How New Fathers Can Get Fit

Tips for achieving the Dad bod you’ve always dreamed of


Published:

Courtesy of Morton Photography

Becoming a father is about making changes — in what’s important, in your relationships, in your free time and maybe, most noticeably, in your fitness routine. A 2015 study from Northwestern University found that men gain an average of 4 pounds as they transition into fatherhood. So yes, “Dad bod” is for real.

While hours-long grind sessions at the gym might be a thing of the past, these ideas will help you forge a new path toward becoming a fitter father.

Work Out at Home
Maybe it’s during your toddler’s nap or after putting him to bed at night, but there are ways to sneak in fitness time for yourself — even if it’s at home. 

“With a wife who works full-time and two daughters, living room exercise routines are essential to me,” says Frankie Alt, owner of Third Level Fitness in Clayton.  

Parenting parody YouTube sensation and Raleigh dad Penn Holderness says when he can't get to the gym, he'll do burpees, squats and run sprints on his neighborhood street. 

"There are days I can't get out of the house, or the timing's not great, so I'll do a CrossFit-similar thing at home," he says.

Getting fit doesn’t require a gym membership or thousands of dollars in equipment. It could take as little as one piece of equipment. Alt says a kettlebell is “literally an entire gym that fits in the back of your closet.” 

While kettlebells are handy to have around, Alt says all you really need is, well … you. 

“Your body is the easiest and cheapest thing you can use to be fit,” he says. “The key is learning the correct form of basic movements, like squats and pushups.” 

Once you’ve got those down, find an exercise routine that incorporates those movements. YouTube is full of reputable channels, like Fitness Blender, that offer hours of home-based workouts. (Search for “men’s fitness” on YouTube to find more.)





Courtesy of Morton Photography

Include Your Child
Finding time to exercise doesn’t have to pull you away from your child. On the contrary, fitness can be a cornerstone of the bond you build with your little one. Enjoy the outdoors? Consider strapping your Mini-Me in the stroller, then walking or jogging the paved trails of the Capital Area Greenway in Raleigh; Bond Park in Cary; or the American Tobacco Trail, which runs through Apex, Cary and Durham. Wear your bundle of joy in a carrier while you hike up Hillsborough’s Occoneechee Mountain. Teach your kiddo the finer points of a jump shot, or take up a martial arts class together.

When Holderness works out at home, his 9-year-old son often participates. ""A lot of times Penn Charles will join me, when it's not too difficult," he says. 

Alt makes it a goal to include his daughters in workouts regularly. “I like to accomplish fitness activities weekly, like going on a walk with my daughters, or including them in a workout ... whether it’s yardwork, or a run, or martial arts — or even 15 minutes of a game of tag.”

Including your child in your fitness routine also sets a positive example. When you prioritize fitness, your child gains an understanding of the importance of healthy living.

Get High on Intensity During Lunch
Got an hour — or even 30 minutes — for lunch during your work day? That’s the perfect amount of time to squeeze in high intensity interval training, also known as HIIT. Local fitness specialist Stephen Urben advocates HIIT because it produces muscle-building and fat-burning results in as little as 20 minutes.

“HIIT is a proven training method — especially its use of rest — because it allows you to reach your maximum training zone over and over, shocking your body every workout,” Urben says. “The research shows just 20 minutes of HIIT leaves your metabolism raging hours after you’ve trained, resulting in 9% more fat loss. And it’s almost 20% more effective than steady state training.” (Steady state training keeps your exercise intensity within the same range for the duration of your workout.) 

Being prepared is key for achieving a successful workout during lunch breaks. Make sure you have proper footwear and a change of clothes. If you don’t have access to a shower at work, bring hygiene products such as a towel, deodorant and wipes for freshening up. 

And, of course, don’t forget to pack a healthy lunch. Not only will this free up your lunch break for your workout, it also helps prevent the temptation to grab something unhealthy to eat on the fly. 

Block Out Time 
If every hour of your workday is filled with meetings that are stacked on your calendar like a game of Tetris, it’s time to schedule a workout. Blocking out time for fitness means you’re committing to good health, and it prevents last-minute lunch meetings from sliding into your inbox and onto your calendar.

Fatherhood requires a balancing act that, all too often, lowers fitness on many dads’ priority lists. Achieving a healthier lifestyle isn’t just a decision you make for yourself, but something that affects your entire family. 

Fatherhood will continue to redefine what’s important in your life. Put fitness near the top of your priority list, then embrace that Dad bod and make it as healthy as you possibly can. 

 

Elliot Acosta is a husband, father and food blogger based out of Raleigh. He writes at eatraleighblog.com.

 

Quick Exercise Routines to Try

Got a few minutes to exercise between fatherly duties or during your lunch break? Try these workouts, created by Frankie Alt of Third Level Fitness.

Kettlebell Ladder Workout
Swings
Pushups
Goblet squats
Upright rows
Start with five reps for each exercise, then decrease reps by one after every set until you reach only one of each. If you want to keep going, increase the reps by one after every set until you are back up to five reps per exercise. 

No-Equipment Max Workout
Do pushups for one minute and record how many you’re able to complete (30 pushups, for example). Divide that number in half (15), then perform that number of pushups at the top of every minute for 10 minutes. Once you can complete that number efficiently, shorten your workout to 8 minutes but add 30% more pushups (19). Once you complete that number, shorten the workout to 6 minutes and add 30% more reps (25). Continue by shortening the workout to 4 minutes and adding 30% (29), then go down to 2 minutes and add another 30% (34). Finally, redo your one-minute max. (This formula also works with situps and bodyweight squats.)

