Carl Kroening Interpretive Center and North Mississippi Regional Park, where it is located, have been jointly operated by Three Rivers Parks and the Minneapolis Parks. However, in June 2016, MRPB took over responsibility for the center. As part of their management, the park plans to have naturalists on site to provide customer and visitor service.
"Nature in the City" interactive exhibits
MPRB announced in June of 2018, that the existing exhibits, which date back to the building's opening in 2002, have been partially dismantled due to safety concerns. Having been there, I would say this is being done with an overabundance of caution. I saw nothing as a parent that concerned me.
However, new is good! The dismantled exhibits will soon be replaced with a "Nature in the City" theme, which will incorporate hands-on citizen science and topics such as water; native plants and pollinators; and urban wildlife.
We contacted MPRB to get more details on the updates and we were told,
"we’ll keep and upgrade the flyway (all of the mounted birds in the main hallway), most likely reuse some of the maps, and find alternate uses for tree cookies and old tools. It is highly unlikely the car will remain – many of its parts have broken off over the last 16 years – and it doesn’t fit with the new exhibit theme of Nature in the City. Fabrication and installation of the new exhibits will not occur till sometime next year."
Family Fun at Carl Kroening Interpretive Center
North Mississippi Regional Park's prairie and woodlands surround the interpretive center. It overlooks the Mississippi River. Families can grab nature bingo cards while watching out the large windows. If they prefer, they can choose to try to spot different types of birds at the songbird feeding station or watch the Squirrel Olympics course that is set up in the yard. Afterwards, you can check out backpacks to go birding in the park. Or bring your own birding kit.
I like this park for the quality toys available. Younger (and older) children may enjoy playing puppets, make-believe market, dress up and blocks. They may also just want to crawl around the interactive exhibits.
Bigger kids can explore topics about the Mississippi and the natural environment of the area. The center also contains a live animal room with turtles, frogs and snakes. These native Minnesota species include Ellie the Western Fox Snake and A Minnesota Freshwater Fish Aquarium.
The center offers Trail Activity Books, fun ideas, binoculars and adventure packs for check out. Stop by the front desk to borrow these items. Or, even talk with a naturalist to meet and learn about the center's education animals. Note: The adventure packs are BIG and heavy. If I were making my own, they would be much smaller. If your kids are small, expect to be carrying it yourself as you explore.
Birthday Parties at Kroening Interpretive Center
The park offers indoor birthday parties starting at $75 for each up to 12 children. The cost includes a room rental for 2 1/2 hours, plus a 1 hour Naturalist Program and access to the exhibits and park resources. See the North Mississippi Regional Park directory page for outdoor birthday parties. Call the park for more details. 612-370-4844.