Tag - Elm Creek Park Reserve

Snow Tubing for the Family
Fall Family Fun List: Weekend of October 4-5
Farewell to Summer: Readers’ Suggestions for Family Fun
Summertime Together: Elm Creek Park Reserve Play Area

Snow Tubing for the Family

Sure the temperatures are subzero and sure we can barely move in all our layers, but we’re Minnesotans.  We love this kind of weather!  Let’s get busy on the snowy hills! Read More

Fall Family Fun List: Weekend of October 4-5

Bundle up and head outside for these classic fall family events, heavy on the apples and autumn colors. All of these activities come with a fee attached, but we tried to pick ones that we thought were reasonable for families. For our list of FREE weekend events, check over here and for our complete Family Fun Calendar for this weekend and beyond, head over here. Thanks for stopping by!


Fall on the Farm
Where: Eidem Homestead, 4345 101st Ave N., Brooklyn Park, MN , 55444
When: 12 – 3pm
Cost: $6/adults, $4/kids 4-12
Ages: Appropriate for all ages
Details: It’s harvest time on the historic Eidem Homestead! Join in for harvesting activities, cider pressing and pumpkin carving.

Apples Galore
Where: Dodge Nature Center, Farm Entrance at 1701 Charlton Street, West St. Paul, MN
When: 1 – 2:30pm
Cost: $7/pp or $20/family (non-member), $5/pp or $15/family (member)
Ages: Designed for all ages
Details: Hike to the apple orchard for tastings and press them for fresh juice. Educational for all ages. Pre-registration is required.


Where: The Landing – Minnesota River Heritage Park, 2187 Highway 101 East
Shakopee, MN 55379
When: October 4 – 5 • 10am – 5pm
Cost: $5/adults, $3/ages 2 – 17, 65+
Ages: Appropriate for all ages
Details: Learn how German immigrants harvested and processed apples, play games and ride a horse-drawn trolley.

Weekend Family Fun: Fantastic Foliage
Where: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum‘s Learning Center
When: October 4 – 5 • 12 – 4pm
Cost: $13/ages 13+
Ages: Appropriate for all ages
Details: Learn about leaves and why they turn those gorgeous colors in fall, participate in leafy crafts and complete a scavenger hunt. Take time to explore the Arboretum grounds and, kids, spend some time in the Green Play Yard.

Fall Color Tram Tour
Where: Eastman Nature Center at Elm Creek Park Reserve, 12400 James Deane Pkwy, Maple Grove, MN 55369
When: October 4 – 5 • Tours run on the hour from 1 – 5pm.
Cost: $5/pp, 20% discount for groups of 4+
Ages: Best for kids who can tolerate a decent ride.
Details: Registration required (763.559.6700 only). Enjoy the fall foliage from the comfort of a tram. Take in an apple cidering demonstration Sunday only from 1 – 4pm.


Wood Lake Sunday Special: Apple Cidering
Where: Wood Lake Nature Center, 6710 Lakeshore Dr, Richfield, MN
When: 1 – 4pm
Cost: $3/pp
Ages: Appropriate for all ages
Details: Mill and press apples into cider.

Farewell to Summer: Readers’ Suggestions for Family Fun

We hosted a giveaway the other week and asked readers to leave a comment sharing one family activity they hoped to squeeze in before summer’s end. There were so many good suggestions it seemed fitting to incorporate them into a post. Need a little inspiration for that last summer hurrah? Here’s what our readers had to say:

Walker on the Green – artist designed mini-golf

Mini-golfing – which was appropriate, as the readers were vying for tickets to play the Walker on the Green course at Walker Art Center. The cost of 9 holes ($12/adults, $9/kids ages 7-12) or 18 holes ($18/adults, $13.50/kids) is probably the priciest you’ll find around town, but consider this — children under 6 are free with a paid adult, and each ticket includes admission to the Walker galleries. The Walker’s course is also artist-designed and very entertaining for kids. Read more about our family golf night at the Walker here. Keep in mind the course is open through Labor Day, September 1.

