100+ Things to Do This Summer in the Twin Cities: A Family Bucket List

Family having a water fight, throwing buckets of water on dad - "Summer Bucket List"


Here at FFTC, we’re in the business of helping you to have the best summer ever with your family. So each year we put together a BIG list of summer fun ideas for you if you feel like you need a fresh game plan. Or you simply want to surprise your kids. Or you need another tool to help get through the long summer day. 

Don’t take this bucket list and try to do it all. That is overwhelming! Even we (as parents ourselves) pick and choose and fit in plenty of downtime. In fact, if you’re searching for ideas of things to do a home with your kids, we’ve got a list for that, too. We want you to use this as a resource to end up being a rock star to your family, young and old.

Please check the event’s official website for the latest updates. Thanks for reading and happy summer exploring!

EXTRA! Find our list of 50 Things To Do at Home with Kids This Summer

Our Minnesota Summer Bucket List will make planning for 2023 a snap!

Everything under the sun you need to know about summer fun for families in the Twin Cities. Beat boredom and fill your long school break days exploring the best the Twin Cities has to offer in the way of parks, swim spots, community entertainment and local festivals with our 2023 ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SUMMER IN THE TWIN CITIES WITH KIDS.


Cool off at a local splash pad

Our guide to Twin Cities splash pads & wading pools covers every colorful spot in the Metro!

Go on an ABC scavenger hunt

We LOVE scavenger hunts because they can be whipped up on the fly almost any time, any place. You might get some ideas from our big list of Twin Cities Scavenger & Treasure Hunts for Kids.

Play a round of miniature golf

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 MINI GOLF in St Paul. It will not disappoint! Find more Twin Cities mini golf courses HERE.

Shop fresh at a farmer’s market

Plan a meal together, then shop for fresh produce at one of these Twin Cities Farmer’s Markets. Free admission, plus many have fun little activities to interest kids.

Shopping at Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis

Stroll across the Stone Arch Bridge

After your trip across the river, stop in at the St Anthony Falls Lock & Dam Visitor Center. FREE tours are offered daily at 11am & 2pm during the summer. Find more things to do in Minneapolis near the Stone Arch Bridge with kids.

Catch a free summer movie in the park

Enjoy a free flick at a local park (bring a blanket & picnic) or inside an air conditioned movie theater. Hit the link for our big list of summer movies, June-August. 

Kids Bowl Free

Sign yours up so they can bowl free all summer long – 2 free games per day per kid at 30+ locations in Minnesota (shoe rental not included).

Summer Bowling - Kids Bowl Free - Collage of Kids Bowling in the Twin Cities

Take a day trip to Duluth

Summer is the perfect time for a visit to Duluth, Minnesota. Stroll around Canal Park, visit Park Point across the lift bridge, or drive a little farther to enjoy the waterfalls along the North Shore of Lake Superior.  If a trip to Duluth is a little too much for you this year, you can enjoy Minnehaha Falls or other waterfalls in the Twin Cities.

Sparky shows entertain at Como Zoo

The Como Harbor habitat for the famous Sparky the Sea Lion hosts shows year-round. Visit this summer – and bring along our Como Summer Checklist to make the most of it. PLUS – Groovin’ in the Garden will bring back summer outdoor concerts to Como. Another great picnic opportunity. Concerts are ongoing Wednesdays starting June 7, 2023, 6-8pm. FREE.

Take a spin on one of our local bike trails

Whether you decide to pedal through Minneapolis (find trails here) or St. Paul (find trails here), we have miles of trails to explore. We take care to note the ones best for littler cyclers along for the ride.

Go back in time with one of Minnesota’s historical museums

  • Take a ride at the MINNESOTA STREETCAR MUSEUM – an old fashioned streetcar ride along some of the Twin Cities’ loveliest lakes. Choose from trolleys in Minneapolis & Excelsior. Just $3/pp – all aboard!
  • MILL CITY MUSEUM – Have you brought your kids yet? Tons of exhibits designed just for them and enough to entertain the tweens and teens. 704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401. 

Challenge yourself on a Ninja course

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?) Let’s hope the timer is working this summer. Located in Golden Valley.

