Postcards from our adventures


Yates Mill County Park

DSC_8239.JPGSo many of our great county parks have both historical and natural components that really make the visitor experience there wonderful.  At Historic Yates Mill County Park visitors can explore the 134 acre wildlife refuge as well as the historic remains of a 1750s water-powered gristmill.  Exhibits and artifacts in the visitor’s center tell the story of Wake County’s rich agricultural heritage, and programs, events, and costumed grinding demonstrations can further the experience.  My children love the section of the educational center set aside for hands-on learning, with colonial dress up, puzzles and toys, and a coloring area.  There are also natural research materials inside the center, including a large array of bird and egg specimens.  Outside, you can take a walk around the lake, fish from the bridge, or explore the educational garden. The best part of this site is the mill itself, watching water cascade down the worn, mossy rocks and bricks, against the backdrop of the historic building and water wheel.  It’s a great place to relax or enjoy a picnic with the family. I hope you get to visit Historic Yates Mill soon!

With Love,

Turtle Dove

Know Before You Go:  There are restrooms in the visitors center, they can be accessed from inside or outside the building.

No dogs, with the exception of service animals, are allowed on the property.

There are no food or drinks for sale at the site. There is a water fountain near the restrooms.

The park is free to visit, however costumed demonstrations and tours are offered March through November on Saturdays for a fee.  View tours and fee schedules here



Lake Wheeler Park

DSC_8053-01.jpegA few summers ago, my teenager took crew class at Lake Wheeler Park, so the two younger children and I got to spend a few hours a week exploring all of the wonderful things it has to offer.  Besides the sparkling blue water where you can rent pedalboats, kayaks, canoes, and jon boats, there are several miles of wooded trails and a great playground overlooking the water.  We loved spending time watching the ducks and geese on the lake.  We also saw so many different types of butterflies and moths at this park in particular, perhaps due to their pretty pollinator garden next to the boathouse.  The public docks on the lake are the perfect place to sit and observe waterbirds like heron and kingfishers, and we just love the wooded view across the lake.  It is a great place for families with kids to spend the day, I hope you get to have some fun there soon!

With Love,

Turtle Dove

Know Before You Go:  Lake Wheeler has public restrooms at the boathouse and at the trail head.

There is NO SWIMMING at Lake Wheeler Park.

Fishing is allowed at Lake Wheeler, kids under 12 fish free, there is a fee for other age groups.  Shoreside fishing is not allowed, only from docks and watercraft.

The trails here are shady, there are lots of mosquitoes.




John Chavis Memorial Park

DSC_7795-01So, guess what?! Raleigh actually has 2 beautiful historic carousels downtown.  You’ve probably visited Pullen Park, but did you know that there is another gorgeous restored carousel just a few miles away?  John Chavis Memorial Park in Raleigh has a 1923 carousel in a new climate controlled building, with an ornate Wurlitzer band organ at its center, and tickets from Pullen can also be used there.  The park also has several playing fields, a great sand playground, a lighted outdoor walking track, and several picnic shelters.  It is also right next to the Chavis Community center which offers classes and rentable facilities through the City of Raleigh.  My girls loved climbing on the ages 2-5 and 5-12 playground equipment and part of Walnut Creek that runs through the property.  It’s so much fun to find a new and not-too-crowded place to play, I hope your family gets to check it out soon!

With Love,

Turtle Dove

Know Before You Go: There is a pool/splashpad at this park that is under construction.  Please check back for more info when it re-opens!

There are no bathroom facilities open at the playground, you visit the community center for restrooms.

The carousel ticket sales close 10 minutes before park closures.

Tickets are $1 for the carousel for all riders 13 months and older (this includes accompanying parents)

The playground equipment is mostly metal, and gets really hot to the touch in the sunshine.




Marla Dorrel Park/ Kids Together Playground

DSC_6429-01Did you know a Dragon named Katal resides in a park in Cary? Marla Dorrel Park was one of the selling points of the Triangle area when I first visited the with small children.  The dragon climbing structure and the amazing playgrounds here were so much fun for my little one that we played there almost every day for our first month here.  A designated sand surfaced pres-school play area with an easy slide and little hideaways are perfect for tiny pretend play.  In another area, there is a climbing structure with plenty of tunnels and ladders and a veranda with mushroom steps/tables for fairy tale play.  The town has just added a mist garden, with sprayers and several beautiful sculptures and benches. DSC_6432-01 Just a few steps along the sidewalk, and you’ll encounter a playstucture inclusive for all abilities, with a roller slide and wide ramps. My children have the best time with all of the swing choices! There are a couple of sand play areas and multiple shades picnic areas for lunch. I hope you and your family get to spend some time there soon!

