What it is: Mt. Merrill is the new playground created at Durham Central Park thanks to a fundraising campaign with donations from many Durhamites, myself included. It's been fun to watch it come to fruition, and I know my kids are going to have lots of fun playing on it during all of our future outings to Durham Central Park.
If you're headed to Durham Central Park to find Mt. Merrill, there are several parking options. You could use the nearby street parking, or park in the public parking garage a few blocks away at the corner of Foster and Morgan Streets. Usually, we park at the garage whenever going to that area because I am an absolutely terrible at parallel parking. There are some nearby lots, but they are all reserved for various businesses.
Once you find parking you can head on over to Mt. Merrill which is located across Foster St. from the Farmer's Market Pavilion at Durham Central Park. It's a small playground, but for some reason, it kept my kids occupied for a long time both times we visited. In fact, the other parents I was with agreed that the small structure kept their kids occupied for longer than they thought it would. Regardless of it's size, they had fun.
Mt. Merrill itself consists of a small and a large slide set on a climbable mountain with boulders and large walkways up to the top. The slides are made of metal with rounded edges. There are also large poles positioned around the mountain. In looking at them, it looks they would hold a sunshade in the summer. There's also a small area with some ropes for climbing on one side.
The mountain is positioned in the middle of an area which will soon hold grass. There is a seating area in the back as well as a sidewalk with statues of a bird and turtle which are great for toddler climbing. The sidewalk leads to a bridge over a creek before it ends at the edge of the small park.
What we liked: One of the great thing about Mt. Merrill is its location at Durham Central Park where lots of great events already take place. This way, your kids have a place to blow off some steam while you are enjoying the weekly Durham Farmers Market or one of the fabulous Food Truck Rodeos. The fact that Durham Central Park took the time to build this playground means they really were looking out for the needs of Durham families, which is awesome.
What we would change: The playground is a little small, but of course that is the way that it has to be at a multi-purpose park such as Durham Central Park, and its size didn't keep my kids from having a good time. With the little ones I would also worry because the park could be a bit dangerous for you if you don't keep an eye on them. There isn't much protection to keep them from falling off of the climbing rocks. However, with parents playing with them and keeping an eye on them, it's a fun place for all ages.
Website and other important information:
Address: 501 Foster St, Durham
(the smaller slide)
(the larger slide)
(a view of the whole structure)
(the crowds playing during the Food Truck Rodeo)