2017 Mother’s Day Reflections & Raleigh Events

water lilies at NC Art MuseumOver the past two years, I’ve learned that Mother’s Day is all about the balance for me. After losing my mother so suddenly in 2015, I realize I yearn for more reflection and relaxation (aka alone time without kids) to counter my natural tendency for wide-open family fun and adventure. I’ve consciously let the reflection and relaxation needs run their course because I know later that day, that week, or that month I’ll be a less crazy better mom and wife. 

After our traditional Nags Head trip with friends last year (aka the fun and adventurous side of things) I walked solo around the NC Museum of Art’s Museum Park while listening to music and my favorite parenting podcast, Atomic Moms. It helped me clear my head, process things, and feel grounded. This year, I’ll probably head to a similar place after getting home from our Nags Head trip. 

So, if you’re around in Raleigh this week/weekend and are looking for a special way to celebrate the special wife or mom in your life, look no further than this list of upcoming organized events in the local parks and my personal mix of outdoor outings to balance adventure with relaxation.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there and cheers to making memories and searching for finding balance.

Organized Programs

  • You are my Sunshine Mother’s Day Craft at Buffalo Road Athletic Park (Tues., May 9 at 11am) – Join the super fun Fit4Mom Midtown Raleigh Stroller Strides group after class for a Mother’s Day footprint craft. All ages welcome & all supplies will be provided. Meet by the playground and we’ll make sunny feet under the shade at the picnic tables; all ages welcome; FREE
  • Dorothea Dix Guided Walking Tour at Dorethea Dix Park (Tues., May 9 from 5:30-7:30pm) – Take a 2-hour, 3.5 mile tour that covers the history of the buildings, land, and legacy of Dorothea Dix, the current use of the area as the headquarters of the Department of Health and Human Services and the steps the City will take in planning a future park; pre-registration required; FREE
  • Moonrise Stroll at Falls Lake State Recreation Area (Tues., May 9 from 7:30-8:45pm) – join an easy 1.2 mile hike to watch the nearly full moon rise over Falls Lake; start location – Beaver Dam Recreation Area, Duck Cove Trailhead; all ages; FREE; hikers are encouraged to pre-register
  • Birds & Nests at Annie Louise Wilkerson Park (Wed., May 10 from 10:30-noon or Sat., May 13 from 10:30-noon) – go on a bird hunt, make a craft, and meet Mama and Papa bluebird and take a peek in their nest box; $3; ages 3-5 with parent; course # 205486, 205487
  • Gifts for Mom at Worthdale Community Center (Wed., May 10 from 10-11am) – Make a special gift for Mom; $8; ages 2-5; course # 207187 
  • Mother’s Day Crafts at Hill St Community Center (Wed., May 10 from 5-6pm) – create a special Mother’s Day Craft; ages 5-12; FREE; course # 197397
  • Mother’s Day Tea Party at Greystone Community Center (Thurs., May 11 from 10-11:30am) – do you want to make Mom feel special? Come and enjoy time with your mom/caregiver at our Mother’s Day Tea Party. This workshop will give children an opportunity to create a special gift for their mother. Enjoy tea/juice and cookies; ages 18 months to 4 years with parent participation; $9; course # 205695
  • Photography walk at JC Raulston Arboretum (Thurs., May 11 from 2-3pm) – let mom explore the close-up world in the garden and achieve strong compositions and fun abstracts; $10 members/$15 non-members 
  • nature play space at Durant Nature ParkNature & Sensory Play Day at Durant Nature Preserve (Fri., May 12 from 10-noon) – come check out Durant’s Sensory and Nature Play Garden! Enjoy self-guided activities to delight the senses and encourage nature play. Although registration is not necessary, it is helpful for preparation; all ages, with parent participation; FREE; course #205363 
  • Wee Wetland Walkers at Walnut Creek Wetland Center (Fri., May 12 from 11am-noon) – this program is designed to move at a toddler’s pace: Run. Stop. Pick dandelions. Run. Climb on a rock. Find an interesting leaf! Join others for an easy-paced hike around the greenway, accompanied by one of our naturalists. Registration is not required but is helpful for planning; FREE; all ages; course # 203539
  • Parents’ Evening Escape at Millbrook Exchange Community Center (Fri., May 12 form 6-8:30pm) – Mom and Dad deserve a night out! Let your child join us for a fun-filled night of games, activities and pizza. Participants will create a Mother’s Day gift while you’re out; $15; ages 5-10; course #205154
  • Nature Scavenger Hunt at Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve (Sat., May 13 from 1-2pm) – Exploring the preserve, and learn about nature while uncovering the hidden nature-themed treasures! Make an afternoon of it and bring a picnic lunch to enjoy before or after the hunt; ages 4 years and up with adult participation; $1; course # 206618
  • Weekend Family-Friendly Tours: Bon Voyage at NC Art Museum (Sat., May 13 or Sun., May 14 at 10:30am) – Discover all the places art can take you as you travel the world without leaving the Museum walls; FREE; half-hour tours for ages 5-11 with their adult companion
  • Are you my Mama at Blue Jay Point County Park (Sat., May 13 from 1-2pm) – Create great Mother’s Day cards while learning about different styles of mothering in the animal world; $1, all ages but most appropriate for ages 5 years+, pre-registration required  
  • Mommy & Me Tea Party at Eastgate Park (Sat., May 13 from 2-4pm) – Celebrate Mother’s Day with a spot of tea at an afternoon tea party for mothers and daughters of all ages. We will enjoy tasty treats while sipping steaming cups of tea or ice cold lemonade. Mothers, grandmothers, daughters and other significant women in your young lady’s life are all welcome; $10 per person; all ages, course #205100