 

Photos of Penn Holderness courtesy of Morton Photography. Read our exclusive Q&A with Holderness here.

 

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June 2019

For almost 200 years, farmers brought their wheat and corn to what is now Yates Mill to have their grains ground into flour and meal. Today, you can stop by the Yates Mill visitor center to see a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
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Raleigh, NC  27603
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Cabela's
201
Cabela Dr.
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801 Bass Pro Ln.
Cary, NC  27513
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Erwin Road
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It`s 1863 at Yates Mill, and the yard is alive with activity! Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal.  Tour fee:...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Free/Child (6 - under)

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
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Cary, NC
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Crowder County Park
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Carrboro Cybrary
100 N Greensboro St
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
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Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online. Choose course #124963.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online. Choose course #124691.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Travel 238,900 miles above the earth as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of humans’ first landing on the moon. What's it like to travel in space? With the help of some volunteers, kids...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Orange County Main Library
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Travel 238,900 miles above the earth as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of humans’ first landing on the moon. What's it like to travel in space? With the help of some volunteers, kids...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Orange County Main Library
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Ages 11 and older with special needs stroll through the woods. Register online. Choose course #124383.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: White Plains UMC
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Cost: Free

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East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Court
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: White Plains UMC
Telephone: 919-467-9394
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Cost: Free

Where:
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
Durham, NC  27705
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Cost: $5

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Martha Kane
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Bees are really important in our gardens! Read The Honey Robber and the Bee by Eric Carle and discover the world of bees and honey! Find your fellow bees by following your sense of smell, make a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Enjoy tea time for the whole family. Samples of hot tea, cold tea, and kombucha will be provided, along with games and family fun.

Cost: Free

Where:
IngenuiTea Kombucha Coffee & Tea
514 E Williams St
APEX, NC  27502
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Sponsor: IngenuiTea Brews
Telephone: 919-438-3684
Contact Name: Mark Poole
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Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: White Plains UMC
Telephone: 919-467-9394
Contact Name: Michele Vansteen
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Enjoy an out-of-this world space spectacular event. Preschoolers and their families are invited to fly in for space-themed games, crafts, and more. No registration required.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Court
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Bring your own poles or borrow one of ours through the Tackle Loaner Program. Bait and basic instruction are provided. All...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Ages 11 and older with special needs enjoy yoga and breathing exercises. Register online. Choose course #125022.

Cost: $9/resident, $11/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park Community Center
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
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Enjoy giant checkers, giant jenga, bubbles, and special art activities in Downtown Park. All other permanent games (ping pong, bocce ball, chess) will continue to be available.

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Park
319 S. Academy St.
Cary, NC  27511
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Meet a staff member at the information desk and follow your guide outside to the garden exhibit or into one of the museum galleries. Look around and listen to a history-related story. Ages 3...

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Enjoy stories with Amy Godfrey.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
Durham, NC  27705
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Website »

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Kids ages 6-9 discover the wonders of reptiles that live at the Preserve.  The focus will be hands-on outdoor investigation and the study of living things in their habitat.  In case of...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Marti Kane
Website »

More information

Parent and child ages 2-5 water plants in the native wildflower gardens. Register online. Choose course #124907.

Cost: Free

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Join Optimist Aquatic Center as thousands of kids and adults around the world unite for the world's largest swimming lesson. The World's Largest Swimming Lesson will celebrate its 10th...

Cost: Free

Where:
Optimist Aquatic Center
5902 Whittier Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Court
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: White Plains UMC
Telephone: 919-467-9394
Contact Name: Michele Vansteen
Website »

More information

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Every year on June 21, we enjoy the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Discover the science and cultural celebrations behind this special summer day. Make a pretty sun catcher to hang in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy stories with Amy Godfrey.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

What do Historic Yates Mill County Park and the woodland faeries have in common? They both love nature! Take a short walk near the millpond to search for evidence of faeries (sightings are not...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Enjoy magic, storytelling and origami with Yasu Ishida. Grades K-5.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Court
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy an indoor/outdoor vendor market with food trucks, coffee, live music outside and plenty of fun for all ages.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Pine State Coffee
1614 Automotive Way
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Sponsor: Raleigh Night Market
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More information

Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: White Plains UMC
Telephone: 919-467-9394
Contact Name: Michele Vansteen
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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Every year on June 21, we enjoy the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Discover the science and cultural celebrations behind this special summer day. Make a pretty sun catcher to hang in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: $12/person. Free for ages 2 and younger.

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Duke Homestead State Historic Site
2828 Duke Homestead Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
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Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
The Scrap Exchange
2050 Chapel Hill Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
NC Cooperative Extension
721 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: March of Dimes/Duke Family Medicine
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Contact Name: Courtney Simpson
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Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 or 3 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's history...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Free/Child (6 - under)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Ages 5-8 embrace science and nature while developing skills and knowledge about the natural world. Register online. Choose course #124927.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

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Cost: $12 advance tickets, $15 at the door. Free for ages 12 and younger

Where:
Vollmer Farm
677 NC Hwy 98 East
Bunn, NC  27508
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Sponsor: Vollmer Farm
Telephone: 919-496-3076
Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
E. Carroll Joyner Park
701 Harris Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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The 2018-19 Education Guide offers 678 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools, academic resources and an Exceptional Child special section.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.