We love to promote local family activities and events and we hope it shows in this weekend’s highlights! For more ideas, please visit our Family Fun Calendar here or explore our Family Fun Directory. Both are filled with inspiration on how to make the best of these last few weeks of summer! Read More
Ready to put the holidays behind you? Read on for some ideas on how to spend the first weekend of the new year on the cheap! And as always, check our Family Fun Calendar for a complete list of what’s going on for families in the Twin Cities this weekend and beyond.
Saturday, January 3, 2014
Walker First Free Saturday: Birthday Bash
@ Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Time: 10am – 3pm
Details: Come help celebrate the Walker’s 75 years as a public art center with time-traveling performances, artful cupcakes, photo portraits, and special activities designed for kids ages 6-12 (though don’t let that scare you away from bringing your littler ones – all ages will have fun!).
Nature Rocks! Outdoor Center Open House
@ Staring Lake Outdoor Center
13765 Staring Lake Parkway, Eden Prairie, Minnesota 55347
Time: 9am – noon
Details: Enjoy free family-friendly activities such as hiking, interactions with live animals, craft projects and more. The event is held the first Saturday of each month.
Saturday Drop-in Discoveries: Cockatoo Corner
@ Tamarack Nature Center
5287 Otter Lake Road, White Bear Township, MN 55110
Time: 10am – noon
Details: The ongoing program (held the first Saturday of the month now through February 2015) features up-close visits with live animals, including Tamarack’s resident owls, snakes and salamanders. Kids can get hands-on with touchable artifacts, and sample edible treats from the Discovery Hollow garden.
Sunday, January 4, 2014
Free on-going Sunday activities:
Bell Museum Free Sundays
@ The Bell Museum of Natural History
10 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455
Time: Noon – 5pm
Details: Admission is free every Sunday at The Bell – take the kids into the Touch & See Discovery Room to get hands-on with natural artifacts or take a scavenger hunt through the dioramas.
Free Family Fun Days: Feed Me!
@ Carl Kroening Interpretive Center in North Mississippi Regional Park
4900 North Mississippi Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55430
Time: 1 – 3pm
Details: Drop in throughout the afternoon for hands-on family activities. Stay to explore the kid-friendly exhibits and the live animal room.
Time: 1 & 3:30pm
Details: Featuring Allegro, Cantabile, Cantando, and Cantar. A freewill donation will be collected. Note: The Sundays at Landmark program will be held January 4 & January 18.
To get you started this weekend, here are 4 FREE Twin Cities events going on that we (and many of our kids!) have given the stamp of approval. For a complete listing of weekend events both free and paid, be sure to check out our Family Fun Calendar!
Doing Good Together’s Family Service Fair
at Midtown Global Market
920 E Lake St., Minneapolis, MN 55407
Date: Friday, November 21 • 5 – 8pm
Cost: FREE event, free parking (1.5 hrs w/ vendor validation)
Appropriate for: All ages can participate in the service projects.
Details: A fun, low-commitment way to get out and volunteer with the whole family! Twin Cities-based nonprofits set up tables with service projects kids will enjoy doing right on the spot. (Photo at left is my son decorating lunch bags for recipients of Meals on Wheels.) This is a great opportunity to have conversations with your kids about the importance of giving back.
Math & Science Family Fun Fair
at the University of Minnesota – Minneapolis campus
Coffman Memorial Union Building
300 Washington Ave. S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455
Date: Saturday, November. 22 • 10am – 4pm
Cost: FREE; find parking ramp rates here.
Appropriate for: All ages, but preschoolers on up will get the most out of it.
Details: It’s a day jam-packed with hands-on STEM fun. (And this is coming from a mom who didn’t appreciate math and science until she had her own kids!) Highlights include free ExploraDome shows, playing with robots, and really cool exhibits that truly get kids excited about chemistry, engineering, physics and much more. Get the complete schedule here and note that the special “Physics Force” and “Energy and U” shows require (free) tickets that are picked up at the event check-in. My own kids had a blast at this event; plan to spend several hours.
Bachman’s Holiday Open House
at Bachman’s on Lyndale
6010 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55419
Dates: Saturday, Nov. 22 & Sunday, Nov. 23
Appropriate for: All ages
Details: Don’t miss Santa and his right-hand elf, Albert, arriving by sleigh (Saturday only) at 10:30am! Crafts for kids, treats, and demonstrations follow inside the festive store. Bachman’s traditional holiday play (this year’s title is “Santa’s Top Secret Toys”) is a real kid-pleaser and will be performed at 11am, 12:30pm, and 2pm weekends through December 21. Grab a seat early for the play; they fill up fast.
