Newcomer’s Guide to Garner
Welcome to Garner, one of the finest, friendliest portions of what Sir Walter Raleigh called “the godliest land.” Nestled in the exciting, high-tech Research Triangle area of North Carolina’s eastern Piedmont, Garner is a unique and inviting combination of the best of the old and the most innovative of the new.
Nowhere else in the state do the solid bedrock of family-oriented tradition and new ideas and technology meet and mingle so easily. A truly fascinating harmony is found in our community of approximately 26,000 people.
That harmony has drawn thousands of new residents to Garner during the last 20 years as workers and leaders in business, industry, government and research look for affordable, traditional homes for their families. With its convenient access to one of the nation’s premier metropolitan areas – as well as to major transportation arteries, numerous universities and the world-famous Research Triangle Park – Garner has become a popular place to live, play and do business.
Because Garner has a small-town heritage, it’s the kind of place where neighbors meet at their mailboxes and talk over local issues, where folks turn out in droves for Friday night high school football games and for the annual Independence Day festival.
In Garner, you’re minutes away from enjoying a world-class exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art, rooting for one of the local Atlantic Coast Conference football or basketball teams, taking in a live performance by the North Carolina Symphony or laughing with one of the country’s hottest comedians.
Since development has been steady, but not explosive, over the last two decades, Garner has had time to plan for essential facilities and services to accommodate the growth now coming its way.
Garner is the place to find all of the opportunities that go along with economic growth and all of the benefits of city living in a less taxing, more gracious living and business environment. It offers all of those big “quality of life” amenities that everyone searches for, all in one convenient package:
- a temperate climate featuring four distinct seasons;
- world-class performing arts, museums and cultural festivals;
- competitive sports teams ranging from major league hockey to collegiate basketball to recreational league offerings;
- outstanding access to cutting-edge health care, education and technology.
And when you need to get away from it all, vacation options abound, practically in our own backyard. Whether you prefer the mountains, the beach or somewhere in between, you’re within a few hours of your destination.
Garner is located at the interchange of Interstate 40 and U.S. 70, approximately eight miles south of downtown Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina. Because of Garner’s close proximity to Raleigh, all of the amenities and activities that are available in the capital city are a short distance away for Garner residents. Garner offers quick access to the Triangle’s first-class universities (N.C. State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University), Research Triangle Park, Atlantic Coast Conference athletics, professional sporting events and world-renowned golfing events.
Garner has maintained its small-town character despite being in the hottest metropolitan area in the country. Based on such metrics as school performance, green space and cultural amenities, Businessweek.com ranked greater Raleigh the best city in the country in 2011. Forbes in 2011 declared the area to be the No. 1 place in America for business and careers. It is the fourth time in the past five years that the area has been ranked No. 1 in this category. Forbes also ranked greater Raleigh as the No. 1 place for families with young children, the No. 2 place for young professionals and No. 2 on its list of the next big boom towns in the United States.
Raleigh-Durham International Airport serves the area, and Amtrak provides passenger rail service. Catch a flight to Atlanta, New York, Las Vegas or dozens of other domestic destinations. RDU’s international destinations include Cancun, Toronto and London. Amtrak passengers can catch the Piedmont train to Charlotte; the Carolinian to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia or New York; or the Palmetto and Silver trains to Charleston, Savannah, Tampa or Miami.
Garner residents know that they’re actually closer to downtown Raleigh than many Raleigh residents are. A trip to the Progress Energy Performing Arts Center, state Capitol, Moore Square Arts District, Raleigh Convention Center, Marbles Kids Museum, IMAX Theatre and more takes mere minutes.
From Garner, you can be at beautiful North Carolina beaches in two or three hours. You can also travel to the spectacular mountains in the western part of the state in about four hours. Because of Garner’s great location and easy access to Interstate 40 and U.S. 70, travelers can quickly access major thoroughfares and move throughout Garner, Raleigh and all surrounding areas easily while also finding quick access to other areas throughout North Carolina by way of 1-40, U.S. 70, Interstate 95, N.C. 401 and N.C. 50.
