North Hills Park

North Hills park is located at 100 Chowan Circle in North Raleigh. Overall this is a basic neighborhood park with B+ features. As you arrive there is a medium-sized parking lot with a nice lighted baseball field on the right. It has bleacher seating for the spectators and a water fountain near the far team’s bench area. The adjacent grassy hill also provides plenty of additional seating.

Baseball field
Bleacher seating near baseball field

Water fountain near far team's bench
Another view of lit baseball field

At the top of the grassy hill is a building for restrooms and the Buffaloe family cemetery.

Building with restrooms
Buffaloe family cemetery

If you continue driving past the baseball field you arrive at the back parking lot near the two lighted tennis courts, playground, pavilion with picnic and access to the greenway. The playground has several connected jungle gyms with a hard mulch base and a smaller sandy playground. The pavilion has 6 picnic tables and a nearby charcoal grill. The wide, paved sidewalk provides easy from the parking lot around the playground and pavilion.

Large back parking lot
Tennis courts
Playground area
Another view of the playground
Sandy playground area
Benches and sidewalk near playground in the shade
Pavilion with picnic tables
Nearby charcoal grill

The access to the greenway is near the tennis courts. This is the North Hills Segment of the Crabtree Creek Trail and it is 1/4 mile of steeply sloped paved pathway. Going down isn’t bad, but pushing the stroller back up was quite a workout! I would definitely recommend the baby bjorn for this segment. The trail tees into the Crabtree Creek Trail, where if you go left you’ll head south towards Lassiter Mill Park and if you turn right you’ll head north towards Shelley Lake.

Access to Crabtree Creek Trail greenway
Beginning of paved greenway
Signs at the end of the North Hill Segment of the trail
Head left towards Lassiter Mill Park
Head right towards Shelley Lake

It’s amazing to think that under all these overpasses and adjacent to creeks and roadways exists this other world of trails.  Navigating through the greenways really helps you get a better sense of direction and helps you realize how close these parks really are to each other. It sort of reminds me of a foreign place like Middle Earth in LOTR.  I encourage you all to explore the greenway.  A lot of the trails are paved and shaded and would make for a great adventure with dogs, loved ones, or a group of friends.  So, pick a greenway segment, find a parking lot, and explore!

All smiles again

Thumbs up: quality of amenities, large parking lots, large playground, easy access to greenway, sidewalk access to pavilion and playground areas
Thumbs down: no sidewalk from baseball field to playground area

Isabella Cannon Park

The new Isabella Cannon Park is officially open! I had the great pleasure of attending the grand opening on Monday night with about 100 other fellow neighbors, kids, city leaders, and Raleigh Parks & Rec staff. Mayor Meeker and Councilman Crowder along with others spoke about Isabella Cannon and congratulated everyone on a job well done with the project. Mayor Meeker noted that Isabella Cannon served as Raleigh’s mayor from 1977-1979 and passed away in 2002 at the age of 97. She was also the first woman to serve as a capital city mayor in the U.S. and was elected during a turning point in Raleigh.

Park Dedication
Grand opening program
Mayor Meeker addressing the community
Councilman Crowder congratulating those on the project
Project Manager giving thanks
UPHA president giving her thanks
The ribbon cutting ceremony!

Isabella Cannon Park is located at 2601 Kilgore Ave inside the beltline. Even though there is no parking lot, there is plenty of side-street parking. The main entrance on Kilgore Ave has a very wide path, making it an inviting place to come.  There are additional stairway entrances near the intersection of Everett Ave and Gardner St across from the Rose Garden.

The new sign on Kilgore Ave
Main entrance on Kilgore with entry wall ahead
Side-street parking is available
Bike rack near the main entrance
Near corner of Everett Ave and Gardner St
Stairway entrance on Gardner St

Heading up the main entrance path is a beautiful stone entry wall in front of an open field surrounded by a concrete walkway. If you follow the path to the right you’ll see the renovated basketball courts, updated landscaping, playground with swing set, jungle gym, and see saws. The playground has both a mulch base and a sandy area with several picnic tables and benches scattered throughout.

Basketball courts
Basketball courts beneath large shade trees
Playground with swing set, jungle gym, and sandy area
Another view of the playground area
University Park Homeowners Association metal bench

Beyond the playground is a new stairway to the unpaved and more densely wooded area that has a charcoal grill. Continue on and you’ll find the stairs leading up to the entrance at Everett Ave and Gardner St.

New stairways leading to the unpaved section of the park

If you’re back on the concrete walkway continuing around the open field you should notice the newly planted Knockout Roses behind the entry wall symbolizing Mrs. Cannon’s love for the Rose Garden.  Along the walkway there are several comfortable benches to rest on or enjoy the views of the open field (still closed off to allow the grass to grow).  Once the grass grows in, it will be a great place for a flag football game!  There is a also new pavilion with 4 picnic tables on the far side of the path.

