Abbotts Creek Park

IMG_3448Before Christmas we headed to the newly opened Abbotts Creek Park, which is adjacent to Abbotts Creek Community Center and Abbotts Creek Elementary School.  Abbotts Creek Park is located in northeast Raleigh at 9950 Durant Rd, just down the road from North Wake Landfill.

The playground area is fenced-in and has brightly colored play features similar to the playgrounds at Greystone Community Center, Hill Street Park, and Powell Drive Park.  The smaller age playground features a slide, climbing ropes, and a planet-like climb-through structure.  Just a few steps away is the older age playground which features several connected rope climbing structures, climb-through rings, bouncy stepping stones, a tall slide, and a spinner.  The park also has a few benches, tot swings, regular swings, and shade canopies.

IMG_3445Outside the playground is a large concrete area with a large painted circle (presumably for playground games), four 100-yd dash lanes, a large grassy area, and rear access to the community center and elementary school play areas around the corner.  The outside spaces have lots of room to hopefully add picnic tables in the future.

We spent over an hour on the playground where the girls imagined treasure hunts, pretended the rubberized surface was hot lava, and hid in the castle (aka the top of the tall slide).  We couldn’t visit the community center because it was closed while we were there, but according to the City of Raleigh website it features a, “two story community center houses a gymnasium with a real wood floor, fitness room, multipurpose classrooms, a fitness studio, lockers and dressing rooms, and office areas.”  Even though it’s a small playground area, there’s a lot to do; but if you run out of fun here be sure to visit Durant Nature Preserve or North Wake Landfill District Park down the street.

Thumbs up: shade tarps for hot days, easy access, brightly colored play structure with interesting rope climbing features

Thumbs down: nothing to report

Update: Western Regional Park in Howard County, MD

IMG_3222Over Thanksgiving we headed back to Western Regional Park in Howard County, MD to explore the playground that was under construction the first time we visited.  The playground did not disappoint – the girls spent at least an hour running up and down the playground and playing hide and seek with new park friends.

The playground at this rural park is fenced in with a rubberized surface and has a little bit of everything – swings for all ages, climbing walls, balance beams, slides, tunnels, and plenty of benches.  The younger age playground boasts several straight and winding slides, steps with helpful railings, a bouncy bridge, and challenging climbing spots for younger ones. Tots swings and a short climbing wall are also nearby.

The playground for older ages has similar features, but at higher and more challenging levels for the big kids.  There are several balance beams, tall slides, climbing walls, a very tall climbing ladder, tunnels, and long walkways – great for running.  There is also a tall, volcano-shaped climbing wall nearby, perfect for hide and seek games.  This park is great for having multiple younger-aged children as you have good sightline of the whole fenced-in playground.

After exploring the playground area be sure to check out the rest of the park with its soccer fields, spider-web climbing structures, walking trails, and more!

Thumbs up: lots to do, good sightline of playground making it easy to keep track of multiple kids, variety of climbing features

Thumbs down: in windy weather, you’ll catch some interesting smells from nearby farms

Greater Richmond ARCpark

IMG_0039In mid-October we headed to Richmond to celebrate our old college roommates surviving the first year as new parents and their sweet daughter’s first birthday.  On the morning of the party we met up with several college friends and all our kids at the Greater Richmond ARCpark to get the wiggles out before the big party later that afternoon.  There’s something so sentimental about reconnecting your kids with your college friends’ kids and this weekend visit was no exception.

The ARCpark is located at 3600 Saunders Avenue, near the intersection of highways I-64, I-95 and 195.  This park is designed for kids of all ages and features mostly wheelchair-accessible play areas.  The tot playground features several slides, a small rock climbing wall and stumps for hopping on.  It also has nearby handicap-accessible swings, all located on a rubbery surface.  Adjacent to the tot playground is a stage area and greenhouse with flower planting beds.  IMG_2722Beyond the tot playground is another playground area built into the side of a hill with rocks and tree stumps for steps and slides for sliding down the hill.  There’s also a small play house, two large disc swings (which were the crowd favorite), bench swings, water tables, musical instruments, and a wheelchair-accessible tree house nearby.  The littlest ones in the group loved making music with their hands and mallets while the older ones loved running and exploring the tree house.  A paved walking trail leads to basketball courts and other fitness equipment behind the main building.

