Archive - September 2016

Twin Cities October Family Events & Activities Guide
Free Twin Cities October Family Events & Activities
Bookhounds Review – One North Star
FFTC Family Guide to MEA Weekend
Family Fun: Deardorff Orchards, Waconia
FFTC’s Guide to Twin Cities Halloween Fun
BookHounds Invites: Belinda Jensen
Children’s Literature on Stage: ‘Elephant and Piggie’s We’re In A Play’ at Children’s Theatre Company
Twin Cities October Family Festival Calendar
Family Fun: Lil’ Explorer Thursdays at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

Twin Cities October Family Events & Activities Guide

October Family Events

It is our hope that you can use our October Family Events & Activities Guide page as a convenient way to find our traditional Free & Budget lists along with all the special themed activities each month brings. In October we are highlighting our favorite  pumpkin patches, corn mazes and apple orchards across the Twin Cities Metro as well as keeping up with the harvest of fall festivals cropping up. We’ve also thrown in some ideas to make the most of the kids’ MEA fall break from school. As always, we hope to be inspiration in planning your family time together!

– Anne, Gianna & Joy
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Free Twin Cities October Family Events & Activities

With 12 children between them, the parents of the Family Fun Twin Cities team sure appreciate a good deal. And October is filled with them – from FREE Halloween events and fall festivals without admission fees to ongoing family art programs, special grand openings and open houses. For hundreds more ideas on how to find free Twin Cities events & entertainment in October, visit our Family Fun Calendar.


10/3/17: Free Tuesday @ Washington County Parks | SE Metro | Find a listing of parks here | Explore Washington County Parks with no vehicle permit required the first Tuesday of the month (non-holiday).

10/6/17: Forever Wild Family Friday | Lebanon Hills Park Visitor Center, Eagan | 7-8:30pm

10/7/17: First Free Saturday: Material World | Walker Art Center, Minneapolis | 10am-3pm | 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.

10/7/17: St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Family Concert: Race for the Reef | Ordway Concert Hall, St. Paul | 2 sessions: 10 & 11:30am | This 50-minute concert is geared for kids 6-12 w/ caregivers. Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance at the link.

10/7/17: Home Depot Kids Workshop | TC Home Depot locations | 9am-noon | The first Saturday of each month kids get a kit to build, apron and pin while supplies last; adults must accompany children.

10/7/17: Drop-in Discoveries: Reps & Phibs | Tamarack Nature Center, White Bear Lake | 10am-12

10/8/17: Minneapolis Institute of Art Family Day | Minneapolis | 11am-5pm | A day packed with hands-on art activities, scavenger hunts in the galleries and live cultural entertainment.

10/10/17: Ballet Tuesdays | Landmark Center, St. Paul | 12-1pm | Excerpts from the classics, perfect for budding ballerinas.

10/14-15: Highland Park Water Tower Open House | St. Paul | 9am-5pm | One of only two weekends a year the tower is open for viewing! Check out the fall colors and learn about water utility.

10/15/17: Target Free 3rd Sunday | Minnesota Children’s Museum, St. Paul | 9am-5pm | Explore the newly renovated and expanded museum free! Keep in mind that this program is very popular and you may wait in line to be admitted.

10/28/17: Free Ink Day | Highpoint Center for Printmaking, Minneapolis | 12-4pm | An all-ages intro to the art of relief printmaking.

10/28/17: Start the Music! with St Paul Chamber Orchestra | Capri Theater, Minneapolis | 10am | Start the Music is SPCO’s outreach to kids ages 3-6, introducing them to the instruments of the orchestra through stories, games and a shorter concert. Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance.


