Some parks are just not created equal. Some are merely swing sets looking for a bit of love. Others have themes that entertain and challenge. And yet there are parks that combine the best of nature, playgrounds and amusement parks. Dan Nicholas Park (https://www.rowancountync.gov/185/Dan-Nicholas-Park) in Salisbury NC is one of the latter parks.
Located southeast of Salisbury North Carolina this park is a hidden gem for kids of any age. With abundant walking trails you can park in any one of the five parking lots not associated with the camping and sports field areas and easily stroll to your favorite attraction. Since we had not been here in a while we elected to (aka “had no clue”) park near the playgrounds. Four playground sets are available covering all kids age groups. From climbing walls to slides to ninja warrior type activities, kids will get a kick out of trying everything. But I digress for we did not stop at the playgrounds first…we decided to give them a whirl at the end of our adventure.
First up? Analise had her sights on the carousel. Hayden’s Carousel is a vintage merry go-round, which for a measly $1 will allow kids, and young-at-heart kids to zip race each other on horses, dragons, and zebras. Music is also classic sounds from days gone by and those of us with a bit of years under our belts will recognize the tunes from our childhood rides.
Next stop, the Hurley Station train ride. A short ride takes the passengers over a small bridge, through the woods and back to the station. Making two short stops to see two displays (a bit of local history and circus train information) the train ride comes to a stop back a the station. For children less that 6 years old, spotting the wildlife statues in the woods adds to the charm. Again for $1, this is a neat little excursion.
We elected to skip the Hurley Water Plaza and go visit the Rowan Wildlife Adventures habitat area. This attraction was unexpected. To find a mini-zoo along with everything else was a great surprise. From four-footed creatures to those that take flight, we spent an enjoyable time going from display to display. Analise, however, really wanted to go to the petting zoo area and requested we go there “now.” It was fun to hear her say “Where’s the petting zoo? Can we go there now? Wait! Look alligators!” And off she’d run. At 50 cents for kids and $1 for adults this is well worth the couple dollars to visit. As a side benefit, there is a spray station where visitors can stand under and cool down a bit on hot days.
The T.M. Stanback Petting Barn has goats, sheep, a pig and donkey. If you can coax them to the fence rails, you might be able to pet them. We eventually managed to get each type of animal to come to the fence but the donkey was a little feisty so watching the donkey was as close as we got.
I would love to say that we did everything they have in Dan Nicholas Park but alas we ran out of time and energy. What else is there? A gem mine, walking trails, paddle boats, fishing, a nature center, miniature golf, and an outdoor theater. Other areas include camping (tent, cabin and RV), a sports field, a concession stand, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts areas, tennis courts and picnic areas.
We were and are amazed at how much there is to do. For a small fee (see fee schedule) everyone can have a fun day at this neat park. Stop there if you are in the area or live an hour or so away…it’s worth the trip if only to have an adventurous day!
- Link: https://www.marbleskidsmuseum.org
- Location: 6800 Bringle Ferry Road, Salisbury, NC 28146
- Cost: each activity has its own price (or is free). Check out the price sheet at https://www.rowancountync.gov/DocumentCenter/View/13040/Dan-Nicholas-Park-Price-List-PDF?bidId=
- What did the kids like/dislike: Analise loved the Carousel and wanted (and was granted) another ride on it
- Kids opinion of it: awesome!
- What to do: so much that you need to look at the map before going or if you forget to do this, stop at one of the buildings and ask for one. Here’s the on-line version: https://www.rowancountync.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5989/Dan-Nicholas-Park-Map-PDF?bidId=
- New places to eat along the way: did not explore
- Difficulty of getting around: none!
- Return?If we are in the area, definitely
- Restrooms? Multiple restrooms are available.
- Parking: plenty of parking in all areas