Raleigh's Secret Sunflower Fields Move to Dorothea Dix Park

This blink-and-you-miss-it sunflower selfie spot in Raleigh has a new home — and its own festival
Img 1216
Photo courtesy of Lauren Bell Isaacs

The "secret" Neuse River Greenway sunflowers planted by City of Raleigh Public Utilities Department were a big hit in the summer of 2017 — but you won't find them there this summer. Due to increased traffic, trespassers on the wastewater treatment plant's private property (we're looking at you, selfie sunflower chasers!), concerns about snakes and other issues resulted in the City of Raleigh not replanting the flowers this year along the Greenway. The City of Raleigh states that new, private fields away from the public eye have been planted for its bio-diesel project. 

Don't be too bummed, though.

So that you and your family can access the blooms safely, the City of Raleigh's Public Utilities department has partnered with the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources department and Office of Sustainability to plant 5 acres of flowers at Dorothea Dix Park to allow the community to access and enjoy the amazing blooms up close. Peak bloom is anticipated July 14 — but here's what they look like as of July 5 (photo courtesy of Beaumonde Arts Agency):

Sunflowers are beautiful and also beneficial to the city in multiple ways. At its Neuse River facility, the treatment plant used nutrient-rich byproducts as a fertilizer. Then the crop was harvested and used to produce biodiesel. The sunflowers at Dix Park will also be harvested and used to contribute to the city’s biodiesel supply.

The city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources department will host SunFest 2018 on Saturday, July 14, 2-7 p.m. This family-friendly festival features a variety of performances, lawn games, summer-themed vendors and, of course, walks through the sunflower field during peak bloom. Register for a free ticket through dixpark.org. The rain date for SunFest is Sunday, July 15.

Know Before You Go:

  • The sunflower field at Dix Park is located off Hunt Drive near the North Carolina FC soccer fields. Guests should park in the soccer field parking areas during weekdays. 

  • Over 2,000 North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services employees work on the campus each day. Please be respectful of their working environment and avoid all buildings and DHHS parking areas during business hours. On weeknights and weekends, designated parking lots with green striping are available for public use.

  • You can walk or bike to the park. Dix Park is located on the Rocky Branch Greenway.

  • Walking up hills, in grass and on uneven surfaces will be necessary. Closed-toe shoes are recommended.

  • Please do not pick the flowers or eat the sunflower seeds. Public Utilities will be harvesting them for use after they have bloomed.

  • Remember you are outside. Prepare for bugs and other critters.

  • Please keep dogs on leashes and pick up after them.

  • There are only porta-a-potties in the park and no drinkable water, so please plan accordingly and enjoy the beautiful blooms.

Where to Park When You Visit the Sunflower Field:

parking directions for Sunflower Field at Dix Park

Image courtesy of Dorothea Dix Park website

About the City of Raleigh and Dorothea Dix Park Conservancy: The City of Raleigh owns and operates Dorothea Dix Park. The Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that exists to support the City in its efforts, serve as its philanthropic partner, and help ensure the creation and long-term success of Dorothea Dix Park.


Categories: Family, Festivals, Food + Fun, Outdoors, Things To Do