Postcards from our adventures


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.



Crowder County Park

DSC_8962-02We always hit Crowder Park whenever we need a relaxing place to play safely and to take a short walk with a lot of natural reward. Just off of Ten-Ten Road in Apex, Crowder offers a great main playground with high, fun slides, some excellent climbing apparatus, and a lot of fun, twirly things to ride.  There is also a wonderful birdwatching deck and a fun walk with bridges around a pond.  We always bring our binoculars with us as we always see awesome wildlife at this park.  In addtion, there are two other playgrounds located at other picnic shelters. It’s a great little park to spend time in, with the perfect mix of wild and fun.  I hope you get to check it out with your family soon!

With Love,

Turtle Dove

Know Before You Go:  Restrooms are located at the office and near the playground at the wooded deck.

There are several awesome picnic shelters to choose from at this park.  Each has its own playground, which makes birthday party rentals extra fun!

The playground slides on the older children’s play equipment are really high, and younger children may require adult help, especially if you have one of those determined- to-climb-everything-big-sister can type kids like mine!



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.