Exploring the Twin Cities with Kids
Recipe Wednesday: Strawberry Rhubarb Applesauce + Twin Cities Apple Orchard Picks
Twin Cities Early Halloween Events – October 10-18, 2015
10 Twin Cities Pumpkin Patches To Pick From
Twin Cities Weekend Free & Budget Family Events for October 3-4, 2015
Minneapolis Toy Library Grand Opening–What’s in it for You?
“Pre-K Mondays” at The Works Museum in Bloomington
Explore ‘Mischief’ at Its Grand Opening Today October 1
Read Aloud Wednesday: ‘North Woods Girl’
Family Fun Idea: 5 Spots to Stop in Linden Hills, Minneapolis
Ariadne auf Naxos: Should You Take Your Kids to this Opera?

Exploring the Twin Cities with Kids

This is my go-to website for things to do with the kiddos in Minnesota.


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Recipe Wednesday: Strawberry Rhubarb Applesauce + Twin Cities Apple Orchard Picks

Pairing Twin Cities Outings with Recipes at Home

This week’s installment of Recipe Wednesday hopes that you’ve been able to make it out to one of the wonderful Twin Cities-area apple orchards (and if you haven’t, we’ve got a list of a few to try at the end of the recipe bit). I know garden-fresh strawberries and rhubarb aren’t easy to come by this time of year, but this simple applesauce recipe from the local blog Dining With Alice looked so tasty I just had to share.

Crock-Pot-Strawberry-Rhubarb-Apple-Sauce[1]Strawberry Rhubarb Applesauce (courtesy Alice Seuffert, Dining With Alice)

  • 1 lb Strawberries (stems removed, halved)
  • 2 lbs apples cored (skin on and quartered)
  • ½ cup Apple Juice or Cider
  • 2 cups Rhubarb (chopped)
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon


  1.  Combine ingredients and cook on low in a slow cooker for 8 hours.
  2.  Once cooked, use an immersion blender (or regular blender) to get your desired consistency of the  apple sauce.
  3.  Alice recommends the sauce over vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce.

But first order of business, where to find these apples for the sauce? Family Fun Twin Cities has got you covered. (And as a bonus, several of these orchards also offer pumpkin patches and other fall activities.)

PicMonkey Collage apple orchard - Copy

Twin Cities Early Halloween Events – October 10-18, 2015

BooFestLogo_2015[1]Grand Avenue BooFest

When: Saturday, Oct. 10 • events 11am-8pm
Cost: Free
Details: Trick-or-treat at participating businesses (map) from 2-4pm, free root beer garden at Red Balloon Bookshop from 2-5pm, free pony rides, a petting zoo and a costume contest.

Farmer Ken’s Pumpkin Patch
@ Como-Harriet Streetcar Line, 4200 Queen Ave. S, Minneapolis

When: Saturday & Sunday, October 10 & 11 • 12:30 to 4:30 PM
Cost: Regular fares apply; pumpkins are $4
Details: Take a trolley ride and bring home a Halloween pumpkin. Riders get off the car at the “pumpkin patch” where they can search for just the right pumpkin to bring home.

tm streetcar museum

Hyland’s Not-So-Scary Trick-or-Treat Event
@ Hyland Lake Park Reserve, 10145 Bush Lake Road, Bloomington

When: Oct. 10 • 2:30-4:30
Cost: $5/pre-registered, $6/door, under 2 free
Details: Hike through the woods to meet animal puppets, play games, and follow a scavenger hunt. Stop at the mad scientist’s lab and brave the “crazy maze.” Arrive in costume and bring a treat bag.

Food Allergy Resource Fair & Trick-or-Treating
@ Eisenhower Community Center, 1001 Highway 7, Hopkins

When: Saturday, Oct. 10 • 9am-noon
Cost: Free, however a donation of $5/pp is suggested
Details: Vendors will feature allergy-friendly food and products and kids are encouraged to come in costume and trick-or-treat, stopping at approximately 40 vendor tables that will hand out allergen-free treats. Tips for safe trick-or-treating with food allergies will also be shared with families.

