Make the most of Fall’s grand entrance with 10 highlights your whole family can get into during the month of September in the Twin Cities.
1) Visit an apple orchard
According to family tradition, Fall is upon us once 1) the State Fair has wrapped and 2) we’ve made tracks to one our our favorite apple orchards! We love seeking out one of the quieter, less-traveled orchards on the outskirts of the metro to pick a peck, get up close to some farm animals and take a hayride. Options in the Twin Cities run the gamut from large operations filled with elaborate playgrounds and numerous kiddie attractions to more simple spots to spend the day. Some of our favorites include Minnetonka Orchards (amazing apple cider donuts!), Fall Harvest Orchard, and Fischer’s Croix Farm Orchard, sponsor of FFTC’s annual Orchard Crawl on Sept 22. For a dozen or so more ideas, check out our Guide to Twin Cities Apple Orchards.
2) Lone Oak Days Fall Festival | Holz Farm, Eagan
Dozens of family-friendly fall festivals dot the Twin Cities this time of year. Last autumn we discovered this gem down in Eagan. Lone Oak Days Fall Festival takes place at the historic Holz Farm (9/22-9/23, 11am-4pm) and is packed full of such down-home fun as pony rides, virtual cow milking, old-fashioned farm chores and a pumpkin pie-eating contest. Admission, along with many activities, is $2; select attractions require a small fee. For a list of festivals across the Twin Cities metro, try our Fall Festival Calendar.
3) Fall Raptor Release | St Croix Carpenter Valley Nature Center, Hastings
Injured birds, nursed back to health by the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center, are released back into the wild at the annual Fall Raptor Release within the Carpenter St Croix Valley Nature Center. Help send them off with educational exhibits and kids activities. 9/22/18, 10am-3pm, FREE.
4) Centennial Lakes Farmers Market
Anyone else out there find that kids are way more enthused to eat veggies they have harvested themselves? We are a not a family of green thumbs, so it is off to the local farmers market we go for fresh produce and salad fixings. One of our fall favorites makes its home at the Centennial Lakes Farmers Market. In addition to perusing the produce, you can still take advantage of the following through the month of September: the 18-hole putting course, paddle boats and lawn games. Market hours are ongoing Thursdays thru the end of September, 3-7pm. Click here for more family fun at Centennial Lakes Park.
5) See the fall colors at Interstate State Park
Beautiful Interstate State Park is a little haven that hugs the St Croix River Valley in the community of Taylors Falls, Minnesota. Only about an hour’s drive from the center of the Twin Cities metro, it’s the perfect destination for a fall colors hike. Our kids have been long fascinated by the mysterious potholes that pockmark the park and the rushing river that divides us from our neighbor Wisconsin. Explore with caution if you’ve got little ones in tow, then make a day of it with suggestions on our list of 6 Things To Do Near Taylors Falls. For more inspiration on where to get out and admire the fall colors with your family, try our take on 6 Twin Cities Metro-Area Minnesota State Parks, all only an hour’s or less drive from the middle of the metro. $7 per day vehicle permit required for state parks.
6) Como’s Lil Explorer Thursdays
The month of September ushers in another season of Como Zoo & Conservatory’s FREE Lil Explorer Thursdays program. It’s an ideal outing for the 4-and-under set, keeping preschoolers busy with games, art projects, sensory tables, and interactive storytime 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. One more reason to love Como’s year-round offerings for families. Ongoing Thursdays through April, 10am-noon.
7) Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Fall Harvest Festival
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum celebrates autumn in grand style at their Fall Harvest Festival. Kids can play around in the custom-designed Green Play Yard, race family members through a hedge maze, taste samples at the Apple House, play lawn games and much more. Sept 29, 10am-5pm, $15 per adult, get a $5-off gate admission coupon here. Keep in mind that the Arborteum is a wonderful place for families to visit year-round. For more ideas on how to explore it with younger ones, try our list of 10 Things for Kids: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
8) Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden & Bird Sanctuary
Nestled in the southern portion of Theodore Wirth Regional Park in Minneapolis is the magical Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden & Bird Sanctuary. It’s a place where families can take in fall colors along the quiet Garden Rambles or preschoolers can register for their own nature-discovery classes through Nature Tots ($7 per child/parent pair).
9) Minnesota Renaissance Festival
Do not be daunted by this niche-y, popular fall festival. Our very own Joy Peters offers up some tips for visiting the Minnesota Renaissance Festival with young ones on board. Yes, there is a substantial admission fee, but said fee covers a bounty of free family-friendly activities such as the jousting tournaments, storytellers, and mermaid encounters. Open weekends thru Sept 30, 9am-7pm. $13.50-$24.95/pp, discount tickets available for purchase in advance.
10) Field Trip at Silverwood Park
Make a fall day of it at Silverwood Park in St Anthony, The annual Silverwood Park Field Trip is packed full of opportunities to listen to live music, play lawn games, explore art sculptures and shop the outdoor art fair vendors. 9/15/18, 11am-5pm. FREE admission.