Category - On Tour

1
Hang Out With the Vulcans at Snow Park at the Fair
2
Twin Cities Indoor Playgrounds and Play Areas Guide
3
Saint Paul Winter Carnival 2017: Top 7 Free Family Activities
4
Light It Up: Twin Cities & Greater Minnesota Christmas & Holiday Light Displays
5
Pick One: Twin Cities Pumpkin Patches
6
Twin Cities September Family Events & Activities Guide
7
Minnesota State Fair 2016: Scoring Free and Discounted Tickets
8
Summer Farm Fun in the Twin Cities
9
Free Twin Cities July Events & Activities
10
Family Fun Idea: Big Back Yard at the Science Museum of Minnesota

Hang Out With the Vulcans at Snow Park at the Fair

Despite the bone-chilling temps the last couple years, I took the kids out to the Winter Carnival Snow Park at the Fair to change their minds about the St. Paul Vulcans. See, the little ones had always been wary of that wailing fire truck. Not to mention the red-cloaked men who once tried to ambush their mother at a parade in order to paint a huge black V on her cheek. I was willing to forgive and forget because the Krewe are the ones responsible for reviving the Minnesota State Snow Sculpting Competition and organizing a super fun Snow Park at the Fair around it.
Here's how the St. Paul Vulcans managed to win the hearts of my three girls

Here’s how the St. Paul Vulcans managed to win the hearts of my three girls (and why we’ll be back at the Vulcan Fun Day this Sunday): Read More

Twin Cities Indoor Playgrounds and Play Areas Guide

We all know the realities of raising kids in the Minnesota extremities: there’s got to be a place to go were we can escape the elements while still allowing those kids a place to burn off that extra energy. Enter our Twin Cities Indoor Playgrounds and Play Areas list. We hope you can use it to find a new space to wear those littles out — and perhaps catch yourself a break.


indoor playground

Minnesota, we’ve got your Pak!

EatPakd prepares and delivers wholesome ready-to-pack lunches right to your front door. Our mission is to fill kids’ bellies with the best food to fuel their day at school, for a snack or on the go! We source organic, GMO-free, and hormone-free ingredients, and handcraft all of our kid-friendly recipes without the use of added sugar, fillers, or preservatives. Choose from one of our favorite Paks, or mix and match to create your own! Learn more at www.EatPakd.com.

The code is  Pakd4FamilyFun (4 Free Paks; $30 value)
If you use this URL, https://eatpakd.com/?trial_code=pakd4familyfun, the code will apply automatically.

For more options on keeping the little ones moving throughout the chilly months, check out our Open Play, Gym & Swim Spots for Tots in the Twin Cities!

 

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Saint Paul Winter Carnival 2017: Top 7 Free Family Activities

Saint Paul Winter Carnival 2017

We’ve got the scoop on the coolest carnival in town! From ice sculptures to the thrilling Vulcan snow slide, browse below for our top 7 picks for FREE family fun during the run of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, Thursday, January 26-Sunday, February 5, 2017:

Snow Park at the State Fairgrounds | Falcon Heights

When: Activities run Saturday, Jan 27-Sunday, Feb 5, 2017
Details: Chill out at the Fair with the following fun family-friendly events:

  • Jan 21-22: Calling all kids who like heavy equipment! Watch as it assembles the giant snow blocks and walls created for the annual snow sculpting contest. 9am-4pm.
  • Jan 27-29: Come watch works of art whittled out of the snow during the Minnesota State Snow Sculpting Competition (Fri) and the Amateur Snow Sculpting Contest (Sat). Sculptures will be on display at the Fair through Feb 5, 9am-10pm.
  • Jan 28-Feb 4: Plummet down the Giant Snow Slide (if you dare!) A fee of $2 per ride is charged, sleds provided.
  • Jan 29: Hail the Vulcs on Vulcan Fun Day with free fire truck rides, a mini-medallion hunt for kids and more. 11am-3pm.