With Love,

Turtle Dove

DSC_6445-01Know Before You Go: Restrooms are located at the front of the park, under the picnic shelter.

Water fountains are in the picnic shelter and near the toddler play area. There is no food for sale at the park, but it is near a shopping center.

There have been several break-ins reported over the past few years at this park, park signage advises  to lock vehicles and hide belongings.

Parking near the playground is limited. There are more spaces near the public basketball courts at the front of the park.



Parrish Womble Park

Screenshot_20180622-214556_InstagramHolly Springs suburb is growing incredibly fast, and as such, the town is constantly improving its municipal departments and services.  Parrish Womble Park, for instance, has seen several improvements over the past few years, including updates to their multi-level playground, a synthetic turf field, and a covered outdoor stage.  This town park has a few miles of paved walking trails, baseball fields, beach volleyball court, and tennis courts to boot.  There is a small pond near the playground that my children love to explore as it is always full of tadpoles and turtles in the spring.  There are several great shady areas to play here, and some lovely old trees to climb.  I hope you get to spend some time at Womble Park soon!

With Love,

Turtle Dove

DSC_1017Know Before You Go:  There are restrooms near the playground with changing tables.  Water fountains are located near the tennis courts.

There is a small creek and pond near the playground, we always bring nets and water shoes. Not appropriate for swimming, but great for exploring.

The fenced synthetic field has designated open playtimes, check the website for availability.

There is only food for sale at Womble Park during movie and sporting events.  The concession stand is otherwise closed.



Carroll Howard Johnson Environmental Education Park

Screenshot_20180622-214510_InstagramA little known hiking spot managed by the town of Fuquay, Carroll Howard Johnson Environmental Education Park has several miles of stream with beautiful cascades over rock formations and wide, canopied trails.  Overlooks, bridges and walkways provide interesting places to stop and observe wildlife, such as birds, dragonflies and snakes.  We have enjoyed many secluded walks down paths with interpretive panels describing the trees and landscape.  Bonus: in the summer, the field in the center of the park boasts blackberries and wildflowers in abundance.  An amphitheater at the front of the park is a great place to put on pretend plays, and my kids love using the trail map to find their way along trails with names like Hummingbird Way and Honeysuckle Path.  If you’re around Fuquay at Halloween, the town has an awesome Haunted Woods trail where the trails are haunted by local teens in costume.  It really is a treasure of local flora and fauna, I hope you and your family get to explore here soon!

With Love,

Turtle Dove

Know Before you Go:  The park is in a rural area of Fuquay Varina, there is no food or drink for sale at the park.

The park has restrooms near the parking lot, there are no restrooms out on the trails.

Snakes, ticks and poison ivy can be spotted on the trails.

There are several creek accesses for waterplay, we always bring water shoes and extra clothes to this park.



Fred G. Bond Metro Park

DSC_5948-02If you live in or frequent the triangle, chances are you’ll end up in Fred G. Bond Metro Park in Cary for either Kite Festival, Winter (man-made) snow sledding, a sporting or running event, or one of the great concerts the town has in the park’s small amphitheater.  At 350 acres, Bond park is one of the largest municipal parks in this area.  In addition to the aforementioned fun, the park also has several baseball fields, fishing lake with boat rentals, picnic shelters, and miles of paved greenways and running trails.  Our favorite part of this park is  the Compost Education Center, a series of outdoor exhibits and landscaped garden areas exploring the different aspects of composting, complete with a worm bed! The kids also love the “Lazy Days” playground here, especially the large sandbox and shaded swings.  The park is fronted by Cary’s Community and Senior Centers, and has a ropes course area that can be booked for classes and team building activities.  Whether you visit for an event or a fun outing with the family, I hope you get to spend some time at Bond Park soon!

With Love,

Turtle Dove


Know Before You Go:  Bond park has several restroom areas, but they are all a few minute walk from the playground.  (We first visited with a toilet-training toddler and that was tough for us!)  You can find bathrooms near the boat house and across Bond Park Drive from the playground in the direction of the amphitheater, as well as near the Compost Education Center and Ropes Course.

There is no swimming at the Bond Park Lake.

Admission is free to the park, however, certain events require a fee.

There are snacks and drinks for sale at the boathouse during the summer months.