Family Fun Directory: Things To Do with Kids

Family Fun Directory of Things To Do with KidsIn 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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Tamarack Nature Center, White Bear Township

5287 Otter Lake Rd. White Bear Township, MN 55110
Admission: $0.00
Trails and Discovery Hollow and Garden are free and open to the public. Please sign in at the main office before or after your visit. Donations are gratefully accepted. Some Programs have fees.
Hours of Operation:
Mon. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Tue. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Wed. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Thu. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Fri. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Sat. 09:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Sun. 12:00 PM - 04:30 PM
Discovery Hollow Nature Play Area & Garden; Open daily: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Open select evenings, please call for details.

Tamarack Nature Center is part of Bald Eagle-Otter Lakes Regional Park. It offers both free and paid nature education programs and is home to the nature playground, Discovery Hollow.

Drop In Discovery Stations at Tamarack Nature Center

Drop In Discovery Stations at Tamarack Nature CenterTamarack offers free Saturday morning Drop-In Discovery Stations from 10 a.m. – noon every Saturday morning from March – October and the first Saturday of each month from November – February.

Drop In Discovery Stations at Tamarack Nature Center

Tiger Salamander

Visitors are free to come and go from the programs as they choose, and no pre-registration is required. Drop-In Discoveries are led by Tamarack’s volunteer Discovery Hosts and feature up-close visits with live animals, including Tamarack’s resident owls, snakes and salamanders. Participants also get hands-on experience with touchable artifacts, like skulls and skins, and sample edible treats from the Discovery Hollow garden. Upcoming topics can be found HERE or on our Family Fun Calendar.

Drop In Discovery Stations at Tamarack Nature CenterWhen we visited Tamarack on a rainy Saturday afternoon, we were delighted with our experience. We couldn't have felt more welcomed by the staff and volunteers. A little boy was having an exciting birthday party in one of the rooms while the kids and I just chilled out in the Learning area with our Aunt Barb. We looked out the floor to ceiling windows at the wetland habitat in front of us; we enjoyed the beehive (that was safely behind plexiglass); and we built with the tree shaped blocks.

It was low-key and invigorating at the same time. Drop-In Discovery Stations add that much more thrill for learning and experiencing nature. Stations are open to all ages, but please note that children should be accompanied by an adult.

Meet the Tamarack Nature Center Gardener

Meet the Tamarack Nature Center GardenerIf  you are new to gardening or would like to grow your knowledge, you can meet in Discovery Hollow at Tamarack every Monday during the summer from 10:15 - 11:00 am for Meet the Gardener.  Try your hand a planting and tending the garden at Tamarack and enjoy your fruits of the harvest.

It'll be fun!  I would so be there if I wasn't busy with our Giving Garden at church and our gardens at home.  Alas, I am going to have enough gardens in my life that I don't need to help with another one!  But I can see where this would be an exciting summer activity!

Birthday Parties at Tamarack Nature Center

Tamarack Nature Center - Naturalist led Programs and Birthday Parties

Image courtesy Ramsey County

Tamarack offers both Naturalist-led birthday parties and space rental for private birthday parties.

Packages for parties led by professional environmental educators are generally available for 2-hour blocks on weekends. Parents can also call for weekday availability. Package prices run between $170 - $190 and include:

  • Up to 11 guests and the birthday child. At least one adult for every six children is required.
  • Exclusive use of a classroom for the party. You bring your own cake, treats and party supplies.
  • An hour and 15 minute program led by a naturalist in the theme of your choice.
  • Both indoor and outdoor activities.
  • Goodie bags for each participant.
  • Some set up and clean up. You set up and clean up your own supplies and classroom.
  • Access to the Discovery Hollow Nature Play Area.
  • Downloadable and printable party invitation.

If you prefer space rental only, this option is available also.  Learn more about both options HERE.

Free Summer Fun at Tamarack Nature Center

Tamarack offers several free programs during summer. On Mondays, Meet the Gardener allows visitors to help with planting, tending and tasting the harvest. Families can also go on a Discovery Walk through the prairie or attend a weekly Drop-in Discovery Station.

Winter Activities at Tamarack Nature Center

Tamarack is one of several Ramsey County Parks that keeps cross-country ski trails packed. A Minnesota Ski Pass is required to use these trails for anyone 16 and over. Ramsey county provides trail maps and and rules for use on its website. Both skis and snowshoes can be rented at the Tamarack Winter Recreation Rental Shack (part of the nature center building), between mid December and early March. Prices start at $7 (5 and under) and $14 (6 through adult) for two hours for shoe and ski rental. Note: that the rental shack closes when trail conditions are poor. Weather permitting, equipment can be rented Monday through Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Sundays 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Rentals must be returned by 4:00 p.m.

Tamarack has a designated sledding hill located in the Discovery Hollow Nature Play Area.

Related Articles:

Indoor & Outdoor Fun: Twin Cities Nature Centers (NE Metro)

Get Back to Nature at these 5 Metro “Playgrounds”

Maple Syruping at Nature Centers Around Town

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