Hastings, Minnesota has the advantage of being a city nestled at the meeting of multiple rivers. The address alone makes Hastings a lovely spot to visit if you’re hoping for a backdrop of bluffs and river valley. Definitely don’t skip the big parks and riverfront, but take time to explore the neighborhoods to find plenty of playgrounds, and scope out the downtown for spots to grab a snack. We’ve included our favorite seasonal attractions near Hastings as well so you can hone in on an ideal time for your family to visit. START PLANNING HERE for the best Hastings, Minnesota, family fun, or explore more on this page.

Hastings Quick Links


Find this week’s Hastings, Minnesota, family fun including the nearby southeast suburbs of the Twin Cities: Apple Valley, Burnsville, Cottage Grove, Eagan, Inver Grove Heights, Newport, Rosemount, South St Paul & Woodbury.  Find our full Twin Cities Family Fun Calendar here.


Spring in Hastings: Festivals & special events

Spring events at Carpenter-St Croix Valley Nature Center

  • Maple Syruping at Carpenter Nature Center – Families will learn about maple trees as they hike to the sugarbush. Then tap the trees and learn the process of turning sap into syrup, with a sample at the end. Learn more about CARPENTER NATURE CENTER. March 16, 2024, 1-3pm. $8/pp, registration required. 
  • Earth Day Youth Birding Festival – Kids can participate in the annual birding competition. The festival is a full day of classes, bird banding and guided bird hikes. Learn more here. April 20, 2024, 7am-5pm. FREE. 
  • Register now for summer camp at Carpenter Nature Center – Kids will get a chance to craft, play, and explore the trails. Single half-day camps (ages 6-11), week-long day camps (ages 5-11) and outdoor skills & canoe camps for tweens and teens. There are also mini fishing camps held June 19, June 26, and July 24. You’ll want to act quickly as these some camps are close to capacity. Most camps offered June & July with teen canoe camps in August. $40-$395 (2024 registration open).


Sledding, snow tubing, skiing & ice skating in Hastings

Winter at Afton Alps 

6600 Peller Ave S, Hastings, MN 55033
Afton Alps is one of the top ski resorts in the Minneapolis-St Paul area, located just north of Afton State Park in the southeast metro’s St. Croix River Valley. It features a state-of-the-art snow-making system for skiing and snowboarding, and a cutting edge terrain park. With nearly 300 acres to ski, the resort includes 50 trails, 18 lifts and 4 terrain parks. Kids can take ski lessons, either one-on-one, in a small group or a family private lesson. Instruction is available for kids ages 3 & up.

The best sledding hills in Hastings

Winter  Festivals & Activities in Hastings

Find more WINTER FESTIVALS near Hastings, Minnesota.

Christmas & Holiday Events in Hastings

Christmas & Holiday Lights Displays in Hastings


Christmas and Holiday Guide Twin Cities

More Winter Fun Near Hastings

For more outdoor winter fun in the Twin Cities check out our round up of free outdoor ice skating rinks our Winter Survival Guide and our Winter Family Festival Calendar – all filled with ways to enjoy the cold season.

Hastings swimming & beaches

Hastings Family Aquatic Center

901 Maple St, Hastings, MN 55033
Make a splash this summer at the Hastings Family Aquatic Center. Fun features at the pool include zero-depth entry and a water play area for the littlest swimmers, two substantial slides for the bigger ones, and umbrellas and deck chairs for those who need a break. Open mid-June through late August. Admission ranges from $7-$9 from 12-5pm; save $2/pp after 5pm. Or, choose to swim Tuesday or Thursday when the pool closes at 5pm and all ages pay $7/pp.

Point Douglas Park & Beach

Here’s a traditional summer beach swim idea: try this simple sandy spot at POINT DOUGLAS PARK. It sits on the St. Croix River, just above its confluence with the Mississippi. You won’t find playground equipment here, but the tidy beach is situated near a lift bridge that might make for good boat watching. FFTC’s own Joy P. says her family enjoys this park for short picnic stops on their way to Wisconsin. Admission to the beach is free.