View of pavilion from across the field
Picnic tables at the pavilion
Comfortable new benches

Continuing past the pavilion you’ll come to the most unique feature of the park: a small rock climbing area!  The base has some padding to soften any falls and there are rules posted for climbing the rock.  According to some of the speakers at the event this is the only park in Raleigh with a rock climbing area.  The pathway extends up Kilgore Ave to the intersection of Latta St where the park ends.  There are more benches in shady areas and new landscaping to enjoy.

Rock climbing area
Pathway along Kilgore Ave
Additional benches along the pathway

Being at the grand opening really gave me a sense of what a community is all about.  The renovations for this park were provided by the 2003 bond referendum and from hearing the speakers thank those involved it sounds like the entire project from soliciting the community’s ideas to developing the master design plan to executing the project achieved the goals that were set forth…bringing a community together!  I only wish I had gotten involved with the UPHA years ago.

Baby Ashley was all smiles when seeing the new park

Thumbs up: rock climbing area, sense of community, pathways, benches, playground, basketball courts, picnic area

Thumbs down: nothing to note

Glen Eden Pilot Park

Glen Eden Pilot Park seems small and uninviting at first glance, but boy does it pack a punch! This park is located at 1500 Glen Eden Dr just outside the beltline. When I first pulled up I immediately noticed the empty parking lot and ugly stone building. I was carrying Ashley in her car seat due to lack of signs about trails so I figured I’d take a few pics with nothing to report and we’d head home. The main building is not staffed and was locked but can be rented by calling the Jaycee Comm Center at 831-6833. Next to the building I passed some stairs so we decided to walk down them. At the bottom I was pleasantly surprised to see a paved walkway and a gravel path that seemed like you could access it from Glen Eden Dr. My gut told me maybe there was more to this park than I initially thought, so I went back to the car, put Ashley in her stroller, headed on the narrow sidewalk and turned left out of the parking lot onto Glen Eden Dr. We found the secret wheeled-access path and met back up with the paved walkway.

Main park entrance
Front of the stone building
View of the empty parking lot
Another empty parking lot pic
Stairs next to the building leading down to the paved trail
Side view of stone building available for rent
Gravel path for wheeled access (tough for pushing the stroller)

As we continued we passed a small pond for fishing and then came upon this open space oasis! I felt like we had just entered the secret garden! There is a large pavilion with 5 picnic tables, large open fields, 2 basketball courts, and a playground area all adjacent to this 1/4 mile loop paved trail. There are benches and a water fountain near the basketball court. The playground has a swing set and 2 jungle gyms. The large open spaces would be great for picnics or flag football.

Small pond for fishing
Pavilion with picnic tables
Huge open fields
Basketball courts
Playground with jungle gyms and swingset

We walked past the basketball courts and found another entrance to the park with a small parking lot at Carlow St and Eden Croft Dr. This is a much more suitable entrance for visitors with strollers or in wheelchairs.

Smaller parking lot at alternate entrance (again empty)

From the trail we also came across a secret set of tennis courts. There are 4 courts and 1 court for single play against the backboard. The sign on the courts said to reserve the courts through Raleigh Tennis or use them on a first-come first-serve basis. There is also a separate entrance for the tennis courts although I couldn’t access the parking lot because of having the stroller.

Court with backboard
One of the four tennis courts

As we headed back on the trail I enjoyed how the birds were drowning out the noisy nearby I-440. We had the entire park to ourselves, but I couldn’t help but imagine how much more popular this park could be if only a few signs were posted in the parking lot advertising “spectacular basketball courts, playground, picnic tables, and tennis just a few 100 yards away!”.  Here’s a satellite view of the park from Google Maps of the entire area so you get a feel for what it looks like from overhead.

Thumbs up: peacefulness, open space, tennis courts, basketball courts, playground
Thumbs down: wheeled access from Glen Eden Dr entrance, lack of signage throughout park, lack of information at main building

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

Trip to Southport, NC

I’ve only been to a handful of small towns in my life and this week I had the extreme pleasure of spending the week in Southport, NC for my brother’s wedding.  He is marrying the lovely Rachael Anderson today and I couldn’t be happier for them.

We had a lot of free time this week before the wedding festivities began so I took my sister, Ginni, and Ashley around downtown Southport for some exploring.

After we walked through the shops we headed to the Waterfront Park & River Walk area (corner of Howe St and Bay St), which is located on the Cape Fear River.  This is a beautiful spot to have a seat on a bench or swing and watch the boats come by.  There are several small pavilions with picnic tables, but be careful of the seagulls if packing a picnic lunch.

View of the Waterfront from the north
Map of the area detailing the various islands around Cape Fear River
Bike racks are available
Paved walkways make it easy for strollers
Pavilion with picnic tables
Benches along the Waterfront

Next to the Waterfront is City Pier, which is a popular spot for fishing.  The moderate breeze from the river also helps cool down the hot and muggy NC summer days!

