Category - Free

Twin Cities Weekend Free & Budget Family Events for October 3-4, 2015
School and Bullying–Do you have a plan?
Twin Cities Weekend Free Family Events for Sept. 26-27, 2015
10 Twin Cities Fall Festivals
Twin Cities Weekend Free Events List for September 12-13, 2105
3 Free Family Fun Ideas for this Late Labor Day Weekend
Read Aloud Wednesday: Go on a Family Adventure Without Leaving Your House
2015 Minnesota State Fair: 10 Ideas for Free Family Fun + New Foods!
Free & Budget Family Weekend Events List for August 22-23, 2015
Family Fun with Dad: Favorite Local Fishing Holes

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.


School and Bullying–Do you have a plan?

Courtesy of Minnemama Adventures

Do you have a plan for the day your kid comes home from school crying because someone on the bus was threatening to punch him?  Do you have a plan for the day you get a call from your child’s teacher saying, “Hayden was hurting his classmate”?  Do you have a plan for building into your children without them become self centered or egotistical?

I thought I did until my son came home crying because someone on the bus was being mean to him every day he was on the bus.

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Twin Cities Weekend Free Family Events for Sept. 26-27, 2015

This weekend is packed 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!


2008-Raptor-Release-by-Jeff-Fischer-031-300x240[1]Fall Raptor Release @ Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center
12805 St Croix Trail S, Hastings, 55033

Time: 10am-3pm
Details: Raptors nursed back to health by the U of M’s Raptor Center will be released back into the wild at 11am & 2pm. Also enjoy hayrides through the apple orchard, kids activities and more.

MCMMOA[1]Grand Opening of Minnesota Children’s “Pop-Up” Museum @ Mall of America
60 E. Broadway, Bloomington, 55425

Time: 10am-6pm
Details: Come celebrate the grand opening of the new “pop-up” satellite of Minnesota Children’s Museum at the Mall of America with activities in the Sears Court from 10-noon and previews of the new museum space from noon-6pm on the 3rd floor, north side of the mall. Plus, giveaways and prizes.

“Jungle Book” Workshop with Children’s Theatre Company @ Red Balloon Bookshop
891 Grand Ave, St Paul, 55105

Time: 10:30am
Details: Teaching artists from CTC will help kids create a drama adventure based on characters from their upcoming production of The Jungle Book. No pre-registration necessary.


tm parade of stablesParade of Stables – find a list of participating stables here.

Time: 11am-3pm
Details: This event is designed to introduce families to the American Saddlebred horse. 7 participating stables will host open houses offering demos, kids activities, refreshments, pony rides, giveaways and more.


RussBorud2[1]Medieval Fair @ Caponi Art Park
1220 Diffley Rd, Eagan, 55123

Time: 11am-4pm
Cost: Admission is free; donations are greatly appreciated.
Details: Explore medieval dress, cooking, combat, crafts and storytelling. Kids can even get in on the action! Food truck will be onsite.

Free Family Fun Days @ Three Rivers Parks

Carl Kroening Interpretive Center • 1-3pm
Richardson Nature Center: Raptors in the Yard • 3-4pm

Details: These ongoing Sunday programs are free of charge and change themes weekly. Drop in any time for hands-on family activities.

10 Twin Cities Fall Festivals

tm fall festivals

If you’re not yet in the mood for fall, this list should do the trick! It’s chock full of everything we like best about the season. And don’t forget, we’re drawing for 2 family 4-packs of tickets to Sever’s Corn Maze & Fall Festival tomorrow! You can find out how to enter by following this link.

AttractionsPage[1]Twin Cities Harvest Festival & Maze, 8001 109th Ave. N, Brooklyn Park
When: Open weekends Sept. 19-Oct. 25 plus MEA weekend • 10am-6pm
Cost: $10/pp online, $12 at gate, kids under 36″ free
Details: Touted as MN’s largest corn maze, this year’s theme celebrates the Minnesota Wild! Solve the maze, play in the corn pit, meet the animals, and take a hayride. Additional activities charge a small fee.

scarecrowfest-3[1]Scarecrow Festival @ Emma Krumbees, 351 Enterprise Drive E, Belle Plaine
When: Now through Oct. 30 • 10am-6pm
Cost: $5.50/pp plus tax
Details: Admission includes entrance to the festival plus run of the playground, farm animals, wagon rides, a slide and more. Pick-your-own apples in Emma’s orchard are an additional charge.

Lone Oak Days Fall Festival @ Holz Farm, 4665 Manor Dr, Eagan
When: Sat. & Sun., Sept. 19-20 • 11am-4pm
Cost: Free admission and many free activities, small fees for food & attractions
Details: Hosted by the historic Holz Farm, the festival is packed with pioneer farm demonstrations and activities plus kids coin hunts, live music, pony rides, and a pumpkin pie-eating contest.