Little Log House Pioneer Village 

21889 Michael Ave, Hastings, MN 55033
I’m an absolute sucker for re-created historical villages so this one outside of Hastings proper is on the top of my living history bucket list. The village (lovingly assembled by a Hastings couple) invite the public in only one weekend a year, so you’ve got to plan in advance. Tthe Little Log House Pioneer Village Antique Power Show is your one shot to marvel at dozens of restored buildings with ties to local communities. Plus  re-enactments, a tractor pull and a parade. Traditionally held the last weekend in July, 8am-5pm daily. Admission is $10/adults, kids 12 & under FREE.

Fall in Hastings: Festivals & Activities

Fall Raptor Release

Carpenter Nature Center, 12805 St Croix Trail S, Hastings, MN 55033
The Raptor Center releases rehabbed birds at 11am & 2pm plus wagon rides, kids activities and educational displays. September 23, 2023, 10am-3pm, FREE admission. 

Fall Into Winter Fair

6600 Peller Ave S, Hastings, MN 55033
Family entertainment at Afton’s annual Ski & Snowboard Swap includes chairlift rides, inflatables, live music, movies and more. October 6-8, 2023. FREE admission. 

Hastings Fire/EMS Department Open House

115 5th St. W. Hastings, Minnesota 55033
Tour the fire trucks and see the equipment, enjoy treats and meet the rescue workers. October 10, 2023, 7-9pm. FREE.

Hastings Halloween Events

Zywiec’s Fall Fun Fest

10900 E Point Douglas Rd, Cottage Grove, MN 55016
It’s Halloween lite for younger kids. The Fall Fun Fest includes two packages of activities to choose from including pumpkin painting, sand art and a lights-on haunted house walk-thru. Hayrides are free. You also may want to take home a pumpkin or two to carve. For older kids or adults who can brave it (NOT US), Zyweic’s is home to the Haunting Experience. Fall Fest runs weekends, October 14-29, 2023 & 19-20 during MEA Weekend. Packages run $20-$27.

Hastings Community Halloween Party

Hastings High School, 200 General Sieben Dr, Hastings, Minnesota 55033
Celebrate the spooky season in Hastings with a community Halloween party. All are invited. October 27, 2023, 6-8pm. FREE.

Hastings Halloween Candy Crawl

Downtown Hastings, MN 55033
Trick or treat Downtown businesses, visit a bounce house, play mini golf and more.  October 29, 2023, 2pm-5pm. 


More Fall Fun Near Hastings

Some of the best fall fun for families in the Twin Cities is near Hastings – several major apple orchards, pumpkin patches and corn mazes to take the kids and enjoy a beautiful fall day in Minnesota. Our guides are bursting with ideas for things to do.

Afton Apple Orchard

14421 South 90th Street, Hastings, MN 55033
Come pick your own apples, fall raspberries & pumpkins on a crisp fall day. There is lots to do here that is included with the admission fee such as the playground, huge tire mountain and petting farm. We’ve easily made a full day of it just with those diversions and riding the hay wagon into the orchard. It’s almost impossible to bypass the cow train (and your tots will want to ride it) but it’s a little easier to avoid paying extra for the jumping pillow and corn maze (opening Sept 18) if you’ve got a budget. Opening August 19 for the 2023, 10am-6pm daily thru October 31.
$7/pp ages 5+, $5/pp under 5, includes some orchard activities.
Afton Apple Orchard: Boy posing in cut-out apple, "You Are The Eye of Our Apple!"

Carpenter Nature Center Orchard

12805 St Croix Trail S, Hastings, MN 55033,
The Apple Shack opens after Labor Day. Pre-picked apples only are available from St Croix Valley’s own orchard. Stop in at the nature center for some animal exhibits (open 8am-4:30pm). The annual Apple Festival will be held October 7th & 8th, 2023 and is free to attend (hayrides! Stuff for kids!). Orchard op en Wednesday-Sunday, 9am-5pm, FREE.

Whistling Well Farm

Whistling Well Farm, 8973 St Croix Trail S, Hastings, MN 55033
The draw here is a lovely small farm setting scattered with chickens and a picturesque well (fall family photo op, anyone?). There are pick-your-own apples or pre-picked options available. Pick your Halloween pumpkins from the patch. Opens September 1, 2023. Daily, 9am-6pm, FREE admission.


