We were blessed with gorgeous weather for a long weekend camping trip along scenic Highway 61. The first thing we did upon tumbling out of the camper in Wabasha, Minnesota, was spend a good fifteen minutes soaking up the sun along the Mississippi. It’s along these banks that majestic bald eagles winter and build nests to raise their young. You can learn all about these raptors – and get just about nose-to-beak with them – at the adjacent National Eagle Center. Read More
To celebrate birthdays in my daughter’s kindergarten class, the birthday child simulated a walk around the sun. One orbit is tread for each year of the child’s life, while the teacher reads aloud personal milestones supplied by parents. It was a fun coincidence that the night before Emily’s birthday walk we attended one of Como Planetarium’s public programs. Right there on the domed ceiling was a visual of the planet Earth marking time by making its tireless orbit around the sun. Read More
April is literally blooming with free events and activities in the Twin Cities!
As soon as I can smell the wet earth and the sun is still shining at 6pm, I’m ready for a spring farm fix. Come on out and meet the fuzzy new arrivals — lambs, chicks, piglets, goats and all the rest — plus farmhands of all ages can partake in waking up the barns for spring.
TWIN CITIES AREA FARM ACTIVITIES
Farm Babies | Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley • 3/24-4/30, 9am-4pm • included in Zoo admission of $12-$18/pp + parking • In addition to getting hands-on with the babies, there are tons of other activities to enjoy out at the Wells Fargo Family Farm area of the zoo. Get the full lineup here.
Saturday Mornings on the Farm | Gale Woods Farm, Minnetrista • Ongoing Saturdays 4/1-5/27, 9:30am-noon • $5/pp • Calling all farmhands! Help out with chores, spend time with the animals and participate in other spring farm activities. Closed-toe shoes required. Strollers not allowed in the barn or around animals. Read More
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 (and why we’ll be back at the Vulcan Fun Day this Sunday): Read More
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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 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
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.
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.
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.
Location: 6903 Wyoming Trail, Wyoming, MN
Hours: Open daily, 9am-dusk starting 9/24 thru Halloween, 2016
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.
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.
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.
Location: 15281 Panola Dr, Lindstrom MN
Hours: Open daily, 10am-dusk starting 9/24 thru Halloween, 2016
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
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.
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
Location: 9100 Eden Prairie Road, Eden Prairie, MN
Hours: Daily, 11am-6:30pm
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
Location: 5716 W. 280th St., New Prague, MN
Hours: Open during daylight hours 9/21 through 10/31.
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.
Location: 12860 Old Brickyard Road, Shakopee, MN
Hours: Open weekdays 11am – 6pm, weekends 9am – 6:30pm
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.
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.