09272014_PartyOnThePrairie10[2]Party in the Prairie @ Richardson Nature Center, 8737 East Bush Lake Rd, Bloomington
When: Saturday, Sept. 19 • 3:30-8pm
Cost: $6/pp pre-registered or $8/pp at the door
Details: Meet birds from the U of M’s Raptor Center, try out a 25-foot climbing wall, take a guided hike or digital scavenger hunt, and enjoy live music as the sun sets. Food will be available for purchase.

2008-Raptor-Release-by-Jeff-Fischer-031-300x240[1]Fall Raptor Release @ Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center, 12805 St Croix Trail S, Hastings
When: Saturday, Sept. 26 • 10am-3pm
Cost: Free
Details: Raptors nursed back to health by the U of M’s Raptor Center will be released back into the wild at 11am & 2pm. Also enjoy hayrides through the apple orchard, kids activities and more.

Apple Festival @ Gibbs Farm Museum, 2097 Larpenteur Ave, Falcon Heights
When: Saturday, Oct. 3 • 10am-4pm
Cost: $8/adults, $7/seniors, $5/children 4-16, members & under 4 free
Details: Oodles of apples! Apple games, apple crafts, sample apples from the orchard and enjoy lunch plus tours of the farmhouse, hayrides and more. All activities and food are included in the admission fee.

Family Harvest Hayride @ Dodge Nature Center, 1701 Charlton St., West St. Paul
When: Saturday, Oct. 3 • 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.

Fall on the Farm @ Eidem Homestead, 4345 101st Ave N, Brooklyn Park
When: Saturday, Oct. 3 • Noon-3pm
Cost: $6/adults, $4/kids ages 4-12, under 4 free
Details: Farm chores abound! Harvest garden veggies, press cider, carve pumpkins and bake fall treats in the kitchen. Experience life on the farm as you prepare for the winter ahead.

Apple Festival @ Afton Apple Orchard, 14421 S. 90th St., Hastings
When: Oct. 3-4, 10-11, 17-18 • 10am-6pm
Cost: $4/pp ages 5+, $3/pp under 5
Details: In addition to the seasonal weekend activities (playground, petting farm, kiddie train, hayrides, pick-your-own apples) there are chainsaw carving demos, cider press demos, live bluegrass music and more.

Stillwater Harvest Fest @ City of Stillwater, MN
When: Sat. & Sun., Oct. 10-11 • 10am-6pm (11am Sunday)
Cost: Free admission, fee for some activities
Details: Don’t miss the giant pumpkin weigh-in, pumpkin regatta or the kids pumpkin pull! Plus, lovely downtown Stillwater will be dressed in her fall best.


Twin Cities Weekend Free Events List for September 12-13, 2105

Technically, fall has not yet begun, but there’s a bumper crop of festivals this weekend to explore in the Twin Cities! We’ve listed four ideas below, plus there’s more in store on our Family Fun Calendar. Be sure to check it out for inspiration on what to do with your family this weekend and beyond.


tm como orangutansJust Zoo It Weekend
@ Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
1225 Estabrook Dr, St Paul, 55103

Time: Saturday, Sept. 12 & Sunday, Sept. 13 • 10am-4pm
Details: Get in shape with animal-themed exercises and activities. For activity details, click here.


tm grape stompGrape Stomp Festival @ St. Croix Vineyards, 6428 Manning Ave N, Stillwater, MN 55082. Events run 10am-6pm both Sat. & Sun. Even kids can try their hand (or feet, rather) at stomping grapes the old-time way. Prizes will be awarded for stomping style. Explore the vineyard, listen to live music or head next door for an afternoon at Aamodt’s Apple Farm.
James J. Hill Days @ Wayzata area. Twin Cities River Rats will perform a waterski show, plus a parade, live music and more.
Burnsville Fire Muster @ Burnsville city parks. Fire truck water display, big wheel races, fire truck parade, safety demos and more.
Ramsey Happy Days @ City of Ramsey, 7550 Sunwood Dr NW, 55303. Family bike tour, kids talent show, parade and fireworks.


Kidstock 2015
@ MacPhail Center for Music
501 2nd St., Minneapolis, 55401

Time: 10am-noon
Ages: Kids ages 10 & under with caregivers
Details: Open houses at MacPhail are a lot of fun and include concerts geared towards kids, a chance to play with instruments, snacks and more.




3 Free Family Fun Ideas for this Late Labor Day Weekend

If your plans are to stay around town this weekend, you may be interested in some laid back fun.  We found a creative artistic endeavor, a natural tea experience, and fun at the river.


