In Minnesota, family fun outdoors means embracing all four seasons. If you are on this page because you are looking for a new Twin Cities-area park, playground or nature center to explore, hundreds of entries can be found through our Parks & Playgrounds Search feature. Or, continue searching hundreds more ideas of things to do with kids in the Twin Cities through our Family Directory, including family outings, services, classes, camps, birthday parties and more.
Family Fun Directory of Things To Do with Kids:
Amenities at Maplewood Nature Center include a visitor center and nature play yard, as well as trails, gardens, and picnic areas on a 40-acre preserve operated by the City of Maplewood. For more information about Maplewood Nature Center and its programs visit www.maplewoodnaturecenter.com or call 651-249-2170.
Maplewood Nature Center's Visitor Center
The visitor's center offers family a quit reading corner with children's books and wildlife puppets. The younger kids will enjoy the crawl-thru log and touching skulls, antlers, furs and taxidermy subjects. While older children will enjoy exploring the live animals and informational signs and boards. Check out a pedal-power energy bike that powers a fan and lights.
Neighborhood Preserves: The Nature Center is the home base for Maplewood's 14 beautiful open space sites scattered throughout Maplewood. These nature preserves are sanctuaries for birds and wildlife, and provide a place for residents to hike, relax, and enjoy nature close to home. These preserves include Gladstone Savanna and Fish Creek Natural Area, both of which host nature events during the year.
Exploring the Trails of Maplewood Nature Center
Trails wind through oak woods and marsh and are open every day from dawn to dusk. MNC recommends starting with the visitor center to learn a little about the surrounding environment before heading out on your hike or nature exploration. A helpful Phenology Calendar tells you which seasonal wildlife and plants you'll most likely observe. While you are there, check out a nature backpack or bingo game. In the winter you can also rent snowshoes.
Maplewood has recently renovated its trails to be sustainable. They ask that visitors respect this by carrying out whatever they carry in, not disturbing wildlife, and not introducing new plants or animals (this includes your dog). You grab a map and self-guided trail brochure in the Visitor Center or download a PDF copy here.
Make your hike an adventure by requesting one of these self-guided activities from the Nature Center.
- Self-Guided Nature Trail: Match pictures with the posts as you walk the trails.
- Nature Bingo Hike: Try to match four pictures in a row as you hike.
- Waterworks Scavenger Hunt: Hunt for artsy items on stormwater structures while learning about waterworks.
- Tree Quest: Follow the clues to find and identify ten trees on the trail/
Maplewood Nature Center's Nature Play Yard
The Nature Center Play Yard, which adjoins the visitor center, is designed to connect children with nature by using natural features such as materials for building forts, a small Discovery Trail that connects to the main trail system, climbing rocks and smaller rocks, stumps and logs, touchable native plants, a shrub tunnel and sand and chalk. You can borrow sand toys from the Visitor Center. There is also space for picnics.
Geocaching at Maplewood Nature Cener
Birthday Parties at Maplewood Nature Center
Maplewood offers naturalist-led birthday parties for as low as $80.00 (up to 12 children). There is also a $100.00 option (13-15 children). The organized party includes various themes, including an outdoor hike, snake, salamander, or toad party. Parties are geared to ages 4+. Parties include a decorated room and party favors. Parents provide the food.
Articles Related to Maplewood Nature Center:
- Indoor & Outdoor Fun: Twin Cities Nature Centers (NE Metro)
- Staying Busy on a Budget: Five Summer Outings Done on the Cheap
- Twin Cities Spring Nature Play & Programs Guide
- Maple Syruping with Kids in the Twin Cities