Looking Ahead to 2020? We want you to have the best summer ever. So we’ve got some ideas for you if you feel like you do the same thing summer after summer and you’d like to break out of that rut. Or you simply want to surprise your kids. Or you need another tool to help get through the summer. This bucket list is for you.
Don’t take this bucket list and try to do it all. That is overwhelming. We want you to use this as a resource–as your summer activities brain–to end up being a rock star to your family, young and old.
Because its still early, this list is currently based off of 2019’s list. Check back closer to June, we’ll be updating, adding exact dates and finding new ideas for 2020.
Twin Cities Summer Fun Ideas – On Your Schedule
Build a bonfire and roast marshmallows in your backyard or in a fire pit in the park.
Go on an ABC Scavenger Hunt.
Visit Snapology’s Discovery Center | Lyndale Ave, Minneapolis | 10am-5pm, $8 for unlimited play.
Play a new board game with your family.
This post is brought to you partly by Moore Than Dance and their summer camps!
Do your fresh produce shopping at one of these 10 Twin Cities Farmer’s Markets | FREE admission and often free activities for kids.
Get your nose in a Summer Reading Program | Each of 8 metro-area library systems participate in a summer program and are busy all summer long with free programs for kids. Sign ups for summer reading typically begin close to June 1.
Go birding! Joy pulled together a checklist for those of us who have never done this before.
Explore Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in St Paul. Bring along our Como Summer Checklist to make the most of your visit. FREE.
Be a guest of Safe Summer Nights | St Paul Parks | Barbecue and kids activities with St. Paul Police officers every Thursday evening (except July 4) from 5-7pm. FREE.
Get a little bit lost at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts | Admission is always FREE, plus enjoy a day geared for families every 2nd Sunday of the month. (Not open on Mondays)
Take a mini road trip to a Universe in the Park event | Hosted by Minnesota State Parks and the Three Rivers Park District | Friday & Saturday evenings, 8:30 pm. FREE.
Sign yours up so Kids Bowl Free all summer long – 2 games per day per kid at 30+ locations in Minnesota (shoe rental not included).
Catch a Saints Game | CHS Field, St Paul | Tickets are available for under $10 apiece.
Explore summertime in the city with 10 Free Things To Do with Kids in Downtown Minneapolis.
Climb and slide your way around Hyland Lake Park Reserve Play Area (aka Chutes and Ladders to the initiated).
Grab a basket and pick-your-own fresh berries at one of these Twin Cities PYO Produce Farms.
Attend a $4 Sunday at the Great River Waterpark (indoors – no sunburn!)
Be creative and make an afternoon a craft afternoon. Here are some suggestions.
Take in a summertime Story Hour at one of the Twin Cities’ independent bookshops.
Discover a new favorite beach with this list of 20 Beaches and Playgrounds to Try This Summer.
Check out the updated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden | Minneapolis
Go on a family camping trip at a Minnesota State Park (quick! Make a reservation, they fill fast.)
Stroll down historic Summit Avenue in St Paul past the James J. Hill House and maybe stop in at the gallery ($2/pp).
Try your hand a Squirt-Gun Painting.
Eat lunch at food truck! (Find some kid-friendly options here.) Bonus points if the kids will try something new.
Need a little more AC? Try one of these 10 Free Air-Conditioned Family Outings.
Keep a Nature Journal or do another science activity together.
Slurp up an ice cream cone from a local scoop shop – we’ve listed our favorites. Better yet, put your kids to bed. Then, in 10 minutes, wake them up for an Emergency Ice Cream Run. IN THEIR PAJAMAS!
Celebrate the sun by being creative with summer crafts.
5/30-31/20: Get a jump start on June at the Flint Hills Family Festival | Downtown St Paul
Read about our best tips for making the most of this amazing event.
6/4/20: Twin Cities River Rats water ski shows begin tonight – catch one ongoing Thursdays on West River Road south of Broadway Avenue, Minneapolis. 6:30pm, FREE.