For more places to putt before the weather turns, check out this Star Tribune article published back in June.

photo credit: Three Rivers Park District

Elm Creek Swimming Pond – at Elm Creek Park Reserve, the largest parcel in the Three Rivers Park District. The pond has chlorinated water, a sandy beach, concessions, changing facilities and a giant playground nearby. The pond is open 9am – 8pm daily through Labor Day and levies a fee of $4/pp (kids under 1 yr. free) or $12 season pass/pp. There is no charge to enter the park or play on the equipment. 12420 James Deane Parkway, Maple Grove, MN 55369.

Como Town Splash Zone!

Como Town – Filled with rides and attractions to suit the 2 to 12-year-old, Como Town Amusement Park is the ideal size to make a day of it. Don’t miss Hodge Podge Park’s Splash Zone if the weather is steamy, or the Soaring Eagle Zip Ride! Convenient ticket options include purchasing an unlimited ride wristband ($21.95 or $14.95 after 4pm and only $7.95 for adults) or buying a point package (see all options here). Admission to the park itself is free, as is the adjacent and immensely popular Como Park Zoo & Conservatory. Como Town is open weekends through September 28. 1301 Midway Parkway
St Paul, MN 55103

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum – I loved this suggestion and wished I’d made it out to Walnut Grove myself this summer. The annual Wilder Pageant days are over for the season, but the museum dedicated to the beloved author of the Little House books is open through October. You can find the museum hours here, as well as information about seeking out other landmarks from Laura’s days in the Plum Creek area. 330 8th St., Walnut Grove, MN, 56180.

Surrey bikes at Minnehaha Falls – Pedal through scenic Minnehaha Park, past the Falls made famous by Longfellow, on surrey bikes operated by Wheel Fun Rentals. For a complete list of the contraptions available and their hourly charge, click here. The bikes rent daily through Labor Day and fall weekends through October 19, 11am – 6pm. A second location to rent in Minneapolis is at Lake Nokomis. 4801 S. Minnehaha Park Dr., Minneapolis, MN 55417.

Fort Snelling

Fort Snelling – Explore life on the fort in the early 1800s– before the Twin Cities existed! Peek inside barracks, talk to costumed interpreters, and listen for the roar of the cannon. Labor Day Weekend at Fort Snelling hosts “Minnesota and the First World War”, a new special event that delves into the Fort’s role in training soldiers for World War 1. Hours: Saturday, August 30 – Monday, September 1 from 10am – 5pm. Admission: $11/adults, $9/seniors & active military with ID, $6/kids 6-17, free/children under 5 and MHS members. Fort Snelling is open Saturdays 10am – 5pm, Sept. – Oct. 200 Tower Ave, St Paul, MN 55111.

photo credit: Three Rivers Park District

Gale Woods Farm – There are plenty of opportunities left to experience Saturday Mornings on the Farm at Gale Woods. The barn will be open, the animals ready for their close-ups, and your help will be appreciated for seasonal chores. Cost is $5/pp with a 20% discount on groups of 4 or more. Hours: Saturdays through September 27, 9:30am – 12pm. 7210 County Road 110 W., Minnetrista, MN 55364.

Paddleboarding – Great idea! Try Wheel Fun Rentals at Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, and Lake Nokomis (through Labor Day!) in Minneapolis or keep Lake Phalen in St. Paul in mind for next summer (as rentals are now closed).

Drive-in movies – I’d keep Vali-Hi Drive-In in mind for a date night, though you can’t beat the price of a kid’s ticket – only a buck for children 6 – 12 and free for kids under 5. $8.50 per adult is good for three movies, cash only. Box office opens at 7pm Fri-Sat and 7:30pm Sun-Thurs. Movies start at dusk at the last remaining drive-in theater in the Twin Cities. 11260 Hudson Blvd. N., Lake Elmo, MN, 55042.


The Minnesota State Fair – We’d be remiss not to mention the final bash of the summer, but since we’ve been yammering on about it nearly nonstop lately, I thought I’d hide it here at the bottom. Last, but definitely NOT least! Head out to the Minnesota State Fair August 21 – September 1 and be sure to check out some of our tips before you go.