Saint Paul Winter Carnival 2017 Read More

Light It Up: Twin Cities & Greater Minnesota Christmas & Holiday Light Displays

Holiday Light Displays

Thanks to the awesome Prairie Lights website for help with this list of Christmas light displays & music shows! Our family discovered the student-designed Winter Lights Show put on by the University of Minnesota’s College of Science & Engineering. Who knew there were this many holiday light displays out there? Please, we beg you, personally confirm the details of these light shows before heading out! Read More

Pick One: Twin Cities Pumpkin Patches

tcpumpkinpatches

Forecast: Gorgeous fall weekends ahead to hit one of these Twin Cities-area pumpkin patches before Halloween! And even if you’re not in the market for a jack-o-lantern, these patches are crammed full of fall fun from corn mazes and farm animals to hayrides and train rides. Check out the list below. Did we miss any? Thank you to our sponsor Wheel Fun Rentals for their support of this article!

wheel fun rentals

Wheel Fun Rentals Pumpkin Patches – 2 Twin Cities locations

Location: Veteran’s Memorial Park 6335 Portland Ave. S., Richfield, MN
Hours: Open weekends starting 9/24/16.
Admission: Pumpkin patch wristbands come in 2 options – $5-$10/pp
What’s picking: Pumpkins, plain and simple.
Other activities: You have the option of choosing two different wristbands to partake in pumpkin patch activities such as mini golf, inflatables, hayride and more.

Location: Como Lake – 1360 N Lexington Pkwy, St. Paul
Hours: Open weekends starting 9/24/16.
Admission: Pumpkin patch wristbands are $5/ages 3 & under, $9/ages 4-17, and $5/adults
What’s picking: PYO pumpkins!
Other activities: Admission to the patch includes a hayride, games, use of inflatables and photo booth.


NORTH METRO PUMPKIN PATCHES

Pinehaven Farm

Location: 28186 Kettle River Blvd., Wyoming, MN
Hours: Open weekdays noon – 6:30pm, weekends 10am – 6:30pm, 9/24-10/31/16.
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. Treats are available for purchase daily, full concessions for sale on weekends only. Read about our visit to Pinehaven Farm here.

Anoka County Farms

Location: 128 Bunker Blvd., Ham Lake, MN
Hours: Open Monday – Thursday 3pm – sunset, Friday 12pm – sunset, and weekends 10am – sunset, 9/24-10/31/16.
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
Hours: Weekdays 3 – 7pm, weekends 10am – 6pm. 2016 opening date will be late September.
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.

Lendt’s Pumpkin Patch

Location: 6903 Wyoming Trail, Wyoming, MN
Hours: Open daily, 9am-dusk starting 9/24 thru Halloween, 2016
Admission: Free
What’s picking: PYO pumpkins from the field, $4 apiece. Pre-picked pumpkins start at $6.
Other activities: Hour-long, educational hayrides are available by reservation, $8/pp includes a pumpkin and Indian corn. Kids can spend time in the giant corn box or in the play area; concessions and face painting are offered on fall weekends.

Waldoch Farm Garden Center

Location: 8174 Lake Dr., Lino Lakes, MN
Hours: Open daily 10am – 6pm starting 9/17/16-10/31/16.
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.

Pleasant Valley Orchard

Location: 17325 Pleasant Valley Rd, Shafer, MN
Hours: Open daily 10am-6pm
Admission: Free; extra fee for weekend hayrides to the pumpkin patch ($3/pp).
What’s picking: PYO pumpkins weekends only starting 9/25-October. PYO apples available on select weekends.
Other activities: New in 2016, the orchard hosts 12 Days of Halloween,10/20-31 with special activities.

Tom’s Pumpkin Farm

Location: 15281 Panola Dr, Lindstrom MN
Hours: Open daily, 10am-dusk starting 9/24 thru Halloween, 2016
Admission: Free
What’s picking: Pick-your-own pumpkin and carry it out, $3.99 any size.
Other activities: Families can explore the corn maze, and there’s a hay bale maze for the youngest.

EAST METRO PUMPKIN PATCHES

Afton Apple Orchard

Location: 14421 S. 90th St., Hastings, MN
Hours: Open daily 10am – 6pm, pumpkins available starting 9/26/16.
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 starting 9/17/16. 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.

Country Sun Farm

Location: 11211 N. 60th St., Lake Elmo, MN
Hours: Open weekdays 9am – 7pm, weekends 9am – 6pm. Activities are up and running Saturdays 10am – 5pm, Sundays 11am – 5pm starting mid-September.
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!

WEST METRO PUMPKIN PATCHES

Marshall’s Farm Market

Location: 9100 Eden Prairie Road, Eden Prairie, MN
Hours: Daily, 11am-6:30pm
Admission: Free
What’s picking: The perfect pumpkin, along with fresh fall produce.
Other activities: A giant pumpkin bouncer and a not-so-scary haunted house for the kids.

