One of my personal favorite park pools — Wabun Park Picnic Area Wading Pool in Minneapolis — was added to our master list of splash pads this summer when I decided to include wading pools in the mix. My reasoning for this was that there are so many good options around town for these hybrids that feature the zero-depth entry and spray features that parents of younger children love along with a little deeper water to practice those swim skills.
Not only does Wabun Park have a pool that fits the above description (and a cool spraying rock structure), it has terrific playground equipment that was just installed last year to replace the old, worn-out stuff. My youngest loves the updated tot lot with a shaded sandy play area and the swaying vintage camper trailer, a nod to the park’s roots as an auto tourist camp.
There is also ample covered picnic space at Wabun, perfect for that power lunch before, middle or after a rousing day at the pool and playground.
Bonus idea: If you think your kids might be up to the walk (it’s also possible to drive and park closer to the visitor center at 5000 W River Pkwy, Minneapolis), there’s a path that will take you from the Wabun Park Picnic Area down to Lock and Dam No. 1 on the Mississippi riverfront. The Visitor Promenade is open daily during park hours and little ones might enjoy spotting watercraft moving through the locks from a birds-eye view.
Wabun Park Picnic Area (part of Minnehaha Regional Park)
4655 46th Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55417
Friday’s opening night to 1001 Nights was my first experience with Circus Juventas. In the past, Anne has jumped at these these reviews. She thoroughly enjoyed last year’s Neverland and the Wizard of Oz in 2013. I knew from her reviews that I should expect a long night and that I was going to enjoy myself, but that didn’t really cover it. I don’t believe you can read a review and really understand how amazing a Circus Juventas performance is to watch. In fact, I’ve watched the professionals of Cirque du Soleil on television and, although, I enjoyed it, the television couldn’t even come close to capturing the live performance. It is just something everyone should see at least once in their lives.
We are so pumped to announce the 1st Annual Orchard Crawl, happening Sunday, September 20, 2015!
We are partnering with Minneapolis Happening and heading out to the West Metro to enjoy three orchards: Luceline Orchards, Apple Tree-O and Minnetonka Orchards. At each stop, Orchard Crawlers will enjoy exclusive family fun.
If you hit Luceline Orchard at 1:00, you will have the opportunity to listen to The Bazillions–one of our absolute favorite local family-rock bands!
This year, Smithsonian Museum Day is Saturday, September 26th; and starting today, tickets are available through the Smithsonian website. There are more participating Minnesota museums this year — twenty-four. Some of these museums are cheap year round and many require a road trip. I’ve laid them all out for you here, listing the museum and its address, an approximate drive-time from the Twin Cities, and the prices you would pay any other day.
Don’t look at these 10 ideas as an end-of-summer bucket list — because personally, I’m not ready to look fall in the face — but take these suggestions as a reminder that there is plenty of the season left to enjoy! Here’s what August has in store for the Twin Cities:
When: Saturday, Aug. 1 • 10am-1pm
Details: The whole family is welcome to come play in the Textile Center’s natural plant dye garden, create a macrame plant hanger and bring a miniature garden home. Refreshments will be provided.
When: Tuesday, Aug. 4 • times vary
Details: Community gatherings across the Twin Cities encourage you to get out, spend the evening with your neighbors and promote safe neighborhoods. Minneapolis has an extensive list of registered block parties (complete with proposed activities) here, organized by neighborhoods. St. Paul’s list can be found here. Even if you don’t plan to leave your own ‘hood for the evening, ideas for your own bash abound on these lists.
When: Wednesday, Aug. 5 • 12-3pm
Details: Ride a waterslide, try an obstacle course, make a craft, and play games. Meet pond critters, birds of prey, and reptiles. Build a sand castle and win a cool treat.
When: Wednesday, Aug. 5 • 6-8pm
Details: Catch the final Groovin’ in the Garden performance (local band “i like you.”) and, depending on the ages of your kids, they might let you sit and enjoy while being entertained by the free Park & Rec equipment: a jump castle, giant climbing wall, and lawn games. If not, at least you can hear the music while the kids exhaust themselves. Bring a blanket and picnic or purchase food onsite.
When: Saturday, Aug. 8 • 1-4pm
Details: Bring along your pet and spend the afternoon on an animal scavenger hunt in the galleries, mugging in the photo booth, browsing vendors, and creating a pet rock to take home. Currently on exhibition in the historic Banfill-Locke house is Pets On View.
Dakota County Fair & Heritage Village @ Dakota County Fairgrounds, 4008 220th St W, Farmington, 55024
When: Aug. 10-16, 2015
Cost: $5/adults, $2/kids 6-12, $2/seniors, 5 & under free; $5/daily parking
Details: Heritage Village comes to life as it was a century ago during the run of the Dakota County Fair. Costumed characters interpret rural life as you visit the village buildings and take in demonstrations. Admission to Heritage Village is included in your ticket to the Fair, which also hosts many free activities, exhibits, and live entertainment.
When: Wednesday, Aug. 12 • 10-11:30am
Details: Connect to the natural world with your preschooler (designed for ages 2-5) through hikes, stories, and hands-on activities. Older children are welcome to attend; no pre-registration required. Enter the park at the Gannon Road entrance and meet at the picnic pavilion. The ExploraTots program meets on the second Wednesday of each month. For more free and low-cost environmental education programs in St. Paul, click here.