Ninja course
Schaper Park Challenge Course, Golden Valley

“Chutes & Ladders” Park

Climb and slide your way around HYLAND LAKE PARK RESERVE PLAY AREA (aka Chutes and Ladders to the initiated). Be warned, it is quite possibly the largest playground in Minnesota!

Day trip to Wabasha, Minnesota

Take a day trip to the nearby NATIONAL EAGALE CENTER in Wabasha, Minnesota. Just 5 miles south is the whimsical Lark Toys – trust us, stop there, too. Plan your road trip stops with our ideas for KELLOGG & WABASHA, MINNESOTA.

Pick-your-own fresh berries

My kids love to harvest their own snacks. Grab a basket and pick-your-own fresh berries at one of these Twin Cities PYO Produce Farms. Strawberries, raspberries or blueberries – what’s your favorite?

Twin Cities berry picking
Berry picking at Blueberry Fields, Stillwater

Discover a new 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 NATURE CENTER (Hastings). For all the down-to-earth details, jump over to our big list of TWIN CITIES-AREA NATURE CENTERS.

Explore Landmark Center

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.

Paddle the Mighty Mississippi

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.

Boom Island Park - Part of Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park

Safe Summer Nights

Be a guest of Safe Summer Nights in St Paul Parks. Barbecue and kids activities with St. Paul Police officers select Thursday evenings from 5-7pm. See schedule for park locations. FREE.

Splash at the Wabun Wading Pool

Got littles who aren’t quite ready for the big pool yet? Try a day at Wabun Picnic Area Wading Pool – splashy summer fun and a super cool playground next door. Find our complete list of free Minneapolis wading pools HERE.

Farm fun in the northern suburbs

Pick-your-own produce and visit the Joyer Adventure Farm Barnyard at Waldoch Farm Garden Center in Lino Lakes. The animals are out during Waldoch’s retail hours. New this year, you can purchase a ticket to the Adventure Farm to visit the animals and have access to the giant play area and other outdoor activities. Opens June 9, 2022. Thurs-Sun, 10am-5pm, $15/ticket.

Make it a beachy day

And discover a new favorite with this awesome list of 20 Beaches & Playgrounds in the Twin Cities to Try This Summer. Pictured is the wide sandy stretch of BIG MARINE PARK RESERVE BEACH in Marine on St Croix.

best beaches in the Twin Cities

A funky sculpture park

Find this quirky summer outing destination just outside Taylors Falls. FRANCONIA SCULPTURE PARK is free and interactive. If you’d prefer to stick closer to home, the MINNEAPOLIS SCULPTURE GARDEN at the Walker Art Center is pretty cool, too – and Walker is FREE first Saturday of the month.

While climbing on sculptures is generally not allowed, this playground is an exception.

Hit the playground at French Regional Park

The play equipment at FRENCH REGIONAL PARK was brand new in 2018, retains the original concept of nets and ropes, and looks awesome. Go early in the morning to beat the crowd. Located in Plymouth.

French Regional Park

We all scream for ice cream

Slurp up an ice cream cone (or roll, or malt, or float…) from a local scoop shop – we’ve listed our favorites in The Best Ice Cream Shops in the Twin Cities. Pictured is the perfect but so simple (and cheap) chocolate shake from Hastings Dairy Store. Just $1.50!

Play frisbee (or disc) golf

Our tweens and teens especially like this outing. There are many FREE disc golf courses scattered around the Twin Cities to try.

Day trip your way to Taylors Falls, Minnesota

The river town of Taylors Falls makes a perfect end-of-summer mini road trip. Explore beautiful INTERSTATE STATE PARK by foot or canoe, a quirky sculpture park, a thrilling alpine slide, a waterpark and lots more just one hour from the Twin Cities Metro.

canoeing and kayaking the St Croix River
Taylors Falls Canoe & Kayak Rental

Free living history programs

POND DAKOTA MISSION PARK in Bloomington hosts an open house each Saturday – a treasure tucked into an urban landscape. New living history themes each week. 1:30-4pm.

THE LANDING in Shakopee also occasionally offers free programming (we did a fun scavenger hunt last summer) at its re-created village. Check the Three Rivers Parks website to find upcoming events.

Spot some airplanes

Park your car and let the kids watch airplanes take off and land at the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport’s Aircraft Viewing Area.

