Kids are preschoolers for such a short time, aren’t they? Before you know it, they are heading off to school and then middle school and then conquering the world. Take advantage of this short time at home with these fun preschool outings that get you out of the house and introduce all sorts of age-appropriate learning.
The fall has come where I find myself finally down to one kid at home during the day. My preschooler and I are now able to see her three older sibs off at the bus stop each morning and then stroll home to spend all that quality one-on-one time she’s been waiting her whole short life for. We’re also planning to tackle the list (below) of kid-centric preschool outings around town that I’ve kept in my back pocket since my oldest could toddle. Let me share some of my favorite places to take preschoolers — and I’ll mention where it’s absolutely appropriate to bring older siblings as well. Please note that all of the following preschool outings take place on weekdays. For more inspiration on where to take the entire family on the weekend, visit our Family Fun Calendar.
Summer Note: Many of these programs take a break during the summer, but the Toddler Tuesday programs, Tots & Trains, Kids at the Castle, Arboretum Peapods and MPRB Nature Nuts go year round.
MONDAY PRESCHOOL OUTINGS
Where: The Works Museum, Bloomington
Time: 9am – 12pm select Mondays, Oct-May
Cost: $5.50 per child over 2 years of age (half-price), $11.00 per adult.
Details: Preschoolers who love to build and tinker will enjoy the various hands-on exhibits at The Works. This is also a great place to bring school-aged children — my own brood loves to build and race K’NEX vehicles, play in the new Sensor Zone gallery, and engineer all kinds of contraptions in the Design Lab. Read about a trip with to Pre-K Mornings here.
TUESDAY PRESCHOOL OUTINGS
Where: Mall of America Rotunda
Time: Ongoing Tuesdays, 10am – noon
Details: Live entertainment and activities guaranteed to excite the stroller set. You can view upcoming event details here. Make a day of it with kids eat free specials at participating restaurants and a stop at the free play tables at the LEGO Store. Nickelodeon Universe is again offering point passes to purchase onsite. So you can choose to take a ride on the carousel ($4.05 or 3pt) or play in Adventure Bay ($8.10 or 6pts) without committing to a full day of rides.
Extra: During the summer of 2021, B&B Theaters in the Mall is offering $3 kids movies on Tuesdays-Thursdays. We have more ideas for MOA fun on Toddler Tuesdays: Mall of America Toddler Tuesdays: Fun & Freebies.
Where: Springbrook Nature Center, Fridley
Time: Tuesdays September 7 – December 21, 2021
Details: A weekly parent-child outdoor class. Attend one or all. Registration is required by 8 days prior to each class.
Where: Color Me Mine, Eagan & Woodbury
Time: 2nd Tuesday of Each Month
Cost: No Studio Fee. Purchase an item to paint
Details: The 2nd Tuesday of each month is set aside for preschoolers (5 and under) to paint with a parent. Drop In. No Registration or Reservations required
WEDNESDAY PRESCHOOL OUTINGS
Where: Gleason’s Gymastic School – Eagan
Time: Wednesdays & Fridays, 9:30 – 11:30am (September through April)
Cost: Pre-Register: $8/child or $10/family; Door: $10/child or $15 family
Details: A trip to Gleason’s open gym with your preschooler (particularly in the middle of winter) is an instant mood-lifter. The kids will love the opportunity to bounce on trampolines, scoot through obstacle courses, and play on the gym equipment to their hearts’ content. For older sibs, Gleason’s also hosts open gym for kids in first grade through age 13 ($12 non-member). See the schedule link for times and read about our visit to Gleason’s here.
Where: North Mississippi Regional Park
Time: Wednesdays, 9:30am-10:30am
Cost: $2 session. Pre-register on MPRB website. Search Keyword Nature Nuts
Details: Come with your little one to play and have fun in nature with other children and parents/guardians. During this four week series each day will be different, but will have nature themes involving plants, animals, and seasons. Enjoy the fall together! For kids up to age 5 with an adult.
Note: Other Minneapolis Parks offer Nature Nuts on other days of the week. MPRB’s offerings change each season.
Where: Jackson Street Roundhouse, Saint Paul
Time: First & Third Wednesdays, 10am-12pm
Cost: $30/family or $11/adult; $9 kids 3-15; $7 for kids 2-4.