Home Grown Adventure & Relaxation

2017 First Day Hikes

2017 First Day HikesLace up your hiking boots and head outside on New Year’s Day for an organized hike in a local park.  Every state park in NC (city parks are catching on, too) organizes 2017 First Day Hikes to encourage fitness and reconnecting with nature in the new year. Last year we visited Murrells Inlet, SC for the first time, but this year we’re staying close to home and hope to discover something new (weather forecast at publication: a little chilly and dry)! 

List of organized First Day Hikes at parks and greenways within an hour of Raleigh:

  • Durant Nature Preserve – enjoy a family-friendly guided nature walk (at least 1 mile) followed by hot chocolate and discussions with staff about what you saw; 2-4pm; start location: 8305 Camp Durant Rd (north entrance); pre-registration is suggested but not required; prepare for natural surface walking; non stroller-friendly; event information
  • Walnut Creek Wetland Center – enjoy a family-friendly guided nature walk (at least 1 mile) followed by hot chocolate and discussions with staff about what you saw; 2-4pm; start location: 950 Peterson St; pre-registration is suggested but not required; wheelchair and stroller-friendly; event information
  • IMG_5058Falls Lake State Recreation Area – scavenger hunt with hike along Rolling View Track Trail (0.75 miles); start times at 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm; pre-registration is required; prepare for natural surface walking; event information; my 2015 First Day Hike review
  • Jordan Lake State Recreation Area – 2.7 mile hike of Blue Loop along New Hope Overlook trail; start location: New Hope Overlook by boat ramps; 9am start time; event information; my 2012 review of New Hope Overlook trail
  • img_4160Umstead State Park – 1.3 mile hike along Pott’s Branch Trail; start location: small parking lot by Pott’s Branch trailhead (Hwy 70/Glenwood Ave); 9am start time; event information; my 2014 review of Pott’s Branch Trail
  • Eno River State Park – options of 2 mile or 4 mile hikes; start location: Fews Ford Access; 2pm start time; arrive early as this is a popular event and parking can be hard to find; event information
  • Raven Rock State Park – 2.5 mile easy hike along Raven Rock Loop Trail to the park’s centerpiece, Raven Rock; start location: picnic shelter at Raven Rock Loop trailhead; 2pm start time; event information
  • Kerr Lake State Recreation Area – 1 mile nature hike; start location: park office (6254 Satterwhite Point Rd); 1:30pm start time; event information
  • First Walk Cary at Morris Branch Greenway – bring the family for a walk along Cary’s Morris Branch Greenway; parking location: 115 Allforth Pl and follow signs for walk start; 10am start time; stroller-friendly; event information 

If the above times or distances don’t work with your schedule, visit a park and explore on your own. Check out my list of previously reviewed trails in the area.