Make it a pizza night down on the farm

Either call it a homemade, top-your-own pizza kind of night starting with this delicious white whole wheat pizza dough recipe. Or, if baking isn’t your thing, take a drive out to one of these scenic Twin Cities Pizza Farms and let someone else do the job for you.


Marketfest Wednesdays in Eagan

Wednesday nights in summer mean Market Fest at Eagan’s CENTRAL PARK. Live music, fresh produce, family activities and a splash pad run from 4-8pm.

Splash Pad at Central Park, Eagan, Minnesota
Eagan Central Park Splash Pad

Find a new fishing hole

Try fishing at FORT SNELLING STATE PARK near St Paul. Fishing gear is free to use and a license is not required in state parks. Or, consult our popular list of the best fishing holes in the Twin Cities for families.

girl with fishing pole

So much for kids at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Horticulture is anything but dull at this beautiful mega-garden in Chaska. Here are 10 things kids will love, including hedge mazes, bee exhibits, hands-on activities and a nature playground. Adults/$15, kids FREE.  

Free kids soccer camps

Sign your kids (ages 5-12) up for FREE soccer camps throughout the Twin thanks to the Sanneh Foundation. Pick a date and sign up early.

Pick a “green” nature playground

Our top pick from our big, green list of Twin Cities Nature Playgrounds is the amazing DISCOVERY HOLLOW NATURE PLAY AREA at TAMARACK NATURE CENTER, White Bear Lake. Climb, splash, build, and even garden!

Discovery Hollow - Bald Eagle-Otter Lakes Regional Park

Eat on the patio with the kids

We have ideas for the best summer dining with kids in the Twin Cities, patios included. Be sure to check our Kids Eat Free Guide first. Pictured: my happy kids at The Tiny Diner in Minneapolis.

Here comes the puppet wagon!

Attend a Puppet Wagon performance in a number of parks across the Twin Cities: Roseville, Woodbury, Shoreview & Eagan parks have all offered mobile puppet theaters. Bring a picnic and a blanket and spend the afternoon. Check our community entertainment calendar for dates.

Woodbury Puppet Wagon Evergreen West Park

Go birdwatching

Try ELOISE BUTLER WILDFLOWER GARDEN & BIRD SANCTUARY in Minneapolis for a peaceful birdwatching hike. Joy has pulled together a checklist for those of us first-timers.

Take me out to the ballgame

Catch a St Paul Saints baseball game at CHS Field in downtown St Paul. Tickets start at just about $10 for a super family-friendly experience. Bonus summer fun: ride the Light Rail into downtown!

Universe in the Park

Hosted by Minnesota State Parks and the Three Rivers Park District, the stargazing program is out of this world! Select Friday & Saturday evenings, 8:30 pm. Free event, $7/vehicle permit.

Cafesjian’s Carousel Free Day

On the last Tuesday of Each Month Memorial Day-Labor Day, guests are invited for one of only a handful of chances to ride the beautiful antique Cafesjian’s Carousel FREE this year. 11am-4pm.

Explore summertime in the city with 10 Free Things To Do with Kids in Downtown Minneapolis.

Summer Fun Ideas: Things to do in the Twin Cities in June

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.

Lazy River at Como Park Pool, Saint Paul Minnesota
Lazy River


Opening Early June

Two super fun sites operated by the Minnesota Historical Society are back open for business: OLIVER KELLEY FARM (Elk River, opens June 16, 2023) & HISTORIC FORT SNELLING (opens Memorial Day Weekend). Might this be the year to purchase a family membership?

Sparky the Sea Lion Shows at Como Zoo

Welcome Sparky the Sea Lion back to his Como Harbor digs at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory. You can visit Sparky & friends all summer long at this charming FREE zoo – make sure to bring along our Como Summer Checklist to make the most of your visit. Shows at 11:30am daily.

Mondays starting early June

Beat Monday blues with the Monday Morning Kids Series at Moir Park, Bloomington. Ongoing Mondays starting June 5, 2023. 10:30am, FREE.

Thursdays starting early June

Thursday Rockin’ Lunch Hour Concerts & Rockin’ Readers at Nicollet Commons Park in Burnsville. Stay to enjoy the landscaped splash pad! Starts June 15, 2023, noon.

