In 2003, mere weeks from our wedding date, my future husband and I picked up a Minnesota State Parks Passport Club kit from one of the park nature shops. What a wonderful way to step off on our life together, I recall thinking, by flitting around Minnesota exploring all 70+ state parks and recreation areas. Get your passport stamped at each one and receive — along with bragging rights, of course — a personalized commemorative plaque. Oh, I could see that plaque right then, hanging on some future living room wall. Read More
As the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesotans take pride in our summer water sports. We’ve collected water ski shows, boat rentals, kayaks and canoes, sailing experiences and other water fun. Most are located in the metro while some of them are just a short drive away.
Happy wakes to you.
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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fall Raptor Release @ Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center, 12805 St Croix Trail S, Hastings
When: Saturday, Sept. 26 • 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.
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.
When polling readers on their favorite day-trip destinations from the Twin Cities, one of them suggested the lovely St. Croix River Valley town of Taylors Falls, an easy hour-long drive from the Metro. And how fortuitous that I had just returned from a jaunt there with two of my four children, fresh and already inspired to highlight some of the fun family activities we’ve enjoyed in the area over the past several years. Here are six of our favorite spots around Taylors Falls — and most won’t cost much more than the gas it takes to get there:
First, a quick confession: I may not be the most qualified to write this article. The truth is that I don’t tent camp with my children, in Minnesota State Park campgrounds or otherwise. There’s a good chance that I will again someday, but until all my kids are of the age where I’m guaranteed a decent night’s sleep, we plan to stick to an old, class-C motorhome we bought off Craigslist six years ago. It was purchased in a bit of a panic – we’d just found out we were expecting our third child – and I feared that if our family kept expanding, it would be years before my husband and I could enjoy one of our favorite hobbies again. The one weekend we had spent camping when our firstborn was 13 months old was so miserable I vowed never again to sleep on the ground with a nursing child. (We did take him tenting again at age three and it was wonderful, so I did realize there was hope for traditional camping in the future.)
So that’s my admission. I am absolutely not an authority on tent camping with kids. My redemption, however, might lie in that at least I’ve spent many nights in Minnesota State Park campgrounds, and also a decent amount of time exploring many of the parks themselves. I’m confident in recommending them as fantastic places to spend time as a family and connect with nature. Read More
15 years ago, I would walk my daycare kids through the streets of St. Paul to Lowertown to play in the playground by tpt. At times, we would bring our gaggle of preschoolers into the Union Depot to get out of the heat. But we didn’t get much farther than the front door.
That was in 2000. Things have changed fantastically at Union Depot since then. Read More
In February–when my husband and I were in Thailand–we wanted to go on a jungle canopy tour. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for us, and even though I was extremely relieved, I thought, Shoot! There goes our chance for ziplining.
Little did I know that Minnesota itself offers its own real live canopy tour. Two to be exact–Towering Pines Canopy Tours at the Gunflint Lodge up by the Boundary Waters and Kerfoot Canopy Tours in the Minnesota River Valley down Highway 169 near Henderson/Belle Plaine. Read More
There is something you should know about me: I am a Clutz–with a capital C. When I go for a walk or a run, I don’t look up and enjoy the scenery. I look down at my feet because I have a tendency to trip over things, and if I am not concentrating on my footing, I will catch my toe and hit the pavement face first.
Another thing that is important to know about me. Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the fun days of summer and the hopeful days of spring and the quietness of winter (until it starts to go on eight months and more, then it’s just being passive aggressive), but my absolute without a doubt favorite time of the year is the fall. When the air turns crisp in the evenings and I can smell the earthy scent of the maturing plants, I shiver in delight. When I can pull out my favorite sweater or jeans and lace up my cute leather boots while packing mychildren’s school supplies into their backpacks, I grin. When I can make a cup of coffee and wrap myself in my favorite afghan to sit on my front step, I sigh.
Fall is so perfect.
However, putting these two facts about me together can cause disaster. While I enjoy walking outside in the fall and breathing in the fresh air, I do not have the ability to look around and enjoy the color of the trees and the sky. I think this year it’s time to be intentional about getting off my street to see some of the gorgeous color of the season.
It is extremely beautiful. I have never been so happy for the piles and piles of snow. I know it’s been a long winter and the entire state is weary of snow removal, but honestly, I feel a little like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. There is no place like home even if it’s all white and there is no color. Read More