I had way too much fun doing the research for this article — poring over trip journals and photos from adventures taken with our growing family as well as mapping out road trips to new destinations this season! It was especially enjoyable to stretch well beyond the borders of the Twin Cities — out of our comfort zone, you could say — to share ideas for family fun. Here’s just a taste of what we came up with. If there’s a favorite you don’t see on the list that you’d like added, please let us know!
5/1: Harkin Store, New Ulm • May weekends, 10am-5pm, Memorial Day-Labor Day open Tues-Sun • $4-$6/pp, FREE for under 5 & MHS members • Explore the 1870s-era general store, still stocked with original merchandise. More family fun in New Ulm: Make a day of it by touring the August Schell Brewery (kids can roam the gardens, seek out the peacocks and guzzle free 1919 draft root beer). Finish with a dip in the sand-bottomed swimming pool at Flandrau State Park – only $5 for a park permit.
5/1: Hinckley Fire Museum, Hinckley • 10am-5pm Tues-Sun • $1-$5/ages 6+, ages 5 & under FREE • Details: Housed in the rebuilt train depot, media and exhibits tell the story of one of Minnesota’s worst modern natural disasters. The material is presented in a sensitive manner. More family fun near Hinckley: On the road to Hinckley, pull over for a couple hours at the Northwest Company Fur Post (opening Memorial Day weekend) for an interactive tour or special event.
5/7: Historic Forestville, Preston • Saturdays in May, 10am-5pm, Memorial Day-Labor Day open 10am-5pm, Thurs-Sat & 12-5pm Sun • Details: Immerse yourself in the bustling remnants of a 19th-century town and interact with the locals. More family fun near Preston: Older kids might enjoy hunting down the disappearing river in Forestville-Mystery Cave State Park.
5/15: Split Rock Lighthouse, Two Harbors • Daily 10am-6pm • $6-$10/pp • Details: Just one of dozens of gems to see along the beautiful shore of Lake Superior. Tours are FREE during the 6/11/16 Open House and also FREE for and geared for kids during the 6/25/16 Children’s Day. Afterwards, stop for a slice at Betty’s Pies.
OPENING MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND – GREATER MINNESOTA
5/21: Wild Mountain’s Alpine Slide & GoKarts, Taylors Falls • opens 11am, see website for complete hours • $3.99-$8.49 per ride • Details: Minnemama Adventures spent a day at Wild Mountain last summer and her detailed post can be found here. More family fun near Taylors Falls: One day in the area might not be enough; here are 6 Things to Do Near Taylors Falls, including a climb up, down and all around the Pothole Trail at Interstate State Park.
5/28: Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site, Little Falls • Thu-Sat 10 am-5 pm, Sun Noon-5 pm • $6-$8/pp, FREE for under 5 & MHS members • Details: All ages can explore the interactive exhibits in the Visitor Center and horse around in the adjoining Charles A. Lindbergh State Park. Older kids and adults might like a tour through the home Lindy grew up in.
5/28: Evergreen Gifts & Fun Park, Park Rapids • 10am-6pm weekends, 10am-4pm weekdays • wristband prices here • Details: Growing up we knew this spot as World of Christmas; now we bring our own kids for mini-golf, laser tag, bumper boats, train rides and all the rest. More family fun near Park Rapids: Crossing the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi at Itasca State Park — how much more Minnesotan can kids get? Not to mention that you could lose yourself for days within the recreational opps at the park.
5/28: Northwest Company Fur Post, Pine City • Mon 10am-5pm, Thurs-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm • $6-$10/pp, FREE for under 5 & MHS members • Details: The reconstructed fur trading post comes alive with costumed interpreters, demonstrations and special events such as War of 1812 Family Day on 6/4/16.
5/28: Fort Ridgely Historic Site, Fairfax • 10am-5pm • $4-$6/66, FREE for under 5 & MHS members • Details: Opening Day – visit exhibits inside the restored commissary, explore the parade grounds and ruins of the outpost. Refreshments will be provided.
5/28: Jeffers Petroglyphs, Comfrey (SW) • Mon 10am-5pm, Wed-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm • $6-$8/pp, FREE under 5 & MHS members • Details: Kids can get hands-on in the visitor center, take an Adventures in Nature or craft something unique during Make American Indian Pottery Day. • More family fun nearby: Step back into the pages of Laura Ingalls Wilder at the namesake museum in nearby Walnut Grove or catch the Wilder Pageant weekends in July. Little trainiacs might enjoy a trip to the End-o-Line Railroad Park & Museum a few miles away in Currie.
5/28: Soudan Underground Mine Tours @ Soudan Underground Mine State Park, Tower/Soudan area • tours daily, 10am-4pm • $12/adults, $7/ages 5-12, under 5 FREE • Details: Travel 1/2 underground to explore the depths of an iron-ore mine as it was left in the 1960s.