My family loves to explore at the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park.  We love to walk along the river and see what we can collect or play in the exposed roots of the trees. The staff at Coon Rapids Dam understands this love of the hunt and want to encourage their guests to do more.  So they have invited us to come to the river and create art with the debris washed ashore.


Drop in at anytime to taste some teas made from plants in your backyard.  Kids under 17 must be with an adult.  I know that coming home from this event, my kids will try to brew their own tea from the grass in the backyard.  What do you think your kids will do?


Come and go as you please and enjoy time on the river.  Hopefully, there will be a lot of movement through the lock so that you can experience the physics in action.

Whether you have already started school, will start school, or school-age is a long way off, we know you will have fun together this weekend.

Read Aloud Wednesday: Go on a Family Adventure Without Leaving Your House

Family Fun at Home

It’s another installment  of our new monthly series–Family Fun at Home–and we are calling Read Aloud Wednesday.   I jumped at the idea of featuring reading out loud.  Here is a way your family can have an experience together without going anywhere.

Our goal for Read Aloud Wednesday is to help you enjoy books together.  Reading is one of the most important things you can do as a family, and there are so many great books to choose from.

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2015 Minnesota State Fair: 10 Ideas for Free Family Fun + New Foods!

blog together

Families, I’ll be the first to empathize with you. I find the Minnesota State Fair uncomfortably hot, crowded and expensive much of the time, too. But after years of dragging my brood to the Fair for days on end I’ve honed my plans for making the most of it — and it’s hands-on down my favorite time of the year! I can’t do much to control the crowds or the weather; however I’d love to share ten of our favorite free fair activities that help keep the cost down. (For reference, my kids’ ages are 10, 8, 6, and going on 4 years.) Also, if you stick with me after the lineup, I’ve had the great fortune to have been able to taste a dozen of the brand-new-for-2015 State Fair foods! I’ll dish the ones you won’t want to miss.

But first, the free, so there’ll be cash left over for the new treats:

eco experience nature adventure play yard

Eco Experience Nature Adventure Play Yard – My kids could have spent hours here, digging in the sand, damming the stream, skipping stumps, and searching for the fairy house. You might not want to budget that kind of time at the Fair, but it’s worth a stop in to get some ideas on how to make your own backyard more friendly to free play. Located outside the Eco Experience building on Randall Ave. 9am – 9pm.


EquiMania! – This interactive exhibit in the Horse Barn teaches the Fairgoer about equine health, anatomy, careers and more. You don’t have to be a horse lover to enjoy the hands-on activities as evidenced by my own little Fairgoers. Located in the Horse Barn on Judson Ave. at Ligget St. 9am – 9pm.

Math-on-a-Stick — I am super excited about this brand new attraction, and that’s saying a lot since math and I have never gotten along well. Aimed at kids to get them exploring early math concepts, they can go on a number scavenger hunt, play with geometric tiles, visit with mathematicians and more. Located in Baldwin Park, daily 9am-8pm.

little farm hands

Little Farm Hands – This sweet little mock-up farm is one of the Fair’s most popular free attractions for kids. Plan to go first thing in the morning to avoid lines and the worst of the day’s heat. Kids walk through various farm chores, “harvest” their crops, and then spend their earnings at market for great edible snacks. Housed within Little Farm Hands is the Seed Survivor exhibit. My son loves the video games designed to teach about the elements necessary for a seed to grow. My daughters are happy planting sunflowers to take home. I’m thrilled they’re learning a thing or two. 8am – 7 pm (map).

alphabet forest

Alphabet Forest in Baldwin Park – There are all kinds of alphabet activities to enjoy here at the Family Fair in Baldwin Park. Last year we finally won blue ribbons for completing our Fabulous Fair alphabet game cards! We also met a couple of Homegrown Authors, curled up in the book corner, made alphabet craft projects and more. This year, Family Fun Twin Cities will be volunteering for a shift at the Alphabet Forest on Saturday, August 23, from noon-3pm — swing by and say hello! 9am – 8pm, Cosgrove St.

Miracle of Birth Center – Ever hoped to watch a live cow give birth? With a little luck you just might happen upon one of the nearly 200 animal births that occur at this exhibit each year at the Fair. If you miss out, there are still darling babies on display, a tractor simulator, and other exhibits to enjoy. The attached FFA Chapter House & Leadership Center offers age-appropriate kids activity packets and the chance to earn a blue “Ag Explorer” ribbon. Entertainment, magic shows, and trivia are hosted throughout the Fair on the Christensen Farms Stage outside the barn. 9am – 9pm, Judson Ave. next to the Warner Coliseum (map).

Hand-milk a cow – Dairy farmers coach the kids as they coax milk out of a cow! I love watching my little city-slickers do this. Each is awarded a ribbon and their own carton of milk for the effort. Bonus: visit the nearby Moo Sample Station for samples of cheese or ice cream sandwiches! Check your State Fair daily schedule for exact times. Land O’ Lakes stage, outside NW corner of Cattle Barn (map).