IMG_2745After some tree house play, the kiddos gathered throughout the largest playground, which features several long ramps connecting the smaller-age play structures with the taller ones.  The big kids ran up ramps, flew down slides, and climbed up nets and walls while the younger ones crawled between stumps and held on to nets.  Everyone also made time for the cool sensory wall featuring brightly colored mirrors, shiny rocks, spinning wheels and more. Claire and I also took time to walk through the small flower garden area.  She loved climbing on the benches and stopping to smell the flowers.

The ARCpark was a great way to kick off the first birthday celebrations.  It’s always such fun to watch the kids play together while the parents can catch up (as much as one can while wrangling kids)!

Thumbs up: so much to see and play with, large disc swings, playground built into the hill, variety of activities for kids of all ages and abilities, tree house with long ramp for running

Thumbs down: with so much to see and play with it can be hard to wrangle multiple kids

Crabtree Creek Trail MP 4.75 to 7 & Lockwood Park

IMG_2172Before summer ended, we explored a new section of Crabtree Creek Trail via bike.  With the hot and humid weather, we knew pushing a double stroller would be tough, so why not pull the girls by a bike trailer?!  The girls were super excited about the prospect of riding in a bike trailer and despite having to cut our trip short because of a busted bike chain we had a great morning ride and even stumbled upon a new park.

After borrowing a friend’s bike trailer, we parked along the street at 2497 Ratchford Dr near the intersection of Capital Blvd and hopped on the nearby Crabtree Creek Trail at milepost 7.5.  We turned left onto the wooden boardwalk heading south east along the trail.  After a short ride on the boardwalk we biked under Capital Blvd and under the train tracks before coming to another long boardwalk stretching over a large pond near the intersection of Raleigh Blvd.  Along this long stretch of the boardwalk are a large gazebo and marsh lands, great for stopping to check out the turtles, frogs and insects inhabiting the water.

After crossing over the pond we arrived at the busy Raleigh Blvd/Crabtree Blvd intersection.  It was a bit hairy with the bike and the trailer, but we survived and crossed at the cross walk near milepost 7.  Continuing on we followed the paved trail, which was mostly flat with a few hills scattered throughout.  Around milepost 5 we stumbled upon a neighborhood park, Lockwood Park, at the intersection of Crabtree Blvd/Remington Rd.

IMG_2198Lockwood Park is small fenced-in park designed mostly for ages 5-12.  It has a large climbing rock boulder, sand box with diggers, swings, and large playground with slides and various climbing structures.  The playground has a rubberized surface with a picnic table and benches and a nearby open grassy field.  The girls loved climbing on the boulders the best, but were also excited to get back into the bike trailer to continue on our ride.

We weren’t 5 minutes back into our ride before Bill’s bike chain completely broke in half going up a steep hill.  Luckily we weren’t far from the playground, so we walked the bike and trailer back to the playground while I booked it 2.75 miles back to retrieve the car and rescue them.  Despite having our bike ride cut short, we had a fun time on our first bike trailer excursion and look forward to doing it again soon!

Thumbs up: having a playground along the greenway, scenery along boardwalk over pond

Thumbs down: busy Crabtree Blvd/Raleigh Blvd intersection, lack of signage at Lockwood Park

Marsh Creek Park


The day after Claire came home from the hospital, she visited her first park, Marsh Creek Park in east Raleigh.  Marsh Creek Park is located at 3050 N New Hope Rd and is bustling with a variety of activities.  This park is most famous for its outdoor skate park, which was very busy when we arrived.  I became more aware of this park after following Instagram user raleighstatic and his amazing black/white skate park photos.

