Even though we live in an amazing metropolis, Greater Minnesota is bursting with places to explore and discover. FFTC was invited by Robin Russell of Russell’s Adventures and the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau to enjoy a day in Albert Lea. I packed my kids in the van, took a road trip, and had a low key, perfect summer day in Albert Lea.
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With a population of 17,871 and sporting two significant lakes, Albert Lea is the Land Between the Lakes. It is a beautiful city you can enjoy with your family and, for those of you with antsy little ones, only about an hour and a half’s drive from the Twin Cities. Downtown Albert Lea is full of fun shops and the rest of the community has a deluge of other family fun ideas. Here are 10 of them:
1. Pelican Breeze II Cruise, Frank Hall Park Boat Landing • Public Sunday cruises on Albert Lea Lake, 1:30pm, $10/pp & Friday night pizza cruises, 6pm, $20/pp.
The collage shows all the fun we had with Captain Joel and his First Mate Lenore.
2. Albert Lea Aquatic Center, 321 James Ave • Open daily, $1-$3.50/pp
Very affordable, splashy fun with zero-depth entry for the tots, interactive water features, and a slide for the big kids!
3. Myre-Big Island State Park, 19499 780th Ave • Open daily, $5 daily pass per vehicle
Bring a picnic, take a gentle, self-guided hike, or, if you’ve brought bikes, it’s possible to bike to the park from the city of Albert Lea via the Blazing Star State Trail. Albert Lea itself has more than 40 parks and recreation areas to get outside and have fun in.
4. Wind Down Wednesdays, Broadway Avenue • July 20 & August 17, FREE admission
Live music, food, craft vendors and a pop-up splash pad converge on downtown Albert Lea! Once again, I will let the pictures do the talking. It was a fun event with lots of different vendors (thanks to the Albert Lea CVB for providing us a $10 gift certificate to use!).
5. The Wizard of Oz presented by Albert Lea Community Theatre, Marion Ross Performing Arts Center, 147 N Broadway • July 14, 15, 16, 17 (matinee, 2pm), 20, 21, 22, 23 (matinee, 2pm) & 23, 2016, evening shows begin at 730pm, seating at 7pm • $18/adults, $10/students.
6. Bayside Water Ski Show Team, Edgewater Bay on Fountain Lake • FREE public shows ongoing Thursdays, 7pm. Special shows July 4 & Labor Day, 2pm. Find more FREE Twin Cities Water Ski Shows at the link!
7. 2016 Family festivals: Family favorites include the Just Play Festival (6/25, 9am-2pm), 4th of July Parade & Fireworks (7/3-4) in Downtown Albert Lea, and the 28th Annual Big Island Rendezvous and Festival in October, an event locals take particular pride in and that features living history displays and reenactments.
8. Rock Gym & Brookside Boathouse, 211 W. Richway Drive • Open climbing at the Rock Gym Fri & Sat, 6-9pm, $10/pp and the Boathouse offers archery, geocaching, canoes and kayaks for rent.
9. Search for pelicans! Loads and loads of pelicans. We had just watched A Dolphin’s Tale and had a blast because an important character in that movie is Roofus, resident pelican. These birds are very large. A lot bigger than I thought. Look for the males on Albert Lea Lake.
10. Freeborn County Fair, 1031 Bridge Ave • Aug. 2-7, $10/ages 10+, under 10 FREE plus additional discounts. General admission includes the Kiddie Farm Yard, Kids Zone, a tractor pedal pull, and many more family-friendly exhibits.
We weren’t the only ones who had fun on our tour of Albert Lea. You can read all about it here, too!
- Small Town So(Lace)
- Simplicity in the Suburbs
- Albert Lea Tribune: This is a story about all the bloggers who came to visit!