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These classes are a great way to get out of the house with a specific purpose to enjoy an hour together with your little ones.
Twin Cities-area apple orchards have already begun throwing their doors open to usher in the picking season! Find an old favorite or a new destination to spend a fall day from our Guide below.
The Minnesota State Fair is something my kids anticipate every year though we are not diehards like Anne and her family. We go once or maybe twice, but my kids start asking to go to the fair in January. It’s with much excitement that my kids anticipate the end of August.
This year, Anne and I were invited back to The Great Minnesota Blog Together to check out a preview of what’s to come. Alice Seuffert of Dining with Alice and Christine Noonan of the Minnesota State Fair have put this event together for three years now and we are always thrilled to go.
I was excited to see that Netflix is streaming Flight of the Butterflies right now. It has been a couple of years since we reviewed the film at the Science Museum. My boys didn’t even remember it, so we were able to watch it again like it was new. This reminded me that there are so many pollinator events in the late summer and early fall in the Twin Cities. I’ve gathered a few. Most are free.
This guide and giveaway have been generously sponsored by the Minnesota Farm Bureau. Be sure to stop by their family-friendly building at the Minnesota State Fair to win prizes, meet local farmers, snap a family picture in their photo booth and enter your kid’s name to win a free children’s book. Visit their Facebook page for more details.
*** GIVEAWAY has closed. Thanks for entering!***
We are holding the giveaway for 2 tickets to the 2016 Minnesota State Fair on our Family Fun Twin Cities Facebook page. Please follow the link to enter – do not post your comments/entries on this article.
We’re only about a week out from that glorious summer finale we fondly call the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Read More
The time is drawing near for families to finalize their State Fair plans!
What’s that? You haven’t yet decided if you’ll be attending this year? (I do tend to forget that not everyone is quite as obsessed with this Minnesota ritual as I am.) I can empathize: I find it uncomfortably hot, crowded and expensive much of the time, too. But after years of dragging my brood to the Fair for days on end I’ve honed my plans for making the most of it. I can’t do much to control the crowds or the weather; however I’d love to share 20 of our favorite free fair activities that help keep the costs down.
It’s a pretty widely accepted fact: If you plan to tote a family along for a day at the Minnesota State Fair, you’re going to come home with a considerably lighter wallet. The skewered foods are tempting, the Kidway is calling, the deals are hot and, oh yes, there are those admission tickets to consider. If you’ve been keeping up with the latest and greatest from the State Fair, you probably know that admission has been holding steady for all ages the last few years. Here’s what you’re looking at paying for regular admission for 2016:
Free/kids 5 & under
Now, the prices of food and whatnot are beyond our control. (Though I suppose you could vow to consume nothing at the Fair, but who does that?) There are, however, some surefire ways to save more than a few bucks on admission tickets. I assure you I will be using every one of the strategies listed below as I’m now in possession of three paying kiddos at the gate:
Purchase pre-Fair discount admission tickets – $10/all ages. These are available in person at the State Fair ticket office through Aug. 24 (1741 Como Avenue). Tickets are also available participating Cub Foods locations through Aug. 24. Discounted ride & game tickets, and Blue Ribbon Bargain Books are sold at these sites as well. Special note: the State Fair does not accept discount admission tickets to cover the cost of on-site parking. The charge to park this year is $13, cash only.
Take advantage of 2016 Promotional Days – if possible, plan to come on one of the following:
- Thrifty Thursday (Aug. 25): $11/adults & seniors, $8/kids
- Seniors & Kids Day (Aug. 29): $13/adults, $8/seniors & kids
- Military Appreciation Day (Aug. 30): $8/active members plus their spouses and kids, $8/retired or veteran members plus their spouses. Valid ID required.
- Ride & Read Day (Aug. 31): $11/adults, $8/seniors & kids. One discount ticket per valid public library card shown.
- Seniors Day (Aug. 28): $13/adults, $8/seniors, $11/kids
- Kids Day (Sept. 1): $13/adults, $11/seniors, $8/kids
Ramsey County Library’s Bookawocky program – earns kids ages 5 – 11 who complete a summer activity booklet a pack of prizes including one State Fair admission ticket. The posted deadline for the 2016 program is August 21. Several other county libraries (Dakota, Scott and Hennepin) participate in the Bookawocky program and will enter your child’s name in a drawing to win prizes that may include Fair tickets.
Volunteer at the Fair – at one of many fun locations and receive complimentary gate admission as thanks. No, it’s not always convenient (but it is possible!) to bring kids along to volunteer. Consider signing up for an early shift, then plan to have another caregiver bring the kids to join you in the afternoon. To practice what we preach, Family Fun Twin Cities helped out in the Alphabet Forest in 2014 and at Little Farm Hands in 2015. Click any of the following links to see how you can get involved.
Do YOU have any other tips or tricks for scoring free or discounted admission to the State Fair? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.
• For more State Fair 2016 planning, try our list of 50 Things To Do at the Minnesota State Fair.
Fresh (and exhausted) off a gorgeous summer Saturday at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum with the family. This was the last foreseeable completely free weekend — definitely of the summer and quite possibly the last of 2016 — and we wanted to spend it exploring someplace new. We’d never been out to the Arboretum at the height of summer. The eye-popping colors, space to run free, and hands-and-feet-on exhibits were just what our kids needed with summer slipping away and the schedules of fall beckoning. Here are ten things that get their stamp of approval:
1. Green Play Yard – You may not want to make this your first stop at the Arb. Chances are, you’ll have a hard time dragging your little ones away from the sand-and-water play, dreamy little paths among the plants, playhouses, stumps and logs. It’s designed for ages 0-5 conveniently divided into age-appropriate areas, but don’t be surprised if older ones are just as tempted to dive in and play. Read more about the nature play elements here.
