Family Fun: Como Park Zoo & Conservatory Summer Checklist

Lazy River at Como Park Pool, Saint Paul Minnesota

Summer is an extremely popular time to visit Como Park Zoo & Conservatory. Yes, you might have to fight a few crowds — especially on the weekends — but the attractions are, in our opinion, worth it. This season, Como is at its best with carousel rides, live music, lawn games, summer blooms and more. That’s why we made this Como Park Summer Checklist Here are ten things to put on your checklist to make a day of it when visiting the animals:

Como Park Summer Checklist:

The Summer Flower Show!

The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory bursts with color during the annual Summer Flower Show.

Family-Friendly Tip:  Fill your water bottles before heading in. It’s beautiful but it is WARM! You’ll be happy to have cold water to sip.

Summer flowers in the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Zoo & Conservatory in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Stroll through the beautiful summer flowers.

Groovin in the Garden

This annual summer concert tradition brings live bands to the grounds in front of the Conservatory Wednesday evenings. Food, treats and drinks are available for purchase or pack a picnic and bring a blanket along for a summer dinner with music. Each week, there is entertainment for children included in the evening. In past years, this has included a bounce house, lawn games and a climbing wall. FREE.

Learn More: Find the more information and other FREE summer concerts here.

Groovin in the Garden - Como Park Summer Checklist
Groovin In The Garden – Great Music and Family Fun

Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden

Did you know that Nagasaki, Japan is a sister city to Saint Paul? Take advantage of the warm weather and meander through this beautiful garden that symbolizes peace. Its tranquil paths, plants and rock bridges may even chill out your kids! Open daily with Conservatory hours.

Make it a Story Break? Bring along A Bowl Full of Peace by Caren Stelson, one of our many talented, local authors of children’s books.  This book and its upper grades companion book, Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story, tell the true story of a young girl who survived the WWII bombing.

Como Town Amusement Park

Had enough tranquility? Head next door. Como Town Amusement Park offers a great mix of rides and attractions that will appeal mainly to kids ages 2-12. They range from the extra-gentle choo-choo train to the Tiger Trax junior roller coaster (and we even know a few adults who really enjoyed the Soaring Eagle zip line). It’s also possible to purchase admission ($5 per child) to play in Hodge-Podge park with its flashy splash pad.

Family-Friendly Tip: Joy has created a handy chart of rides, height requirements, points and corresponding prices here.

Two children giggling on the Frog Hopper ride when Family Fun Twin Cities visited Como Town Amusement Park in Saint Paul Minnesota
Frog Hopper Giggles

Cafesjian’s Carousel

Take a spin on the antique Cafesjian’s Carousel – $3 per rider over 1 year, Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. There are no free days this year, but find their slightly reduced 2021 schedule here.

girl riding cafesjian's carousel at Como Park in Saint Paul Minnesota

Como Park Mini Golf

Play a round of mini golf. The course is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, Mon-Sat: 10am-10pm and Sun: 11am-9pm. Choose to play either 9, 18 or 27 wholes. Prices range from $6-$12/pp depending on age and number of holes played.

Check It Off: If you are working through our list of our list of our favorite Mini Golf Courses in the Twin Cities, you’ll be able to check this one off your list!

Boy playing a game of mini golf at Como Zoo in Saint Paul, Minnesota
Play a family round of mini golf

Como Regional Park Pool

The pool is a bit of a distance from the zoo, but could be worth the walk (or drive) for a little swim time fun!  Prices range from FREE (for kids under 2) to $7/pp.  Tot Times are Sundays from 9:30-11am and are only $4/pp for children 6 and under and their supervising adults.

Budget Hint: Families (or groups) of 5 people or more can get a discounted rate of $5/pp.

Como Park Summer Checklist
Como Regional Park Pool

Sparky the Sea Lion

After a few years of hiatus, Sparky the Sea Lion is BACK in her brand new habitat, Como Harbor. It opened June 3, 2021.

Sparky the Sea Lion at Como Zoo in Saint Paul, Minnesota: Como Park Summer Checklist
Image courtesy Como Zoo

2022 Como Park Summer Checklist

Ride The Zoo Bus!

A FREE Como shuttle runs daily June-Aug and weekends through September 29 (with the exception of State Fair time). Skip the challenge of finding a spot in one of the Zoo lots and instead park at the State Fair lot south of Como Avenue. The accessible shuttle runs 9:30am-6:30pm and drops off a short walk from the visitor center entrance.
Why no shuttle in 2021?: Because capacity is limited, there is enough parking near the zoo that the shuttle is not running this year.

Girraffe colored shuttle bus to Como Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota - Como Park Summer Checklist - Ride the Zoo Shuttle
Ride the Zoo Shuttle

Explore the Zoo with Pre-Ks on Thursdays

Como Lil Explorer Thursdays now run year-round. This preschool program brings weekly themed activities to the 4-and-under set. Think sand tables, sponge painting, worm digs and interactive storytimes. Weekly, 10am-noon. FREE.

2021: This was not brought back for summers in 2021.  We think they might bring it back when school starts. In the meantime, check out these other FREE programs at Como Zoo.

Como Park Japanese Obon Festival

This annual event, usually held in August, brings a collection of Japanese music, dancing, drumming, martial arts and other aspects of the culture to Como. At dusk, lanterns are lit throughout the garden as a symbol of peace. Admission is $3-5/pp.

2021: While it won’t be back this year, the festival is expected to return in 2022.

Japanese Obon Festival: Como Park Summer Checklist


 GET STARTED PLANNING YOUR BEST SUMMER!

Everything under the sun you need to know about family fun this summer in the Twin Cities. Beat boredom and fill your long school break days exploring the best the Twin Cities has to offer in the way of parks, swim spots, community entertainment and local festivals with our Ultimate Summer Events Guide.
The Summer to Remember Adventure returns in 2021. Thanks to our Executive Partner AKASport, it starts June 14 and runs for nine weeks. The summer is full of eight different adventures with the last week as a bonus week. Each week, we choose a winner for that week. And at the end of the summer, we will choose a Grand Prize Winner.

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