The Five Best Parks in Charlotte, North Carolina

Looking for a place for an evening promenade or the perfect spot for a long, hard run? We've got you covered. Here are five of Charlotte's greatest parks:

1. Freedom Park
It goes without saying that Freedom Park should be at the top of this list. Considered the "Central Park of Charlotte," this beautiful recreational area is a sight for sore city eyes. An arching stone bridge will take you over a pond at the center of the park with enough walking paths to keep you strolling for hours. Freedom also has every type of amenity you could ask for—baseball diamonds, soccer fields, sand volleyball courts, and two different playgrounds for your children to explore. During the summer months, it becomes the host location for several of Charlotte's best festivals, including Festival in the Park.

2. Romare Bearden Park
Although it's only been around for a few years, Romare Bearden is making quite a hit in the parks and recreation scene. Located in the absolute heart of Charlotte's Uptown adjacent to BB&T Ballpark, you and your significant other can enjoy a picnic on a lush green space surrounded by the beautiful city skyline. In the summer months, your children can splash around in the fountain to keep themselves cool while you stay a safe (and dry) distance away. If you like fireworks, then head to Romare Bearden on Friday nights after a Charlotte Knight's game to snag a peek of the baseball team's pyrotechnics show. You'll also find a slew of free concerts, parties, and fitness programs at this awesome location.

3. McAlpine Creek Park
Tucked away off the frenzy of Route 74 is this little, woodland gem. McAlpine Creek is the ideal place for the wannabee cross country runners who don't have time to travel to the mountains each weekend. Almost all of the 3 ½ trail miles at McAlpine run through serene forestry. It's the perfect escape from Charlotte's busy city bustle. If you're tired of running, many of the paths allow bikers as well. There's also a large pond where fishing is permitted (with a permit), multiple soccer fields, and a dog park for your furry friend. Be sure to check the Parks and Recreation event calendar in the fall before making a trip to McAlpine—it tends to be a common location for high school cross country races.

4. Four Mile Creek Greenway
This one goes out to the walkers, the speed steppers, the light joggers and marathon trainers. Don't be fooled by its name, Four Mile Creek Greenway is just one portion of a 6-mile long greenway that is growing still. The glorious thing about this park is that not only are the paths extremely well-kept and mostly shaded by lush greenery, but half of the trails are actually boardwalks, making it easier for your legs to keep trekking. These footpaths are known for their gorgeous scenery and wildlife surroundings. And as always, once they're done training for the next big 10K, you'll find most runners hopping across the street to enjoy a Starbucks beverage together.

5. Cordelia Park
Tucked right inside of Charlotte's popular arts district, NoDa, you'll find something quite special about this hidden gem. Cordelia Park has an outdoor pool with a wild water slide that costs just $1 for admission all summer long. There's also a splash pad for the little ones in your family who aren't quite ready for the big pool. It has your token basketball courts, playgrounds, walking trails and community gardens, but the best part of Cordelia isn't listed on the Parks and Recreation webpage description: its skyline view. If you're looking for a park to visit in the winter, Cordelia has one of Charlotte's best sledding hills. After you climb to the top, turn around and gaze at the Queen City skyline standing in all its perfection.

Carrie-Christina Siftar has been exploring Charlotte since moving there in 2011. When she's not writing, she's nose-deep in a latte and YA novel. You can follow her here.