Discover Apex and Top Spots to Cool Off in Apex

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If you are new to Apex, you are not alone. Apex—sometimes called The Peak of Good Living—was named the best place to live in America in 2015 by Money magazine and has seen  unprecedented population growth in recent years. In 2010, 37,476 lived in the town that hugs the western corner of Wake County near Jordan Lake. As of May 1, the population was 77,668 and is predicted to swell to 120,000 by 2030. 

Yes, many people—particularly families of four, empty nesters and seniors—are headed to one of the fastest-growing towns in North Carolina. They move for a variety of reasons: Apex’s top-tier schools, a charming and historic downtown, an array of recreational opportunities and more. So many people are coming into the area that, for the first time ever, the Town of Apex has launched a tourism website for locals and visitors (, which gives pointers and suggestions on must-see and must-do items in and around town. 

“As part of our strategic plan process, we held public meetings. The feedback we received indicated that we should focus more on tourism as part of our overall economic development efforts. So we took that to heart,” says Barbara Belicic, the town’s small business specialist. “And a lot of our small businesses are destination or experiential places, so the new tourism website is a natural [fit].” 

Skaters can ollie, grind and kickflip at Rodgers Family Skate Plaza at Trackside. Photo courtesy of the Town of Apex.

Outdoor Explorations

Many of the Apex “must-do” items for newcomers center on the outdoors, as the town boasts over 13 miles of greenways with more in the planning stages. 

For starters, the Town of Apex has more miles of the American Tobacco Trail (ATT) within its town limits than any other Wake County community. The relatively flat ATT was built on an abandoned railroad corridor and spans 22-plus miles from Apex to Durham. 

“We have three entrances to the American Tobacco Trail in Apex, and the neat thing about it is you can actually walk, jog, ride bikes, walk your dog—even ride horseback,” Belicic says.

Apex also features an eye-popping dozen parks for kids and their parents to enjoy. Pleasant Park is the latest and greatest addition; it includes a 1.5-acre Enchanted Forest with nine inclusive play villages for all ages and abilities, six multipurpose lighted fields, six pickleball courts and more. This summer the park will open a much-anticipated splash pad. 

Celebrate barbecue with some of the best pitmasters in the area at Peak City Pig Fest in April. Photo courtesy of the Town of Apex.

Festivals and Fun

Newcomers should set aside some time in mid-April to attend Apex’s top food festival—Peak City Pig Fest. As many as 40 cook teams compete for more than $12,000 in prize money with chicken, ribs, beef brisket and pork on the menu at the popular downtown event. 

The first weekend of May is a great opportunity for those who have moved into the area from other states to shop until they drop, as more than 100 local crafts vendors will line downtown Apex’s main street for the annual PeakFest. 


Family Adventures

While recent development has claimed its share of horse and cattle farms, there remains a fair share of strawberry and blueberry patches around the area for those who like to hand-select their own fresh fruit. 

For those who love the water, several Apex-based locations along expansive Jordan Lake—one of the area’s best-kept secrets—offer boat and personal watercraft rentals. Most will take U.S. Highway 64 West to the lake, a stretch of pavement that displays some of the area’s best sunset views in the evening. In particular, the late fall can produce some amazing photo-ops. Boating, fishing and swimming create many opportunities for outdoor family adventures. 

And if your kids are thrill-seekers, Rodgers Family Skate Plaza at Trackside is the place to go. Located between and named after the two rail lines that run through downtown Apex, the skate park is a 13,000-square-foot, 4-tiered skate plaza which mimics street skating conditions and also includes competition skateboarding elements. The skate park is considered one of the best in the Southeast and draws enthusiasts from hundreds of miles away. 

Photo courtesy of The Town of Apex.

Food and Drink

Vicious Fishes Brewery is one of a half-dozen cool taprooms available for those wishing to partake in craft beers. Vicious Fishes has several locations in Wake County, but the Apex spot in particular has a taproom and coffee shop featuring an expansive outdoor space for kids and dogs to play.

Everyone likes to eat, and Apex has its share of foodie experiences that rival any place around the state of North Carolina. Some include popular food trucks, like Mr. A’s Beignets, which make regular appearances along Williams Street (N.C. Highway 55). Mr. A’s beignet mix and coffee are shipped directly from Louisiana, and each batch is made on-site and served fresh and hot.

One of Apex’s more unique dining experiences happens to be in an old Ford car dealership. Mustang Charlie’s Diner is the only place in town where you can try a Trash Plate, a signature dish of Rochester, New York. Select either a hamburger or hot dog laid on top of home fries and macaroni, topped with onions, mustard and the chef’s homemade meat sauce. 

The Town’s Oldest Tree

If you’re a newcomer with a soft spot for nostalgia, visit the 100-year-old tree along Hunter Street. The mammoth willow tree is wrapped with a red ribbon and bow after it was saved from a sidewalk improvement project in December 2023. 

We hope these ideas will give you a place to start as you get to explore your new hometown—finding both adventures and community along the way . 

Pleasant Park is a great place to escape the heat in Apex. Photo courtesy of the Town of Apex.

Where to Go to Cool Off in Apex

By Samantha Gratton


Everyone is looking for ways to beat the heat! From dipping your toes in the lake to grabbing your favorite summertime treat, here are some of Apex’s best spots to cool off this summer. 

Run through the fountains. “Splashlantis” is Apex’s first splash pad, located inside Pleasant Park. Take the kids and let them run through the water and then check out the new 1.5-acre playground, which opened in November. The splash pad is free and open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the summer. 

Hit the beach (without having to drive a few hours east). Jordan Lake State Recreation Area has several beach access points in Apex—including White Oak and Ebenezer Church—where you can sink your feet into the sand and jump in for a swim. Parking costs $7 per car. 

Breathe in the breeze as you glide across the water on your kayak, stand-up paddle board, sailboat or jon boat at Apex Community Park. There is a yearly permit required to launch, which can be obtained at the John M. Brown Community Center. The permit costs $5 for Apex residents and $40 for non-residents. 

If none of these fit your fancy, you can’t go wrong getting an ice cream cone. Just head downtown to Bee Sweet Creamery or FRESH. Local Ice Cream, because ice cream always solves the problem. Other spots in Apex for ice cream and frozen treats include El Encanto Neveria y PaleteriaSipcha and Pelican’s SnoBalls.

Check out more from around the Western Wake at

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