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


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



Falls Lake State Recreation Area


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

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.


North Carolina Museum of Art

DSC_3877-01 I feel so lucky to live in an area so rich in museums! My kids get to spend several days each year contemplating rooms full of  Rodins, cases of ancient cultural artifacts, and galleries of contemporary art at NCMA.  A stroll through the permanent collection can take us an entire day, so we try to divide up our trips by whatever artistic subjects are relevant to our studies at the time, or we may take a few hours and spend them in one of the museum’s amazing temporary exhibits. While the permanent collections are strictly hands-off, the special exhibitions often have interactive pieces, and sometimes a whole gallery for children’s discovery and creation.  Outside of the exhibit halls, visitors are treated to acres of manicured walking trails that wind around and through outdoor exhibits, an amphitheatre, and a discovery garden with a great slide sculpture and sensory garden.  The rolling hills of the park lead down to a wooded area with bridges and an AMAZING ‘cloud house’ built of stone and earth .  DSC_0880-01.jpeg  The wooded trails loop back to the parking areas, amphitheater, and connect to a greenway that crosses the highway.  Pop-up art programs are held regularly out in the small pavilion in the middle of the park, and are a great, free way for kids to connect to the art.  I hope you and your family get to see some of the wonderful pieces this museum has to offer soon.

With Love, Turtle Dove

Know before you go:  There are restrooms in both exhibit halls and outside underneath the amphitheatre.  There are no restrooms out in the art park.

There is no charge for the museum entrance, but special exhibits usually have a fee.  Children under 6 are often discounted or free.

There is food available at the art museum cafe, but you may need a reservation to be seated on busy days.  It is slightly formal, and the arrangement doesn’t lend itself to play, but you can order and take food outdoors. Sip Cafe, also in the main building has great coffee and baked goods.

The museum is closed Monday, but the park is open each day, dawn to dusk.



Bass Lake Park

screenshot_20180430-222005_instagram.jpgThe Town of Holly Springs operates a great little nature center at Bass Lake Park, with live animals, small exhibits, viewing decks, and a little Natural History reading nook.  My children love visiting the long time animal residents there: a soft-shelled turtle, milk, king, and pine snakes, and even a little albino hedgehog.  There are always park staff members on hand to answer questions, and sometimes they even have the animals out for cage cleaning or education programs so you get to meet them up close.  Of course, Bass Lake also has animals living outdoors in their natural habitats, such as the fish for which the lake is named, as well as frogs, turtles and all types of waterfowl and songbirds.  Fishing is encouraged, and there are boats for rent and poles to check out for kids. The trail around the lake provides mulch-covered trails for comfortable strolling, and lots of places to stop and look around along the way.  I hope your family gets to see the cool creatures and beautiful flora at Bass Lake soon.

With Love, Turtle Dove

Know Before You Go:  The Nature Center has restrooms, water for sale, ice cream for sale, picnic areas, and nature backpacks to check out with your license or some other id.

The trails are all mulch and not really stroller friendly unless it is an all terrain stroller.

The main trail loops around the lake, returning to the center.

Snakes are along the trail, especially near the water.




Lake Crabtree County Park

DSC_3514-01.jpegJust off Airport Boulevard near Raleigh-Durham International, there is a fabulous wilderness park with playgrounds, boating, and an awesome wildlife observation tower.  You can rent boats or bring your own canoes and kayaks to launch off of the accessible and public boat launch for an amazing day on the lake, where you can view heron and all sorts of fish up close.   There is a lovely open play area in a field near the lake, great for frisbee and other sports. A sand Volleyball court is also located near the boat launch. Adobe_20180430_213152-02  The thing that makes Crabtree Park memorable for us, though, is the 4-story observation tower overlooking the lake.  The kids love running up the stairs to the top and gazing out to watch birds or planes fly by.  I hope you and your family get a chance to spend a sunny day there soon!

With Love,

Turtle Dove

Know Before You Go:  There are restrooms at the tower, the manager building, and the public boat ramp area.  There is no food available, but water fountains are located at the tower.

Each of the 2 playgrounds are shaded and near the lake and picnic shelters.

There is a cool old historic home site if you take the trail from the open playspace.  It has some great interpretation about growing tobacco.

Certain trails are closed from time to time. Check the website and look for signs to stay off of unsafe trails. Parts of the greenway are under construction as of May 1, 2018.

Fishing at the park is catch and release.



RDU Observation Park

Screenshot_20180410-232515_DriveThis place is great if you have a little aircraft enthusiast or for anyone who wants to see a few planes take off and land up close. A little jungle gym and a mini  mock runway make great additions, but the real draw is the observation deck overlooking the small aircraft hangars and the western runway near the control tower. My children love leaning against the deck rails watching planes come in, especially when we are waiting for someone traveling or waving goodbye as someone heads out. (They wave goodbye to every plane for good measure). They also love running the little runway, pretending to race the big planes. Hope you get to check it out next time you’re dropping someone off for a flight or just for fun on a clear day!

With Love, Turtle Dove

Know Before you Go:  The Park address is W International Dr, Morrisville, NC 27560. This little park can be hard to find and GPS/maps sometimes doesn’t recognize the address. Just past the terminals, you will take a right on W. International Drive. Follow it past the control tower until you can take a left on Business St.  The park is on your left.

There are restrooms located near the observation deck.

The stairs, monkey bars and lots of the picnic tables are in disrepair lately. Hopefully, this is just because of the high volume of traffic there and they will get those fixed up soon.Screenshot_20180403-092208_Drive