child at pullen park

Whether you’re local to The Triangle or visiting for a summer vacay with kids, Pullen Park in Raleigh is a MUST. Since moving to Chapel Hill, I have been asked at least two dozen times, ‘Have you been to Pullen Park?‘ I was told by many of the train, boat rides, and carousel. They also offer a magical Holiday Express at Christmastime that sells out in minutes. Let’s just say, I was deeply enchanted.


Flash forward to last weekend. My mom was visiting and it was forecasted to be 73 and sunny on that Friday afternoon. I didn’t have to work and the girls were on spring break, so it would be the perfect opportunity to finally explore this historic park. And we explore we did!  

Keep reading to hear about our fun-filled fam adventure!

child at pullen park

About Pullen Park

So what’s all the hype?! I know, I thought the same: ‘another park, really?’ But it’s not any ordinary park. Pullen was the first public park in North Carolina AND is the 5th oldest operating amusement park in the US! Situated less than 2-miles from downtown Raleigh, it is a vast space that covers over 66 acres.


The hours for Pullen Park are 10 AM – 6 PM seven days a week!



As you enter the park, you’ll walk past a refreshment stand and bathrooms before walking onto a large, open green space. That day it was bustling with families, the flowers were blooming, and the sun was shining – spring had sprung!


*Pro tip: Get in line IMMEDIATELY for tickets – $1.50 per person and children under 2 are free. The line was LONG (ask Ryan)!


From there, my mom, the kids, and I explored the various playgrounds while Ryan spent the next 30-min waiting in line for tickets (live and learn!). Pullen Parks playgrounds are separated into age categories: 2-5 and 5-12 years old. A massive swing set also resides at Pullen and is open to all ages. At the back of the property you’ll find two large sand and water play areas. My kids could have stayed there all day – they love sandboxes!


After we exhausted the play structures and were reunited with Ryan, we were ready to get to business – the famous Pullen Park rides! The first stop, the ‘C.P. Huntington miniature train, a one-third size, near-replica of the famous locomotive of the same name.’ The ride was approximately 6-minutes long and takes you on a fun, relaxing tour around the beautiful park. Enjoy the refreshing lift and wave to those you pass by! Next, the girls had a blast ‘driving’ the kiddie boats, especially our vivacious Aviana. I’m not sure I’d be a passenger in her boat.


While at Pullen, you can also get a lower body workout on the pedal boats and cruise around Lake Howell. This attraction was not yet open during our visit, but next time we’ll check it out for sure! So, while everyone was in good spirits (Rory had skipped his afternoon nap), we decided to depart and save the Carousel for next time.

Fun fact: the Carousel has been a long-standing attraction at the Park since 1911!

Before we embarked on the 45-min trek home, we stopped to cool off with some refreshments and one of our local favs, Loco Pops!


And the best part?! We had just enjoyed two glorious hours of play, amusements, tasty treats, and only spent $24! That’s right, a fun-filled family day at an amusement park for under $25! Pullen Park offers FREE admission and parking. Overall, it was a beautiful, clean, and plentiful space with numerous activities for kids (and adults) of all ages!


So finally after 15-months as a North Carolina resident I can proudly say, ‘Yes, I have been to Pullen Park.’ And you know what? I loved it! Yes, it is a bit of a schlep from Chapel Hill, but trust me, it is well worth your time! (100% guarantee I’ll be one of the crazies who wakes at the crack of dawn to purchase tix for the Pullen Park Holiday Express next Christmas!! FYI, the date for this years’ ticket sales have not yet been released, but last year it was July 31.)

Have you visited Pullen Park in Raleigh? If so, what were your thoughts? Did you love it as much as we did?! Please share in the comments below!





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