The MELSA Libraries (Anoka County, Carver County, Dakota County, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Saint Paul, Scott County, Washington County), that the smARTpass Program will be extended another year, beginning September 1, 2017. Library patrons will continue to have this option for free or reduced-price tickets to arts activities and museums. Like the Museum Adventure Pass that went before it, this program is not guaranteed to be around forever. We recommend taking advantage of it but also thanking the venues for their support. It would be sad to lose this resource.
For a list of orchards spanning the four corners of the Twin Cities metro area, visit our FFTC Guide to Twin Cities Apple Orchards.
TWIN CITIES SOUTHEAST METRO APPLE ORCHARDS
Whistling Well Farm | Hastings
This is a quaint orchard that welcomes you to enjoy farm life. Named for the whistling well on their property, Whistling Well Farm is run by Charlie and Carol Johnson — and sons Chad and Neal. With no entrance fee, you are welcome to roam around the farm at your leisure.
Whistling Well Farm has all the basic amenities of a typical orchard: gift barn, food barn, and animals. They have a donkey and a goat. While the animals didn’t do much when we were there, they were still fun for the kids to see.
Whistling Well Farm is maintained with the help of a springer spaniel named Emmy. In fact, she has her own picture book for sale (written by Charlie). They also sell small stuffed replicas of her.
But the best part of Whistling Well Farms? The chickens!
I can guarantee that your children will spend the rest of your visit in the chicken coop coaxing the non-hungry chickens into eating more corn from their hands. I must admit, it was lots of fun to have the chickens actually eat out of your hands!
Or, if your children have no interest in actually feeding the chickens, they may take corn kernel by corn kernel out of the cob and make a pile of feed for the chickens.
For its unique farm experience, I recommend Whistling Well Farm. It is worth the drive.
Open: Picking season begins around Labor Day, check their website or call to confirm.
Hours: Daily, 9am-6pm
Cost: Free admission and limited children’s activities
Picking & details: Stop by the farm and pick up some apples, visit with the goats and chickens, and make a wish at the whistling well with all donations going to local charities. The orchard’s Apple Festival runs the first three weekends in October.
Fischer’s Croix Farm Orchard | Hastings
Hours: Tues-Sun, 9:30am-5pm
Cost: Free admission, fees for additional activities
Picking & details: Enjoy the fall season at this beautiful orchard on the St. Croix River. Pick-your-own apples and pumpkins and, for more family fun, take a tractor pulled wagon ride to the corn maze (weekends only) mid-September to October. Straw Mountain and the Apple Express are popular with kids and all ages will enjoy a visit to the barnyard. The Food Wagon is open on weekends, from late September through late October. Catch the Annual Apple Festival with fun family activities running the first two weekends of October.
McDougall’s Apple Junction | Hastings
Please note: This orchard is now permanently closed.
This is the perfect Mom-and-Pop apple orchard. It’s a fairly sizable orchard with more than fifteen varieties of apples, and admission into the orchard is free on weekdays!
As you drive into the property, a fun atmosphere welcomes you. The Apple House and Outdoor Market supply you with many different opportunities for purchasing their own honey roasted peanut butter, apple paraphernalia, already picked apples, pumpkins, chrysanthemums, and the ultimate favorite for everyone in our family: Pick Your Own Apples. While we were visiting, the Haralson apples and Honeygold were available for PYO.
The apple trees at McDougall’s are well tended. They are small which makes it possible for you to reach almost all the way to the top. And full of apples. They are pruned for maximum fruit bearing.
The Apple Junction Playland at the back of the yard has a $3 admission fee for kids. There is also a suggested 50 cent donation to climb the newly constructed Observation tower just outside the playland.
The playland is intended for children ages 10 and under and contains a children’s maze, all terrain trikes, slides, swings, a climbing wall, sand box, a thirty-two foot wooden train, milking a (pretend) cow, and a small prize.
