Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

J.C. Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, N.C.

J.C. Raulston Arboretum is a nice park to take an early morning stroll. There were lots of robins, cardinals and other birds singing from the trees as Chris and I strolled through the gardens, checking out the various shrubs and trees planned along the walks.

Pups are not allowed, so Sydney had to wait in the car. Don’t worry, it was a very brisk morning so there was no danger of her overheating. Plus, we never leave her in the car for very long. This was a quick visit.

Because the local police department was meeting at the facility, we had to park along Beryl Road. There’s a nice entry way from the roadside, so you don’t have to walk through the parking lot (though it’s really a small parking lot so that doesn’t really matter).

Chris really liked the well kept the grounds. Everything looked fresh and well-maintained.

I liked how well each of the species were labeled and included the native growing ranges of each of the plants. The park’s lath house and information on it was interesting. This is where most of the plants are kept until they are hardy enough to be moved out into other parts of the property. Some plants are kept there indefinitely.

Since it was still early in the year, most of the plants were not in bloom or even had leaves. We headed toward the magnolia garden to check out the blooms. Fact: lots of magnolias bloom before they get their leaves.

I would enjoy coming here to relax early on Saturday mornings.

Free Museums!

On our Raleigh, N.C., visit we stopped at as many museums as possible. All free (except special exhibits).

North Carolina Museum of Art
My favorite pieces in the museum were photographs by Alex Sothpaintings and photographs by Page H. Laughlin and Pamela Pecchio and “Three Graces,” by Mickalene Thomas. The museum houses a wide range of pieces, from Ancient Egypt to Contemporary American. Definitely an art museum to check out.

This museum also has outdoor trails (from 1 mile to just over 2 miles in length) that wind through an open field and woods, showcasing various art pieces.

“The Conversationalist,” a piece by Chakaia Booker

“Whisper Bench,” a piece by Greensboro sculptor Jim Gallucci

North Carolina Museum of History
We did not get to spend much time in this museum, but enjoyed the few exhibits we did see. We started at the exploration and settlement of the New World by European colonists and made most of our way to the Civil Rights movement before needing to head back home.

Besides dates and facts one usually relates with history, the museum also offered a look into the cultural aspects of the various time periods — from agriculture and tools, to education and music. I wish we could have spent more time reading each sign and listening to recordings.

A sign at the history museum that Chris liked

Note: Lots of school groups visit the museum. So expect to share the space with youngins.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
This museum seems to appeal to kids and adults alike, which I like. There’s nothing worse to go into a museum looking to learn things but all the exhibits are dumbed down for grade school students. It makes you think you’re out of place. This museum seemed to have a nice balance of nice educational aspects for adults and then some interactive activities for kids. It strikes a good balance, which, I think, is hard to do.

There were lots of student running around. Literally. And it was very loud. So, be prepared during the school day to share the visit with lots of students from grade school up to middle school. Most of the teachers, and a few of the chaperons, tried to make sure their kids were behaving, not cutting in front of people and not running. But in many cases, there wasn’t much control over the kids.

Still the museum is worth the trip, though you may need to move more quickly than you’d like to get out of the way of large groups.

Butterfly in the conservation room at the natural sciences museum

So, if you’re in the Raleigh area, check out these state jewels. They are worth the gas and time to get there.

Shelley Lake Park, Raleigh, N.C.

Shelley Lake Park in Raleigh, N.C., is a great place to take a stroll or, as many people were on a recent visit, jog.

The small lake is surrounded by trees and a 2+ miles of trails, including sections of a greenway. Walking around the lake we saw ducks, geese, turtles and, possibly, cormorants. The cormorants could also have been herons; the birds were far away and hard to see.

There are also basketball courts, a playground, a boat house and an art center (Sertoma Arts Center) located in the park.

Great place to take a stroll with the family on a weekday afternoon!

(Sorry, no photos to share this time!)