Annual Halloween Party
@ Westwood Hills Nature Center, 8300 W Franklin Ave, St Louis Park

When: Friday & Saturday, Oct. 16-17 • 6:30-9pm
Cost: Early bird $8/resident, $9/non-resident or $10/resident, $11/non-res after Oct. 7
Details: Take part in indoor and outdoor games, activities and theme trails. Visit with friendly animal characters as you walk through the lighted Mother Nature’s Trail and dare to play Mystery Mini Golf in the dark woods. Music, refreshments and more.

Half-Haunted Halloween
@ Wood Lake Nature Center, 6710 Lakeshore Dr, Minneapolis

When: Saturday, Oct. 17 • 3-6pm
Cost: $4/pp advance, $5/pp at the door
Details: Try out the interactive trick-or-treat trail, take in a magic show, all-ages dance, storytelling, games, face painting, hot cocoa, and cookies.  Space is limited.  Purchase tickets in advance at Wood Lake Nature Center. If tickets remain, they’ll be sold at the door as space becomes available.

Halloween Family Fun Day
@ Weaver Lake Park, 8401 Dunkirk Ln N, Maple Grove

When: Saturday, Oct. 17 • 1-4pm
Cost: $5/per child ages 2-8 (event appropriate for this age range), under 2 are free
Details: 20+ activities including Monster Inflatables, crawling through the Web of Confusion Maze, pumpkin rolling, fishing in the Bottomless Well and more. Treat bags, crafts, contests and a fashion show.

tm the landingOld Fashioned Trick-or-Treat
@ The Landing, 2187 Highway 101 E, Shakopee

When: Saturday, Oct. 17 • 4-7pm
Cost: $5/pre-registered w/out treats, $6 at the door or $8/pre-registered w/ treats, $10/at the door
Details: Trick-or-treat along candlelit paths. Collect a variety of traditional treats and toys. Begin on a horse-drawn trolley and end with cider, a cookie and entertainment.

 Como Zoo Boo
@ Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
1225 Estabrook Dr, St. Paul

When: Saturday & Sunday, Oct. 17-18 and 24-25 • gates open 4:30-7:30pm
Cost: $6/in advance, $7/at door
Details: Admission helps support Como’s programs and aids in keeping the zoo free for all. Come in costume, take the trick-or-treat trail and enjoy cider and coffee. Read our tips on taking kids under 10 to Zoo Boo here.


10 Twin Cities Pumpkin Patches To Pick From

tm eveland farm

There’s plenty of time – and most likely a gorgeous weekend ahead – to hit one of these ten Twin Cities-area pumpkin patches before Halloween. And even if you’ve already secured your jack-o-lanterns, these patches are crammed full of fall fun. Check out the list below. Did I miss any?


Pinehaven Farm

Location: 28186 Kettle River Blvd., Wyoming, MN 55092
Hours: Open weekdays noon – 6:30pm, weekends 10am – 6:30pm through November 1, 2015.
Admission/Discounts: General admission is $8.99 plus tax/pp over 2 yrs. of age. Admission is discounted to $6.99/pp Monday – Wednesday and on the following days. Find a $1 off/pp coupon here for use during the day. The fee covers the majority of attractions offered at the farm; there are a few nominal exceptions.
What’s picking: Take a hayride to the pumpkin patch and pick-your-own. The setting is especially beautiful when the fall colors are at peak!
Other activities: Included in admission to Pinehaven Farm are a bundle of fun fall activities: playground equipment, mazes, all-terrain trikes, a petting farm, wagon rides and special events on select weekends. The farm will host its annual Kids Halloween Party Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 10am – 3pm. Treats are available for purchase daily, full concessions for sale on weekends only. Read about my visit to Pinehaven Farm here.

Anoka County Farms

Location: 128 Bunker Blvd., Ham Lake, MN 55304
Hours: Open Monday – Thursday 3pm – sunset, Friday 12pm – sunset, and weekends 10am – sunset.
Admission: $5 per car on weekends & MEA includes pumpkin games and the petting farm, additional activities extra. Cash only, no checks or credit cards accepted at the farm.
What’s picking: Pumpkins and other produce available for purchase.
Other activities: Paid activities include inflatables, hayrides, pony rides (weekends only) and a dump truck hill to play on. Concessions are also available weekends.