Thanks to all the readers who sent in their suggestions; we’re happy to pass them along! Enjoy the final days of the season.

Summertime Together: Elm Creek Park Reserve Play Area

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Hours: 5:00 AM–10:00 PM
Phone: 763.694.7894 (Elm Creek Chalet)

12400 James Deane Parkway
Maple Grove, MN 55369





In the North
Elm Creek Park Reserve is on the far northwestern corner of the Twin Cities. In fact, Highway 610 doesn’t yet go much farther than the exit to get off at the park.

You would be hard-pressed to find a kid who won’t like Elm Creek Park Reserve’s Play Area.  Our family affectionately calls it the Rainbow Park.

After parking in the lot, you cross a bridge or run through the grass to begin this amazing playground experience.  It has all the traditional fun of the playground fort and slides (but on steroids since the slides are 25 feet long).  Beyond that, though, there are so many other features of this playground that are hard to explain, and I am up for the challenge to try.


First of all, we call it the rainbow park because a big chunk of the playground is covered in recycled tires–whatever those rubbery mats are made of–that is a a beautiful rainbow pattern.  The colors are bright.  The mat goes up a steep incline to the base of the slide fort.  At the top of the incline sits a bench with a covering creating a perfect Parent Perch to look over the entire playground and be close to the fort if someone needs help although the fort is designed so well that there is really no need.  Parents can join in playing with their kids instead of rescuing them. 




Right next to the incline is a retaining wall that created a perfect place for my 5 year old to practice her daredevil moves.  There is a giant boulder that has a rope ladder from it to the rest of the playground .  The whole thing is surrounded by a fence with only one opening, so it’s easy to protect your little ones. On top of the retaining wall and over to the side are three “swings.”  They don’t look like swings.  They look like saucers hanging down from 2 bungee cords that can easily fit 4 children.  These are the only swings, but my kids couldn’t get enough of them.  They never sat empty for long.


In front of the incline was a structure designed for younger children.  It looked like a lot of fun, but my 2 year old was so happy that he could play almost completely unassisted with the big kids so I only caught him there once.  In front of that structure was a huge sand box.  So bring your sand toys.  Even if you don’t bring your sand toys, your kids will enjoy excavating a 30 foot dinosaur buried in the box.



There were some rope contraptions for older kids to play on (or adventurous 2 year olds) including a big geometric double helix-type structure.  Some sites call it a spiderweb, but it was like two pyramids wrapped together.  The other rope-like construction was this egg shaped gizmo.  I have no idea what it was exactly, but you climbed in the entrance and up to the first level or top level.  There you sat while someone spun you.  Sometimes the egg was at full capacity with 20 kids and other times only my four.

Off to the side of the main playground was another setup (orange and yellow)  and down at the bottom of the incline was yet another (gray and blue).  These constructions included a zipline with a seat, maneuvering devices, and other general playground fun.

The backside of the play area (behind the fort) are woods and there are walking paths that go around the playground through the rest of the park.  The playground even has plenty of green space with a lawn between it and the bathrooms and plenty of picnic tables.

We spent all day there–the only way we were able to leave was by promising them  ice cream.


  • Plenty of places to be able to supervise your children (i.e. Parent Perches)
  • Many different choices
  • Overall safe environment
  • Lots of picnic tables–in shade and in the sun
  • Beautiful woods as a backdrop
  • Clean and easily accessible bathrooms
  • Spacious enough for crowds of children to play without running over the little ones.


  • So many choices, four children could be in four different areas making it difficult to help them all if they needed it.
  • The comfortable seating made it ideal to forget about your children and just relax
  • With crowds of children, it’s easy to lose track of yours. 

My good friend Dacia brought her kids there last week and was amazed.  She texted me saying that it was “over the top.”  And it is.  It’s amazing and you won’t regret bringing your children for a day.  Pack a picnic and your suits (the man-made swimming pond is located close to the play area, but you don’t even see it) and enjoy the day at this amazing park.

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Hours: 5:00 AM–10:00 PM
Phone: 763.694.7894 (Elm Creek Chalet)

12400 James Deane Parkway
Maple Grove, MN 55369

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