Girl playing in Nicollet Commons Park - Splash Pad in Burnsville, Minnesota

Thursday 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. 2023 dates TBA.

JUNE 1, 2023: Twin Cities River Rats water ski shows begin tonight – catch one ongoing Thursdays on West River Road south of Broadway Avenue, Minneapolis. 7pm, FREE.

JUNE 2-3 2023: Get a jump start on June at the Flint Hills Family Festival in Downtown St Paul. Read about our best tips for making the most of this amazing event.

JUNE 3, 2023: First Free Saturday at Walker Art plus explore the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

JUNE 10, 2023: 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 9 Twin Cities Metro-Area Minnesota State Parks.

JUNE 11, 2023: Watch tiny boats pilot at Edina Model Yacht Club’s Parade of Boats in Centennial Lakes Park.

JUNE 18, 2023: Spend some quality time with Dad at one of these Twin Cities Father’s Day Events.

Summer Fun Ideas: Things to do in the Twin Cities in July



Fridays in July: If you have some little ones, try out Splish & Splash Tot Time at SANDVENTURE AQUATIC PARK, Shakopee. 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. Select Fridays & Saturdays, June 16-August 19, 2023. 9:45-10:45am. $5/child.

JULY 3, 2023: 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.

JULY 4, 2023: Hang out all day and evening at Minneapolis Red, White & Boom on the Minneapolis riverfront. (Details TBD) Plus, find all of our community Independence Day Events.

JULY 14-16, 2023: Lumberjack Days in Stillwater are calling your name. Enjoy the festival along the St. Croix River in Minnesota’s first town.

JULY 19-22, 2023: Celebrate the return of the Minneapolis Aquatennial. Torchlight Parade on the 19th and culminating in fireworks on the 22nd, plus lots of summer fun in the water! 

JULY 21-23, 2023: Slice of Shoreview Days. Go screaming down the FREE giant slip ‘n slide at Island Lake County Park, Shoreview. I’ve seen this thing. It’s NUTS! 

JULY 29-30, 2023: Loring Park Art Festival kicks off in Minneapolis. We’ve heard this is one of the best art fairs of the bunch.

More Family Summer Fun from FFTC: Twin Cities Guide to Beaches, Pools and Waterparks

Find more water summer fun ideas.

Summer Fun Ideas: Things to do in the Twin Cities in August

AUGUST 1, 2023: Washington County Parks offer FREE admission each first Tuesday of the month. One of our favorites is LAKE ELMO PARK RESERVE with its sand-bottomed swim pond.

AUGUST 1, 2023: The first Tuesday of each month is also Open Climb at BASE CAMP: Best indoor rock climbing deal in town from 6-9pm, $10 per climber. Great climbing for all abilities!

AUGUST 7-13, 2023: Dakota County Fair admission is free again in 2023!  Every day of the fair!  And lots of free exhibits to explore including a chance to visit the past at the Dakota City Heritage Village.

Dakota City Heritage Village

AUGUST 24, 2023: It’s Opening Day of the Minnesota State Fair – Here are 50 Things to Do  (and most are FREE!) Need more info? Arm yourself with this list of 20 Ideas For Free Family Fun! We’ve put a Guide to the Minnesota State Fair together, too. Through Labor Day, September 4, 2023.

Family Fun Twin Cities Guide to the Minnesota State Fair; Background is carnival blurred

AUGUST 30, 2023: 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.

8 thoughts on “100+ Things to Do This Summer in the Twin Cities: A Family Bucket List”

  1. Elk River’s Riverfront Concert Series will have themed nights this year. Dress up is encouraged! Concerts follow the farmers market, so you can grab a picnic and eat it with your kiddos.

  2. Android APKs Game

    This is amazing! I’m always looking for new ideas for summer fun with my family. Can’t wait to try out some of these activities with my kids. Thanks for sharing! 😊

    1. I’m glad you found us! It looks like we’ll have a beautiful first week of October. Maybe you can squeeze some of these ideas in this week, but then, I think you’ll be waiting until next year to try out the rest.

    1. Thank you. It feels like a really long wait right now. But we highly recommend checking out our Halloween, Holiday, Winter & Spring content while you wait. Summer is so short in Minnesota that we really have to embrace the other 9 months!

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