Free Family Fun Day: River of Thanks
at Karl Kroening Interpretive Center, North Mississippi Regional Park
4900 Mississippi Court
Minneapolis, MN 55430
Date: Sunday, November 23 • 1 – 3pm
Appropriate for: All ages
Details: Drop in and explore a different topic each week through hands-on activities. Most are science and nature-based. Got a preschooler? They’ll probably enjoy the interpretive center’s exhibits geared towards the youngest visitors: set up a pretend farmer’s market, build in a make-believe brickyard, put together puzzles, and curl up with a good book.
Enjoy your weekend wherever it may take you!
Our Wish List this weekend features a round-up of Egg-centric activities taking place across the Metro. Note that due to the Easter holiday, all activities listed are taking place Friday (perfect for that day off of school?) and Saturday. All events here have a small fee attached; look for our list of free options to come later this week. For more inspiration, be sure to check our Family Fun Calendar!
Egg Trail & Rabbit Habits
Richardson Nature Center @ Hyland Lake Park Reserve
8737 E Bush Lake Rd., Bloomington, MN 55438
Friday, April 18 & Saturday, April 19, 9:30am – 12:30pm
Cost: $5/person, reservations required (763-694-7676)
Hike through the woods around the nature center in search of colorful wooden eggs. Learn about and see live animals that come from eggs, make a craft and enjoy a snack.
Eastman Nature Center @ Elm Creek Park Reserve
13351 Elm Creek Rd., Osseo, MN 55369
Friday, April 18, 10am – 2pm
Cost: $5/person in advance, $6/at door
Reservations preferred (763-559-6700)
Drop in anytime for games, live bunnies and treats. Bring your own hard-boiled eggs to try out natural dyes and then search for more on the grounds of the nature center.
Spring Eggstravaganza: Rock Hunt
Lowry Nature Center @ Carver Park Reserve
7025 Victoria Dr., Victoria, MN 55386
Friday, April 18 & Saturday, April 19, 10am – 3pm
Cost: $5/person in advance, $6/at door (763-559-6700)
Bring your own basket to hunt for colorful rocks (2-8 yrs.) or hidden secret messages (8 yrs.+). The rocks and decoded messages can be traded for a bag of treats! Other activities include face painting, crafts, and live animals.
Rabbits & Raindrops Puppet Show
Maplewood Nature Center
2659 E 7th St., Maplewood, MN 55119
Friday, April 18, 10:30am – 11:30am
Cost: $2/child, register at 651-249-2170
Enjoy this springtime puppet show based on Jim Arnosky’s book Rabbits & Raindrops.
North Mississippi Regional Park
4900 Mississippi Court, Minneapolis, MN 55430
Saturday, April 19, 10am – 12pm
Cost: $5/person, reservations required (763-559-6700)
Using natural materials, create a protective cover for your egg and see how far you can drop it (without breaking it!) All materials provided.
James J. Hill House Easter Egg Hunt
240 Summit Ave., St. Paul, MN 55102
Saturday, April 19, 10am – 11am
Cost: $6/person, $4/MHS member
Reservations strongly recommended (651-297-2555)
Kids ages 2-7 search in designated zones around the Hill House lawn for trinket-filled Easter eggs. Inside the mansion are stories, treats, and history to explore.
Are you sensing a theme this Saturday?
Live it up because we’ve got an extra hour to sleep in Sunday morning! (Parents can dream, right?) Daylight savings kicks in Sunday, November 3. Plan accordingly in the event you’re looking for something fun to do with the family this weekend!
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Dia de los Muertos: Sugar and Skulls
Kroening Interpretive Center, North Mississippi Regional Park
10am – 4pm, $5 per participant
Reservations required: 763-559-6700
Celebrate the Mexican holiday “Day of the Dead” while learning about animal skulls and skeletons, then decorating your own candy skulls. Traditional crafts, mask-making and more.
Dia de los Muertos: Day of the Dead
Minnesota History Center
345 W. Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul
Noon-4pm; $11/adults, $9/students, $6/children 6-17
Free ages 5 & under
Mexican cultures observe this “Day of Dead” to better connect with ancestors. The History Center will offer dancing, music, crafts, food and a traditional Ofrenda (offerings) display.