Eveland Family Farm

Location: 2575 Andover Blvd., Andover, MN 55304
Hours: Open weekdays 3 – 7pm, weekends 10am – 6m through October 31, 2015.
Admission: $3/pp includes a hayride, kids corn maze and self-guided tour of the farm.
What’s picking: Pumpkins and squash
Other activities: Hayrides run at 4, 5 & 6pm on weekdays and run continuously from 10:30am until close on weekends. Exploring the farm and its many inhabitants is a highlight — llamas, alpacas, goats, pot-bellied pigs and more. A lovely picnic shelter is available whether you bring your own food or purchase concessions at the farm.

Waldoch Farm Garden Center

Location: 8174 Lake Dr., Lino Lakes, MN 55014
Hours: Open daily 10am – 6pm through October 31, 2015.
Admission: Free weekend & MEA break hayrides to the pumpkin patch. The animal barnyard is also free daily. There is a separate admission charge for Waldoch’s giant corn maze: $10/ages 3+, under 3 free. Fee includes maze, pedal carts for all ages, sand and corn boxes, a hay jumping bin, an obstacle course, and more.
What’s picking: Pick-your-own pumpkins and other fall produce.


Afton Apple Orchard

Location: 14421 S. 90th St., Hastings, MN 55033
Hours: Open daily 10am – 6pm through October 2014.
Admission: $4/pp ages 5+, $3/pp under age 4. Includes hay rides when available, use of play equipment and petting farm.
What’s picking: Take a hayride to the pumpkin patch to pick-your-own, call (651) 436-8385 to check the status of apple picking.
Other activities: Afton’s 15-acre corn maze ($9/ages 11+, $7/ages 2-10) is open Fri-Sun through November 1, 2015. The maze is divided into three progressively challenging phases. 3 additional mazes are included in admission. We haven’t tried the corn maze, but my kids love the tire hill and the play structure. A ride on the kiddie cow train is $2 extra.

Country Sun Farm

Location: 11211 N. 60th St., Lake Elmo, MN 55402
Hours: Open weekdays 9am – 7pm, weekends 9am – 6pm. Activities are up and running Saturdays 10am – 5pm, Sundays 11am – 5pm.
Admission: Free, with a charge for all fall activities with the exception of the petting farm and outdoor display photo ops.
What’s picking: Pumpkins, though you don’t choose them from the field.
Other activities: Play in a giant corn pit outfitted with buckets, slides and toys ($3), make your way through the corn maze ($4), enjoy the fall scenery on a hay ride ($4.50), pan for gems and lots more. Thanks to one of our readers for bringing Country Sun Farm to our attention!


Peter’s Pumpkins & Carmen’s Corn

Location: 12860 Old Brickyard Road, Shakopee, MN 55379
Hours: Open weekdays 11am – 6pm, weekends 9am – 6:30pm
Admission: Free
What’s picking: Free hayrides to pick-your-own pumpkins from the field. Bring or show this coupon for a buy-two-get-one free pumpkin.
Other activities: Enjoy the working farm, corn maze ($1) and free face painting on the weekends.

Sever’s Corn Maze & Fall Festival

Location: 1100 Canterbury Rd. S., Shakopee, MN 55379
Hours: Fridays 1- 8pm, Saturdays 10am – 8pm (last ticket sold at 6:30), Sundays 10am – 6pm (last ticket sold at 4:30).
Admission/Discount: $15/pp ages 4+ or $14 online or with this coupon. Includes admission to Sever’s giant themed corn maze, the corn pit, play equipment, jumping pillows, an exotic petting zoo, live shows and quite a bit more.
What’s picking: Pick-your-own pumpkins at Sever’s Fall Festival.
Other activities: Sever’s Corn Maze is well-known for its extensive menu of activities. In addition to what’s included in admission, these diversions require an extra fee – giant slide ($2), pony and camel rides ($5), pumpkin cannons ($5), face painting, sand art, hay rides ($1), an arcade, and concessions.

