Exploring the Twin Cities with Kids
Opening in June – Twin Cities Events & Attractions
Twin Cities Memorial Day Weekend Events
Splash Happy: Twin Cities Guide to Beaches, Pools and Water Parks
Twin Cities Summer Reading Programs
BookHounds Invites Stephanie Watson
Twin Cities June Family Festival Calendar
BookHounds “FamilyLit Celebrating Nature and Families”
Urban Birding – Around the Twin Cities and At Home
Websites That Make Screen Time, Family Time
Cool Off at Twin Cities Area Splash Pads & Wading Pools

Exploring the Twin Cities with Kids

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Twin Cities Summer Festivals, 2016


Exploring the Twin Cities with Kids

May Guide

Is this your first visit to our site?  Start here and get to know us! 

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Opening in June – Twin Cities Events & Attractions

June Summer Entertainment

Get a jump start on June! It’s packed with parks hosting FREE summer entertainment for families, tons of places to splash about and cool off, and FREE library summer reading events that will keep them busy until school calls again.

June in Minneapolis/St. Paul



MINNEAPOLIS: Minneapolis Movies in the Parks, ongoing Mon-Sat starting 6/6, 15 min past sunset • Minneapolis Music in the Parks, 6 venues presenting music nightly starting 6/1.

ST. PAUL: Music & Entertainment in the Parks, Daily starting 6/1 with FREE concerts, family movies, theater productions and more. Check the link for a complete listing of events & locations • Groovin’ in the Garden @ Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, ongoing Wednesdays starting 6/15 with FREE concerts, a climbing wall, bounce house, and lawn games for kids, and food available for purchase • Movies in the Parks, 6/24 & 6/28.

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Twin Cities Memorial Day Weekend Events

memorial day


Sticking around town this weekend? The Pioneer Press offers an extensive list of places to honor veterans around the Twin Cities on Memorial Day; we’ve saluted a few of the larger celebrations below. In addition to the special events, we’ve got weekend suggestions sure to be memorable.

5/28: Sibley House Historic Site Open House, Mendota • 1-4pm • Ring in the summer tour season by exploring the site, enjoying refreshments, and taking a guided tour.

5/28: Starlight Cinema Outdoor Movie Series: CARS @ Ojibway Park, 2695 Ojibway Dr, Woodbury • pre-show activities begin at 7pm, movie starts at dusk.

5/28-30: Sparky the Sea Lion Opening Weekend @ Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St. Paul • shows at 11:30am & 3pm.

5/28-30: Jim Lupient Water Park pre-season, 1520 Johnson St NE, Minneapolis, 1-7pm

5/28: Minneapolis Wading Pools • Open daily 10am-9pm • FREE (Beaches also open, but unguarded until 6/11/16.)

PicMonkey Collage wabun park

5/28: Nicollet Commons Park water feature, Burnsville (weather dependent)

5/28: Webber Natural Swimming Pool, Minneapolis • pre-season 5/28-30, 1-7pm

5/29: Immigrant for a Day @ Gammelgarden Museum, Scandia • 1-4pm • Details: Step back into the 1850’s with immigrant family activities and tours.

5/30: Memorial Day at Lakewood Cemetery, 3600 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis • 10:30am-3pm • Details: Ceremony begins at 10:30am followed by live music, refreshments, trolley tours, horse-drawn carriage rides and art activities for kids.


5/30: Memorial Day Show @ Como Dockside, 1360 Lexington Pkwy N, St Paul • 3pm • Details: The Minnesota State Band and others perform.

tm cafesjian's carousel

5/30: Cafesjian’s Carousel Free Ride Day @ Como Park Zoo & Conservatory • 11am-4pm

5/30: Memorial Day Animal Show @ Eastman Nature Center, Maple Grove • 1-4pm

5/30: Free Family Fun Days @ Lowry Nature Center & Richardson Nature Center


5/28-5/29: Gibbs Farm, Falcon Heights • 10am-4pm • $5-$8/pp • Details: Take a themed guided tour and visit with the baby farm animals on Opening Weekend.

