I nearly forgot that my 4-year-old’s maple syruping field trip is tomorrow. Can you blame me? My body – and the thermometer on the garage – are still telling me it’s the dead middle of winter! But despite the chill, my daughter and her class will be off to the Dodge Nature Center to learn how sap is collected from sugar maple trees and then boiled until it is closer to the stuff we pour over pancakes.
It’s a pretty interesting – and fairly DIY – process. If you can find the time, there are a host of places around the Twin Cities that offer maple syruping events. Some are fancy affairs complete with pancake breakfasts. Others are more casual demos down at your local Minnesota State Park. Family Fun Twin Cities is currently putting together a list of family-friendly venues to learn about maple syruping this spring. Sweet syrup fact: the sap flows best from mid-March to mid-April when temps are close to 40 during the day and below freezing at night. Those temps sound pretty good right now!
To get you started (and planning ahead because some of these events require advance registration), here are some places set to tap their trees in the next couple of weeks:
Dodge Nature Center: It’s Maple Syrup Time!
365 Marie Avenue West, West St. Paul
March 22 & 29, 2014
1 – 2:30pm
Adults & children over 2 yrs/$7 or $20 per family
Reservations required – class will fill!
Event includes a tree tapping demonstration, a visit to the evaporator, and a chance to sample. Special pancake breakfasts will also be held at Dodge Nature Center on March 15 only. Six time slots are available to enjoy breakfast and a maple syruping demonstration. The cost is $5 per adult and $2.50 per child with advance reservations required. For more details, visit this link.
Fort Snelling State Park: Maple Syruping in Your Backyard
101 Snelling Lake Road, West St. Paul
March 9, 15, 16, 22, 29, 30, 2014
1 – 2:30pm
Program is free; a $5 State Park day pass is required to enter the park. Reservations are not necessary.
We have personally attended this program at Fort Snelling State Park a couple times as a family. It starts with an indoor lecture that might make the little ones antsy, but the hike outside is easy, the sap demonstration is fun, and we poured our syrup over ice cream afterwards!
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum: Maple Syrup at the Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska
Maple Syrup Tours – March 22, 2014 (9am – 2pm)
Sugar House Open House – March 29 & April 5, 2014 (noon – 4pm)
Program included with $12 Arboretum admission ages 13 & up.
Visit the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Sugar House for a look at sap being cooked into syrup and get a taste of the fresh product. The Arboretum will also be hosting a Sugarbush Pancake Brunch on March 22 from 9am – 1pm in the Visitor Center. Tickets include the meal plus Arboretum admission and cost $11.50 ages 8 & older, $6 ages 4 – 7, and those under 4 eat free.
Stay tuned for more maple syrup events posted throughout the week. And in the meantime, think spring!