Postcards from our adventures


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.



NC Botanical Garden-Display Gardens

DSC_4730-01.jpegWe were so excited to find this lovely place near UNC’s campus with loads of kid-friendly play spots and little secret garden features to explore.  The NC Botanical Garden manages around 700 acres of incredible collections filling every kind of garden habitat you can imagine, including the Coker Arboretum, Forest Theatre, Piedmont Nature Trails, Battle Park and other natural areas. Right off of highway 501, ,you will find a visitors center and array of display gardens, including carnivorous plants, fern collection, flowering plant area, and an walkway through bog and sandhills species. My kids loved smelling the vast vast collection of herbs in the Mercer Reeves Hubbard Herb Garden, and the sweet sculptures and water feature there make it a really fun place to explore.  Just for the kids, there is a discovery garden, with wooden blocks, weaving,  a sand box and a fairy garden. For the little ornithologists, a Bird Blind overlooks a special garden just for the birds! It is a wonderful place, I hope you get to take a stroll through it soon!

With Love,

Turtle Dove


Know Before You Go:  There is a Visitor Center with bathrooms and a gift shop at the entrance to the display area.  There are also restrooms at the work building near the herb garden.

Several of the gardens listed on the website are adjacent to each others, but some of the properties are located in other parts of the town.

There is no fee to visit.  The gardens are open Tuesday-Sunday.




Jack Smith Park and Splashpad

Screenshot_20180604-151322_DriveHow about some pint-sized water play, for free? Situated on a historic farm property on the outskirts of Cary, there’s a 50 acre park with 2 playgrounds, a great field, cool agrarian sculptures, and a rock-climbing feature. During the summer months, Jack Smith Park runs a free splashpad for kids, and my kids LOVE it! Lots of colorful sprayers, blasters, and fountains to choose from, there is plenty of space to run around and cool off, and the padded, spongy floor makes it safer for all ages.  My girls love to get soaked, splash around, then run down to the field at the bottom of the hill to play on the sheep sculptures and explore the woods and creek behind the park.  The playgrounds are sectioned for kids ages 5 and under and 5-12 since there are some taller slides on the one for older kids.  It’s a great place to spend the hot, summer afternoons, I hope you and your family get to have some fun there soon!

With Love,

Turtle Dove


Know Before you Go:  There are restrooms near the Splashpad, with changing tables, but no changing rooms.

The uncovered play equipment and climbing sculptures get HOT to the touch on bright, sunny days.

There is not much shaded seating around the splashpad.

There is a small trail to a creek at the back of the field, but watch out for poison ivy!

Water fountains are located near the splashpad, but other than the occasional visit from the ice cream truck, there is no food for sale at this park.







Historic Oak View County Park

DSC_4183-01.jpegA beautiful place to explore NC’s rich agricultural history, Historic Oak View offers a network of historic structures and reconstructions, barns and paddocks with live animals, garden areas, an orchard and acres of rolling grassy hills. The visitor’s center here is a real gem, especially for those with young children, as it includes a well equipped play kitchen, farm stand, and dress-up area.  Exhibits in the Farmhouse and outbuildings tell the story of 19th century farm life as well as that of farmer Benton Williams and his family. Williams was an outspoken union supporter during the Civil War. Other exhibits in the tenant house and cotton barn explain that after the war, the farm was owned and operated by the Wyatt family who diversified the farm by planting other crops such as the grove of pecan trees that front the main house.  My kids love spending a day here, and I love how much they learn exploring the herb garden and farm buildings, doing laundry with lye on a washboard outside the old kitchen house, or observing the goats and chickens that live on site.  I hope you and your family get some time to relax in the shade of one of the front porches and stroll through some of our area’s most rich history soon!

With Love, Turtle Dove

DSC_4277.JPGKnow Before You Go:  There are restrooms in the visitors center and near the goat paddock.

The visitor’s center and the main farmhouse are climate controlled.  The other buildings are open air.  While there is little furniture in the farmhouse, it is a decorated beautifully over the winter holidays.

It is ok to feed the goats, but there is a list of what is appropriate to feed them that can be found in the visitor’s center.

There are a few sets of stairs in some of the outbuildings, but most of the park is stroller friendly.