5/28-29: Memorial Day Weekend @ Historic Fort Snelling, Sat 10-5, Sun noon-5 • $6-$12/pp • Details: Explore the historic buildings, chat with costumed interpreters, watch cannon and musket firings, and join in historic games. Kids can try out the History Hunt scavenger hunt. Finish the day with a short hike through adjacent Fort Snelling State Park.

PicMonkey Collage fort snelling

5/28-30: Living History Event: Wild West Weekend @ The Landing, Shakopee • $5-$8/pp, under 2 FREE • Details: Experience life on the frontier amongst the gunslingers and cowboys, cook over the campfire, and join in an 1880’s Memorial Day ceremony on 5/30.

5/28: Anoka Aquatic Center1551 7th Ave, Anoka • 5/28-6/7 Sat-Sun & holiday noon-7pm, Mon-Fri 3-7pm • $4-$7/pp.

5/28: Elm Creek Swimming Pond, Maple Grove • 9am-8pm • $5/pp

5/28: Lake Minnetonka Swimming Pond, Minnetrista • 9am-8pm • $5/pp

5/28: Grove Cove Aquatic Center Outdoor Pool, Maple Grove, 11am-6pm • $6-$7/pp or $22-$25/family

Twin Cities Summer Festivals, 2016

Splash Happy: Twin Cities Guide to Beaches, Pools and Water Parks


As the line between late spring and early summer starts to melt away in the rising temps, it’s time to update our master list of Twin Cities beaches, outdoor swimming pools, water parks and splash pads. Several are anticipating an opening Memorial Day Weekend with dozens more following suit in early June. Find your new splash happy spot from our following suggestions:

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Twin Cities Summer Reading Programs

I don’t recall summer reading programs when I was a kid. One year, my mom challenged me to start tackling the “college reading list”. 2016 Summer Reading ProgramsThis list doesn’t actually exist, but I was able to find a book at the library that had an extensive list of books that every college student should read. Knowing my childhood library, the book was probably written in 1942 and the first book on the list was a college level psychology book. I didn’t get past that first one. Luckily, that was the year I discovered a love for science fiction and fantasy novels, so I read all summer — just not the books my mom thought I should be reading.

Where do your kids fall in the summer reading spectrum? Whether they love to read or hate it or are somewhere in between, there is probably a program out there for them. If they are ambitious, they can participate in several.  There is no rule that can’t use the same books for several programs. Here’s a few programs we found.

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BookHounds Invites Stephanie Watson

Stephanie Watson is a native Minnesotan who grew up immersing herself in stories:  reading, watching TV, acting in Children’s Theatre Company shows and spending lots of time at the library.  She is a local author who teaches writing classes and does picture book critique work as well.

Most importantly, she is happy to be a soul parent.  (Trust me, it’s most definitely soul and not sole–her heart and humor is two sizes too big)

She and her 5 year old daughter (who shares my birthday!) live in Minneapolis.

We are pumped to have Stephanie on BookHounds this month as she is a dynamic mama with a really cool job.  She talks about what it’s like to be an author and how they foster reading in their home.

For more information, see the Show Notes below.

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Twin Cities June Family Festival Calendar

Family Festival Calendar - Get Your Fill of Twin Cities Festivals in June


Get your fill of festivals throughout the month of June with this handy list of local celebrations around the Twin Cites. Family-friendly highlights are listed for each:

6/2-10: I Love Burnsville WeekFamily highlights: New sculpture/water feature unveiling in Nicollet Commons Park (6/2, 5:30-9pm) with live music & free apps, Thursday Rockin’ Lunch Hour & Rockin’ Readers for kids kicks off 6/9, and Friday Fest is held 6/10, 6:30-10pm, a free movie at dusk.

6/3-5: Edina Art Fair @ 50th & France • Family highlights: Live music and a Kids Zone filled with art activities, inflatables and a shady place to rest.

