I know how hard it is to get young kids out of the house to go somewhere - even quick outings require you to pack enough snacks, diapers, and toys to make you think you’ll be gone for a week. And who wants to wrestle kids in and out of carseats just to find out that your destination isn’t kid-friendly? That’s why I’ve decided to visit Triangle area sites to see if they’re worth your trip. I won’t use a rating system but I’ll try to describe what you’ll see well enough for you to decide if your kids would find it interesting. I’ll also give you the heads up on bathrooms, stroller accessibility and any other SNAFUs I encounter.


Anderson Point Park - Raleigh

Park Website

      Anderson Point is a great park if you live on the eastern side of Raleigh. The Park has picnic shelters, a playground, a nature trail through the meadow, a cottage that can be rented for meetings, and clean, heated bathrooms. There is also a ball field where I taught my daughter how to fly her first kite. But my favorite thing at Anderson Point is......

the porch swings on the top of the hill. I only wish they were closer to the playground so I could swing while I supervise my kids.

    The playground is nicely equipped and is surrounded by magnolia trees. There are several slides, and  water fountains and bathrooms are close by. On the day we were there, the bridge on the play structure was missing and blocked off by yellow caution tape. I've been to Anderson many times before and never seen the playground in disrepair so I'm sure this is only a temporary situation.

    While we were at the playground, one of those quick and heavy rainstorms caught us and the only place we could take shelter was under one of the slides. So here is a grown man, huddled under a very thin slide  and wearing his infant son in a carrier while clutching his toddler next to him to try and stay dry. Eventually the rain started coming in sideways and I decided to grab my toddler and make a run for the picnic shelter across the field. The field was wet and sloshy but we made it to the picnic shelter to wait out the storm - which is when we discovered the heated restrooms.

The parking lot is a decent walk from the playground so I took the stroller so I wouldn't have to carry the toddler the whole way. Signage on how to get to the Park is not great so I offer the following directions:

  • turn on Rogers Lane towards the Food Lion shopping center
  • take a right at the stop sign to stay on Rogers
  • left on Neuse View
  • take a right on Anderson Pointe to cross the overpass over 264 and enter the Park
There is a canoe launch into the Neuse River and a greenway before you cross the overpass, but the Park is on the other side of 264.


African American Cultural Complex - Raleigh

Complex Website

       MLK Day found my preschooler, my infant and I at the African American Cultural Complex - an independent museum established by Dr. E. B. Palmer at his residence in Raleigh to address the lack of African American history presented in most museums. Because the Complex is also a private residence, visitors must call and make an appointment to come.

      We arrived at our scheduled tour time, I in my regular street attire, and my preschooler in this past year's Halloween costume that she insisted on wearing (she was Jessie the Cowgirl from Toy Story). We were led into the house by Dr. Palmer's school-age grandchildren who apparently know the tour so well that they started the introductory video for us while we waited for their grandfather.

     Once Dr. Palmer arrived he led us outside onto a paved walking path through the backyard that led first to a small structure about the size of a hotel room. Inside - where it was just as cold as it was outside - were walls lined with photographs, drawings, and placards. The far wall displayed many common items that were invented by African Americans. Dr. Palmer took time to highlight a few such inventions like the  bag phone (for those not old enough to remember, this was the precursor to today's cell phone).

     After leaving this building, we meandered down the path to the next 'house.' We could see the amphitheater to our left where summer performances of The Amistad are staged. In this next building there were photos of African Americans in law enforcement and rescue professions. A firefighter's uniform and gear hung in one display case.

      The final structure on the property highlighted African American cowboys, the Philadelphia born architect behind Duke University's characteristic architecture, and the historically black colleges and universities.

      The Complex may be short on actual artifacts, but the real treasure is Dr. Palmer's knowledge of African American history. Your reward for visiting is simply to listen to Dr. Palmer as he presents information on the various topics covered at the Complex. Feel free to ask questions because he will most likely know the answer and be able to share even more relevant information.

     This is not the most child-friendly Museum. In fact, I'm very glad that I left my toddler at home because he would not have been able to just sit and listen. Dr. Palmer has dreams for the future of this Complex, but at the present time there are no hands-on exhibits or activities for children. So unless you have school-age kids, I'd recommend skipping this attraction.

