Neuse River Trail: MP 11.5 – 13.25

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Over Memorial Day weekend, we headed out to Buffaloe Road Athletic Park to run along the Neuse River Trail and then have some playground time back at the park.  Unfortunately, the playground was closed for resurfacing so our short run turned into a much longer run and lucky for us the girls didn’t mind too much.

Buffaloe Road Athletic Park is located at 5812 Buffaloe Rd in east Raleigh.  We parked in the parking lot adjacent to the playground and headed out on the nearby trail.  With little signage to go by, we ran along the wooden boardwalk that dead ended at a small stream.  After getting turned around, we found a paved trail in the park and followed it along the perimeter of the park towards the aquatic center entrance.  We continued following the greenway signs, crossed the road before getting to the aquatic center main building, and finally found the Neuse River Trail after a few more right hand turns! Whew, we had a mile  (mostly uphill) under our belts already!   When you see the huge “traffic circle” feature in the trail, you know you’re there.  For future reference, we’ll park closer to the aquatic center if we need access to the greenway.

IMG_6589We turned right heading south onto the Neuse River Trail and we shortly came upon the 11.5 mile marker and a large bridge that crossed the Neuse River.  It had rained a lot in Raleigh over the weeks leading up to Memorial Day weekend, so the water levels were still pretty high and the river was flowing fast, which made for great toddler conversations.

There was quite a good bit of foot and bike traffic along the way so it was nice to see so many people using the greenway.  This portion of the greenway has a good variety of elevation – there are several flats parts mixed with some hilly parts.  We made several stops along the way for toddler nature potty stops and to admire the high water levels and nice houses across the river.  We even made it all the way south to where some good friends live across the river; even though we couldn’t see their house through the dense forest, our GPS showed where we were in comparison to their house so that was neat!  When looking back over the COR greenway map, we ran until just north of greenway parking #44 (2894 Abington Dr).

IMG_6611The run home felt much shorter with several less stops than the way out.  When we arrived back into Buffaloe Road Park, we followed signs to the athletic park instead of to the aquatic center.  With this option, we ran along the northern perimeter of the park and got to witness the massiveness of the baseball fields.  When we got back to our car, we were pooped! Ashley made a final pit stop in the restroom facilities near the closed playground and then we headed out for some well deserved lunch.  I look forward to taking the girls back to the park later this summer when the playground surface is finished.

More Resources:

Thumbs up: views along the greenway, condition of the greenway, photo ops, having playground and running options in one spot (despite playground being closed)

Thumbs down: no mention of playground being closed on COR website, lack of signage to greenway from playground

Greater Raleigh Drop-in Rainy Day To Do List

With all the recent rainy and snowy weather in Raleigh I wanted to create a list of drop-in activities that I could refer to whenever I’m grasping looking for something to do with little ones in tow.  Here’s a starter list of indoor activities outside the house that are guaranteed to educate and entertain the sweet babes:

