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Now that fall is here and the hot and humid weather we call a Raleigh summer is gone, we are excited to see the leaves start to change and breath in that crisp morning air. Take it from a Raleigh native, the best time to be in the City of Oaks is now. And a great way to take advantage of the weather is at the gorgeous local parks, of which there are many. Here are a few of our favorites, with something for everyone:

Umstead State Park: The closest to the hotel, and our namesake, is the Umstead State Park. Named after Governor William B. Umstead, this park features a network of hiking and multi use nature trails. The Concierge offers complimentary bike rentals from the hotel on a first come, first serve basis, but the park also offers canoe and row boat rentals too. Enjoy time under the green canopy and breath in that fresh fall air.

J.C.Rauston Arboretum: for the botanical gardeners out there, head over to the J.C. Raulston Arboretum. Filled with plants native to the piedmont, wander through the perennials and roses, into the Asian Valley, past the Lath House. For a whole different take on the gardens, try the “Moonlight in the Garden” event, which is one of my personal favorites. There are food trucks, fire pits, and live music, but it is amazing to see the way the grounds are lit up by the luminaries and working your way through the florals under the stars. But keep in mind, temperatures can drop quickly at night here, so bring a pair of gloves.

NCMA Park: How about a little art with your nature? The Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park at the North Carolina Museum of Art has permanent and temporary art installations scattered throughout, including the trio of Gyre rings, but follow the footpath down the capital area greenway to enjoy the floating chairs of Tom Shields or the Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky.

Jordan Lake: one lake that everyone who grew up in Raleigh visited is Jordan Lake. About 30 minutes outside of Raleigh, this 14,000 acre reservoir is the perfect place for hiking and swimming, they even offer pontoon boat tours! We also love watching the wildlife. Bald Eagles can regularly be seen flying overhead and hunting for prey, so be sure to bring your camera and binoculars.

There are plenty of other natural parks and lakes worth exploring in the area. Head over to Visit Raleigh for a full list, and many other activities to enjoy this season.

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