2016 Valentine’s Day Ideas in the Parks

20110614-063105.jpgWhy not celebrate Valentine’s Day by exploring a park or program with a loved one?  Whether it’s a spouse, friend, or special little one these ideas are sure to entertain and provide fun memories:

Paint Your HeART Out at Sertoma Arts Center – Saturday, February 6 from 10:30am-noon; create your own Valentine-inspired artwork on canvas; for all ages; $6 and up; for more info

Valentine Surprise Arts & Craft at Abbotts Creek Community Center – Monday, February 8 from 10-10:30am; make a Valentine-themed arts and craft project with playtime on the playground afterwards; ages 0-12; $2; program barcode 189906

Valentines & More at Pullen Community Center – Tuesday, February 9 from 10-11:30am; read books, make crafts and have Valentine-themed fun; ages 2-5; $5; program barcode 182523

Valentine Card Making at Greystone Community Center – Tuesday, February 9 from 4:30pm-5:30pm; use supplies to make original Valentine’s Day cards; ages 6-10; $7; program barcode 188526

Mosaic Heart Art at Sanderford Road Park – Thursday, February 11 from 5-6pm; make a Valentine’s Day inspired arts and craft; ages 5-15; FREE; program barcode 182872

Valentines for Everyone at Optimist Community Center – Friday, February 12 from 12:30-1:30pm; participate in a Valentine-themed arts and craft project and edible creation; ages 3-5; $6; program barcode 183486

Creative Crafts at Hill St Community Center – Friday, February 12 from 5-6pm; create a Valentine-themed project; FREE; ages 5-12; program barcode 180959

Kidz Crafty Cooking at Chavis Community Center – Friday, February 12 from 5-6pm or 6:15-7:15pm; cook a Valentine-themed treat; $5; ages 5-6

Breakfast with the Birds at Historic Yates Mill County Park – Saturday, February 13 from 9-10:30am; enjoy a coffee or hot chocolate for the kiddos followed by a trail walk with a park naturalist to identify and count the birds; all ages; FREE; bring a reusable mug

Heart’s Delight Cooking & More at Pullen Community Center – Saturday, February 13 from 11am-1pm; make heart-shaped edible treats, create a craft and play games; ages 5-11; $5; program code 182733

Happy Valentine’s Day Mother Nature at Crowder District Park – Sunday, February 14 from 2:30-3:30pm; make a Valentine’s present for the birds and a card from natural objects for a special someone; all ages

Great Backyard Bird Count: Love Birds at Historic Yates Mill County Park – Sunday, February 14 from 2-3:30pm; see a slideshow followed by exploring how birds begin courtship to attract mates and warn off rivals, and also what they do to set up house; all ages; FREE

Get out and try something fun:

Breakfast in the Gardens – grab breakfast to go from Flying Biscuit or Cafe Carolina and head over to the Rose Garden for the perfect picnic

Frisbee Golf & Breakfast – catch 9 holes at Lake Raleigh or 18 holes at Kentwood Park or Cedar Hills Park with breakfast at State Farmers Market Restaurant or Big Ed’s North

Run & Coffee – run along East Fork Mine Creek Trail followed by local coffee and hot biscuits from Jubala Coffee

Walk & Wine – Go for a walk along House Creek Trail followed by a wine tasting at Ridgewood Wine & Beer

Bike Ride & Beers – Go for a bike ride along Reedy Creek Greenway followed by some yummy beers at Raleigh Brewing Company

Picnic at the Pool – pack a picnic lunch and bring the family for some indoor swimming at one of the winterized pools

Hike & Beers – Explore Durant Nature Preserve’s web of trails and playground followed by refreshing beers at Compass Rose Brewery

Hot Dogs & Ice Cream at the Park – for a super casual day, grab some hot dogs and ice cream from Snoopy’s on Hillsborough St and then walk over to Pollock Place Playground for a picnic and some playground time with the kids

Shopping & Exercise – do some shopping at North Hills with a run, bike or walk along Crabtree Creek Trail near Lassiter Mill Park

Explore Robertson Millpond Preserve – bring a picnic from home and take a romantic walk exploring the dam, federal-style home and grounds