When we visited the park, we spent most of our time in the back at the playground, which is fenced in!  The playground contains jungle gyms for both age groups 2-5 and 5-12; both of which are great because they aren’t high from the ground and don’t have any large openings.  Ashley quickly zoomed around the slides and ladders at the 2-5 age playground and spent most of her time on the 5-12 age playground where there are larger slides, more complicated ladders, and rings for swinging.  She is totally into gymnastic-like exercises right now, so the rings were a big hit for her as was playing chase with my sister.  The playground area is beautifully landscaped with different trees, bushes, flowers and hardscape and has several benches scattered throughout and a few picnic tables near the entrance.  There’s not much shade at the playground and the surface is a mixture of the cushiony rubber and wood chips with concrete paths throughout, so plan accordingly.  If you’re looking for a shaded picnic spot there are about 10 picnic tables located below the nearby community center.

After our time on the playground we headed out for a short walk up to the skate park in our new (to us) double Bob stroller!  On our way we passed an ice cream truck strategically parked near the large crowd of adults playing soccer.  After a few cold treats we were back on our way to the skate park area.

Other than watching my college roommates play hundreds of hours of Tony Hawk on the Playstation, I know NOTHING about skateboarding.  It is a pretty cool sport to watch even if most of the skateboarders just stand around watching each other.  This skate park has a street flow and bowl element and requires all boarders to wear safety pads and sign a waiver.  Unfortunately I couldn’t capture images quite like raleighstatic, but I did enjoy introducing a new spectator sport to Ashley.

Up from the skate park is a fenced-in inline hockey rink with goals and bleachers and a large shelter with restrooms.  We were all very impressed with the different activities available for the public to use at this park.  Even if you don’t have experience skateboarding, you can still be a wallflower and catch a good show from the sidelines.

Thumbs up: skate park, inline hockey rink, large playground areas, landscaping, shaded picnic areas below community center

Thumbs down: lack of swings in playground area

Method Rd Playground Update

This post originally appeared on where you can learn more about how to live, work, and play in the Creative District.

If you’ve been waiting for the Method Road playground to be finished, now is the time to check it out!  The playground underwent renovations during the Fall and the work was finally completed last week.

Method Road Park is located at 514 Method Rd.  The playground area is completely fenced in with equipment grouped according to the age levels: 2-5 year olds and 5-12 year olds.  

Toddlers will enjoy the tot swings, mini climbing areas, and music making equipment while the older kids will enjoy the slides, jungle gyms, and racing up the ramps. Each play area also has some fun educational items about shapes and animals. The spongy surface is also great exercise for the little crawlers who aren’t quite ready to play on the toddler equipment yet.

Parents will appreciate the benches and picnic tables inside the playground area, making it easy to keep an eye on the little ones.  The fence around the perimeter of the playground will also put parents at ease given that the playground is so close to Method Road.

Other than the playground, Method Road Park has a community center and many other features to offer.

Thumbs up: fenced-in play area, equipment grouped by age group, tot climbing area, variety of slides and ramps in older kid area

Thumbs down: lack of landscaping

Mordecai Mini Park

On the Eighth Day of Raleigh Parks Christmas we visited Mordecai Mini Park in the Mordecai neighborhood. I absolutely love this neighborhood with the architecture of the homes, great walkability, and proximity to Seaboard Station, but I digress!

Mordecai Mini Park is located at 1122 N. Blount St just west of Person St and close to Peace College.  Parking is only available on the street and sidewalks are available for walking from the nearby neighborhoods.

Some of the best features of this park are that it’s completely fenced in with gated entrances and kids of all ages can play at this park.  The tot playground area has tot swings, sidewalk games, benches, and several climbing structures.  Just up the hill from the tot area is the older kid playground area with more swings and a large jungle gym with slides and climbing structures.

Scattered throughout the park are large bird houses and benches.  A nice feature to this park is the deck with picnic tables in between the different playground areas.  It allows parents to keep an eye on their kids regardless of where they are inside the park.  In talking with a mom at the park today, she mentioned this is a very popular park after work in the warmer months.  At any given day you’re bound to find it full with neighborhood kids and their parents.

Thumbs up: neighborhood park, fenced-in area, walkability, multiple age playgrounds

Thumbs down: nothing to report