Continuing north on Bay St, you’ll come to Southport Community Building, which is where my brother and Rachael are getting married today!  It has a gorgeous deck overlooking the river, which is where the ceremony will be held and a reception hall inside the building.  There is parallel parking available on both sides of Bay St and stairs to access the building from the street.

Views from the top deck
Southport Community Building

Continuing north, we enjoyed watching the large boats return from trips at sea.  The homes along the walk are also interesting to look at, especially given their historic, New England style.  Each home has a plaque near the front door listing when it was built; most are from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Not having a final destination in mind, I was pleasantly surprised when we came upon another park along the river, Kingsley Park!  Kingsley Park is at the corner of Kingsley Dr and Bay St and is only about 1/4 mile from the Waterfront area.  This was an area where menhaden fishing boats used to dock decades ago.  Menhaden fish are caught in nets and are mostly used for their oil and ecological resources, as they have too many bones for human consumption.

Kingsley Park has several benches, paved sidewalks, information plaques detailing the menhaden fishing industry and Hurricane Hazel destruction from 1954, and a long pier into the river.

Kingsley Park
Benches in the park
Gardens around the park
View towards the river
Ashley and me on the pier
Ginni and Ashley on the pier
Information plaques about the fishing industry

Southport, NC is a fantastically quiet getaway with so much to do.  Whether you’re walking around downtown, shopping, taking in scenes of the river, or eating at one of the local restaurants you’ll have a great time.  From Raleigh, Southport is only 2.5 hours – perfect for a day trip and making wedding memories!  Congrats again to Brandon and Rachael…can’t wait to celebrate with you tonight!

Thumbs up: scenic views, photo ops, educational plaques, historic homes, river walk, piers, downtown atmosphere

Thumbs down: nothing to note 🙂

Rose Garden

For my first Mother’s Day we spent the weekend in Nags Head with great friends and the pups for our traditional Yuengling 5K race. When we got home on Sunday we walked down to the Rose Garden, which is just two blocks from our house. We were too late for their annual Mother’s Day brunch celebration (mimosas and yummy food) so we just walked around and enjoyed the fantastic sights, smells, and company.  The Rose Garden can also be rented for weddings and other events (hint: no money needed on decorations).



Wandering through the rows and rows of roses


Lovely shades of peach, hot pink, and light pink roses



The rose garden is located in the circular, below-street level area at 301 Pogue St.  Parking is limited to around the circle and the nearby neighborhood streets.  There are a few different entrances with stairs or you can walk down the paved entrance way near the theater. The grass height in the gardens is kept pretty low so you can easily push a stroller.

There are over 50 varieties of roses to touch (no snipping) and smell. One end of the garden has a beautiful pergola covered in white roses and the water feature and the other end has a gazebo with other varieties of shade-loving plants. There are benches and picnic tables covered with large shade trees for great picnic spots.

The pergola at one end covered with white roses
The other end of the garden
Some of the shade-loving hostas

You can’t visit the Rose Garden without scoping out the latest plays at Raleigh Little Theater, which is adjacent to the garden. RLT is a community theater that produces 11 shows each season. I’ve been to a few shows and know folks who work on the production so be sure to check them out!

Thumbs up: picnic spots, shade, sights/smells, photo ops, gardens, theater

Thumbs down: parking (at times)

Pollock Place Playground

When Ashley was 2 weeks old my best friend, Jennie, came to visit with her mom and son, Dean. At the time, Dean was an 18 month old energizer bunny so we headed out to the neighborhood playground half a mile away. We took a few pictures that day but since Ashley is 3 months today we decided to head back to the same place our adventures first started, Pollock Place Playground.

Pollock Place is a fantastic playground located between Dixie Trail and Meredith College at 3301 Pollock Place. It is in a quiet neighborhood in a triangular median between Taylor St, Merriman Ave, and Pollock Place streets. There are two jungle gyms with slides for different age groups, a swing set, metal benches with artsy designs, 3 picnic tables with a charcoal grill, and a sandbox. The playground is covered in a hardy mulch base, which is not a bad surface for strollers. My favorite parts of this playground are the enormous trees that provide an abundance of shade and tranquility.

Ashley at 2 weeks with Bill and Jennie


The hardy mulch base and Ashley at 3 months still napping at Pollock Place Playground


Picnic tables, grills, and benches


Swing set and jungle gyms



Raleigh really is an amazing city with great places to explore! It seems like with every street or neighborhood you drive by there’s bound to be a nearby park, trail or playground. Raleigh has several neighborhood playgrounds throughout the city so take a walk through your neighborhood and explore!

Thumbs up: shade, tranquility, jungle gyms, swing set
Thumbs down: none, unless you think napping all day under the shade trees is wrong 🙂