      All that being said, while listening to Dr. Palmer I noticed a definite lengthening of my preschooler's attention span. I can see the effect that school is having on her in that she's able to sit relatively still and quiet for longer periods while an adult is talking. It's amazing to see this kind of development in your own children.

A display of various home and farming implements

RightTime Kids - Raleigh

RightTime Kids, Oberlin Rd. Location Website

     I don't usually review businesses on this blog but I figured, after using a drop-in daycare establishment for the first time, I couldn't be the only parent out there that could benefit from an independent review of one of these places.

     We chose RightTime Kids because it was a national chain, it had a comprehensive website, and it was licensed. The location - Oberlin Rd. - we chose because it was close to where my wife and I wanted to spend our short respite from the kids. I can only comment on what I saw at this location at the specific time I was there. I don't intend to endorse RightTime or discredit them. I'm only providing more information for parents like myself who might be deciding where to drop off their kids.

    When we arrived, the place seemed calm and there were no signs that the kids had staged a coup and taken control of the establishment. A receptionist greeted us and directed us to a computer kiosk at the front of the lobby where we could register our kids. My wife handled the registering, so I can't comment on how easy or difficult it was.

    There was a place in the lobby for my kids to hang their coats and store their shoes - apparently the management requires kids to take their shoes off before going in the playroom. This location provides clean socks for your kids to put on if they didn't come with socks. We were told that our kids could go on in and play while we registered them. In order to enter the playroom, the receptionist had to enter a code on a numbered keypad by the door. Once inside my kids had access to a slide, an indoor play gym (kind of like what you see inside Chick-Fil-A restaurants), toys, playhouses, and dress-up clothes.

     When we were there - on a Saturday afternoon - there were 14 kids enrolled at this location, with a staff of three adults. The two staff members that I could see through the lobby windows were full-fledged adults and not teenagers (not that there's anything wrong with teenagers).

     As for safety, this location satisfied my concerns:

  • staff has passed a criminal background check
  • no adults are allowed in the playroom without the staff's authorization
  • you must show your photo ID to sign your kids out of RightTime. 
  • ill children are not permitted to stay at RightTime. 
  • the toys get cleaned every day.

   I wouldn't have left my kids there if I doubted their safety. And I would probably use RightTime again if I needed a drop-in daycare.

     The best part was that this first visit was free. New clients are given a coupon for up to four hours free on their first visit (for us it would have been 2 hours free for 2 children). And when we came to pick up our kids they didn't want to leave, which is always a good sign.


White Deer Park - Garner

     White Deer Park is one of our go-to places when we're in the Garner area. There are two playgrounds, a huge slide, clean and accessible restrooms, and a nature trail. 

    The playground pictured at left is our favorite because, instead of metal or plastic, it's constructed of rough timber to blend in with the natural surroundings. The wood is all sanded smooth so your kids won't get a splinter, but the playground has a nice log cabin in the Adirondacks feel.

    Along with swings, seesaws, and bridges the 'au naturel' playground also has a very large slide that travels down an embankment. The slide is probably over 20 ft. long and looks like a water-slide without the water. 

    All of the park buildings have accompanying metal cisterns to hold collected rainwater. The picnic shelter near the playground has a hand pump that enables visitors to pump water out of the cistern and into a small, man-made creek bed.

      There is not much to see at the Nature Center besides a taxidermy albino deer - the Park was named for a white deer that was sighted in the area. The Nature Center also houses a large classroom space for park programs. If you need to use the restrooms while playing at the Natural Playground, the closest ones are at the Nature Center.


    The nature trail is paved and is dedicated to the memory of those who died in the nearby ConAgra Plant explosion in 2009. 

   The trail takes you through the woods to the other, more traditional playground, constructed of plastic and metal. This playground is geared towards school-age children and has a lot of new equipment for spinning, hanging and climbing. There are bathrooms located near this playground as well.

   If you're in the Garner area, or just want to see a unique playground, you should check out White Deer. We've been several times and my kids haven't gotten tired of the place. It's also nice because White Deer's natural surroundings allow you to imagine yourself in the woods relaxing while watching your kids play.