  • rainy day playgroundFit4Mom/Stroller Strides of Midtown Raleigh – grab your Bob Stroller (or any stroller, really) and join other mommas for a great workout with your babes; first class is free; check out the Facebook group which is free to join and full of fun playdates
  • Tot Time with City of Raleigh Parks & Rec – free, indoor playtime (ages 5 and under) at various community centers around the city of Raleigh; each center has different toys (i.e., basketball hoops, tunnels, push cars, slides, etc) available for play; my favorite Tot Time is at Laurel Hills Community Center; consult the most recent Leisure Ledger for dates/times at each center
  • Great Harvest Bread Co in North Raleigh – has small play area with toys for kids while you enjoy delicious coffee and breads!
  • City of Raleigh’s Greystone Recreation Center – indoor playground in North Raleigh with rock climbing wall and various rope climbing structures; designed for kids ages 5-12, but I’ve found Ashley began enjoying this park at age 2 1/2; playground times vary, so be sure to check their schedule or sometimes I’ve found it’s easiest to call for their hours: 919-996-4848
  • Storytime at the library – libraries throughout Wake County have several storytimes grouped by ages: baby, toddler, preschool and family; storytime at Cameron Village featuring Mr. Erik is the most interactive library activity we’ve been to; check the list of kids’ events for dates, times and locations
  • Bounce Houses – refer to the list of bounce houses compiled by WRAL’s Go Ask Mom
  • Marbles Kids Museum – hands-on kids museum in downtown Raleigh that offers two floors of interactive, creative play for children; $5 per person over age one; one of the only indoor places in Raleigh open on Sunday mornings
  • Storytime at NC Museum of Natural Sciences – free, downtown museum with an amazing variety of exhibits, events, and hands-on displays for kids of all ages, but the daily storytime and “Meet the Animals” activities are our favorite activities
    • storytime and “Meet the Animals” schedule
    • complete list of events
  • NC Museum of History – free, downtown museum that has fewer hands-on exhibits for toddlers, but still boasts a large permanent collection on the history of NC along with several very interesting rotating exhibits (be sure to check out Watergate); weekly storytime on Thursdays; check full schedule of eventsrainy day playground
  • Rainbow Play on Glenwood Ave – large indoor party room with swing sets mostly designed for kids older than 2, but they do have a small area for early walkers and crawlers; open play time is Mon-Fri from 10am-2pm but call during other times to see if room is available for play; $5/child for ages 2 and up
  • Tumble Gym of Raleigh – open gym time with trampoline, balance beam, bars, and more; $10/hr per child; call for dates/times: 919-977-0357
  • See an IMAX movie at Marbles – other than the latest Hollywood movies, this theater shows several educational documentaries that are appropriate for toddlers
  • Paint your own pottery – paint ceramic pieces (plates, mugs, household items, etc) in a pottery studio; prices usually include all painting supplies, glazing and firing; pieces are available to pick up about a week later; makes for great gifts; our favorite is Klaystation off Durant Rd
  • Kids’ Workshops at Lowe’s and Home Depot – free hands-on workshops to teach kids about tool safety and do-it-yourself projects; Home Depot runs workshops on the first Saturday of each month – check local store for times; Lowe’s runs clinics on select Saturdays – consult schedule
  • The Farmers’ Corner at Historic Oak View County Park – this is a fantastic park that is so much fun for kids and adults, but the Farmers’ Corner in the Farm History Center is where kids can plant and harvest crainy day poolrops while reading books and playing dress-up; main building is open 8:30am-5pm on Mon-Sat and 1-5pm on Sundays but the Farmers’ Corner is sometimes not available due to scheduled programs, so call ahead 919-250-1013; see previous posts on this park
  • City of Raleigh indoor swimming pools – with so many options for year-round swimming in Raleigh, visit one of the indoor pools: Pullen, Millbrook, Optimist, Buffaloe Rd Aquatic Center; be sure to check the hours of operation before heading out
  • Bass Pro Shops in Cary and local pet stores – endless rows of interesting animals and fish to see
  • Train tables at Barnes & Nobles (Triangle Town Center) and Logan Trading Company in Seaboard Station offer great fun for little ones
  • DefyGravity trampoline Park in Raleigh features great fun for all ages, including a special jump session from 9-10am for kids under 7 where they play fun princess/toddler music

Where else in the Triangle do you explore on rainy or snowy days?  Let me know what I’ve missed so I can include your ideas.

Buffaloe Rd Aquatic Center

img_3259A few months ago we headed to the Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center for a birthday party of one of Ashley’s friends.  I’ve been wanting to take Ashley here all winter and couldn’t wait to take her and celebrate with friends.  Having not been in an indoor pool much this winter, I knew Ashley would act like a maniac and she did not disappoint!

The aquatic center is located near the back of the Buffaloe Road Athletic Park at 5908 Buffaloe Rd in northeast Raleigh.  There was plenty of parking on this cold January day with several oversized spots for large buses.  After arriving in the lobby area, we went to the new changing rooms, which had plenty of space for getting littles one changed.  The family bathrooms (two of them!) were also very spacious with showers and oversized benches, perfect for keeping bags and clothes from getting wet.  Lockers are located outside the changing room areas on the pool deck.

The pool contains several different areas with something for everyone: zero-depth entry tot area with slide, water buckets and sprayers; open play area with water basketball; lazy river with water vortex; three-story water slide (height req = 42 in); lap swimming/water volleyball area.  For a 22 month old, Ashley’s favorite places to play were on the tot slide, walking along the bench in the open play area, and playing with the water basketball (even though she was way too short to make the basket).  Being a maniac on outdoor playground slides, she easily transitioned her “no fear” mentality to the water tot slide and even screamed to try the big slide.  The big slide does not allow children to ride with parents and all riders must be at least 42 inches high.  Feeling the need to experience the big slide, I rode it and was surprised at how fast I went.  I realized how it justified the height requirement and was secretly glad Ashley couldn’t ride it yet.

After some water play time, all the kids gathered in the party room area to celebrate Kennedy’s 3rd birthday.  The private party area has several tables, chairs, and a sink for use.  As you can see in the pictures, all the kids had a great time scarfing down the cupcakes.

Thumbs up: unique water play areas, tot area, lazy river

Thumbs down: trying to reason with your 22 month old why she can’t go down the big slide 🙁