SOUTH METRO PUMPKIN PATCHES

Barten Pumpkins

Location: 5716 W. 280th St., New Prague, MN
Hours: Open during daylight hours 9/21 through 10/31.
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 Family Fun Saturdays (10/1 & 10/8, 2016) where pony rides, caricature drawings and hayrides are free.

Peter’s Pumpkins & Carmen’s Corn

Location: 12860 Old Brickyard Road, Shakopee, MN
Hours: Open weekdays 11am – 6pm, weekends 9am – 6:30pm
Admission: Free
What’s picking: Free hayrides to pick-your-own pumpkins from the field.
Other activities: Enjoy the working farm and free face painting on October weekends.

Sever’s Corn Maze & Fall Festival

Location: 1100 Canterbury Rd. S., Shakopee, MN
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.


Twin Cities September Family Events & Activities Guide

septemberbanner


This month, FFTC is proudly sponsored by

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It is our hope that you can use our September 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 September we are highlighting our favorite apple orchards, pumpkin patches and corn mazes across the Twin Cities Metro as well as keeping up with the harvest of fall festivals cropping up. As always, we hope to be inspiration in planning your family time together!

– Anne, Gianna & Joy
Family Fun Twin Cities

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Minnesota State Fair 2016: Scoring Free and Discounted Tickets

tm msf tickets

It’s a pretty widely accepted fact: If you plan to tote a family along for a day at the Minnesota State Fair, you’re going to come home with a considerably lighter wallet. The skewered foods are tempting, the Kidway is calling, the deals are hot and, oh yes, there are those admission tickets to consider. If you’ve been keeping up with the latest and greatest from the State Fair, you probably know that admission has been holding steady for all ages the last few years. Here’s what you’re looking at paying for regular admission for 2016:

$13/adults (13-64)
$11/seniors (65+)
$11/kids (6-12)
Free/kids 5 & under

Now, the prices of food and whatnot are beyond our control. (Though I suppose you could vow to consume nothing at the Fair, but who does that?) There are, however, some surefire ways to save more than a few bucks on admission tickets. I assure you I will be using every one of the strategies listed below as I’m now in possession of three paying kiddos at the gate:

Purchase pre-Fair discount admission tickets – $10/all ages. These are available in person at the State Fair ticket office through Aug. 24 (1741 Como Avenue).  Tickets are also available participating Cub Foods locations through Aug. 24. Discounted ride & game tickets, and Blue Ribbon Bargain Books are sold at these sites as well. Special note: the State Fair does not accept discount admission tickets to cover the cost of on-site parking. The charge to park this year is $13, cash only.

Take advantage of 2016 Promotional Days – if possible, plan to come on one of the following:

  • Thrifty Thursday (Aug. 25): $11/adults & seniors, $8/kids
  • Seniors & Kids Day (Aug. 29): $13/adults, $8/seniors & kids
  • Military Appreciation Day (Aug. 30): $8/active members plus their spouses and kids, $8/retired or veteran members plus their spouses. Valid ID required.
  • Ride & Read Day (Aug. 31): $11/adults, $8/seniors & kids. One discount ticket per valid public library card shown.
  • Seniors Day (Aug. 28): $13/adults, $8/seniors, $11/kids
  • Kids Day (Sept. 1): $13/adults, $11/seniors, $8/kids

bookawocky!

Ramsey County Library’s Bookawocky program – earns kids ages 5 – 11 who complete a summer activity booklet a pack of prizes including one State Fair admission ticket. The posted deadline for the 2016 program is August 21. Several other county libraries (Dakota, Scott and Hennepin) participate in the Bookawocky program and will enter your child’s name in a drawing to win prizes that may include Fair tickets.

Alphabet Forest

Volunteer at the Fair – at one of many fun locations and receive complimentary gate admission as thanks. No, it’s not always convenient (but it is possible!) to bring kids along to volunteer. Consider signing up for an early shift, then plan to have another caregiver bring the kids to join you in the afternoon. To practice what we preach, Family Fun Twin Cities helped out in the Alphabet Forest in 2014 and at Little Farm Hands in 2015. Click any of the following links to see how you can get involved.

Do YOU have any other tips or tricks for scoring free or discounted admission to the State Fair? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.

For more State Fair 2016 planning, try our list of 50 Things To Do at the Minnesota State Fair.


