Today marks our first day in Raleigh, North Carolina.
I’m here because my sister is at an NC State University gymnastics camp, and I didn’t want to pass up the chance to spend a week in a new city, especially a state capital where I knew there would be a lot to do!
Despite arriving at our lackluster airbnb at around 10pm, my family and I are super eager beavers when it comes to going out and doing things on vacation, which is how we managed to pack so much into our first day here in Raleigh!
Lake Johnson Nature Park
Seeing as we’re visiting Raleigh in late June, our strategy is to visit all of the parks we planned to see in the morning time, so after dropping my sister off at gymnastics camp, we made our way to Lake Johnson Nature Park.
I was instantly wowed by how pristine and well-kept the lake and its surrounding area is. It saddens me whenever I see a lakeshore park overdeveloped and polluted, but this is not the scene at Lake Johnson!
There’s a waterfront center with picnic tables, boat rentals, restrooms, and lots of shade, but that’s really the only structure on the 150 acre lake. We set off on a hike on the East Loop of the Greenway trail which runs right by the lake so that we could enjoy the tall spindly east-coasty forest and the lakeshore at the same time. We went the whole way around, although next time I would turn back once you reach the dam, because the trail runs deeper into the forest and is extremely hilly after that point.
After our hike, we had a picnic lunch by the water and watched some ducks and geese swimming together. By then, the temperature was starting to crawl up to the upper 90’s (F), so we left, but I’d like to come back later in the week!
NC State Farmer’s Market
Imagine every fruit and vegetable to ever exist. Now imagine smelling every one of those foods at their most ripe, perfect moment, all in one place!
Seriously, the NC State Farmer’s Market smelled so good. There had to be a hundred stalls, each with a thoughtfully decorated sign, selling their summer produce.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, a ton of the stalls had free samples! I tried peaches, blueberries, sweet corn, honeydew, cantaloupe, and every color of tomato in existence. I’m actually eating one of the peaches we ended up buying as I write this post, so clearly, it’s a clever sales technique 😉
Yates Mill County Park and Wildlife Refuge
Because there are so many parks in Raleigh, I almost didn’t even consider visiting this one. But Yates Mill pleasantly surprised me with how enjoyable it was.
At the entrance to the park is a small museum full of artifacts from the area, and an overview on the history of grain refining in the Americas. The folks at the museum seem to realize that the general public may not find grain refining incredibly interesting, so the exhibits are small and concise to keep it from being dull. Which is nice because I actually felt like I learned something without being bored! At the back of the museum is a large, shady porch with rocking chairs overlooking the lake, but I spent a majority of my time at the craft table making a sun catcher.
I lost the suncatcher so I’m sorry I can’t show you my masterpiece of tissue and paper plates 🙁
After leaving the museum, we walked the short trail to the mill itself, which has the waterwheel used to generate power back in the day. Sadly, you cannot go inside the mill house, nor is the waterwheel still spinning, but you can get very close to the wheel and walk down by the water. Something I found especially interesting was that the underside of the mill house is actually a protected refuge for Northern Water Snakes, although I didn’t see any on our visit.
We spent the rest of our time at Yates Mill walking on some of the short trails over the lake, spotting herons and turtles on the way.
A cloudy sky with warm breezes made for a perfect first day in Raleigh. Tomorrow is looking to be blistering hot so we’re planning some indoor activities around the capital. You can read about it here!
Thanks for reading of course!!!