Discounts: If this is going to be your regular thing, a membership can help you save on admission. $40/year includes admission for 2 (mom & tot?) all year; $100/year includes admission for the whole family.
Details: Includes museum admission, where kids can play with the train tables and explore the real train cars, participate in a make and take craft and listen to a train-themed story. Coffee and treats available to purchase.
Where: Wood Lake Nature Center, Richfield
Time: Select Wednesdays
Cost: $10/child (Pre-Registration Required)
Details: For kids ages 3-5, accompanied by an adult. Explore different nature topics together each visit, includes circle time, stories, songs, puppets, crafts, activities and hikes in nature. Please dress for the weather.
THURSDAY PRESCHOOL OUTINGS
Do you know of any Thursday parent-child preschool programs this season? Drop us a comment. We have a few we are watching. We’ll keep updating.
FRIDAY PRESCHOOL OUTINGS
Where: American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis
Time: Ongoing, third Friday of the month and select Saturdays, 9-10am
Cost: $2/per person
Details: Before the museum opens, join ASI for visual play, storytelling, music, and movement inspired by ASI’s exhibits that will encourage creative young minds. Suggested for ages 2-5, but there’s lots for older kids to appreciate inside the castle as well. For kids younger than aged 2, try Babies at the Castle.
MORE WEEKDAY PRESCHOOL OUTINGS
Where: Three Rivers Park District – various sites
Time: Find these programs on our calendar or check the programs & events calendar for a complete listing of My Preschooler & Me classes.
Cost: $4-$6/per person, both child & adult pay.
Details: Participating Three Rivers Parks sites vary, but often include Gale Woods Farm, Lowry Nature Center, Carl Kroening Interpretive Center, Eastman Nature Center, Richardson Nature Center, The Landing, and Cleary Lake Regional Park. Classes are appropriate for children ages 2 – 5 and explore the natural world through outdoor play, art, and other hands-on activities. Registration is required and can be usually be made online (search keyword “preschooler”) and always by phone (763.559.6700).
Preschool Story Times
If you don’t have a favorite story time spot, check out our selection of Two Weeks Worth of Preschool Storytimes in the Twin Cities. Guaranteed you’ll find a new story spot!
The Twin Cities metro area has 101 Libraries, which offer story times, free classes, special events and Play & Learn spaces that encourage literacy through the incorporation the six domains of Minnesota’s Early Childhood Indicators of Progress (reading, playing, singing, writing and talking). Find our list of library Play & Learn spaces.
Tot Times Still Work for Preschool Kids
Don’t forget to check out our tot times list. Although these are great for toddlers, most of them are open to kids up through age 5 or 6 and make great preschool outings, too.
I’ll be the first to admit that it sounds cliche, but the preschool years really are over before you know it. I hope this list gave you a few new ideas on how to spend some quality time during the week with your preschooler – and, as always, if you have any favorite preschool outings to share, please feel welcome to leave a comment.
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Events we Hope To See Back in 2021/2022
Where: Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis
Time: On Hold. We hope to see this back in the fall.
Cost: Free; park in the adjacent Midtown Exchange Ramp up to 1.5 hrs. free with validation from any purchase at MGM.
Details: In the past, MGM has offered dance troupes, cooking lessons, and live animals to entertain kids. Stay for lunch — there are many tasty ethnic vendors to choose from, and several offer specials on Wednesdays. Read about our take on Wee Wednesdays here.
Where: Como Park Zoo & Conservatory Visitor Center
Time: On Hold. We are hoping to see these back in the fall. In the meantime, find Como Zoo family classes here.
Cost: Free; donations appreciated
Details: Designed for preschoolers, the program explores a new animal or plant theme each week through games, manipulatives, art projects, and a storytime. No registration required, just drop in and go at your own pace. Read about our outing to Como Lil Explorer Thursdays here.
Where: Simply Jane Studio, Minneapolis
Time: Simply Jane has been closed while searching for a new permanent location – which they’ve found at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in South Minneapolis. We hope to see Toddler Time back after their grand re-opening in the September, 2021.
Details: Junior ar-teests can paint a masterpiece (complete with a little guidance, if desired) and enjoy free play with the studio’s stock of games, puzzles, dress up attire and other toys.