There is a new hangout around town where you’ll see all the cool kids pitched up sharing beverages, talking to each other, comparing battle wounds and shouting with glee. It’s not your local adult watering hole, but the newly built, ever popular watering hold for the 12 and under set in Nags Head: Dowdy Park. The square of landscape between the highways along the bypass in Nags Head has its roots in childhood glee and entertainment.
Joe Dowdy operated an amusement park complete with a roller coaster, Ferris wheel, bumper cars and arcade games on the plot of land until 2005. After the park sat empty and dilapidated, the town of Nags Head purchased the land and drew up plans to make an all-inclusive play space to delight children and adults alike. The first phase was finished last summer and included 2 separate age appropriate play structures, swings, picnic tables, a walking path and an amphitheater. What sets this apart from other parks in the area is that the structures are build to be accessible so that children of all ages and abilities are able to enjoy the thrill of a swinging, sliding or bouncing whether they use a wheelchair or not.
From childhood favorites such as sandboxes and slides, to the modern addition of basket swings and pipe chimes, this playground ticks all of the boxes. I especially enjoy the natural additions of large foam hills to scale, fossilized footprints and leaves to find in the cement walkway, and the peeping wall.
The second phase of the park was recently completed with the addition of restrooms, shaded areas, extensive landscaping and sports courts including basketball, horseshoes, racquetball and cornhole. The third and final phase will provide additional walking paths and a grass field for additional sporting events such as soccer, football, lacrosse and more.
While the park is open every day, it’s definitely worth a visit during the numerous events that are hosted there especially during the summer. From the Dare County Art’s Council’s Artrageous event, to outdoor family movie nights, to the weekly farmer’s markets and concerts, there is truly something for everyone in the family at Dowdy Park.