Extreme Sandbox Heavy Metal Dine-In

1930 Glendale Road, Hastings, MN 55014
The ULTIMATE dinner-and-a-show combo for those who go gaga for big rigs, the Heavy Metal Dine-In is an interactive outdoor event in Hastings that pairs food trucks with the opportunity to watch and even operate real construction equipment. There are mini excavators available for younger construction enthusiasts to play with, too, and sandbox miniatures for the very youngest. Tickets to visit are an affordable $7.50 with add-ons ranging from $10-$40.  Food is purchased at the show from the vendors. Shows run through early November.

Hastings Dairy Store

1700 Vermillion St, Hastings, MN 55033
Formally known as the Hastings Co-op Creamery, their chocolate shakes are simply THE BEST we’ve ever had. Ice cold and refreshing. A small size is super satisfying and just over a buck the last time we popped in. You can stock up on other dairy treats while you’re at it – cheese curds, anyone? Sadly, this local shop may have closed for good in August of 2023. The owners hope to keep the doors open, so we keep this information here in case.

Ice cream cup from Hastings Dairy Store in Hastings Minnesota

LeDuc Historic Estate

1629 Vermillion St, Hastings, MN 55033
This Gothic Revival home provides a peek at what life was like for the LeDuc family (the patriarch was a war hero among other notable things) when they lived in Hastings. Throughout the year, special events such as a Civil War weekend and a day camp are hosted by the LeDuc House, in care of the Dakota County Historical Society. It can be hit or miss as to whether or not the scheduled programming will appeal to kids, but it’s worth a check to their website when planning to spend a fun day in Hastings.


Hastings is generously decorated with 37 city parks to explore, playgrounds, scenic bike trails and natural spaces along the Mississippi and Vermillion Rivers. Our list of the BEST THINGS TO DO IN HASTINGS, MINNESOTA, WITH KIDS is a great place to start gathering park ideas no matter the season. Our Parks Search tool also covers many of these parks – type “Hastings” into the location search space. Some parks not to miss when searching for things to do with kids outdoors in Hastings:

Free Family Fun:

  • Summer concerts and more entertainment at the amphitheater in LEVEE PARK. 20 Ramsey St, Hastings, MN 55033.
  • A beautiful urban waterfall at VERMILLION FALLS PARK. 215 21st St E
    Hastings, MN 55033.
  • Schaar’s Bluff hike and river vistas at SPRING LAKE PARK RESERVE. 8395 127th Street East, Hastings, MN 55033.
  • A free beach & boat-watching at POINT DOUGLAS PARK. 14593-14741 Point Douglas Dr S, Hastings, MN 55033.

More Active Fun:

Carpenter-St Croix Valley Nature Center 

12805 St Croix Trail S, Hastings, MN 55033
The CARPENTER NATURE CENTER is perched on bluffland a couple of miles north of the junction between the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers. Hiking trails wind throughout the pines, savanna, prairies, ravines, an apple orchard, and along the river. Especially kid-friendly are the exhibits inside the nature center. Preschool story times($6/child) are offered once a month for kids ages 2-5.  These include a nature story, an art or craft project, outdoor exploration, and live animal observation. 

Afton State Park

6959 Peller Ave S, Hastings, MN 55033
has bluffs, rolling prairie and a descent to a strip of a sandy swimming beach on the St Croix river. There is also a grassy space with picnic tables to enjoy a waterfront meal. Making your way back up out of the river bottoms may prove moderately-to-quite challenging for little hikers so plan ahead. It definitely depends on how sturdy your kids are. Occasional naturalist programs are offered such as Universe in the Parks and Archery in the Parks. Check the Afton State Park events calendar. Afton’s visitor center is stocked with FREE equipment to borrow and explore with including geocache units and birding, fish & kids discovery kits. 

Minnesota State Parks
This FFTC kid enjoys swimming at the Afton State Park beach on the St Croix.


HASTINGS ARTS CENTER is the hub for performing arts in the city of Hastings, Minnesota. It encompasses a performance and event venue, an art gallery, and the Blessings Academy of Arts and Music. If family-friendly entertainment is scheduled to come to Hastings Art Center, we track shows and concerts on our TWIN CITIES PERFORMING ARTS CALENDAR.

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