CITY AND TOWN PARKS

White Deer Park

20180817_164836Wow! Just, wow! White Deer Park has quickly become one of our places to play in this area, because it has everything!! A great playground, a natural playground, an environmental education center, gorgeous woods to play in, trails, a stream to explore… really, it is just the most beautiful park to spend an afternoon!  The girls love the long slide in the hill at the nature playground, that leads down to a forested area perfect for building forts and bridges.  There are no shortage of cool things to climb and play on, and if you head over to the environmental center, you can meet some cool local animals, and even take a class or do a craft in their beautiful classroom.  There is a back deck area for birdwatching, and a small kids garden area to check out near the educational center.  Just down the path, you will find a few accesses to a small stream, great for poking around to find frogs and other creatures.  On the other side of the park, you’ll find some awesome playground equipment, including some really cool swings that even grownups love!  There is also a beautiful meadow and some cool historic artifacts in that area.  Check out this park with your family soon, you won’t be disappointed!

With Love,

Turtle Dove

Know Before You Go:  There are restrooms at both the Nature Center and the Picnic Shelter near the playground.

Some of the playground in the Nature Playground is tough for smaller children.  My youngest was catapulted right off of a see-saw.  There are also lots of splinters in the natural playground (it’s really natural!)

We have seen a few snakes in the natural playground area.

There are great classes and some drop in activities in the Nature Center.  Find them here

COUNTY PARKS AND RECREATION SITES

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

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CITY AND TOWN PARKS

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.

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CITY AND TOWN PARKS

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.

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CITY AND TOWN PARKS

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

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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.

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CITY AND TOWN PARKS

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

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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.

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COUNTY PARKS AND RECREATION SITES

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.

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PRIVATELY OWNED FUN SPOTS

Harris Energy and Environmental Center

Adobe_20180519_195836-02-01The Harris Nuclear Plant in New Hill, NC is currently owned by Duke Energy and produces enough electricity to power 500,000 homes.  As a liaison between the plant and the public, Harris set aside several acres as an education center and hiking trails.  The center offers scheduled tours that cover the topics of energy production and energy conservation.  There are interactive exhibits, most are suited for school-age children. The trails outside have a number of bridges and board walks and move through several ecosystems, including a field and stream. Trees are marked with interpretive signs.  The deciduous canopy and beautiful ferns make these trails beautiful in the spring time, and each bend seems to have an interesting fallen tree, moss covered ledge, or little stream to explore.  Hope your family gets out to the environmental center soon!

With Love, Turtle Dove

Know Before You Go:  The Center is closed on weekends and opens to the public for scheduled tours only.  See  https://www.duke-energy.com/energy-education/energy-centers-and-programs/harris-energy-and-environmental-center/visit-us to learn more about booking a tour. The trails are open to the public from sun up to sundown each day.

The trails can be difficult to follow, look for white markings and the occasional set of arrow signs.

There are no public restrooms, unless you are there for a scheduled tour.

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CITY AND TOWN PARKS

Pullen Park

DSC_4550.JPGThere is an amusement park right in the middle of downtown Raleigh! Operated by the City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation, Pullen Park has so much fun to offer to visitors at such a great price, it’s no wonder that it is a favorite for families of the triangle area.  A beautiful 19th century historic carousel, a train, and little kiddie boats can all be ridden here for $1/ guest.  The park also has play spaces for several ages and ability levels, and a sand and water area.  DSC_4467-01.jpegInteresting spaces, such as the amphitheater, koi pond, caboose, and small islands with shade and geese make spending time anywhere in the park unique and fun.  The pond also has pedal boats available for rent in the summer months, as well as some awesome evening films on outdoor screens.  The park restaurant, Pullen Place, offers locally sourced food and plenty of vegetarian and allergy friendly foods.  It’s such a fun place to be a kid! I hope your family gets to spend a day riding the rides and exploring the play areas soon!

With Love, Turtle Dove

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Know Before You Go:  The restaurant opens at 11, and the rides open 10 am, while the park is open from 9 -9.  The rides close due to inclement weather and darkness.

Tickets for the train, carousel, and boats must be purchased at the park entrance box office and all adults need tickets to ride.

This park is stroller friendly.

There are restrooms in the center of the park, near the carousel, and also at the restaurant/outdoor dining area.

The sand and water play area does not have a foot or hand washing area.DSC_4587.JPG

 

STATE PARKS

Falls Lake State Recreation Area

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We 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.