STATE PARKS

Falls Lake State Recreation Area

DSC_4098-01We spent Mother’s day afternoon at the Beaverdam swimming area of Falls Lake and while beautiful, the beach was CROWDED! Falls Lake is used often for family reunions and group events.  We ended up setting up in the picnic section, and it was so much more peaceful, with a shelter of trees and lovely mossy ground.  The lake itself is gorgeous, with a clay bottom and little islands and banks covered in pine trees.  Beaverdam is one of 5 swimming areas (2 were already marked “Full” when we arrived), and is especially nice because there are no motorized boats allowed in that area. Aside from the shoulder to shoulder people in the area, Falls Lake beaches offer bathhouses, playgrounds, and picnic areas.  The park is also on the Mountains to the Sea Trail and is  great for hiking and mountain biking.   There are campsites ranging from RV hookups to primitive, and 2 of the beaches on site are dedicated for camper use only.  The canoeing and kayaking are great here, as there are so many great islands to circle and explore, and you can launch from the great boat ramps or at several walk-outs along the shoreline.  Hope you and your family have an opportunity to spend some time at Falls Lake soon!

Know Before You Go:  The beach and picnic areas fill up early.  Apparently, people go early and set up, and will occasionally move other people’s items around in order to make room for their own.  Week days are much less crowded.

There is a $7/ car fee for day use at the park from May to September, $6 on weekdays, with different fees for seniors and vans/buses. More information can be found here https://www.ncparks.gov/falls-lake-state-recreation-area/trails

There are restrooms in the beach areas with changing areas and outside showers.  There are also restrooms on the trails near the campgrounds.

There is plenty of wildlife at this park, including ticks and snakes.AirBrush_20180521204701

MUSEUMS AND EDUCATIONAL CENTERS

NC Museum of Natural Science and Research Center

We are in this museum so often that my children think of it as ‘our dinosaur museum!’ This place has amazing permanent exhibits, including a giant dinosaur room, several floors of wildlife dioramas, and a butterfly conservatory Screenshot_20180312-002611with a live (very sleepy) sloth. In addition, there’s a Discovery Room, full of costumes, microscopes, manipulatives, and touchables of all sorts, including live specimens! You can check out the schedule for daily movies, 3-d short films, and other paid activities, and there is always something new in the temporary exhibit hall that usually costs a small fee.

But wait… there’s more…  you can cross an indoor or outdoor pedestrian bridge over to the attached “Research Center,” where you can particiate in science activities led by local scientists in their labs! Several are open for activities each day, and others are open for viewing. So cool, right? And there’s also a 3 story movie room and a smaller underwater submarine simulator. I hope your family gets to spend a few days there and enjoys it as much as we do!

With love, Turtle Dove

Know before you go: NCMS admission is free, special exhibits and movies are not. Check their site for current costs.

School groups visit frequently weekdays before lunch.

The butterfly conservatory and Discovery room are closed on Mondays

The Daily Planet Cafe located on the Research center side has gluten free and dairy free options (and great coffee!)screenshot_20180312-000027.png