Saturday Matinees for Kids: Skeletons in the Closet
Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre
1500 East Lake Street, Minneapolis
Showtimes: 10am & noon; Make-and-take: 11am
Cost: $2-$4 suggested donation for show, $5 per craft & $3 per accompanying adult
This bilingual puppet show is a tale of children discovering their ancestors while learning about El Dia de lost Muertos. Stay after the show for a themed family craft workshop. Get the complete Saturday Matinee schedule here.
Saturday & Sunday, November 3, 2013
ExploraDome Show at the Bell Museum of Natural History
University Ave. & 17th Ave. SE, Minneapolis (U of M campus)
2 p.m. Andromeda’s Treasure
3 p.m. Zoom! From Earth to the Edge of the Universe
4 p.m. Andromeda’s Treasure
Admission: ExploraDome tickets are sold separately from Bell Museum admission.
Show admission: $6/adults & seniors, $4 UMN students & children 3-17, free under 3.
Museum + Show package: $11/adults, $9/seniors, $7 students and children ages 3-17
Remember: The Bell Museum is free every Sunday!
I tell you, the week absolutely flies by when it’s my turn to come up with the weekend activity lists. That part of the job is not actually so pleasant (really, I don’t need things to move any faster around here), but what I do enjoy is getting inspired to spend family time at some really cool places around town. And since I’ve got a little time on my hands this weekend, here’s what I came up with to choose from — and share with you all as well:
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Cinderella Storytime with Children’s Theatre Company
Red Balloon Bookshop
891 Grand Ave., St. Paul
Perhaps you’ve got some princess attire left over from Halloween? Pull it back out and hit this special Cinderella storytime at Red Balloon courtesy the Children’s Theatre Company. And watch for a special Cinderella ticket giveaway coming soon from Family Fun Twin Cities.
First Free Saturday: What’s Happening!
Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis
10am – 3pm
Nokomis Urban Craft Fair
Lake Nokomis Community Center
2401 E. Minnehaha Pkwy., Minneapolis
9am – 3pm
Joy’s also got a great suggestion for a place to start shopping for those Christmas presents if you’re interested in buying from local vendors. The Lake Nokomis Community Center will host 30 craft vendors this Saturday to get you inspired for the holidays.
Free Ink Day: Dia de los Muertos
Highpoint Center for Printmaking
912 West Lake Street, Minneapolis
1 – 5pm
4 times per year, Highpoint Center invites the public to drop in, hand-carve and print with relief blocks, and take the creations home. This season’s Free Ink Day will honor the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
Free Family Fun Day: Nature Play
Richardson Nature Center
8737 East Bush Lake Road, Bloomington
Explore the natural world with your family every Sunday in November from 3-4pm at Richardson Nature Center. Free Family Fun Day is also offered every Sunday from 1-3pm in November at the Karl Kroening Interpretive Center in North Mississippi Regional Park.
As always, please consider consulting our Free Calendar for more ideas for this weekend and beyond!
This is a great weekend for free family activities. As much as I should be at home cleaning, repairing things that have broken and preparing for the fast approaching winter, I plan on playing all weekend. I have a list of things I’ll be doing, plus a bunch of other things I would do if I had the time. I might do some housework, too. We’ll see. There’s always next weekend.
Talk of the Stacks with Dessa
Minneapolis Central Library – Pohlad Hall
300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
Friday, October 25, 2013; 7:00 pm
I did not put this on the calendar because it is probably not appropriate for smaller kids. I think my 8-year-old could go and behave, but she wouldn’t have fun. My preschoolers would create havoc. So I’ve hired a babysitter for Friday night. Still I’m putting this on the list, because if you have an older kid who enjoys the Twin Cities’ local music offerings, this could be enjoyable for both them and you. It sounds like this will be more along the lines of a poetry reading than a concert, but Dessa sounds great whether she’s singing or reciting her poetry. If you are unfamiliar with Dessa, you can hear her music below.
Friday Night Public Viewing: The Milky Way’s Black Hole Has a Feast
Tate Laboratory of Physics, University of Minnesota
116 Church Street Southeast Minneapolis, MN 55455
Friday, October 25, 2013; 8:00 pm
My husband looked at me like I was stupid when I said, “Did you know there is a giant black hole in the middle of the Milky Way?” Apparently this is common knowledge. At any rate, it is currently in the process of eating a giant cloud of gas. I didn’t know any of this until I read up on it at the Society for Science News for Students. I’d recommend sharing the article with your young astronomer before heading out to see it for yourself at the Friday Night Viewing.