Barten Pumpkins

Location: 5716 W. 280th St., New Prague, MN 56071
Hours: Open during daylight hours through October 31, 2015.
Admission: Free
What’s picking: Pumpkins of every shape and size (pre-picked) most priced at $2-$6.
Other activities: Play free pumpkin bowling and other games, call 612-227-0033 to schedule a family hayride, and take note of Barten’s two Pumpkin Fun Saturdays where pony rides, caricature drawings and hayrides are free.

Wheel Fun Rentals Pumpkin Patch

Location: Veteran’s Memorial Park 6335 Portland Ave. S., Richfield, MN 55423
Hours: Open weekends 9am – 7pm through October 31, 2015.
Admission: Free to enter the pumpkin patch, an extra charge for special fall activities.
What’s picking: Pumpkins, plain and simple.
Other activities: You have the option of choosing two different wristbands to partake in the pumpkin patch activities. Wristband #1 ($12/pp ages 4-55 and $10/pp ages 56+) includes a pumpkin, inflatables, a hay ride, surrey rental, and 18 holes at the Malt-Tees miniature golf course. Wristband #2 ($7/pp ages 4-55, $5/pp ages 56+) includes the aforementioned attractions without the golf.

Twin Cities Weekend Free & Budget Family Events for October 3-4, 2015

Need some ideas for a brisk October weekend? How about heading down to the State Capitol to either join in or cheer on the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon family races? Also this Saturday is Walker Art Center’s Free First Saturday with plenty of hands-on arty projects for kids and for Sunday, we recommend checking out a performance of “Monkey Mind Pirates” at SteppingStone Theatre in St. Paul. For more inspiration, try our Family Fun Calendar this weekend and beyond!


Twin Cities Marathon Family Events
@ Minnesota State Capitol
75 Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, St Paul

When: Family Activity Tent open 8am-noon, races begin at 10am.
Cost: There is a fee to participate in the family races; the Family Activity Tent is free.
Details: You can sign up the day of the event to participate in any of the family and kid races.

Walker Free First Saturday: Painting Stories
@ Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis

When: 10am-3pm
Cost: Free
Details: Activities are geared towards kids ages 6-12, but don’t let that stop you from bringing your littler ones! Free gallery admission for the whole family every first Saturday of the month.

Family Harvest Hayride
@ Dodge Nature Center
1701 Charlton St., West St. Paul

When: 1-3pm
Cost: $7/pp or $20/family
Details: In addition to the titular hayrides is apple cider pressing and sampling, a look into the bee hives, a bonfire and popcorn. Must pre-register for the event here.

tm prospect park gardenProspect Park Harvest Festival
@ Prospect Park Community Garden
2901 4th Street SE, Minneapolis

When: 6-10pm
Cost: Free
Details: This community event, located in the Prospect Park Community Garden space, will feature entertainment by a Japanese drummer group, an Ethiopian musical group and an Aztec dance troupe. In addition there will be an artist helping everyone create community sculptures using found objects.


MMP.monkeys[1]Monkey Mind Pirates Puppet Performance
@ SteppingStone Theatre for Youth Development
55 Victoria Street North, St. Paul

When: Doors open at 1pm for a free “happy hour” with family activities, show begins at 2pm.
Cost: Suggested donation of $3/pp at the door
Details: The performance is the culmination of an effort between Moreland Magnet School and Z Puppets Rosenschnaz. Students from the school will guest star in “Monkey Mind Pirates”, a puppet show that teaches tools to overcome stress and anxiety.


Minneapolis Toy Library Grand Opening–What’s in it for You?


toys in minneapolis

Minneapolis Toy Library has its grand opening in October, and if you have kiddos under the age of 6, you will want to check it out!

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“Pre-K Mondays” at The Works Museum in Bloomington

engineer girl!

Attention parents who love to save a few bucks and find a cool new place to take the kids that will keep them occupied (educationally!) for hours: it’s time to pay a visit to The Works, a hands-on engineering museum for kids in Bloomington.

First, the savings bit: The Works hosts select “Pre-K Mondays” during the school year where your kids (any age over 2) are admitted for just $4. Regular price admission – $8 – still applies for adults. Kids under 3 are free. Read More

Explore ‘Mischief’ at Its Grand Opening Today October 1

“In an era of standardized tests and zero-tolerance policies, we need a bit more mischief.”