Minnesota Twins Experience – My son could spend hours here rotating through ongoing games of backyard baseball for kids. He also loves practicing with the speed pitch machine while the girls have at the TC Bear bouncy house. East side of Cooper Ave. (map).

WCCO fair forecasters!

Be a WCCO Weather Fair Forecaster! – It’s a blast to watch the kids forecast the weather at this interactive exhibit. They can play around with green screens or insert themselves into a lineup of WCCO personalities. A teleprompter and touch screen helps kids deliver the forecast with style!

giant sing-along

Giant Sing-Along – No need to be shy when you’re singing along to karaoke favorites with a field of other Fairgoers! Kids can snag their own mics and belt out the tunes with help from lyrics projected onto a monster screen. Located on Murphy Ave. across from the Pet Center. 9am – 8pm.

And onto the eating (not free, of course, but you know it’s one of the top reasons you hit up the Fair):

PicMonkey Collage 2015 fair foods - Copy

  • Salted Caramel Puff malts & shakes – they don’t skimp on the quality of the rich, gooey caramel and the texture of the puffs is seriously addicting! Find it at the Dairy Goodness Bar, Dairy Building
  • Mac-and-Cheese Cupcake – lunch for the kids taken care of. I liked the breadcrumb crust. Find it at LuLu’s Public House, West End Market
  • Grandma Deb’s Snicker Bar Salad – I’m not wild about the pudding consistency, but the diced apples give it a nice crunch and taste great with crushed Snickers. Find it at the Blue Barn
  • Grilled Venetian-style pizza – I loved the crispy crust. And the fact that the flavors aren’t your run-of-the-mill ‘za. Find it at Mancini’s al Fresco
  • Maple Bacon Funnel Cake – I suppose you could call it breakfast, but there are better places to find that. Find it at Funnel Cakes in the Food Building
  • Tipsy Pies – loved these! I was able to sample the State Fair Rhubarb Blue Hunny Do, the Bapple, and the Salted Caramel Apple and can’t wait to go back for more.  Find them at Sara’s Tipsy Pies in the Food Building
  • Tikka-on-a-Stikka – a generous serving of white chicken meat in a surprisingly smoky yogurt and tikka sauce. Super good. Find it at Hot Indian, Taste of Midtown Global Market booth in the International Bazaar, Aug. 27-Sept. 1 only.
  • Kimchi & Curry Poutine – my favorite sampled new Minnesota State Fair food! The fries topped with kimchi and curry gravy are fantastic. Find it at Rabbit Hole, Taste of Midtown Global Market in the International Bazaar, Sept. 2-7 only.
  • Totchos – I’ve had better quality tater tots, but the generous toppings, including sour cream and green onions were a nice touch. Find them at Boulevard Grill, Coliseum
  • Chocolate-jalapeno Ice Cream – didn’t care for the jalapeno chunks, but the spice was nice when paired with a rich chocolate base. Find it at Rainbow Ice Cream carts
  • Stuffed Italian Meatloaf-on-a-Stick – If I enjoyed Italian seasoning, I’d give this a full-sized try. Find it at Green Mill in Baldwin Park
  • Cannoli – Try it in full or mini sizes. Find it at Mancini’s al Fresco

If you’ve stuck with me this far, I’d like to reward you with links to a few other of my fellow bloggers’ posts about the Great Minnesota Get-Together:

Dining With Alice is hosting a State Fair Family Pack Giveaway
MinneMama Adventures has some good tips for taking little ones to the Fair
Whimsy Factory has a couple lesser-known activities you might not have heard about
and Carpe Diem with Jasmine covers some great ideas as well.

The Minnesota State Fair runs August 27- September 7, 2015.

Free & Budget Family Weekend Events List for August 22-23, 2015

Ideas for free & budget this weekend could take you to a foodie festival in Minneapolis, a Japanese lantern lighting ceremony in St. Paul, or on a quick road trip to discover historic sites in Scandia. Or, for more ideas on how to spend the weekend and beyond, there’s always our Family Fun Calendar. Happy exploring!


logo-tablet[1] Read More

Family Fun with Dad: Favorite Local Fishing Holes

Wednesday Dad

Fishing for bass

Her first bass with Dad

Our new Wednesday series continues with Family Fun with Dad.  Anne, Joy, and I recognize that sometimes it’s good to get a man’s perspective, so we are partnering with local dads to give you a better all-around perspective. Of course, moms are more than welcome to participate in these activities, too!

Today, we are featuring my husband.

Dad: Chris Kordatzky from New Brighton

Kids: Four children ages 5, 7, 8 & 10 Read More

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