Whether you’re an avid nature lover or are simply looking for a great place to relax and enjoy some fresh air, Garner’s got something that’s just right for you. The Town’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department manages 350 acres of parkland inside Garner’s corporate limits with over four miles of paved trails.
Lake Benson Park’s 64 acres include a 1.8-mile walking trail – which connects to more trails at neighboring White Deer Park – and accommodate a variety of activities from family gatherings at four picnic shelters to townwide special events. In warm weather, fishing and boat rentals are available at the Lake Benson boathouse.
The park is also the site of Garner’s July 3 Independence Day Celebration, which draws over 20,000 people to the area. This family-friendly evening of entertainment by bands and the North Carolina Symphony, along with inflatable games and fun activities for children, and delicious food and treats from various vendors, ends with a spectacular fireworks show that surpasses others in the area.
Lake Benson Park was also the site of Scotty McCreery’s triumphant May 2011 “American Idol” homecoming concert, which drew over 30,000 people and was telecast live throughout central North Carolina.
Garner’s opened its newest park in November 2009. The 96-acre White Deer Park features a 2,500-square-foot Nature Center and 1,100-square-foot deck that overlooks the grounds. The park also boasts an arboretum, wildflower meadow, five picnic shelters and two playgrounds. Various classes and special events are held in the center and offer fun and educational experiences for school groups, families and individuals. The park received the 2011 Outstanding Project Grand Award from the North Carolina Division of Forest Resources in recognition of its amenities and programs.
The trails and greenway in White Deer Park wind through forest, and many families gather to ride bikes, walk or jog, and enjoy nature among the untouched habitats of the animals that live there. The South Garner Greenway, a one-mile stretch that connects White Deer Park to several miles of sidewalks around town, was completed in October 2011 and is an example of Town leaders’ commitment to delivering the best possible recreational amenities to Garner citizens and visitors.
The park was constructed with minimal change to the landscape and natural wildlife habitats in the area. Cisterns located throughout the park collect rainwater, which is used to irrigate, provide water play for the children and flush the toilets in the park’s restroom facilities. The park’s Nature Center, which offers a wide range of environmental education throughout the year, is LEED Gold certified, the only such facility in the Carolinas to receive that designation from the U.S. Green Building Council. The center also earned a 2011 Southeast Wood Design Award from WoodWorks in the “green building” category for its sustainable and attractive design.
Recreation and the Arts
From athletics and special events to the arts and outdoors, Garner offers a full slate of activities for people of all ages and walks of life. The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department publishes an activities brochure for town residents three times a year. The department offers numerous programs, classes, trips and activities for young people in sports, arts, theater, science and nature. An array of adult classes in fitness, sports, painting, photography and numerous other areas are also offered, enabling all residents to find something that will suit their interest.
Sports of every kind and interest are offered by the Garner Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department for sports enthusiasts of all ages. The community has 14 softball, baseball and soccer fields to host games, as well as six tennis courts at municipal facilities. The Town owns its own gymnasium, Avery Street Recreation Center, which hosts basketball games, after-school programs, fitness programs and other events.
Garner’s parks also boast 12 playgrounds and 12 picnic shelters for families and groups to get outside and have fun.
The Garner Senior Center is available for anyone over the age of 55. Entertainment, trips, classes, health screenings and other programs and resources are available at the center to assist Garner’s senior population. The center has been awarded the distinguished Center of Excellence award by the N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services.
The Garner Performing Arts Center is owned and operated by the Town’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. Various programs, entertainers, variety shows, pageants, and special events showcase the performing arts in Garner. The center’s lobby is used to display the works of local artist and photographers.
The Towne Players of Garner, a local award-winning theater group, use GPAC as their home theater. GPAC also hosts the wildly popular Broadway Voices series, which brings some of Broadway’s top talent to Garner. The North Carolina Parks and Recreation Association presented the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department with a 2011 Arts and Humanities Award for the series.
GPAC has also launched a new performing arts series called It’s Showtime!, which brings a variety of national entertainers to town. In addition, the back lawn of the GPAC campus is home to the free Music Off Main downtown concert series in the summertime. For information about the center, visit www.garnerperformingartscenter.com.
