You may have caught the fact that Sarah C. went to NC State. She tends to be in the know about hidden and surprising places in Raleigh. And I was thrilled that she introduced me to the WRAL-TV Azalea Gardens.
Azaleas are in bloom right now, folks! And this place was full out gorgeous, breathtaking, and amazing. I had no idea it was even here. It sits adjacent to the WRAL-TV building in Raleigh, right next to NC State University. It is free to get in to and WRAL-TV encourages the public to enjoy it.
In fact, WRAL opened the Azalea Gardens in 1959 as a service to the community. And the founder, A.J Fletcher, worked hard to get it started, even running warm water from a janitor’s closet to the new plants in the face of surprise cold weather that first year.
The garden actually boasts a variety of Southern plants, but, really, azaleas make this place.
We took our boys here for a quick outdoor jaunt. Our toddlers had a blast running along the paths among azaleas larger than them. There were benches to play on in the shade, bird feeders, and a huge water fountain (which neither C nor D tried to get in, surprisingly). There is also a huge lawn that is a great place to picnic.
Parking is easy and free. There are nice, upscale port-a-johns (the kind that are in trailers) for the public to use.
Jogging strollers would work through here.
The gardens are also available for special events, and are a popular spot for weddings.
This isn’t a huge place so you might not linger all day as you possibly could at, say, Duke Gardens. But it is still stunning this time of year, with shades of azaleas you never even knew existed peppering the landscape. Go see it for yourself!
WRAL-TV Azalea Gardens
open year-round, dawn to dusk
2619 Western Boulevard