2014 Fall Festivals @ Local Parks

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Here’s a list of upcoming Fall Festivals happening at various parks in the Greater Raleigh area:

Southeast Raleigh Community Day @ John Chavis Memorial Park – Sat., Sept 20 from noon-4pm; free event that will feature free food, health information, music, voter registration info and more

9th Annual Fall Harvest Celebration @ Historic Yates Mill Park – Sat., Sept 20 from 11am-3pm; free event includes costumed corn-grinding tours of Yates Mill, a fun children’s scavenger hunt activity, live music and dance, story-tellers, community displays, hand-craft demonstrations and sales, antique vehicles, farm tool displays, food vendors, and more; pre-registration is not required; all ages

Community Art Day Festival @ Powell Drive Park – Sat., Sept 27 from 10am-2pm; free kid-friendly activities such as bracelet making, sidewalk chalk, painting and more; performers will be on site; art vendors will be on site to purchase from local artists with vendor spaces still available

4th Annual Festival in Motion along Walnut Creek Greenway – Sat., Sept 27 10am-2pm; designed to get people out and moving in nature; enjoy this day of discovery with live music, art-in-the-making, nature games and fitness challenges

IMG_1592Heritage Day @ Historic Oak View County Park – Sat., Oct 4 from 10am-4pm; a free “county fair” type event featuring live animals, antique farm equipment displays, heritage crafts, handmade items, live music, antique cars, horse-drawn carriage rides, quilt auction, cane pole fishing, and more; food will be available for purchase

Annual Heritage Day at Jordan Lake (White Oak Recreation Area) – Sat., Oct 4 from 10am-3pm; enjoy hands on activities, live entertainment and demonstrations all relating to the unique cultural and natural resources of this region; gain an appreciation for the rich history of the land and natural resources; for more information or volunteer opportunities for this event, please contact Ranger Jim Trostle at 919-362-0586 ext. 227 or jim.trostle@ncparks.gov

Haunting at Harris Lake: Creatures of the Forest – Sat., Oct 18 from 1-6pm; free event with games, activities, crafts, and a wagon ride adventure as you search for the weird, creepy and outrageous creatures of the forest; wear a costume or come as you are; all ages

Fall Events @ Umstead Park – hosting a variety of events in Sept & Oct from Free Weekend Matinee Movies, Take a Child Outside Week events, Trail Running with a Ranger, Big Year Birdwalk, From Farm to Park and more; for additional info, visit the main Events page and search for September and October 2014

Prairie Ridge Ecostation

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A few weeks ago Claire finally got her own special park day where we took advantage of an early Spring day and headed to the Prairie Ridge Ecostation, which is NC Museum of Natural Science’s outdoor learning space.  Even though the science museum is located downtown, this outdoor gem of 45 acres is located down the street from the NC Museum of Art at 1671 Gold Star Drive in Raleigh.

The Prairie Ridge Ecostation is an outdoor oasis of walking trails, play spaces, nature programs, animal habitats, gardens, and more!  This particular day we spent the morning with friends listening to the storytime program, walking the trails, and exploring the outdoor buildings/gardens.  After parking, we headed on the paved trail (with the small signage) through the woods and eventually found the outdoor storytime spot at the amphitheater.  I love the idea of outdoor storytime, but with the noise from the nearby road and a novice story teller, it did not make for optimal conditions. So, even though several of the smaller kids lost interest, there is plenty of adjacent natural play areas: tunnels and slides, sifting, digging, stacking, balancing, jumping on tree trunks and more!

img_5519Next, we passed by several picnic tables and open spaces on our way to the grassy walking trail.  The trail follows along the stream and then crosses into the lowland forest and piedmont prairie areas.  Near the piedmont prairie area is a building that overlooks the pond that is made for bird watching.  The kids had a great time looking for birds and playing in the building.  After we arrived back at the beginning of the trail (about 1/2 mile total) we visited the Green Building, which is used mostly for educational programs but also has restrooms and a back deck great for picnics. Since we didn’t pack a picnic we continued to explore the grounds and settled in the Nature Neighborhood Garden.  The garden features NC native plants, dry stream beds for collecting run-off water, a koi pond and more.  Claire and I enjoyed some quiet time on the benches under the pavilion before heading out.