FRIDAY AND SATURDAYBallet Minnesota Fall Concert – Rite of Spring & Morning in Beijing The O’Shaughnessy
St Catherine University, St Paul Friday, October 25, 2013; 7:30 pm Saturday, October 26, 2013; 2:00 p.m. Saturday, October 26, 2013; 7:30 p.m.
We ordered our free tickets for this several weeks ago and my daugther and I have been waiting impatiently to go to our real live ballet performance. This is another outing that I can’t imagine taking my preschool boys to, so my babysitter — who constantly tells me that I under-employ her — will get a twofer this weekend. I just checked the website and it doesn’t look like the concert has sold out yet; it says tickets are available at the door. I’d probably call to make sure at this point though. 651-690-6700. If you want to make this outing extra special, you could pair it with When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky by local author Lauren Stringer. The book gives a short history of the opening night of Rite of Spring.
SATURDAYSpooky Storytime and Magic Show with Matt Youngbauer at the Red Balloon Bookshop Red Balloon Bookshop 891 Grand Ave., St. Paul, MN. 55105 Saturday, October 26, 2013; 10:30 a.m.
Join local children’s librarian, Matt Youngbauer, for a seasonally spooky storytime. The fun will include less-than-scary stories, poems and magic tricks.
Free Family Fun Day: Unbeatable Bats Carl Kroenig Interpretive Center 4900 Mississippi Court, Minneapolis, MN 55430 Sunday, October 23, 2013; 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Joy Peters is a co-founder of Family Fun Twin Cities.
Closer to the Center of the Twin Cities (But more North), you will find North Mississippi Regional Park just off Interstate 94, spreading north and south of 49th Ave, you will find this long narrow park on the banks of the Mississippi River. From the playground proper, you can’t see the river, but it’s there–on the other side of the trees. This park is the collaborative effort between the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and Three Rivers Park District.
I am not kidding about the long and narrow park. When Mississippi Drive borders one side and the Mighty Mississipp’ borders the other, it’s not a broad park. What it loses in width, it makes up for in length. The park is between 1/2 to 1 mile wide (it varies), but approximately 12 miles long between 42nd Ave. and 53rd Ave.
My kids wanted you to see the Rock Table. “Mom! We should have had our picnic on around the rock table!”
It is filled with access to the river, reconstructed prairie, the Carl Kroening Interpretive Center, and the reason we came on this day:
The Play Area.
What a play area it was!
The four main features of the park included
- the climbing equipment–the traditional playground. It was huge.
- the sand toys–again huge. Probably one of the best “sandboxes” in town.
- the big, grassy field. To just run! Run! Run! (A mom’s dream come true!)
- the unique wading pool! With zero depth entry and a rock from which streams of water poured, the kids could hardly contain themselves.
The playground itself was huge. My kids climbed and played and swung and ran around. The playground is easily accessible for the disabled. If you have a wheelchair with you, you will want to avoid the sand box *plenty of paths around it), but the play equipment has ramps on one side and climbing apparatuses on the other.
They ran through the grassy field with their aunt. It’s the perfect place for a pick up game of ultimate frisbee or soccer. Or you can simply frolic!
They dug in the sand to their hearts content. A spigot to make wet sand was available and you could create channels and rivers or a fort with a moat.
Like I said, though, my kids couldn’t wait to get in the water. And I couldn’t blame them. This is one rockin’ wading pool. It’s absolutely frigid, but for the dog days of August, it’s a perfect retreat for both adults and kids.
By 3:00 pm, we were the only ones left in the entire play area.
- The bathrooms were fairly clean and nice. They had a funky odor, but I didn’t want to explore what that was.
- There was so much to choose from to do.
- Picnic tables for everyone. Those in wheelchairs, those who are less than four feet tall, and those in a large group.
- The cool wading pool.
- The play area is so big that there were times when I couldn’t see my children. I would have physically followed them around except that I didn’t want to lug 3 heavy bags with me.
- Did I mention the wading pool water was cold? Refreshing? Yes! The temperature of Lake Superior? Pretty comparable!
North Mississippi Regional Park Play Area is definitely fun. The wading pool is definitely this family’s favorite part!
North Mississippi Regional Park
Hours: 6:00 AM–10:00 PM
5114 North Mississippi Drive
Minneapolis, MN 55430