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.
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The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center ("MVNWR") is actually two visitor centers -- one located in Bloomington and the other in Carver. We feature the Bloomington hours here. The MVNWR was established in 1976 to provide habitat for a large number of migratory waterfowl, fish, and other wildlife species threatened by commercial and industrial development, and to provide environmental education, wildlife recreational opportunities, and interpretive programming for Twin Cities residents.
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center Hours
Both visitor centers are closed on all federal holidays, and may experience closures due to weather and other reasons. We recommend calling in advance of your visit.
- June - August: Tuesday-Sunday from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
- September - May: Wednesday-Sunday from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
- September 19 to May 31: Tuesday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Kid Friendly Activities at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor
The center suggests the following activities for families with kids:
- Check out a “Let’s Go Outside” backpack. Like many of the other nature center, MVNWR loans a backpack full of fun activities to try while visiting. The pack contains items like bug jars, binoculars, and a magnifying lens. Borrow the pack from the front desk.
- Become a Junior Refuge Manager! Kids can earn a badge and certificate by learning about the plants, birds, bugs, and other critters living on the refuge. Families can either download the activity booklet (←PDF) or pick one up at either visitor center. Fill out the booklet to become a Junior Refuge Manager!
- Nature Journals and Scavenger Hunts. MVNWR shares the following links with activities you can do at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Families can either print from these sites or pick up a printed versions at either visitor centers.
- Snowshoe, Bike, or Hike the Refuge! Discover the refuge in every season. Once the area has six inches of snow, both visitor centers loan snowshoes for free.
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