6/6/20: First Free Saturday at Walker Art plus explore the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
6/7/20: Have a Grand Old Day (Back on Again) along Grand Avenue | St Paul
Family Fun District open 10am-5pm plus the traditional parade, vendors and food. Make sure to stop into Red Balloon Bookshop and enjoy their activities.
June – August: Minneapolis Movies in the Parks | Ongoing Mon-Sat, movies begin 15 min past sunset
Wednesdays June – August: Get your Groovin’ in the Garden on at Como Park Conservatory | St Paul | Music for adults and lawn games to keep kids occupied. Another great picnic opportunity. Starts Jun 5, ongoing Wed, 6-8pm. FREE.
First Weekend of June: 10 Twin Cities swimming spots are opening this weekend – including Bunker Beach Water Park, Como Regional Park Pool & Shady Oak Beach. Get our entire list HERE and splash the summer away.
6/13/20: FREE admission to all Minnesota State Parks on National Get Outdoors Day. It’s not always necessary to travel far to find one of these parks – here are 6 Twin Cities Metro-Area Minnesota State Parks.
6/15/20: FREE admission each 3rd Monday of the month at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum | Chaska Here are 10 things kids will love about the place. 8am-8pm.
Mondays June-Early August: Beat Monday blues with the Monday Morning Kids Series | Moir Park, Bloomington, 10:30am
All Summer: Enjoy a free movie at a local park or inside an air-conditioned movie theater. Tip: Tuesdays are the most common day of the deal if you’re looking to pay less.
June-Mid August: Clayhole Concerts Ice Cream Social & Beach Bash | Firemen’s Park Stage, Chaska | 6pm
Schedule a Cafesjian’s Carousel Free Day | Como Park, St Paul | 11am-4pm
Mid June: Head over to the Summer Kick-off at Lyndale Farmstead Park
Art in the Park by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Naturalists, face painting & a bouncy house. 6:30-8:30pm, FREE
Tater Daze Weekend: Head back in time on the farm at Eidem Homestead Open House | Brooklyn Park
10am-2pm, FREE admission only during the city’s Tater Daze Festival.
6/21/20: Spend some quality time with Dad at one of these Twin Cities Father’s Day Events.
Tuesdays & Thursdays: Visit Centennial Lakes Park in Edina and hear family-friendly concerts in the amphitheater. Try out the park’s paddle boats, putting course & lawn games. Maybe grab a picnic from Q. Cumbers.
Thursdays: Thursday Rockin’ Lunch Hour Concerts & Rockin’ Readers | Nicollet Commons Park, Burnsville Ongoing Thursdays starting early June, stay to enjoy the landscaped splash pad!
6/20/20: Celebrate a Summer Solstice
6/25-27/20: Beyond smooth is the Twin Cities Jazz Fest | St. Paul, at various locations
1 pm-as late as you want to stay, FREE
Sundays or anytime on your own: Tour Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary | Minneapolis | Borrow an adventure backpack and binoculars to spot some wildlife on your own or take a Family Garden Hike, Sundays at 4pm. FREE.
Anytime: Pretend to be a tourist and head over to the Mall of America and bring this floor-by-floor family guide to the best attractions. Tip: Mondays are not as crazy as the weekend. Try something new together as a family.
Anytime: Road trip to Kellogg, Minnesota and visit the whimsical Lark Toys shop.
Mondays: Explore the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis after attending Tail Time at Wild Rumpus and find unique places to bring kids. (Tail Time Story Hour 10:30am on Mondays)
Anytime: Visit a local Farmer’s Market at a market near you – most are lively with music and other free entertainment.
Anytime: Cool off out a local Splash Pad – our guide covers every colorful spot in the Twin Cities Metro.
Select Sundays: Enjoy ice cream like a pioneer on Ice Cream Sundays at Gibbs Farm. 10 am-4 pm, $5-$8/person
7/3/20: Bloomington’s Summer Fete Fireworks | Normandale Lake Park
The solution for those of us who have to get up and go to work on July 5. Entertainment 5-10pm with fireworks at dusk. FREE
7/6/20: Enjoy a unique storytime with all kinds of little critters including some cats, some chickens, and your kids. Tail Time at Wild Rumpus | Mondays, 10:30 am
Fridays: If you have some little ones, try out Splish Splash Tot Time at Sandventure Aquatic Park | Shakopee | 9:45-10:45, kids age 0-6 can play in the sand and swim in the pool before it opens to the public. Big kids will love this place, too. Find more special Tot Swim times HERE.