This outdoor expansion to the science museum is a must-explore spot for any family; wear old clothes, pack a picnic lunch, bring a carrier for any non-walking children and plan to get dirty!

Resources:

Thumbs up: outdoor learning opportunities, play space, picnic spots, bird watching

Thumbs down: story time program is in its infancy

2013 Thanksgiving & Christmas Park Events

2012 Holiday Express @ Pullen Park
2012 Holiday Express @ Pullen Park

With the holidays quickly approaching, I wanted to compile a list of all the kiddo-friendly activities taking place at nearby Raleigh parks.  The events below are either organized through the Wake Co Parks & Rec, City of Raleigh Parks & Rec or JC Raulston Arboretum.  Some of the events require pre-registration so be sure to follow up for more information and let me know which ones I’m missing! And be sure to visit TriangleExplorer.com to see a complete list of Christmas parades, concerts and more.

Turkey Time at Crowder District Park – Sun, 11/17 from 2-3pm; $5/family; for all ages

A Side of History: Pilgrims at Play at Historic Yates Mill Park – Fri, 11/22 from 11am-noon or 2-3pm; $5/family or $3/individual; for all ages

Holiday Wreath Making at Durant Nature Park – Sun, 12/1 from 2-3pm or 3-4pm; $5/person; ages 5+

Home School Day: The Spirit of Giving at Historic Yates Mill Park – Mon, 12/2 from 10am-noon; Free; ages 7+

Children’s Wreath Workshop at JC Raulston Arboretum – Tues, 12/3 from 9:30am-noon; $35/member or $45/non-member; ages 6-12

Garden Buds Winter Fun at JC Raulston Arboretum – Fri, 12/6 from 10-11:30am; $10/member or $12/non-member; ages 3-5

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Clause at Historic Yates Mill Park – Fri, 12/6 from 11am-noon; $4/child; ages 5-7

IMG_2470Holiday Express at Pullen Park – tickets are only available for Fri 12/6, Fri 12/13 & Sun 12/15; 4-9pm; $8/person; all ages

Sleigh Rides & Cider at Oak View County Park – Sat, 12/7 from 5-7:30pm; all ages

Handmade Holidays at Historic Yates Mill Park – Sat, 12/7 from 1-4pm; $4/person; for all ages (ages 6 and under require accompanying adult)

All American Girls Create & Play – Sat, 12/7 at Kiwanis Park from 10am-noon or Sat, 12/14 at Optimist Park; $15/person; ages 5-11

Little Holiday Creations at Lions Park Comm Ctr – Sat, 12/7 from 11-11:45am; $5/person; ages 4-6

Poinsettia Open House at JC Raulston Arboretum – Sun, 12/8 from 1-5pm; FREE; all ages

Holiday Card Making at JC Raulston Arboretum – Tues, 12/10 from 9:30am-noon; $25/member or $35/non-member; ages 6-12

Holiday Ornaments at Five Points Center – Tues, 12/10 or Tues, 12/17 from 1-3pm; $20/person; all ages

German Christmas Papercutting at Pullen Arts Center – Thurs, 12/12 from 7-9pm; $10/person; ages 16+

Holidays Open House at Mordecai – Fri, 12/13 (noon-4pm); Sat, 12/14 (10am-4pm); Sun, 12/15 (1-4pm); FREE; all ages; call 919-857-4364

Wake Audubon’s Winter Bird Count at Historic Yates Mill Park – Sat, 12/14 from 8-11:30am; no fee shown

Walnut Creek Christmas Bird Count at Walnut Creek Wetland Center – Sat, 12/14 from 7am-noon; FREE; all ages

Holiday Tours at Mordecai – Sat, 12/14 from 5-10pm; $5/person; all ages

Holiday Crafts for Little Hands at Millbrook Exchange Comm Ctr – Sat, 12/14 from 9:30am-10:15am; $10/person; ages 3-5

Holiday Ornaments for Young Crafters at Millbrook Exchange Comm Ctr – Sat, 12/14 from 11am-noon; $10/person; ages 6-10