Dozens of FREE Halloween events have made their way into our Twin Cities Family Halloween Guide. Find our quick list here or click on the graphic below to get all the details:

10/12-10/22: Waconia Scarecrow Tour, Waconia
10/14/17: PunkinMania | Triangle Park, Mahtomedi

10/14/17: Great Pumpkin Giveaway | Richfield Fairwood Park

10/15/17: Family Art Sunday | Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, Fridley

10/21/17: Pumpkin Fest 2017 | 50th & France, Edina

10/21/17: Coloring Contest & Halloween Fun | Rumriver Art Center, Anoka

10/21-22 & 10/27-29 & 10/31: BareBones Halloween Extravaganza | Hidden Falls Park, St. Paul

10/27/17:  Halloween at the Creek | Plymouth Creek Center

10/28/17: Afton’s Annual Trick-or-Treat Trail | St Croix Trail through Afton

10/28/17: Anoka’s Grand Day Parade | Main Street & Fifth Ave, Anoka

10/28/17: Halloween Comic Fest

10/28/17: Halloween Kids Kraft | Scott County Historical Society, Shakopee

10/28-29: Main Street Trick or Treat | Downtown Stillwater

10/29/17: Great Pumpkin Halloween Festival | Landmark Center, St. Paul

10/29/17: Halloween Skating Party | Burnsville Ice Center (skate rental $3)

10/29/17: BooFest on Grand | Grand Avenue, St Paul

10/29/17: Free Family Fun Days: Spiders and Other Creepy Crawlers | Richardson Nature Center

10/31:  Vadnais Heights Community Halloween Party | Vadnais Heights Commons

Please see our FFTC Guide to Halloween Fun in the Twin Cities for a complete listing of FREE library and bookstore Halloween programs and Halloween events at Minneapolis and St Paul Parks & Recreation Centers.

Monster Bash
| TC Michaels locations

Jerry’s Halloween Creepy Crawly | Jerry’s Foods – Woodbury, Edina & Eden Prairie
Halloween Spooktacular at America Girl, Mall of America
Halloween Party | Bloomington Ice Garden



10/1: Pahl’s Market Fall Festival | Pahl’s Market, Apple Valley | 9am-5pm | Family highlights: Pick a pumpkin, send the kids through the straw maze and corn box, enjoy storytime, face painting and more.

10/5-15: 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.

10/7 & 10/14: Family Fun Saturdays | Barten Pumpkins, New Prague | 10am-2pm | Family highlights: Take the kids for free pony rides, hay rides, and caricature drawings. FREE admission.

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.

10/7/17: Harvest  Fest | Frogtown Farm Park, St Paul | 11am-2pm | Horse-drawn wagon rides, fall food samples, recipe take-homes and pumpkin painting.

10/7-8 & 14-15: 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.

10/14-15: Apple Fest | Carpenter St. Croix Nature Center, Hastings | 10am-5pm | FREE admission

10/14-15: 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.

10/15/17: Wargo Fall Festival | Wargo Nature Center, Lino Lakes | 2-4pm | Details: Play pioneer games, try cider pressing and take nature walks.

TBA: Prospect Park Annual Harvest Festival | Prospect Park Garden, Minneapolis | 5-8:30pm | Family highlights: Food fresh from the garden and live entertainment! FREE.


Barten Pumpkins | New Prague
Open September 20 through Halloween 2017, 9am to 7 pm. Free admission, thousands of pumpkins are $1 to $6. Free pony rides (see website for day and time), free hay rides (see website for day and time), free play natural play area every day.

Country Sun Farm | Lake Elmo
Open daily, 9am-7pm weekdays & 9am-5pm weekends starting Sept 19 thru Halloween, 2017. Free admission with a charge for all fall activities with the exception of the petting farm and outdoor display photo ops.

Lendt’s Pumpkin Patch | Wyoming
Open daily, Sept 23 thru Oct 31, 2017 – 9 am to dusk. PYO pumpkins/$4 ea. Weekend hayrides $3/pp.

Marshall’s Farm Market | Eden Prairie
Open daily 10-6:30. Free admission, pumpkins range from $1-$12.

Pleasant Valley Orchard | Shafer
Open daily 10am-6pm. Admission is free; extra fee for weekend hayrides to the pumpkin patch ($3/pp).

Tom’s Pumpkin Farm | Lindstrom
Open daily, 10am-dusk Sept 23 thru Halloween, 2017. Free admission, pick-your-own pumpkin and carry it out, $3.99 any size.

Peter’s Pumpkins & Carmen’s Corn | Shakopee
Open weekdays 11am – 6pm, weekends 9am – 6:30pm. Free admission and hayrides to pick-your-own pumpkins from the field. Enjoy the working farm and free face painting on October weekends.

