for members; BMX sessions are $10 for non-members and $5 for members. For more information, visit http://www.townofcary.org/ and search Sk8-Cary.

Sydney, Kaylee, Tyler and Laney Snead enjoy canoes, which are available seven days week until Labor Day, at Bass Lake Park and Retreat Center in Holly Springs.

Reel in a Big One

Want to fish but don’t have a rod and reel? No problem! Bass Lake Park in Holly Springs has fish aplenty, and the rods and reels are free. Thanks to the park’s library system for loaning out fishing equipment, the ultimate kick-back-and-relax sport is accessible to everyone.

“The program is part of the North Carolina Wildlife Commission,” said Park Manager Sabrina Thompson. “You get a little blue card and you can check out a rod and reel like you would check out a book at the library. There is no charge.”

And while catching something isn’t a guarantee, Thompson says the stocked lake and fish feeders mean fishers almost always get a bite.

In addition to fishing, Bass Lake Park also has canoe and boat rentals for those who would rather get out on the lake than enjoy it from the dock.

The facility is a North Carolina Environmental Education Center and offers hiking trails, a nature library, kids’ camps and other community activities like bingo and concerts. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the park is open from 8 a.m. to one hour before sunset. For more information, visit http://www.hollyspringsnc.us/dept/park/basslake/index.asp

Marco Polo!

Whether the swan dive or the belly flop is more your style, you can cool off with a midday dunk in Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. The state park in Apex is owned and maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers and offers three areas for swimmers to kick and splash.

The Ebenezer Church, Parker’s Creek and Seaforth areas have roped-off swimming sections and sandy beaches. They are open to all park visitors year-round. During the summer months, the park and swimming areas are open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Be aware, though, no lifeguards are on duty; however there are life preservers on-site.

Entry into the park is $6 per car. For up-to-date information about the swimming areas, visit http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/jord/main.php


Jordan Lake’s Ebenezer Church, Parker’s Creek and Seaforth
Recreation Areas all welcome swimming during the summer.

Michael McGregor and 9-month-old daughter Grace enjoy
a hot day in a cool Jordan Lake at Ebenezer Church
Recreation Area.


Bouldering Basics

For the adventurer in the family, North Cary Park offers a pair of bouldering rocks for those who wish to put their climbing skills to the test. The two man-made rocks are eight feet tall at the highest point and are joined in the middle.

Recreation Manager Dwayne Jones says the rocks are designed for all ages and skill levels. “The nice thing about it is that it is used by more experienced climbers to practices traversing the rocks. They fine-tune their technique and work on different holds and foot positioning by working their way around the rocks. The less experienced climbers and the younger crowd typically make it their goal to climb to the top.”

The park is open from sunrise to sunset and is free to the public. Supervision for children is recommended, as this is an unstaffed facility, but there is a protective soft surface below the rocks.

For more information about the park, visit http://www.townofcary.org/ and search for North Cary Park.

Ripe for the Picking

In need of something sweet to ripen sweltering summer days? Pack up the family and head to Faircloth Farm in Chapel Hill for an afternoon of picking blueberries.

Farm Owner Nevida Faircloth has been selling her homegrown blueberries since the 1980s. The farm is open to the public during blueberry season, which typically runs from mid-July to mid-August. The farm typically receives more than 150 visitors coming to pick their own blueberries during the season.

The cost is calculated by a per-pound fee. Faircloth advises calling (919) 967-2131 to ensure the berries are ripe for picking. Faircloth Farm is located at 577 Gilmore Road in Chapel Hill.

Nature Calls

Who says learning only happens at school? At Carroll Howard Johnson Environmental Education Park in Fuquay-Varina, the hiking trails are the classroom, and nature is the teacher. The 28-acre park features several miles of hiking trails with educational stations along the way.

Recreation Program Coordinator Anthony DiMarzio says information packets available through the Parks and Recreation Community Center lead kids on an educational scavenger hunt through the park.

The park is open from sunrise to dusk, and the scavenger hunt packets can be picked up from the Community Center from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. For more information about the park, visit http://www.fuquay-varina.org.

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