Apex Community Park and Lake Pine

DSC_0329-01When we first moved to the Triangle, we were lucky enough to live right down the street from the beautiful, 160-acre Apex Community Park.  Greenways and fitness paths wind through this park, along playing fields, passing tennis courts and playgrounds, and around 2 miles around lovely Lake Pine.  It’s a great place to practice all sorts of sports; from volley ball courts to batting cages, even a fenced court for roller hockey, Apex’s gem of a park has it all.  There’s a relatively new obstacle-type fitness course with all sorts of strengthening and climbing equipment, sized for teen to adult.  There are two children’s playgrounds, one of them is fenced for safe play.  We love wandering the paved trail around the lake, with all sorts of benches, picnic tables, and pathways to the waterside, as well as a sandy boat launch area and a fishing dock, my kids and I can spend several hours observing turtles and herons, looking for frogs and collecting pine cones. It’s an amazing place to spend the day! Hope you and your family get to spend some time there soon!

With love,

Turtle Dove

Know before you go:  There are 2 parking area entrances for this park, Lake Trail entrance and the Community Park entrance.

There are restrooms at the playgrounds, as well as the Lake Trail parking area.

Lots of people take their dogs for walks at this park.  There are doggy clean up stations located along the trails.

The fitness areas are recommended for teens to adult, and most of the equipment is not sized for little children.

Poison ivy is rampant along the trails, especially the pathways to the water.

There is no swimming allowed in Lake Pine.






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


Lake Benson Park

20180817_164853We love spending time in Garner! Okay, so a lot of that has to do with some awesome friends and family who live there, but also, we love the parks! Lake Benson Park is one of our Garner favorites, with lovely walking trails, a great multi-age level SHADED playground, and, of course, the lake.  The town of Garner was brilliant for installing the shades over the playground equipment here, and it makes the whole experience so much more friendly for little bare hands, legs and feet in the summer!  Also, we could spend hours hanging by the tranquil lake catching tadpoles and skipping stones.  With large open fields, an exercise path and covered picnic shelters, this park has a lot to offer a family like ours, with lots of ages to entertain.  I hope your family gets to spend some time here soon, and be sure to check out White Deer Park, just across the street, when you do!

With Love,

Turtle Dove

Know Before You Go: Bathrooms are located at the playground area.

There are 2 playground areas at this park, the shaded equipment is at the playground to the left as you enter.

No food is for sale, or in walking distance from this park.  There are water fountains in the picnic area near the bathroom.

There is no swimming at Lake Benson Park.



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.



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.