* UPDATE: The Raptor Center now charges $5/adults and $3/children & seniors for their tours and has discontinued their Free Fridays & Saturdays.
Today’s Flash Family Fun Idea suggests you bring kids of any age for a fun and educational visit to the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center – though consider delaying the trip til June. That’s the month, my tour guide confided, that she’s betting the construction on the brand new outdoor enclosures will be complete, the raptors moved in and comfortable in their larger quarters. You can still pop over and visit the Raptor Center this spring, though, if you don’t mind a shortened version of the tour and fewer birds on display. Here are five reasons why:
- Tours are free and often. Tuesday – Friday from 10:30am to 3:30pm, tours step off every half hour. With so many times available, it’s very likely you’ll get a guide all to yourself! Again, there is no charge for the tour, but donations are appreciated to help care for and rehabilitate the birds.
- In my experience, when I’ve gotten a personal tour, the guide has tailored it to the ages of my children. Don’t worry if your toddler doesn’t have much of an attention span. Or, if you’ve got an inquisitive older child, they can ask as many questions as they like.
- The birds are beautiful! Get up close to bald eagles, kestrels, owls and falcons. The Raptor Center treats about 800 injured birds a year with the goal of releasing them back to the wild.
- Your kids can’t get their hands on the raptors, but there are drawers of objects such as feathers and talons that little ones can touch.
- A children’s corner contains play vet sets, stuffed animals, x-rays, coloring sheets and books if you end up waiting a short time for a tour.
Expect the new exhibits to be complete sometime in June. And here’s another tip: free parking is scarce around the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. If you’ve got some extra time (and a stroller), consider parking on a residential street in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood and walking a few blocks. The Raptor Center is located at 1920 Fitch Ave., Falcon Heights, MN 55108.