Waldoch Farm Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze | Lino Lakes
Open daily, Sept 23-Oct 31, 2017; 10am-7pm. Hayride to the pumpkin patch is complimentary, pumpkins are sold by size and starting at $3. You can also tour Joyer Barnyard without paying an admission fee.


Minneapolis Institute of Arts | Minneapolis | Daily, 11am-5pm

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory | St Paul | Daily, 10am-6pm, suggested donation of $2/child & $3/adult, but all welcome whether or not you choose to donate. | Seasonal events include the Fall Flower Show in the Conservatory’s sunken garden, storytime at noon, and animal programs throughout the day.

Materials Lab | Minnesota Museum of American Art, St Paul | Open during exhibition hours, ongoing Sat/Sun, 10am-4pm | All ages can drop in and get creative with available materials and a little guidance.

Nature Rocks! Open House | Eden Prairie Outdoor Center, Eden Prairie | Ongoing Saturdays, 9am-noon | Enjoy free family-friendly activities such as hiking, hands-on interaction with live animals, craft projects and more.

Lakeshore Learning Free Crafts for Kids | TC locations | Ongoing Saturdays, 10am-3pm.

Saturday Live! | George Latimer Central Library, St Paul | Ongoing Saturdays, 11:15am | Fresh entertainment every Saturday including live music, puppetry, magicians and more.

October Free Family Fun Days | Three Rivers Parks
Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park (Brooklyn Park side of the river) select Sundays, 1-3pm
Richardson Nature Center select Sundays, 3-4pm

Open House at Pond Dakota Mission Park | Bloomington | Ongoing Sundays, 1:30-4pm, please check the website first | FREE, donations appreciated | Come by the historic Gideon Pond house in the park for tours, living history lessons and other interactive activities.


Como Park Zoo & Conservatory | St Paul | Daily, 10am-6pm | suggested donation of $2/child & $3/adult, but all welcome whether or not you choose to donate. | Seasonal events include the  Fall Flower Show in the Conservatory’s sunken garden, storytime at noon, and animal programs throughout the day.

Parent/Tot Time & Preschool Open Gym | Apple Valley Community Center | Ongoing Mon/Wed/ Fri, 9:30-11am | Ages: 5 & under w/ caregiver | Burn off some energy with other kids, develop motor skills and coordination. A special tot time for tykes ages 2 & under is held from 9-9:30am followed by open play for 5 & under until 11.

MOA Toddler Tuesdays | Mall of America Rotunda | Ongoing Tuesdays, 10am – noon | Live entertainment and activities guaranteed to excite the stroller set. Upcoming event schedule here.

Free Tuesday Nights | Minnesota History Center, St Paul | Ongoing Tuesdays, 3-8pm

Wee Wednesdays | Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis | Ongoing Wednesdays, 10:30am – 1pm | In the past, MGM has offered dance troupes, cooking lessons, and live animals to entertain kids. Stay for lunch — there are many tasty ethnic vendors to choose from, and several offer specials on Wednesdays. Park in the adjacent Midtown Exchange Ramp up to 1.5 hrs. free with validation.

Games Galore | Union Depot, St Paul | Ongoing Wednesdays, 10am-8pm | Play giant-sized versions of classic games including chess, checkers, Connect Four, Dominoes and more.

Lil Explorer Thursdays | Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St Paul | Ongoing Thursdays starting 9/7/17 through April 2018, 10am-noon | The hall between the Visitor Center and the Conservatory is filled with hands-on activities, manipulatives, art projects and games perfect for the 4 & under set. Explore a different theme each week.

Free Children’s Entertainment | Edinborough Park Amphitheater, Edina | Ongoing Thursdays starting 9/17/17, noon.

Top Preschool Storytimes in the Twin Cities – many local bookstores, libraries and other businesses offer FREE storytimes during the week. Click the link to read our picks.

Story Time Any Time

Kid-friendly Twin Cities coffee shops and cafes with dedicated FREE play spaces.

Twin Cities Nature Centers offer FREE admission and hands-on exhibits and outdoor play opportunities most days of the week.