Summer Farm Fun in the Twin Cities

Gale Woods Farm Collage

The FFTC Team’s city kids love the opportunity to visit farms not much further than their urban backyards! Browse the favorites below for ideas on where your own little ones can get up close to animals, play at farm chores, pick their own produce, and learn through living history activities: Read More

Free Twin Cities July Events & Activities

Twin Cities Free July Events and Activities
msp

7/2: First Free Saturday Stage & Screen: Groovy Adventures @ Walker Art Center, Minneapolis • 10am-3pm • 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.

7/2: Home Depot Kids Workshop: Ice Age Bowling Game @ TC Home Depot locations • 9am-noon • Details: The first Saturday of each month kids get a kit to build, apron and pin while supplies last; adults must accompany children.


We are proud to have the St. Paul Saints as our July monthly sponsor.

Saints_Family Fun TC_July Ad


7/4:  Minneapolis Red White & Boom @ Downtown riverfront • 6-10pm • Music, movie, family events and fireworks at dusk. For more Twin Cities Independence Day events and activities, click the graphic below:

Independence Day 2016

7/4: 4th of July at Langford Park @ 30 Langford Park, Saint Paul • 11am-4pm. • Picnic, parade, fun run, music, pony rides, speeches, volleyball, horseshoes, tennis, games and more! New this year are a bouncy house, face painting, Instagram contest, photo booth, and an obstacle course.

7/4: Cafesjian’s Carousel Free Ride Day @ Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St. Paul • 11am-4pm (free rides also take place on 7/23, National Carousel Day).

7/5: Storytime with Engineer Paul @ Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store, St. Paul • 10am • Details: Wonderful stories, songs and preschool activities with a (no surprise) train slant. Stick around to play at one of the 7 train tables set up at the back of the store. Also held 7/19. For more of the best storytimes in the Twin Cities, click the graphic below.

Story Time Any Time

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Family Fun Idea: Big Back Yard at the Science Museum of Minnesota

science museum mn big back yard

Big Back Yard at the
Science Museum of
Minnesota
Open June 18-September 5, 2016
10:30am-5pm
Included with museum admission

Tucked between the towering buildings on Kellogg Boulevard above and the Mississippi riverfront development below is one of the city’s best splash pads and sandboxes. This endorsement comes courtesy of my four children, who never fail to have a blast when we make our annual summer trip to the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Big Back Yard. Now, the museum doesn’t tout itself as featuring a splash pad and sandbox on property, so you’ll have to keep in mind that the Big Back Yard might not be your destination if you don’t want the kids coming out sandy and soaked.

science museum of mn big back yard

The first culprit is the nine-hole mini golf course. Designed to teach about the flow of water and how it shapes the land, it consists of tempting waterways, a hydraulic jump, and a braided stream. My son takes his golf pretty seriously, but his younger sisters quickly abandon their clubs and start splashing away. (Note: this is not necessarily allowed and probably not courteous if there are other golfers on the course. We try to visit when we’ll have the place to ourselves.)

science museum of mn big back yardIf the kids aren’t damp enough after the putting, the Ground Water Plaza might guarantee there isn’t a dry patch left on them. The kids can pump buckets full of water from the Museum’s deep artisan well and pour it over a variety of surfaces to learn how groundwater can move through rock. Plenty of the water did end up on the rock, but much of it was aimed at each other.

science museum mn big back yardAn adjacent native prairie maze is helpful for drying off after the waterworks. My kids usually play tag through the native grasses and gardens and perhaps learn a thing or two about prairies and their role in cleaning the environment. A second (somewhat) drier activity available is panning for gemstones and fossils in a giant sluice.

So pick a nice, hot summer day to enjoy all the Science Museum’s Big Back Yard has to offer. If I can add one tip: let the kids wear swimsuits under their clothes! Exploring the gardens and ground water plaza is included in museum admission; a charge of $3.50 is levied for kids to play a round of golf, $4.00 for adults. The Back Yard is open Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day and September weekends, weather permitting.


Science Museum of Minnesota’s Big Back Yard
120 W. Kellogg Boulevard
St. Paul, MN 55102

Museum Admission:
Adults: $13 ($20 w/ Omnitheater ticket)
Child (4 – 12): $10 ($17 w/ Omnitheater ticket)

Minnesota Children’s Museum members receive free admission each Tuesday 9:30 a.m. to noon as part of the Preschool Playdates program!

Big Back Yard mini golf: $4/member, $5/non-member, ages 3 & under golf free
$5.00 per person after 5 p.m. Thursday – Saturday without museum admission!


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