The summer of 2020 may cause even the most hardy of Minnesotans to take stock of our priorities and adjust. Often we’re at home for long stretches of time and cut off from our social networks. We’re appreciating the arrival of spring and the chance to get outdoors like never before.
We have adjusted our annual summer bucket list with this in mind, getting creative and dreaming up fun things to do that don’t take too much effort besides gathering your family and maybe a few supplies.
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Get started planning your best summer!
Everything under the sun you need to know about family fun this summer 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 Ultimate Summer Events Guide.
|At Home Summer Activities||Summer Park Fun|
Enter our Summer to Remember Family Adventure!
FFTC is taking back the year of 2020 starting NOW! We invite you to help us make a “Summer to Remember” with our fun family challenge. Enter your adventures each week to win prizes from our fantastic partners: Wheel Fun Rentals, Kerfoot Canopy Tours, Snapology, and SweetSpot Baseball. Each week is a new opportunity to win! Enter 6 adventures to be entered into our grand prize drawing from Kerfoot Canopy Tours: a family pack worth worth $360. Sign up at this link: https://www.familyfuntwincities.com/summer-to-remember-adventure/
2) Build a Fairy Garden – I love fairy gardens. And this is the year for one. I have a space and I have the time. Now, I need to make it. Doesn’t a fairy garden sound like a perfect summer activity this year?
3) Play croquet – If you need to purchase a croquet set, here you go. This is one of those perfect outdoor games that can involve a spread of ages. We love to play with the grandparents!
4) Build a birdhouse: I have never built a birdhouse. My kids have each built one, so this might need to be a “Kids Teach Mom” project.
5) Design a DYI splashpad – one EPIC sprinkler in the backyard
6) Make a homemade slip ‘n slide – The first step is find a slope in the yard. The momentum of running and flinging your body on the ground will definitely create a big splash.
7) Create a butterfly and pollinator watching area – We went straight to the best source – the North American Butterfly Association – for the best advice.
9) Lie on your back and stargaze – You could go one of two ways with this. If you make it an event, your kids will buy into the excitement. Bring out blankets/sleeping bags, pillows, and stuffed animals. Or get them out of bed (not too long after they go, so they aren’t sleepy) and lead them out to a magical space in your backyard.
10) Churn some homemade ice cream.
11) Build a low balance beam through the middle of your garden.
12) Play corn hole
13) Get creative with crafts outdoors – Beads and yarn, seashells and sand, jars and paint. Use what you’ve got around the house or yard and create a nature collage.
14) Keep reading – Join FFTC’s BookHounds Family BookClub and read fun books together with Gianna or choose from the many reading programs around the metro. It’s fun and it’s as free as you want it to be.
15) Take a backyard camping trip – Camping trip cancelled? It’s a bummer, but you can still have a fun camping experience together in your own backyard. Find some creative ways to spice it up a little at the link.
16) Play hopscotch on your driveway or sidewalk – don’t forget the rainbow chalk! While you’ve got the chalk out, decorate the pavement and leave messages for the neighbors.
17) Host an outdoor movie night – find tips for rigging up your own backyard movie theater.
18) Picnic in your yard – We think almost all food tastes better out of doors. The kids will scarf down this chicken salad recipe.
19) Round up a kickball team – This should be somewhat self-explanatory. However, if you need a rule refresher, you can click here.
20) Plant a kid-friendly garden – We have a ton of great ideas and resources for you in helping your family plant a garden together.
21) Declare a Challenge Day – Can you break the record for jumping jacks? How fast can you run down the driveway? How high can you (safely!) climb that tree? Who can find the best (safe) hiding spot? Don’t forget the best challenges: how many books or chapter can you read today? Who can be kind all day? Who can go the longest without needing mom!
22) Make music with buckets and other items from the house – Make sure you play the music outside.
23) Build an obstacle course in the backyard – This warrior obstacle course is about the coolest obstacle course I have seen in a backyard.
24) Backyard Games Summer Marathon – Commit to playing a game or doing something outside every evening you are home. Start small and see what you can do by the end of the summer. Work toward a prize like going to the State Fair or Como Town.
25) Host Backyard Olympics – Toyko 2020 may be postponed, but you can hold your own competitions in the yard. Get some ideas at the link.
Our huge summer community events list covers each corner of the Twin Cities Metro area – use it to find entertainment in the parks, swimming holes, splash pads, library events, bike trails and more.
26) Climb around Interstate State Park – Minnesota side (Taylors Falls) or Wisconsin side, both are equally beautiful and geologically interesting.
27) Go fishing in Snail Lake – This is one of the top Twin Cities fishing holes we recommend. The lake is located in Snail Lake Regional Park in Shoreview.
28) Rent and paddle a canoe or a kayak at Silverwood Park in St Anthony. Take the time to wander the trails and seek out the public art.