6/4: Waterfest @ Phalen Regional Park, St. Paul • 11am-4pm • Family highlights: Celebrate clean lakes and outdoor rec with family canoeing, fishing lessons, crafts, games, interactive exhibits and more.

6/4: Springtime & Rhubarb Festival @ Le Duc Historic Estate, 1629 Vermillion St, Hastings • Family highlights: Tour the historic house, grub on some rhubarb, visit the chicken coop and more.

6/4-5: Flint Hills International Children’s Festival, Downtown St. Paul • Family highlights: The whole shebang, from outdoor artist performances to the exhibit and activities tent, is great for kids. Get tips for bringing the whole family at the link.

6/4-5: Grand Old Days, Grand Ave, St. Paul • Family highlights: Plenty of kids activities in the Family Fun District (for a fee), but no charge to enjoy the live music and parade.

6/5: Rhubarb Fest @ New Brighton History Center Museum, 700 Park Dr, New Brighton • 1-4pm

6/9-12: Spring Lake Park Tower Days, Spring Lake Park • Family highlights: Festival at Lakeside Lions Park (6/12, 10am-dusk) features interactive lumberjack shows, a visit from the Ghostbusters of MN, and other kids activities.

6/9-12: Hugo Good Neighbor Days, Hugo • Family highlights: Parade and fireworks (6/11).

6/10-12: Wannigan Days, Taylors Falls/St. Croix Falls • Family highlights: Kids parade through Taylors Falls (6/10, 6pm)

6/11: Lakefest 2016 @ Trapp Farm Park, 841 Wilderness Run Rd, Eagan • 10am-2pm • Family highlights: nature art projects, kids science experiments, no fishing license required to fish; equipment provided.

Twin Cities Summer Festivals, 2016

6/11-12: Art on the Lake, Excelsior • Family highlights: Get creative in the Kids Art Tent and treat the whole family to a discounted cruise on the Steamboat Minnehaha ($5/pp).

6/14-18: Farmington Dew Days, Farmington • Family highlights: Tour the Dakota City Heritage Village on Friends & Family Fun Day (6/17, 10am-noon, $5/pp).

6/16-18: Tater Daze Festival, Brooklyn Park • Family highlights: Parade (6/16), free root beer float social, live music and a movie in the park (6/17).

6/16-19: St. Louis Park Parktacular, St. Louis Park • Family highlights: Both the Grand Day Parade (noon-2pm)  and Kidtacular Family & Kids Activities (2-6pm) are 6/18. Activities are free or low cost.

6/16-21: Cottage Grove Strawberry Fest, @ Kingston Park, 9195 75th Street S • Family highlights: Free kids tractor pedal pull (6/16), free petting farm (6/18, 1-5pm), self-guided StoryWalk through the festival, and $3 tethered hot air balloon rides.

6/16-7/4: Manitou Days, White Bear Lake • Family highlights: Movie on the beach (6/18), sandcastle contest (6/20), Family fun night (6/24), free pontoon rides (6/27).

6/17-19: GermanFest Minnesota, @ Historic Schmidt Brewery, 900 7th St W, St. Paul • Family highlights: Kids can make FREE Father’s Day cards in the Art Tent on Fri (4-7pm) & Sat (10am-6pm) plus daily music and maypole dances.

6/17-19: Stone Arch Bridge Festival, Minneapolis • Family highlights: Take a stroll across the bridge to seek out the Family Activities Area with birdhouse-building, games, and a family photo opp.

6/22-26: Columbia Heights Lions Jamboree, @ Huset Park, 3965 Jefferson St NE, Columbia HeightsFamily highlights: Jamboree Parade (6/24) and FREE activities in the park including rock climbing, an obstacle course, and an art class (6/25).

6/23-25: Earle Brown Days Festival, Brooklyn Center • Family highlights: A full Saturday (6/25) of fun in Centennial Park with a petting zoo, crafts, family games, horse-drawn wagon rides, ice cream and more.

