Tag - twin cities splash pads

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Summer Fun Bucket List 2017: 101 Ideas For Your Family This Summer
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Opening in May – Twin Cities Area Attractions
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Free Twin Cities May Family Events & Activities
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Twin Cities August Family Events & Activities Guide
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Free Twin Cities August Events & Activities
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Splash Happy: Twin Cities Guide to Beaches, Pools, Water Parks & Splash Pads
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Family Fun: Wabun Park Picnic Area & Wading Pool, Minneapolis
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Family Fun Idea: Best Twin Cities Splash Pad & Thursday Rockin’ Lunch Hour at Nicollet Commons Park
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Staying Busy on a Budget: Five of our Summer Outings Done on the Cheap

Summer Fun Bucket List 2017: 101 Ideas For Your Family This Summer

It’s summer! The birds are chirping, the beaches are beckoning, the kids are home and it’s time to get outside together. Want to fill up your summer fun bucket list but don’t know where to start?

Not a problem – we’ve got you covered. 101 Ideas for Kids this Summer:

Summer Fun

We’ve got your bucket list of 101 Ideas For Your Family Summer Fun

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Opening in May – Twin Cities Area Attractions

tm opening in may

It’s official – Family Fun Twin Cities has SPRING FEVER! Check back often as we’re always adding to this list of Twin Cities-area attractions opening for the season in May 2017.

TWIN CITIES ATTRACTIONS OPENING IN MAY

Caponi Art ParkNOW OPEN: Caponi Art Park | Eagan • Tues-Sun, 9am-8pm • FREE admission, donations appreciated • Wander the trails through the sculpture park and take in free cultural entertainment. Special event: Summer Performance Series, Sundays July-Aug, 6:30pm.

4/28-4/30: Gammelgarden Museum | Scandia • Guided tours Fri-Sun, 1 & 2:30pm • $7/adults, under 13 FREE • 5 historic buildings immerse you in the lives of Swedish immigrants in the mid-1850s. There is no charge to picnic, walk the grounds, seek out the colorful Dala horses, or play on the equipment.

PicMonkey Collage gammelgarden

5/1: Cafesjian’s Carousel | St Paul • Como Park’s famous carousel, open daily through Labor Day, Mon-Fri 10am-4pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm • $2/pp ages 3+

5/6: Wheel Fun Rentals | Lake Calhoun, Minnehaha Falls & Veterans Memorial Park – Richfield • visit the links for complete hours • Rent surreys, choppers, canoes, paddleboards and more.

5/6: Spring on the Farm | Eidem Homestead, Brooklyn Park • 10am-1pm • $6/adults, $4/under 12, under 4/FREE • Greet the farm babies, help with spring planting and other activities. Eidem Homestead will be open for a variety of special events through Dec 2017.

PicMonkey Collage eidem farm

5/6-7: Grand Opening Celebration | Oliver Kelley Farm, Elk River • Noon-5pm • $6-$12/pp, under 5 & MHS members FREE • Be among the first to see the new visitor center and indoor/outdoor exhibits, participate in make-and-takes, demos and see the animals. Upcoming special events include Mother’s Day Weekend (5/13-14) and come out to meet the farm babies in June.

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Free Twin Cities May Family Events & Activities

Free May

5/2: Free Tuesday @ Washington County Parks • find a listing of parks hereExplore Washington County Parks with no vehicle permit required the first Tuesday of the month (non-holiday).

5/2 & 5/4: MayDay Build Workshops | In the Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre, Minneapolis • 7-9pm • Come help create floats for the annual MayDay celebration in Powderhorn Park. Artists will guide volunteers in creating a piece of their own or a contribution to a parade float.

5/5: Friday Family Movie Night: Storks | Edinborough Park, Edina • 6:30pm




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Twin Cities August Family Events & Activities Guide

Twin Cities August Guide

It is our hope that you can use our August Family Events & Activities Guide page as a convenient way to find our traditional Free & Budget lists along with all the special themed activities each month brings. In August we are highlighting one of our absolute favorite events, the Minnesota State Fair, as well as reminding you of all the festivals and outdoor entertainment left to enjoy before summer’s last gasp.  As always, we hope to be inspiration in planning your family time together!

– Anne, Gianna & Joy
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Free Twin Cities August Events & Activities

Ferris-wheel-paint

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Splash Happy: Twin Cities Guide to Beaches, Pools, Water Parks & Splash Pads

As the line between late spring and early summer starts to melt away in the rising temps, it’s time to update our master list of Twin Cities beaches, outdoor swimming pools, water parks and splash pads. Several are anticipating an opening Memorial Day Weekend with dozens more following suit in early June. Find your new splash happy spot from our following suggestions:

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Family Fun: Wabun Park Picnic Area & Wading Pool, Minneapolis

PicMonkey Collage wabun poolOne of my personal favorite park pools — Wabun Park Picnic Area Wading Pool in Minneapolis — was added to our master list of splash pads this summer when I decided to include wading pools in the mix. My reasoning for this was that there are so many good options around town for these hybrids that feature the zero-depth entry and spray features that parents of younger children love along with a little deeper water to practice those swim skills.

Not only does Wabun Park have a pool that fits the above description (and a cool spraying rock structure), it has terrific playground equipment that was just installed last year to replace the old, worn-out stuff. My youngest loves the updated tot lot with a shaded sandy play area and the swaying vintage camper trailer, a nod to the park’s roots as an auto tourist camp.