Apple Junction also has a goat mountain (read: goat pen that has a mountain of straw for the goats to play on!), a straw mountain for humans to play on, new duck races, a calf named Cupcake, and some bunnies. There are also plenty of picture stops.
If you want to, you can take a wagon ride to the pumpkin patch and come back with pumpkins for the season. Each fall they host a Pumpkin Festival and an Apple Festival. This is a dynamite orchard and is definitely worth the trip!
Location: 14325 110th St S., Hastings, MN, 55033
Hours: Open daily from 10am – 6pm
Picking: Click here for an update on what varieties are currently being picked in the orchard.
Location: 8973 St. Croix Trail South, Hastings, MN 55033
Hours: Open daily 9am – 6pm through November.
Picking: Click here to see what’s currently pickin’ at Whistling Well Farm.
June is ridiculously crazy busy! There is so much happening that I hope we were able to catch it all! Here are our favorite ways to Feel Like a Kid Again in June.
FREE Ride dates for 2017:
- May 30, Memorial Day
- July 4, Independence Day
- July 25, National Carousel Day
- August 24, State Fair opens
- Sept. 4, Labor Day
Last year, Cafestian’s Carousel in Como Regional Park expanded their hours to include all Mondays. It has become a spring tradition of ours to visit the beautiful antique merry-go-round when the temps are cooler and the price is unbeatable. For those of you who love a Minnesota State Fair connection, the hand-carved horses called the Fairgrounds home until the 1980’s. A St. Paul couple saved the carousel from the auction block, carefully restored the horses, and eventually were able to raise enough money for the carousel’s permanent pavilion in Como. Read More
Try Hockey For Free Day
Various arenas around the country
Saturday, February 25, 2017; FREE!
On the fence about making the investment to put your kid in hockey? I understand. I’ve been there myself. And I highly recommend you give the sport a try for free on Saturday, February 25th.The event gives kids a shot at experiencing the basics of hockey without financial commitment. It’s strictly for fun! Plus, coaches will be on hand to offer tips and provide equipment. Learn more and find a location near you at the Try Hockey for Free website.
Who knows? This might be the beginning of a lifelong love of hockey. It certainly helps us get through our long Minnesota winters!
Arenas Participating in Try Hockey For Free Day
Participating Hockey Arenas include:
- Northeast Ice Arena • Minneapolis • 12:00 PM
- Roseville Skating Center • Roseville • 5:40 PM
- West St Paul Ice Arena • West St. Paul • 2:30 PM
- Eagan Civic Arena • Eagan • 3:45 PM
- Maple Grove Community Center • Maple Grove • 1:15 PM
- Apple Valley High Sports Arena • Apple Valley • 3:30 PM
- Bielenberg Sports Center • Woodbury • 4:30 PM
- Shakopee Ice Arena • Shakopee • 6:00 PM
- Andover Community Center • Andover • 11:40 AM
- Schmitz-Maki Arena • Farmington • 4:30 PM
- Delano Area Sports Arena • Delano • 10:00 AM
- Chisago Lakes Ice Arena • Lindstrom • 2:00 PM
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
Julian McFaul has been at it for a decade and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
And even if he did, the Art Sled Rally has taken on a life of its own and could continue without him.
Today marks opening weekend for many of the Twin Cities-area outdoor ice rinks and we’re sure, as hardy Minnesotans ourselves, that you’re dying to strap on your skates and hustle the kids out to the rinks! That’s why we’ve rounded up this list of local places to skate –and, as nearly all are located in city parks, there’s no charge for the skating. Find your city below and click through to get the latest rink hours, directions, warming house information, and numbers to call for rink conditions.
If you don’t see your city below, my apologies in advance. Please contact us to have yours added to the list or leave the information in the comments. Thanks, and enjoy your outdoor rec time!
Inver Grove Heights
Minneapolis (2016/2017 Brochure PDF)
St. Louis Park
White Bear Lake
West St. Paul
Couldn’t we all use a little help getting through the long Minnesota winter? Family Fun Twin Cities Winter Break Survival Guide has something for everyone.