Three Strategies for Doing Art-A-Whirl With Kids

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Bring the kids to Art-A-Whirl with a couple strategies for keeping it fun.


Any kind of art crawl can seem overwhelming with kids — especially if you are on a budget. I hate carrying diaper bags.  It’s just something else to lug and possibly lose; and no doubt at some point you will be carrying a child along with that diaper bag. You can bring a stroller, but then you have to get on and off the trolley with it and you may end up pushing the stroller while carrying the kid. That said, I have done Art-A-Whirl with kids and had a great time. Here are my personal strategies for surviving this grown up occasion with kids. Take the ideas you like, toss the rest, but I think this is a great experience with kids.

Art-A-Whirl Strategy #1 – Packing Just Enough

I actually don’t mind the cheap umbrella stroller for outings like this. It folds fast, it’s light weight and, in my case, it was $5 at a thrift store over five years ago. I’ve gotten my money out of it should I lose it. Rather than a diaper bag, I can fit a diaper and some wipes in my little purse. I live in Northeast, so if we have an emergency, we can just go home. I have to admit our recent trips to the Science Museum and Como Zoo both ended in blowouts that I was not prepared for.  So, option two is to carry a small backpack which would hold a little more plus snacks.

This is one of those awesome street food events.  It’s tempting to plan to hit up one of the vendors, but, since I’m supposed to be watching my budget, I’ll probably opt for the backpack with snacks plus plan a stop at Eastside Food Co-op on my way home. We can make for dinner whatever tempts us the most.

Art-A-Whirl Strategy #2 – Options Without Expectations

I found — at least for my family — the best plan is a loose plan.  That doesn’t mean I’ll go unprepared. This year, there will be and Art-a-Whirl app (live May 10) to help you navigate, and definitely get a booklet from the information booth. Our minimum goal is a trolley ride around NE Minneapolis, but I would really like to visit some of the galleries and participate in some of the events if possible. Three free trolleys will operate during Art-a-Whirl weekend to shuttle you around between the various galleries. Prices for gallery art activities are listed on the individual pages on NEMAA’s site. It’s nice to know ahead of time which events are within my budget, then I don’t have to get anyone’s hopes up for something we ultimately won’t do.



Art-A-Whirl Strategy #3 – Poke Around

Not everything that might be worth our while is an official Art-A-Whirl event and some things we stumbled on and enjoyed in previous years have become official in later years. Kids are really great at finding art in unexpected places. A few years ago, we found this concrete heart (pothole – whatever)  and a brick wall where we were encouraged to create with sidewalk chalk. That is probably our favorite Art-A-Whirl memory and neither were officially part of the festivities.  Local bands are also notorious for unofficial performances and generally aim for family friendly for this event. One family-friendly show is Grandapalooza. Catch any of many local bands whenever you are doing the rounds.

This article was originally written in 2014 when my kids were very small. Visiting gets easier every year, and now this is a weekend my kids look forward to. We update links every year and try to keep information up-to-date.

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About the author

Joy Peters

Joy Peters - co-creator and writer for

Besides Family Fun Twin Cities, I spend my 9 to 5 at a day job pursuing my weird passion for calendars and organizing things as a legal secretary. When I get home I spend my time with my four kids, 10, 6, 4 and 1. My amazing husband is both a full-time musician and full-time stay-at-home dad. Together we run a small radio empire — SiaNet Radio — playing, promoting and enjoying the wide variety of local music and art in the Twin Cities. I juggle all this while writing about exploring the Twin Cities with kids. I couldn’t be happier.

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