Family Fun: Lil’ Explorer Thursdays at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory


Anne wrote about her experience with Lil’ Explorers Thursdays in the Fall of 2014. It continues to be the same great program today. Read why she loved it when her kids were smaller.

With the passing of summer and the start of a new school year I look forward to spending more quality time with my youngest while her older siblings are away for the day. Because let’s face it: when I’m down to one kid there’s less mess, fewer fights to break up, and not as many opinions to consider when we’re deciding how to spend our day.  For instance, I can take my preschooler to Lil’ Explorer Thursdays at Como Zoo & Conservatory without a single complaint from her big sibs.

It’s a perfect morning outing for the 4-and-under set. Particularly in the winter if you’ve been feeling cooped up inside but don’t relish bundling everyone up to play out in the frigid temps. Between the sun shining through all those windows and the lush tropical greenery you can almost imagine you’ve been transported out of Minnesota. While we are there we can choose  to visit the rest of the Zoo (which still has plenty open) or even explore the larger Como Regional Park.

Lil' Explorer Thursdays

Plus, the kids will be completely occupied by the weekly themed activities. Running through April, each Thursday is packed with games, art projects, sensory tables, and interactive storytimes with Como staff. My kids have planted flowers, dug for worms, gone “fishing” and sponge-painted butterflies to their heart’s content in the hallway connecting the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory to the Como Zoo’s Visitor Center. Get the full 2017 schedule below to see if one of the upcoming themes might appeal to your little naturalist.

I’m planning on arriving at 10 a.m. tomorrow myself. First order of business for the day is seeing my scholars off to the bus stop – and then taking some time to enjoy my littlest ones before she’s boarding that bus herself.  


 Lil' Explorer Thursdays

Good News! Como has made Lil’ Explorer Thursdays a year-round program. Now we can attend the same great school-year program during the warm months! 

Lil’ Explorer Thursdays at Como

Time: 10am-12pm
Cost: Event is free; suggested donation of $3 per adult and $2 per child is appreciated. Free parking is available in the adjacent lots and streets.

Sept. 2019- Feb. 2020 Schedule

September 5 –  Reptile Rock N Roll
September 12 – Fun with Fish
September 19 – Jr. Zoo Keeper
September 26 – Bird Buddies

October 3 – Fantastic Frogs
October 10 – Jr. Gardener

October 17 – Furry Friends
October 24 – Diggin’ Dinos
October 31 – Night Time

November 7 – Animal Families
November 14 – Fancy Flowers
November 21 – Under the Sea
November 28  – No Lil’ Explorers

December 5 – Animals in Winter
December 12 – Busy Bugs
December 19 – Down on the Farm
December 26 – Teddy Bear Picnic

January 2 – Fun with Fish
January 9 – Reptile Rock N Roll
January 16 – Jr. Zoo Keeper
January 23 – Seeds & Sprouts
January 30 – Bird Buddies

February 6 – Fantastic Frogs
February 13 – Furry Friends
February 20 – Jr. Gardener
February 27 – Diggin’ Dinos


This article was originally written by Anne Kingston in 2014
and was most-recently updated in September 2019


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