29) Explore Fort Snelling State Park where the mighty Mississippi and Minnesota rivers meet. GPS units, birding kits, and fishing poles are available for free during your visit to the park. Check out fishing poles at the park office and the GPS units and bird kits at the Visitor Center.
30) Go wading in a creek – Minnehaha Creek rambles 22 miles from Lake Minnetonka to Minnehaha Falls and is a joy to splash, wade or paddle down.
31) 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.
32) Summer mini golf is a classic choice. Our favorite whimsical outdoor miniature golf course is Big Stone Mini Golf & Sculpture Garden in Minnetrista and it’s currently open for play (just a note: masks are required.)
33) 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.
34) Take an exciting walk across the dam at Coon Rapids Dam Park Regional Park. Start on either the Coon Rapids side of the park or the Brooklyn Park side (now known as Mississippi Gateway Regional Park).
35) Stroll around Como Lake (one of my favorite lakes to visit). Better yet, bike it! We’ve included this route in our list of the best St Paul bike trails for families – and there’s so much more to explore at Como Park.
36) Explore Hyland Lake Park Reserve – home to one of the two largest playgrounds in Minnesota. A note about playgrounds: Bloomington’s playgrounds are open. Out of an abundance of caution we generally recommend against touching the play structures. But if you do use them, please continue to observe all CDC social distancing and other precautionary recommendations.
37) Go birding at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden – Never been birding? Joy has everything you need to know.
38) Hop on your bike and ride the trails along the Mississippi River – West River Parkway on the Minneapolis side or Mississippi River Blvd on the St Paul side both have dedicated bike lanes and many parks and overlooks to pull over and explore. Want more inspiration? Here’s a list of the top Minneapolis bike trails.
39) Hunt for fossils in St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park
40) Three Rivers Park beaches open for the season June 5th. There are still swimming options to be had in the Twin Cities! The following locations are included (note swim ponds remain closed): Baker Park Reserve, Bryant Lake Regional Park (closed through July 1, 2020, due to construction), Carver Park Reserve (Lake Auburn Campground), Cedar Lake Farm Regional Park, Cleary Lake Regional Park, Fish Lake Regional Park, French Regional Park & Lake Rebecca Park Reserve.
41) Explore Minnehaha Falls – walk or bike through the park and make sure to descend to the creek get a thrilling view of the falls or go wading downstream! The park’s outdoor dining destination, Sea Salt Eatery, is open for online ordering and pickup if you’d like to eat a meal in the park.
42) 20 FREE Minneapolis wading pools have opened up for the summer! Want to find out which parks have pools? See our Minneapolis wading pools master list.
43) Organize an animal-loving field day nearby park – Gallop like a horse, run like a dog, slither like a snake, walk like a bear, crawl like a turtle. Need an idea for a park close to home? We’re starting a new series!
- Eagan Family Fun: 10 Close-To-Home Parks to Explore This Summer
- Burnsville Family Fun – 9 Close-To-Home Parks to Explore This Summer
- Bloomington Family Fun: 10 Parks to Explore This Summer
- Roseville Family Fun: 10 Parks to Explore This Summer
- Maple Grove Family Fun: 10 Close-To-Home Parks to Explore This Summer
- Woodbury Family Fun: 19 Close-To-Home Parks to Explore This Summer
- South St Paul & Inver Grove Heights Family Fun: 10 Parks to Explore This Summer
44) Play a round of disc golf – find our recommendations for the best family-friendly disc golf courses. Some of our favorites include courses at Highland Park (pictured – and FREE!), Kaposia Park (South St Paul), Bassett Creek Park (Crystal) & Central Park (Brooklyn Park).
45) Grab a basket and pick-your-own fresh berries at one of these Twin Cities PYO Produce Farms. Pictured are little berry hunters harvesting at Blueberry Fields of Stillwater. Strawberry picking typically starts mid-June, raspberries follow in July, and blueberries are ripe by August.
46) Discover Caponi Art Park – take the self-guided sculpture trail and see if you can cind the hidden labyrinth within this peaceful park.
47) Twin Cities River Rats water ski shows begin June 11 – catch one ongoing Thursdays on West River Road south of Broadway Avenue, Minneapolis. Bring lawn chairs and a picnic supper to make an evening of it. 6:30pm, FREE.
48) Stroll around Bde Maka Ska
49) Check out the updated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the outdoor (and free!) portion of the Walker Art Center.
50) Scout out Rum River Regional Park in Anoka.
This summer, spending time with our families will be simplified. We will enjoy each face and voice. We will slow down together.
Let’s listen to each other and laugh with one another and make memories together. A simple summer could be the most memorable summer all.
Looking for More Summer Fun?
Get some new summer reads from FFTC’s online Bookshop. We are affiliates of this program, so we earn a small commission on anything you purchase through our link. All of it is at no extra cost to you. And you are supporting local independent bookshops!
Summer Boredom Busters