Holiday Cookies and Milk with Santa – Sat, 12/14 at Anderson Point Park from 10-11am or Sun, 12/15 at Lake Lynn Comm Ctr from 1:30-2:30pm; $8/person; ages 18months – 8yrs old

Holiday Gifts from Nature at Durant Nature Park – Sat, 12/14 from 2-4pm; $4/person; ages 6-12

Holiday Stop, Drop & Shop at Laurel Hills Comm Ctr – Sat, 12/14 or Sat, 12/21 from 9:30am-2pm; $20/person; ages 6-11

Holiday Workshop at Lions Park Comm Ctr – Sat, 12/14 from 10:45-11:45am; $5/person; ages 4-10

Winter Wrap Up at Crowder District Park – Sun, 12/15 from 2-3pm; $5/family; for all ages

Holiday Wrapping Paper at JC Raulston Arboretum – Tues, 12/17 from 9:30am-noon; $25/member or $35/non-member; ages 6-12

Little Sprouts: Sparkling Snow at Historic Yates Mill Park – Wed, 12/18 from 1-2pm; $4/child; ages 3-5

Winter Tree ID at Lake Crabtree Park – Sat, 12/21 from 1-3pm; $5/family or $3/person; ages 7+

Winter Hayrides at Harris County Lake – Sun, 12/22 from 1:30-3:30pm; $5/family or $3/individual; for all ages

Winter Break at Lake Crabtree Park – Sun, 12/22 from 1-3pm; $5/family or $3/person

Christmas Games & Crafts at Harris County Lake – Mon, 12/23 from 12-4pm; $16/child; ages 7-12

Fred Fletcher Park

From playing sports, walking, and having picnics to viewing the numerous gardens there is such a variety of activities at Fletcher Park. Fletcher Park is located at 802 Clay St inside the beltline. Parking is available along Washington St or in the nearby parking lot. We parked in the large parking lot and began our stroll along the paved walkway. The entire park is magnificently landscaped. Follow the walkway and you’ll come across stone walls protecting the gardens, perfectly edged lawns, and beautiful gardens filled with varieties of crape myrtles, gardenias, magnolias, hostas, butterfly bushes, and daylilies.

Enjoy a picnic lunch on a bench, on the lush green grass, or in the amphitheater-style seating in the grass. There are plenty of private areas to lay a blanket down and soak up some sun with a good book too!

Next, we came upon the Borden house, which was built circa 1900. It has been restored and is available to rent for weddings and other events.

We then walked through the grass next to the Borden building to get a better view of the baseball fields below.

Afterwards, we walked through the grass behind the Borden house and came upon another paved walkway that backs up to residential homes. We passed several labeled species of daylilies.

As we followed the narrow path around, we discovered the water gardens that were under construction in 2008. First we came upon the Forebay, which is the deepest pool of the water garden.

Information plaque about the Forebay
Plant life in the Forebay

We continued on and enjoyed the rest of the water garden and wetlands. There is a great wooden deck overlooking the wetlands, perfect for spotting wildlife and enjoying the views. Informational plaques located along the walkway and on the deck provide more details about the benefits the water gardens provide. It’s a great place for kids to experience; while there, we saw ducks, dragonflies, and butterflies!  Here’s more information about the City of Raleigh Water Garden and Wetlands Project.

Information plaque about the Water Garden
Demonstrating how the water garden improves water quality in Raleigh
Looking into the water garden
Views of the plant life
Plants thrive here!
Beautiful purple flowering plants love it here too!
One of the many ducks living in the water garden
Learn more about the different plants that inhabit the water garden
Baby Ashley enjoying the views from the deck
It was such a sunny day!

Across from the water gardens are the basketball courts and tennis courts. When Bill and I used to play tennis here it was always a very popular spot.

Across from the tennis courts you’ll see the art sculpture.  Further ahead, you’ll pass the shaded playground area along Washington St. To the left there is also a large pavilion with picnic tables and a charcoal grill. If you continue on the walkway you’ll find your way back to parking lot. This is also a great place to visit on Sunday evenings in the summer for their free concert series! Bring a blanket and some snacks and have a fantastic evening!



Thumbs up: condition of basketball and tennis courts, scenic views, wetlands, water gardens, picnic spots, landscaping, free concerts
Thumbs down: lack of signage