We’ve had several birthday parties at picnic shelters and pavilions located at Southern Community Park and Umstead Park in Chapel Hill. This is a great birthday party location for a toddler: everyone is self-contained, the fees are small, and everyone leaves tired and happy. Win-win.

Many of the parks in Chapel Hill and Carrboro have reasonably priced picnic shelters to rent for birthday parties and public events. They request that you reserve the gazebo, picnic shelter, or pavilion two weeks in advance.

Fees vary based on whether you’re a resident of Chapel Hill or Carrboro, or not.

Chapel Hill

In Chapel Hill, you can see all available shelters, along with amenities, parking, and fees, on the Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation website. To book a shelter or pavilion, use the Parks and Recreation registration website. Rentals are for four hours and you can rent up to 90 days in advance.

Playgrounds are at Cedar Falls Park, Hargreaves Park, Homestead Park, North Forest Hills Park, Southern Community Park, and Umstead Park. Other amenities vary, but include basketball courts, trails, volleyball courts, and open grassy areas.


Carrboro has an external online registration system to look for pavilion availability. (Look under Facilities and Parks.)

Available pavilions include Baldwin Park, Hank Anderson Park, MLK Park, and Wilson Park.

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Melody Kramer is a Peabody-award winning journalist whose work has appeared on NPR and member stations around the country, as well as in publications ranging from National Geographic to Esquire Magazine....