Oh, the long-suffering life of a blogger’s husband. He pleasantly suggests a local afternoon swim on a hot, sunny Saturday and his wife is in a frenzy the next hour trying to figure out a way to maximize by turning it into a road trip filled with blog-fodder. Simply hitting up a local beach wouldn’t do; I’d already covered them ad nauseum on FFTC. I wanted to get out of the Metro, but not so far that the kids had to spend hours trapped in the car. Where to go? Hello, Buffalo Minnesota!
This inspiration struck when I remembered an item a friend had shared from her summer bucket list: the Buffalo Rotary Music Trail, a perfect hour’s drive from our home in St. Paul. The trail, dotted with interactive percussion instruments, winds itself from the center of downtown Buffalo to the beach of Buffalo Lake. And, as we discovered when we arrived, there are several other things to do only a stone’s throw from the town square. Here are 6 of them – and, for reference, we parked downtown and were able to easily walk to the first five stops on the list:
Best things to do in Buffalo Minnesota with kids & family
Head for the downtown splash pad
1st Avenue South, Buffalo MN
It’s a series of simple fountains, really, but it got the job done when it came to keeping the kids cool during our picnic lunch. The splash pad is within walking distance of downtown businesses, has picnic tables, and is the origin of the oversized instruments of the Buffalo Rotary Music Trail. Yes, we wore our swimsuits in anticipation.
Shop the Buffalo farmers market
100 1st Avenue, Buffalo MN
If the kids are looking for a sweet treat downtown, look no further than across the street from the splash pad. Gorgeous golden Colorado peaches were going for $2.50 and the market is open daily from 8am-noon during the summer.
Take the Buffalo Rotary Music Trail
The public art that launched our day trip begins at the splash pad in the center of downtown with two xylophones that managed to provide fairly peaceful ambient music for our picnic. The trail continues across the street on a very doable-with-young-kids walk to Sturges Park beach with instrumental stops along the way. All of my kids (ages 3-10) loved the chance to make music.
Swim at Sturges Park Beach
205 Lake Blvd S, Buffalo, MN 55313
The sandy beach is unguarded and has a boat launch, but this didn’t impede on our fun. For a second swimming option, there’s a popular guarded beach on nearby Lake Pulaski in Griffing Park. Both beaches have play structures and picnic facilities and Sturges Park typically hosts free concerts at the park’s pavilion Thursday nights from June-August.
Rent paddleboats and kayaks at Sturges Park on Buffalo Lake
Available to rent are fishing boats, paddle boats, kayaks, canoes, bikes and games to play in the park.
Play disc golf at West Pulaski Park
2021 Westridge Ct, Buffalo, MN 55313
This was the only activity not within walking distance of the city center and we selected this park specifically for its disc golf course. Got to keep in mind that we have a spread of ages in this family and it’s becoming increasingly important to seek out activities that we can enjoy alongside our older kids. There’s also a playground, a small sculpture garden, and lake access within the park.
Is your family in search of a swimming spot about an hour from the Minneapolis-St Paul metro area? One in which you don’t have to feel shackled to your car once you arrive? There are probably dozens more for our family to explore, but Buffalo fit the bill that day.
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Anne also recommends these other day trips from the Twin Cities:
- Family Day Trip: LARK Toys in Kellogg, Minnesota
- Family Day Trip: National Eagle Center, Wabasha
- Family Day Trip: 10 Things To Do in New Ulm, Minnesota
- Family Day Trip: 10 Things To Do in Zimmerman, MN
- Family Day Trip: 6 Things to Do Near Taylors Falls, Minnesota
- Family Day Road Trip: 10 Things To Do in Albert Lea, Minnesota