The Minnesota State Fair does not exactly scream “free” or “cheap”, you say? It’s true that costs can quickly add up between admission, treats and carnival rides, but for many families (mine included) a trip or few to the Fair is a summer must-do. We’ve included this list of 10 free attractions included in Fair admission to give you an idea of all the budget-friendly fun that is to be had. (Note: this is 2014’s list, but all attractions are scheduled to return for 2015.)
The Fair has so much free fun to offer we felt it warranted a second mention on our August list!
Don’t mourn the end of summer just yet, there’s still time and sun enough to hit the local beaches. Following up on our original list of 10 Twin Cities Beaches & Playgrounds to Try This Summer we present 10 MORE Twin Cities Beaches, Playgrounds & Attractions to Try This Summer.
We love to promote local family activities and events and we hope it shows in this weekend’s highlights! For more ideas, please visit our Family Fun Calendar here or explore our Family Fun Directory. Both are filled with inspiration on how to make the best of these last few weeks of summer! Read More
So it’s late July and you’re looking for a place to take the kids and cool off. Bet the Firefighters Hall & Museum in Minneapolis hasn’t crossed your mind, huh? I never guessed my kids would leave completely soaked to the skin either, but they did and they had a marvelous time getting there. I should have realized what was going to happen when two of the volunteers who run the museum started filling up these cool, old-fashioned hand pumpers with hoses attached. Then brought out the bucket of squirters. (And finally left us to our own devices out back behind the building.)
I think one-third of the kids’ aim went towards fighting fires on the “fire wall” display and the other two-thirds went squarely at each other. [Note: You may want to call ahead to make sure this particular exhibit will be on display. I inquired at the desk and they set it up for us upon request.]
Luckily, we’d seen a good chunk of the museum before the waterworks. I recommend you do the same so you, like I, can appreciate all the hands-on touches for kids, such as the chance to:
- climb into a fire truck cab and operate the lights, tinker with the switches
- steer a ladder truck in a simulator
- pull an old fire alarm box and find out how the signal was received in re-created “Station 8″
- work an old fire station switchboard
- slide down the pole!
- try on firefighter duds
- And take a ride through the neighborhood on a real fire truck! (Make sure to eat your lunch at least an hour in advance. Really.) Currently, the website lists the rides as summer months only.
Firefighters Hall & Museum
664 22nd Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
Open: Saturdays, 9am-4pm
Admission: $7/adults, $5/seniors, $4/kids 3-12
There are so many options for splash-happy fun in our urban lakes that we couldn’t stop after posting our original 10 Twin Cities Beaches & Playgrounds to try this summer. Culled from reader suggestions, our own summer jaunts to the beach, and other fun attractions we’ve been visiting over the past month, we’ve assembled a second round of 10 swimming spots we think are worth checking out. But hurry; as we know all too well here in Minnesota, beach season won’t stick around much longer.
Elm Creek Park Reserve Beach
12400 James Deane Pkwy, Maple Grove 55369
Open: Daily 9am-8pm, lifeguards on duty noon-8pm
Cost: 4/pp daily or $15/pp season pass, other listed activities are free.
Highlights: The man-made swimming pond features a lovely sand beach and filtered, chlorinated water. Work up the desire for a cool dip while tackling the colorful, kinetic playground (“The biggest park I’ve ever seen!” according to my 3-year-old), and exploring the exhibits at Eastman Nature Center. Also onsite is the historic Bottineau House, which offers Saturday open houses from 1-4pm and occasional family programming. Read More
The 2015 Twin Cities Walk to End Alzheimer’s is on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at Target Field in Minneapolis from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. Families are invited to form Walk teams and join us for an exciting event that raises funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.
There is no minimum donation amount a participant must fund-raise to participate in the Walk. There is a suggested goal of $35.00 however, that is not a requirement. Walkers who raise $100.00, will receive Walk T-shirts on Walk day.
This weekend is jammed full of ways to spend time with the family on a budget. We’ll get you started with six ideas below — all admission-free — and, if you’re in need of some more inspiration, check out our Family Fun Calendar here. Happy exploring!
SATURDAY, JULY 25
Best Days of The Bakken
@ The Bakken Museum
3537 Zenith Ave S, Minneapolis, 55416
Details: Admission is FREE to The Bakken Museum, a fun space full of exhibits about electricity, during the run of the Minneapolis Aquatennial! This is a great deal for a family. Read about our take on the Bakken here.
Free Ink Day
@ Highpoint Center for Printmaking
912 W Lake St, Minneapolis, 55408
Details: Have your kids try their hand at creating an original monoprint. Printmaking can be a lot of fun and is suitable for young children (w/ a lot of adult cooperation), but I have a couple tips to share before you go. Free Ink Day is hosted three times annually so be sure to watch their calendar of events if you can’t make it this month.
Details: Explore a re-created voyageur encampment with costumed interpreters from the fur trade days. Activities are appropriate for all ages, but kids must be accompanied by an adult. The historic Pierre Bottineau House will also be open for visits from 1-4pm.
Webber Natural Swimming Pool Open
@ Webber Park
4300 Webber Pkwy, Minneapolis 55412
Details: The Webber Park Natural Swimming Pool, filtered naturally instead of with chemicals, is opening on Friday, July 24 and will be free and open 1-7 pm Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Labor Day weekend.
SUNDAY, JULY 26
About Free Family Fun Days at Three Rivers Parks: Drop in and explore a different topic each week through hands-on activities that all ages can enjoy at their own pace.