Mischief Toy Store

A New Logo for a New Store

A brand new local toy store for the older set is opening its doors tomorrow, October 1. Mischief will be found in St. Paul. Located in the storefront of the recently closed Peapods Natural Toys & Baby Care, you will be pleasantly surprised by all that you can find. Read More

Read Aloud Wednesday: ‘North Woods Girl’

Family Fun at Home


Are you still not convinced that you can do voices?  Then, I have a great recommendation for you today. It’s a new book from the Minnesota Historical Society Press: North Woods Girl.

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Family Fun Idea: 5 Spots to Stop in Linden Hills, Minneapolis

tm great harvest lindenI’ve finally reached that mildly thrilling point in parenting where much more often than not I don’t have to schlep a stroller around town when I’m out and about with the kids. But even those for whom a stroller is still a daily staple might find they don’t need it in the Linden Hills shopping district of Minneapolis. These five storefronts are, in most cases, just a stroll across the street from one another. If it’s possible for you to visit on a weekday, there is convenient street parking a block or less from crafts, critters, toys and treats. Here’s how my preschooler and I spent a couple of hours this fall afternoon: Read More

Ariadne auf Naxos: Should You Take Your Kids to this Opera?

ariadne auf NaxosThe Minnesota Opera season is starting with Ariadne auf Naxos.  Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased at the links below.

There are three operas I would consider sharing with my middle grader this season. Ariadne auf Naxos is the first. I’d also take her to The Magic Flute and Rusalka — which is a Little Mermaid story. Children are required to be over the age of six to attend any performance, and some performances are better suited to kids than others.  For instance, I can’t imagine I’d want to take any of my kids to The Shining, which will be performed later this season.

Ariadne falls somewhere in the middle. My friend and I both felt our middle-grade daughters would have really enjoyed this performance. There are mild adult situations and hints of off-scene sex. One character spends a good portion of the first act in lingerie. However, its probably milder than an episode of The Simpsons. What makes it a good starter opera for older children is the physical comedy that is interspersed with more sophisticated comedy.

The first half of Ariadne takes place backstage a performance in which a billionaire has booked both an opera and a comedy troupe for the same night. While the composer and opera singers are incensed that they would have to share their night with lowbrow comedy; while the comedians fear the opera will bore everyone to sleep before they take the stage. To make matters worse, at the last minute, the patron decides the two performances must be combined so the entire show can be finished before his fireworks display. I would recommend the first half of this opera for a child who has attended and enjoyed Children’s Theatre performances that are geared toward middle grade and who is able to enjoy a subtitled movie (or speaks German fluently) – a lot of the best humor will be lost if you can’t keep up with the captioning.

After the intermission the audience gets to see the performance that results from the combined efforts of the two groups. This half could be enjoyed without reading the captioning, however, it is more stereotypical of opera. I would encourage my daughter to lay her head on my shoulder and just enjoy the music and dancing during this portion. I would still expect her to be squirmy by the end. If your child would have a difficult time sitting through an orchestra performance, you may want an exit plan for the second half.

Study Ahead:

This is a performance I believe would be enhanced by studying ahead. The Virginia Opera offers a PDF Study Guide you can download before the show.  There are several YouTube versions of the opera with subtitles. I didn’t like any of them as much as the Minnesota Opera version; and I would not share any of them with my daughter, because I’m certain they would not aid in her understanding or excitement.  This is probably dependent on your child.  You may feel differently after viewing some for yourself.

Two Greek Myths are featured in the story.  Theseus and the Minotaur is the story of how Ariadne ended up on Naxos.  The story of Dionysus and Ariadne is the featured story of the opera.

With this little bit of preparation, I think a middle grade child who is familiar with live stage would really enjoy this opera.

see footer for disclosure info

see footer for disclosure info

 I attended the free social media night/final dress rehearsal.  My opinions are based on my experience taking my kids to live performances and entirely my own.

Copyright Family Fun Twin Cities LLC © 2014.