PicMonkey Collage wabun park

There is also ample covered picnic space at Wabun, perfect for that power lunch before, middle or after a rousing day at the pool and playground.

Bonus idea: If you think your kids might be up to the walk (it’s also possible to drive and park closer to the visitor center at 5000 W River Pkwy, Minneapolis), there’s a path that will take you from the Wabun Park Picnic Area down to Lock and Dam No. 1 on the Mississippi riverfront. The Visitor Promenade is open daily during park hours and little ones might enjoy spotting watercraft moving through the locks from a birds-eye view.

tm lock dam 1(3)

Wabun Park Picnic Area (part of Minnehaha Regional Park)
4655 46th Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55417


Family Fun Idea: Best Twin Cities Splash Pad & Thursday Rockin’ Lunch Hour at Nicollet Commons Park

Quite possibly the best “splash pad” in the Twin Cities award goes to Nicollet Commons Park in Burnsville, a water feature so pretty I’m reluctant to give it the splash pad label. It was, however, built with the hope that the community would do just that — jump right in and splash away the hot summer months.

Family Fun Idea: Best Twin Cities Splash Pad & Thursday Rockin' Lunch Hour at Nicollet Commons Park

Splash Pad at Nicollet Commons

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Staying Busy on a Budget: Five of our Summer Outings Done on the Cheap

To a family of six, the word “free” is magical. I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise to you that I diligently search out free and low-cost outings to entertain my kids — during the summer and otherwise.  Sure, it’s also cheap to stay at home — and we do our fair share of that as well — but have you never noticed how quickly a day of play at home turns into an uncontrollable urge to clean and purge? Personally, I need inexpensive ways to take a break from that feeling. Let me share some that have gotten us (happily) through the beginning of the summer:

Free local swimming holes

If the goal is simply to cool down and get some splashing in, the Metro is flush with options. In fact, far too many public beaches, wading pools and splash pads to list here – and I’ve hardly been to a fraction of them. Some of our favorite sandy spots include beaches at Lake Calhoun (32nd St., Minneapolis), Lake Johanna (Arden Hills), and Snail Lake (Vadnais Heights). Minneapolis has an easy website to navigate its 63 public wading pools. Most are decidedly no-frills, but there are a few exceptions: we had a great time discovering Lake Hiawatha Park (2701 E 44th St., Minneapolis) and its hybrid wading pool-splash pad last week! Maxing out at 2 feet deep with zero-depth entry and some fun fountains, the pool was perfect for the non-swimmers in my group. For more splash pad locations, check out our master list here.

Indoor/outdoor art at Silverwood Park

One Sunday each month during the summer the exceptionally artist-friendly Silverwood Park hosts a free program for kids called Let’s Get StARTed. I brought my girls last weekend to make cloud ID charts (and they’ve since become my little meteorologists). They loved exploring the lake, trails and surprise sculptures that popped up along the way. Silverwood Park is located at 2500 County Rd. E, St. Anthony. There is no charge to visit the park. Remaining dates for the summer series of Let’s Get StARTed are July 20 & August 17.

Your local nature center

Numerous communities surrounding the Twin Cities are curators of these gems. Again, too many to list here, but I’d like to highlight one we visited this week in search of its nature play space. The Maplewood Nature Center (2659 East 7th St., Maplewood) has fashioned a decent outdoor playground filled with stumps, logs (some gargantuan!), boulders, sand, and other materials to spark kids’ connection to the natural world. My kiddos also loved exploring the nature center itself and wandering the boardwalk over the wetlands.

Fun for kids at the U

At least once a year we find a wide-open Wednesday and spend the afternoon at the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus. Why Wednesday? Because that’s the day you can Bowl for a Buck (plus $2 shoe rental) at the U’s St. Paul Student Center. Then, to celebrate a great game, we treat ourselves to a $3.50 pint of ice cream from the U of M’s Dairy Salesroom (1354 Eckles Ave., Falcon Heights – inside the Andrew Boss Lab of Meat Science). We also like to stop in at The Raptor Center (1920 Fitch Ave., Falcon Heights) for one of their free guided tours (suggested donation of $3 per person). In fall of 2014, the Raptor Center, which rehabilitates injured birds of prey, will celebrate 40 years with the grand opening of their renovated bird habitat. Public tours are run Tues – Fri, 10:30am – 3:30pm every 30 minutes and Sat – Sun, 12:30 – 3:30pm every 30 minutes. Parking on neighborhood side streets is available for free, or there’s metered parking on campus.

The library, obviously

But not solely to check out new reads for the summer Bookawocky program! The St. Paul Public Library, Hennepin County Library, and the dozens of county libraries throughout the Metro have jam-packed entertainment lineups. Click on the Events & Classes tab on your local library’s website to access them. I’m seeing great stuff all over the calendar; many favorite acts returning this summer include magician Matt Dunn, Brodini Comedy Magic Show, Bill the Juggler, Snapdragon Seeds, The Bazillions, and Bruce the Bug Guy. Plus, countless crafts, movies and other special events – completely free. We’ve been biking to our local branch at least once a week.


That’s my summer update as we coast into the final week of June. As always, we’d love to hear from you! If you’ve got any tips on where to entertain the kids without breaking the budget, please let us know.


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