TBA: Monday Movie Night at Target Field Station | Bring a lawn chair or blanket, find a spot outside the Twins’ ballpark and watch a movie under the stars. 7-9pm, FREE.
TBA Join FFTC at GoodKids for BookHounds Storytime | GoodKids, Downtown White Bear Lake
10:30 am, FREE
TBA: Afton State Park is hosting Universe in the Park. Learn about the galaxy, moon, and stars this year celebrating the 50 anniversary of landing on the moon. $7/vehicle permit.
Anytime: Take a day trip to the nearby National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota. Just 5 miles south is the whimsical Lark Toys – trust us, stop there, too.
Mid-June: Immerse yourself in Pan-Asian culture at Dragon Fest this weekend. Cheer on your favorite Dragon Boat | Lake Phalen Park, FREE
Anytime: Explore a Twin Cities-area Nature Center. We have the details of at least 2 dozen including favorites like: Lowry Nature Center (Victoria) Tamarack Nature Center (White Bear Lake) and Carpenter St. Croix Nature Center (Hastings).
Pick a Date and Sign Up Early: Sign your kids (ages 5-12) up for FREE soccer camps throughout the Twin Cities thanks to the Sanneh Foundation.
Anytime: Here’s something I guarantee your tween will love: knowing they can beat you at the Schaper Park Challenge Course! (At least mine could; perhaps you’re more in shape?) Located in Golden Valley.
Anytime: Visit French Regional Park – the play equipment was brand new in 2018 and looks awesome. Go early in the morning before the crowds arrive.
7/17-19/20: Lumberjack Days in Stillwater are calling your name. Enjoy the festival along the St. Croix River in Minnesota’s first town.
7/18/20: Kids Obstacle Challenge | Afton Alps
An adventure and obstacle course race series for kids ages 5-16, with over a dozen obstacles and (be warned) mud! 8:30am-12:20pm, $36-$43/child, caregivers free
TBA: Open Streets Minneapolis is back and this time they’ve taken over Lake & Minnehaha! Bring your bikes, scooters or walking shoes. 11am-5pm, FREE.
Anytime: Make a pilgrimage to the Vali-Hi Drive In, the last surviving drive-in movie theater in the Twin Cities. 3 movies play nightly starting at dusk. $9.50/adults, kids 6-12 just a buck!
Anytime: Arrange a watermelon seed spitting contest!
7/26/20: Go screaming down the FREE giant slip ‘n slide | Island Lake County Park, Shoreview – today only, 2-4pm.
7/25-26/20: Loring Park Art Festival kicks off the art fun for the next couple of weekends in Minneapolis. I’ve heard this is one of the best art fairs of the bunch.
Anytime: Visit one of these imaginative Twin Cities Nature Playgrounds – our top pick is the amazing Discovery Hollow Nature Play Area at Tamarack Nature Center, White Bear Lake.
Choose a Date from Our Schedule: Attend a Puppet Wagon performance | Golden Valley, Roseville, Woodbury, Shoreview & Eagan parks offer mobile puppet theaters. Bring a picnic! FREE.
More Family Summer Fun from FFTC: Twin Cities Guide to Beaches, Pools and Waterparks
Anytime: Rent a surrey from Wheel Fun Rentals and take a spin around the lake. Locations at: Calhoun, Harriet, Nokomis, Como, Minnehaha Falls & Veterans Memorial Park in Richfield.
Anytime: Need more AC? Explore lovely Landmark Center in St Paul and its hidden, kid-friendly (and free!) little museums: Schubert Club Museum & Gallery of Wood Art. Make a day of it with St Paul’s Central Library right across the street.
8/1/20: Discover (or rediscover) the Minneapolis Toy Library at one of their lending events. Make good on your resolution to clean up your kids’ rooms!