6/23-25: Oakdale Summerfest, @ Walton Park, 15th St & Hadley Ave, Oakdale

6/23-27: Rosefest, Roseville • Family highlights: Skate for FREE at the Roseville Skating Center or hit up Family Fest at Central Park (6/24), roast smores around the campfire at Harriet Alexander Nature Center (6/25) and get up in some big rigs on 6/26. Annual Rose Parade is held 6/27.

6/24-26: Kaposia Days, South St. Paul • Family highlights: Try your hand at kids carnival games at Central Square (6/25, 10:30am-2:30pm), FREE kites to fly 6/26.

6/25: Summer Fest 2016 @ Minnetonka Civic Center, 14600 Minnetonka Blvd • 4-10:30pm • Family highlights: All activities are FREE (excluding food): pony rides, petting zoo, kids races, games, fire department open house, music, fireworks and more.

6/25: Midsommar Dag @ Gammelgarden Museum, Scandia • Family highlights: Tour the historic buildings FREE, complemented by kids “Immigrant for a Day” activities plus Swedish music and dance.

6/25-26: Eagan Art Festival, Eagan Festival Grounds, 1501 Central Pkwy, Eagan • Family highlights: Art activity tents sponsored by the Eagan Art House.

6/27-7/4: Apple Valley Freedom Days, Apple Valley

Twin Cities Summer Festivals, 2016

BookHounds “FamilyLit Celebrating Nature and Families”

This week on BookHounds, Gianna talks about some unconventional ideas for great FamilyLit.  Each of these books will be enjoyed by the whole family.  You can read these books over and over without needing to bang your head against a wall.

FamilyLit Show Notes Below

Join the conversation at our facebook group FFTC BookHounds.

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Urban Birding – Around the Twin Cities and At Home

Urban Birding at Carl Kroening Interpretive CenterAudubon Minnesota’s Urban Birding Festival of the Twin Cities starts tomorrow, and it is packed full of family friendly activities all over the Twin Cities. You can find the complete list in our Family Fun Calendar. The following are highlights of activities Urban Birding Festival activities and some ideas for celebrating at home: Read More

Websites That Make Screen Time, Family Time

screen time bannerMy biggest problem with screen time is how alienating it can be. There are times when we are all on different devices doing our own thing. Even when we do watch movies and shows together, we don’t really interact. This year, since our family room television is actually a big computer screen, we’ve been discovering new ways to have screen time also be family time.

This is an ongoing list of my favorite ways to enjoy screen time as a family. As I find new ones, I hope to keep adding them here. If you have favorite websites that encourage family interaction, leave us a comment below. Don’t tell the kids, but most of these are actually educational as well as fun. Some of these sites require an account, but all of them are free or have a free option.

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Cool Off at Twin Cities Area Splash Pads & Wading Pools

If you’re looking for a few new places to cool off this summer, we’ve put together a master list of all the Twin Cities Metro-area splash pads we could find. The pads are organized by region for your convenience and nearly all are free of charge (except where noted). With a few more elaborate exceptions, these aren’t so much swimming holes as simple spots where you might beat the heat with your youngsters. Stay cool! Please feel free to leave a comment if you know of any other great places to splash in the Metro.


tm lewis parkConway Recreation Center, 2090 Conway Ave, St. Paul • Daily 8am-8pm • Details: This relatively new pad opened June 2013. Enjoy the fountains and new playground equipment.

Lewis Park, 900 N Marion St, St. Paul • Daily 8am-8pm • Details: St. Paul’s first splash pad features fountains and jets plus fun new playground equipment. We love the synthetic turf surfacing on the playground, but I’d advise you to keep your shoes on.


Waite Park Wading Pool & Splash Pad, 1810 34th Ave NE, Minneapolis • Open during park hours • Details: Cool off at the newly-renovated Waite Park wading pool and check out its zero-depth entry, new shade structure and interactive water features. Read More

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