What it is: Duke Park is a huge greenspace in the middle of the Duke Park neighborhood, which is nowhere near Duke University. It was named for Brodie Duke who owned all the land that became the neighborhood and park. The neighborhood dates from 1910, so it is well-established and has a band of regulars from within and outside the neighborhood. It used to have a public pool, which was filled in, but you can still see the old bathhouse where the new soccer field is. The stone gazebo was built during the Great Depression. There are some "vintage" play structures scattered in the area (the park is huge and hilly) but the play structures are very new, and I think the structures are among the largest, most varied and most challenging you can find. There's a smaller toddler structure set in a little gully, and a large play areas with swings, a tot slide, and a huge adventure course with a two-story slide.
What we like: At first, the main play structure seems gigantic, but it has lots of parts for kids of all ages to work on, and both my girls went down the giant slides at 18 months and loved it. It seems crazy, but it is safe! When you need to calm things down, you can move down to the toddler area.
What we would change: There is no shade over the main play area, so beware of hot slides. In the summer, early mornings are best. Also, weekends at this park are very popular, parents drive in to this park, and have birthdays there, so it can actually get really crowded. Mondays usually find the park a little "trashed", with my kids inevitably digging up old candy and juice boxes.
Website and Directions: Duke Park has a lot of curvy roads, and you can get a little lost. I think the easiest way to find it is to find you way to Knox St from Duke or Gregson Streets, and then follow it until it just runs right into the park.
1. A view of the main play area
2. The large play structure
3. The big slides