Oh, the long-suffering life of a blogger’s husband. He pleasantly suggests a local afternoon swim on a hot, sunny Saturday and his wife is in a frenzy the next hour trying to figure out a way to maximize by turning it into a road trip filled with blog-fodder. Simply hitting up a local beach wouldn’t do; I’d already covered them ad nauseum on FFTC. I wanted to get out of the Metro, but not so far that the kids had to spend hours trapped in the car. Where to go?
Finally, inspiration struck when I remembered an item a friend had shared from her summer bucket list: the Buffalo Rotary Music Trail, a perfect hour’s drive from our home in St. Paul. The trail, dotted with interactive percussion instruments, winds itself from the center of downtown Buffalo to the beach of Buffalo Lake. And, as we discovered when we arrived, there are several other things to do only a stone’s throw from the town square. Here are 6 of them – and, for reference, we parked downtown and were able to easily walk to the first five stops on the list:
1. Downtown splash pad – it’s a series of simple fountains, really, but it got the job done when it came to keeping the kids cool during lunch. The pad is within walking distance of downtown businesses, has picnic tables, and is the origin of the oversized instruments of the music trail. (1st Ave. S)
2. Daily downtown farmers market – if the kids are looking for a sweet treat downtown, look no further than across the street from the splash pad. Gorgeous golden Colorado peaches were going for $2.49 and the market is open daily from 8am to noon during the summer. (100 1st Ave)
3. Rotary music trail – the public art that launched our day trip begins at the splash pad in the center of downtown with two xylophones that managed to provide fairly peaceful ambient music for our picnic. The trail continues across the street on a very doable-with-young-kids walk to Sturges Park beach with instrumental stops along the way. All of my kids (ages 3-10) loved the chance to make music.
4. Sturges Park swimming beach – the sandy beach is unguarded and has a boat launch, but this didn’t impede on our fun. For a second swimming option, there’s a popular guarded beach on nearby Lake Pulaski in Griffing Park. Both beaches have play structures and picnic facilities and Sturges hosts free concerts at the park’s pavilion Thursday nights from 7-8:30, June-August. (Hwy 25 & 2nd Ave. S.)
5. Paddleboat/kayak rentals at Sturges Park on Buffalo Lake – available to rent are fishing boats, paddle boats, kayaks, canoes, bikes, and games to play in the park.
6. Disc golf at West Pulaski Park – this was the only activity not within walking distance of the city center and we selected it because of its disc golf course. Got to keep in mind that we have a spread of ages in the family and it’s becoming increasingly important to seek out activities that we can enjoy alongside our older kids. There’s also a playground, a small sculpture garden, and lake access within the park. (2.7 miles north of Sturges Park on Hwy 25)
In search of a swimming spot about an hour from the Metro where you don’t have to feel shackled to your car once you arrive? There are probably dozens more for our family to discover, but Buffalo fit the bill that day.