Anytime: Go fishing at Fort Snelling State Park | St Paul | Fishing gear is always free to use and a license is not required in state parks. A daily vehicle permit of $7 is charged to enter the park.
Free Day TBA (8/10/20-8/16/20): Dakota County Fair is FREE today only! And lots of free exhibits to explore including a chance to visit the past at the Dakota City Heritage Village.
Anytime: For the wee bit adventurous, rent a single or tandem kayak with your kids ($20-$40) and take to the water through the Mississippi River Paddle Share program. 6 locations on the river for all paddling abilities.
TBA: Explore Father Hennepin Bluff Park | Minneapolis | Take an evening picnic, and then catch a show at 7 pm. FREE
Anytime: Got littles who aren’t quite ready for the big pool yet? Try a day at Wabun Picnic Area Wading Pool – splashy fun and a super cool playground next door. Find our complete list of free Minneapolis wading pools HERE.
TBA: There are more options for cooling off besides pools and AC – try ice skating! Little Tyke Skating (6 and under) at Shakopee Ice Arena,10:45-11:45, FREE including skate rental.
Anytime: Park it and let the kids watch airplanes at the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport’s Aircraft Viewing Area.
Anytime: Call it a homemade, top-your-own pizza night starting with this delicious white whole wheat pizza dough recipe.
Anytime: Or, if baking your own isn’t your thing, take a drive out to one of these scenic Twin Cities-area Pizza Farms and let someone else do the job for you. Yum.
Anytime: Summer mini golf is a classic choice. Our favorite whimsical outdoor miniature golf course is Big Stone Mini Golf & Sculpture Garden in Minnetrista. Rained out? Head indoors to Can Can Wonderland in St Paul. Find more mini golf courses HERE.
8/22/20: St. Paul Food Truck Festival | Mears Park.
TBA: Most Epic Family Day at Target Field Station, Minneapolis. Free family activities galore from 12-4pm.
Anytime: Tour the St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam | Minneapolis | Before you stroll across the Stone Arch Bridge, take in the views on this free tour running daily Memorial Day-Labor Day at 11am, 1 & 3 pm.
Anytime: Have you brought your kids to Mill City Museum yet? Tons of exhibits designed just for them, and enough to entertain the tweens and teens. | Minneapolis, Tues-Sat: 10am-5pm & Sun: noon-5.
Wednesdays: Wednesday nights in summer mean Market Fest at Eagan’s Central Park. 4-8pm with live music, fresh produce, family activities and a splash pad.
8/27/20: Attend Opening Day of the Minnesota State Fair – Here are 50 Things to Do (and most are FREE!) Need more info? We’ve put a Guide to the Minnesota State Fair together, too. Through Labor Day, September 7 2020.
Anytime: Whip up a batch of these ice cream cookie sandwiches.
Sundays: Pond Dakota Mission Park hosts an open house each Sunday from 1:30-4pm – a hidden treasure tucked into an urban landscape. Located in Bloomington, FREE.
8/31/20: We’re still hung up on the Minnesota State Fair. Mondays are a little less crazy than the weekend; arm yourself with this list of 20 Ideas For Free Family Fun!
Anytime: While the streets are crowded with fairgoers, escape out to the country for a day of apple picking and other early fall fun. Our Guide to Apple Orchards will tell you which ones have opened for the season.
Ongoing Wednesdays: Play Games Galore at Union Depot | St Paul | Drop in and play giant versions of board games Wednesdays from 10am-8pm. FREE
Anytime: Taylors Falls makes a perfect end-of-summer mini road trip. Explore beautiful Interstate State Park, a quirky sculpture garden, a thrilling alpine slide and lots more. Just one hour from the middle of the metro.
Anytime: Summer’s winding down. Take the family out to play disc golf on one of the Twin Cities’ many courses. FREE.
More Family Summer Fun from FFTC: Summer Reading Programs
More Summer Fun Ideas for Anytime!
Water Fun – Twin Cities Guide to Beaches, Pools & Water Parks