Historic Downtown Garner
Garner’s historic downtown traces its origins to 1878, when Garner’s Station was established with the construction of a post office along the North Carolina Railroad line. The Town of Garner was chartered in 1905. Today, the downtown historic district is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The downtown includes a number of recreational, historic and arts attractions. The Garner Performing Arts Center features the best in local and national talent. Other Town facilities such as the Garner Senior Center, Avery Street Recreation Center and Garner Recreational Park offer a wide range of recreational opportunities for residents and visitors. And the Town’s historic train depot has been restored in order to be home to a future museum.
Downtown Garner is also home to the Light Up Main tree-lighting festival and Christmas Parade during the holiday season as well as to the Music Off Main downtown concert series in the summer months.
The Town and the Garner Revitalization Association have worked together to develop the Historic Downtown Garner Plan, a redevelopment action plan for downtown based on a detailed market analysis and community-based design charette. For more information about the plan or other matters concerning historic downtown Garner, visit www.downtowngarner.com.
Garner Schools and the Wake County Public School System
The Garner area has eight public elementary schools (K-5), two middle schools (grades 6-8) and one high school (grades 9-12). The Town is served by the Wake County Public School System. Created through the merger of the former Wake County and Raleigh Public School Systems in July 1976, WCPSS serves the entire county, including all of the municipalities within it.
The system, the nation’s 17th largest, has more than 146,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade in 104 elementary schools, 32 middle schools, 25 high schools and five special/optional schools and programs. With Wake County’s superior school system, it’s no wonder that Forbes in 2011 ranked greater Raleigh as the No. 1 place in America for families with young children.
The system has a strong network of magnet schools that offers options for students and families, maximizes building capacity and promotes racial diversity in all schools. The magnet program consists of 31 schools that offer a wide variety of programs including year-round, gifted and talented, international baccalaureate, Montessori, creative arts and science, global communication, accelerated studies and other models.
Three Garner-area schools (Smith Elementary, East Garner Middle and Garner Magnet High) are accredited by the International Baccalaureate Program, an academically rigorous curriculum that prepares young people to become productive citizens living and working in a global economy.
For a newcomer’s one-stop information center about the school system, visit www.wcpss.net/newcomer/getting-started.
Garner has a full range of medical service providers. There are three hospitals within 25 minutes, two of which are affiliated with the medical teaching programs of UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University. Quality care, including family birth centers, cancer treatment, convalescent care, outpatient surgery, heart and vascular centers, and state-of-the-art emergency services departments, as well as dedicated clinics for pain management, sleep disorders and sports medicine, can be readily found at one of the three facilities. In addition, WakeMed has plans to build a free-standing facility with a 24-hour emergency department right in the heart of Garner.
Garner residents have taken full advantage of the Rex Wellness Center at White Oak Crossing. Rex Wellness is a comprehensive, medically supervised health and wellness center that features an indoor pool and an array of modern fitness equipment. Individuals and group fitness activities, including weight training, are also available.
Garner is a booming community for both businesses and commerce in the Triangle region. Known for its small-town charm and atmosphere, yet located near Raleigh and in close proximity to the worldfamous Research Triangle Park, Garner offers an excellent economic climate that’s well suited for new, relocating or expanding businesses.
In Wake County, 47 percent of people 25 years of age and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher. With a high quality of life, a diverse, skilled workforce and access to the state’s best academic institutions, Garner is the best place to do business in the heart of North Carolina.
Garner has numerous retail areas around town. White Oak Crossing shopping center is located in Garner and is a 766,000-square-foot retail center anchored by Best Buy, Kohl’s, Target, Ross, Michael’s, TJ Maxx, White Oak Stadium 14 Movie Theater and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Also located at White Oak Crossing are restaurants such as Chili’s, Logan’s Steakhouse, TGI Friday’s, Kaze Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi, Char-Grill, Carolina Barbecue, La Cocina Mexican Restaurant, Coldstone Creamery and many others.