St. Paul Recreation Centers offer free open gym Tot Times at 16 sites across the city.

Minneapolis Recreation Centers also offer free options. Click this link and search “parent tot”.


Bookhounds Review – One North Star

One North Star is a delightful book that pleasantly exceeded my expectations. The illustrations by Beckie Prange and Betsy Bowen are beautiful and engaging; and Phyllis Root manages to pack a great deal of information into lyrical prose.

One North Star

I first sat down to read the book with my math-loving preschooler, assuming he would enjoy any counting book. However, within a couple pages, my first-grader was wedged in by us, playing along as we read. By the end, I had three of them engaged (ages 4-11).

This is the kind of book that can be read repeatedly but with a different focus each time. It can be read as:

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FFTC Family Guide to MEA Weekend

No School MEA Weekend




MEA Weekend isn’t that far away, so if you like to plan ahead Family Fun Twin Cities has compiled a list for you to use as a starting point for this fabulous, fall four-day weekend.  If you plan more spur of the moment like me, these options will be on our October Family Events & Activities Guide for quick access. Read More

Family Fun: Deardorff Orchards, Waconia

tm deardroff orchards

Fall cannot officially commence for our family until we’ve taken a trip out to an apple orchard. The kids look forward to this tradition as soon as the State Fair wraps, school is back in session, and the weekends take on a twinge of crisp in the air. Having maintained for a few years an orchard directory of sorts for Family Fun Twin Cities, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on the crop of apple farms to choose from in the metro. And yet, every fall an orchard pops up on my radar that I hadn’t considered before. Deardorff Orchards in Waconia was this year’s new find.

Our visit had nothing to do with blogging or business, it was simply an afternoon meant to be spent with friends — picking apples, taking a tractor hayride, munching absolutely delicious wood-fired pizza on a picnic blanket, and in the kids’ case, building log shelters and throwing themselves heedlessly off hay bales.

PicMonkey Collage deardorff orchards

The pickings weren’t as superior as we’ve found at other orchards in the west metro and be prepared to pay $20-$30 for your pecks, but we appreciated that there was no admission charge or nickel-and-diming for any of the simple activities. Our kids found plenty to do clambering on logs, getting up close to the horses, touring the orchard by tractor ride, and enjoying the fresh air.

Had we the time and/or inclination, there’s the onsite Parley Lake Winery, located adjacent to the classic white apple barn. Long after the last apples have fallen from the trees, the tasting room is still open Friday-Sunday until Dec 20.

FFTC’s Guide to Twin Cities Halloween Fun

We are just “dying” to share our roundup of Halloween fun in this frightfully full list of family friendly October events in the Twin Cities! Check back often as we’re always adding in new events.

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BookHounds Invites: Belinda Jensen


I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was a little star-struck when I first met Belinda Jensen.  But she admits herself that she is a science nerd–and has always been one.

As a meterologist, Belinda gets to meet with second-graders and has learned first hand about their anxiety over the weather.  This is where being a mom herself collides with being a science nerd.

The Mayo Clinic has done research about how to help kids.  Bel took that information from Mayo and applied it.  She could do something to help kids.

That’s how Bel the Weather Girl  was born.

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Children’s Literature on Stage: ‘Elephant and Piggie’s We’re In A Play’ at Children’s Theatre Company

image courtesy Dan Norman


My most beloved children’s literature characters are on stage for the next month.

Elephant and Piggie.

Kennedy Center’s Theater for Young Audiences on Tour  has brought them here in a partnership with Children’s Theatre Company.

 Whether you have a kiddo who loves books or one who is a reluctant reader, you will want to check this theatrical experience out!

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Twin Cities October Family Festival Calendar


Now-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.

Now-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. Read More

Family Fun: Lil’ Explorer Thursdays at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory


lil explorer thursdays como

With the passing of summer and the start of a new school year I look forward to spending more quality time with my youngest while her older siblings are away for the day. Because let’s face it: when I’m down to one kid there’s less mess, fewer fights to break up, and not as many opinions to consider when we’re deciding how to spend our day.  For instance, I can take my preschooler to Lil’ Explorer Thursdays at Como Zoo & Conservatory without a single complaint from her big sibs.

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