Hazel Abel Park, a quiet Near South retreat

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Haels Abel Park

Roundus.com says it best: “Tucked away in Lincoln’s historic Near South neighborhood, this quaint, Renaissance-style park includes a gazebo, fountain, play area and benches all surrounded by an ornate cast iron fence.” And that, in a nutshell, is Lincoln’s own Hazel Abel Park.”

After renovations costing over $200,000 in 2010, Hazel Abel Park has kept its historic charm and beauty but added safety features that include trimmed hedges that allow watchful parents to see inside. The playground equipment was also moved to the front entrance, also for better visible access. The playground floor is a soft, black and white checkered pattern that is handicapped accessible. The checkerboard pattern is the perfect contrast to the aesthetically pleasing black fence, Victorian style benches and lighting fixtures, and of course the extensive gardening that intimately and strategically covers patches of the greenest grass.

A large fountain, columns, and a gazebo urge visitors to forget the world for a few minutes and get lost in a good book. Brides are attracted to the beauty and seclusion making the park a popular wedding spot.

If anything epitomizes the phrase “tucked away,” it’s Hazel Abel Park. And on the way to this quiet retreat on the corner of 18th and E Street, there are plenty of stops along the way to enhance the peaceful experience. A quick stop at the longstanding and infamous Zesto’s, or a mouthwatering lunch at the nearby 9 South CharGrill make a visit to Hazel Abel not just an activity, but an entire experience.

At first glance when walking inside the gates of Hazel Abel, it’s reminiscent of a scene from Alice in Wonderland, or the magical world of Willy Wonka. The playground equipment is simple, but unique and engaging.

A five year old explained “The spinny thing! The spinny thing! The other parks don’t have that spinny thing!” And then he ran off, full of glee, of course, to spin.

The playground equipment proves that for kids, simple is the most stimulating. A simple metal slide, climbing equipment, and see-saw are more than enough to elicit giant grins on the faces of children. The grins are almost impossible to see as the kids speed around the enclosed park, imaginations and tiny legs soaring with pure joy.

The land for Hazel Abel was purchased in 1960, and named lovingly after the purchaser’s mother, Hazel.

Regardless of which part of Lincoln you live, this park is worth a first, second, and third look. It will quickly become a family favorite, either for childhood play or just a place for peaceful reflection with more than a few friendly squirrel companions.

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