Looking for fun things to do in the Twin Cities with your family? We’ve got 500+ for you! Our team lives in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and we are your experts! We’re not writers from out of state. We visit these places, and this is our turf! We’ll see you out there.
- 500+ categorized entries in our lovingly curated Twin Cities Family Fun Directory! You need to check this out.
Get ready for a bumper crop of fall festivals in the Twin Cities!
8/27: Johnny Appleseed Day @ Bruentrup Heritage Farm, Maplewood • 11am-3pm • $3-$4/pp • Family highlights: Admission nets you hayrides, a petting zoo, butter-making, games and crafts. Tour the historic farmhouse and new exhibits.
9/7-11: Burnsville Fire Muster • Family highlights: Don’t miss the fire truck water display (9/9), annual community and fire truck parade and fireworks (9/10). FREE admission.
9/9-11: James J. Hill Days, Lake Street, Downtown Wayzata • Family highlights: $5 cruises on the Steamboat Minnehaha, a carnival, parade (9/11, 2pm) and fireworks (9/10, dusk). FREE admission.
9/9-11: Inver Grove Heights Days • Family highlights: Community Family Fun Night (9/9, 5:30pm), kids treasure hunt, grand parade and fireworks (9/10). FREE admission.
9/9-10/30: Sever’s Fall Festival • Fri-Sun • $14-$15/pp • Family highlights: Admission includes a full lineup of fun – obstacle course, corn maze & pits, petting zoo, magic shows, zip line, playground and jumping pillow; additional activities extra.
9/10: Otsego Prairie Festival @ Prairie Park, Otsego • 10am-dusk • Family highlights: Catch firetruck displays, a carnival and fireworks at dusk. FREE admission.
9/10-10/30: Scarecrow Festival @ Emma Krumbees, Belle Plaine • Open daily 10am-6pm • $5.50+tax/pp • Family highlights: Admission includes activities like tractor trikes, wagon rides, a slide and the 33rd annual Great Scarecrow Display.
9/16-17: Bloomington Heritage Days @ Nativity of Mary Catholic Church grounds • Family highlights: Live music and performing arts, parade (9/17, 10:30am). FREE admission.
9/17: Excelsior Apple Day, Downtown Excelsior • 9am-10pm • Family highlights: Tots will love the Happy Apple Kids Corner, parents may like the artisan vendors, music and street dance. FREE.
9/17: Golden Valley Arts & Music Festival @ City Hall Campus • Family highlights: Family-friendly live entertainment, games, art activities and artist vendors to browse. FREE admission.
9/17: Wild Rice Festival @ Harriet Alexander Nature Center, Roseville • 10am-4pm • Family highlights: Games for all, activities with Gibbs Farm, Native American dancing and drumming, hands-on demos and much more. FREE admission.
9/17-18: Lakeville Art Festival, Downtown Lakeville • 10am-5pm • Family highlights: 70+ exhibitors and a “Young at Art” tent for youth. FREE admission.
9/24: Fall Raptor Release @ Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center, Hastings • 10am-3pm • Family highlights: The Raptor Center releases rehabbed birds at 11am & 2pm plus wagon rides, kids activities and educational displays. FREE admission.
9/24: Party in the Prairie @ Richardson Nature Center, Bloomington • 3:30-8:30pm • $6/pre-reg, $8/at door • Family highlights: SO much to do – climbing wall, live music for all ages, lawn games, scavenger hunt, live animals and a story stroll.
9/24-25: Afton Art in the Park, Town Square Park • 10am-5pm • Family highlights: Art vendors and Franconia Sculpture Park’s free art pavilion for kids with fall crafts and spin art. FREE admission.
9/24-25: Lone Oak Days Fall Festival @ Holz Farm, Eagan • 11am-4pm • Family highlights: Old fashioned fun farm includes pedal tractors, kids coin hunt, animals in the barn, fun farm chores & more. FREE admission.
9/24-10/30: Twin Cities Harvest Festival & Maze, Brooklyn Park • Open weekends 10am-6pm • $10-$12/pp • Family highlights: This destination festival includes a mega corn maze (and a mini one for kids!), corn pit, petting zoo and hayrides. Additional activities available for an extra fee.
9/30-10/3: Fall Fair @ Afton Alps, Hastings • Family highlights: Family entertainment at Afton’s annual Ski & Snowboard Swap includes chairlift rides, inflatables, live music, movies and more. FREE.
10/3-4: Annual Apple Festival @ Fischer’s Croix Farm Orchard, Hastings • 9:30am-5pm • Family highlights: Activities at the orchard including their wagon rides, straw mountain, farm animals and family-friendly corn maze. FREE admission.
10/3-18: Afton Apple Fest @ Afton Apple Orchard, Hastings • 10am-6pm • $3-$4/pp • Family highlights: Admission includes hayrides, run of the playground and tire hill, petting farm, magician, music and other live entertainment.
10/8-9: Stillwater Harvest Fest, Downtown Stillwater • 10am-6pm • Family highlights: Kids activities all day both days, plus don’t miss the pumpkin regatta & giant pumpkin drop (10/11). FREE.