August with a glass half empty approach means school is right around the corner. But August at half-full means there’s still plenty of summer left to enjoy: beaches, pools, entertainment in the park, nature playgrounds, picnic spots, outdoor movies, putt-putt courses and that big bash before Labor Day, the Minnesota State Fair. Make your August good to the last drop of summer – start by browsing these ideas, sorted by age.
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THINGS TO DO WITH TODDLERS & PRESCHOOLERS IN THE TWIN CITIES – AUGUST
Play free & green at a nature playground
I get a deep satisfaction from watching my park-bound kiddos play in a more natural setting: digging, figuring out how to climb that tree, following paths, building forts. They become immersed in tossing rocks into the water, scouting frogs, collecting wildflowers. More places have popped up around the Minneapolis-St Paul metro where kids get the opportunity to interact with the landscape and, perhaps, develop a greater appreciation for it. We include 17 of these spaces in our roundup of TWIN CITIES NATURE PLAYGROUNDS. Pictured: Discovery Hollow at Tamarack Nature Center, White Bear Lake.
Still time to splash
Push those thoughts of fall away – we still have plenty of summer left! Go out with a splash at any of thes three solid solutions for a refreshing summer:
They hit the mark when you want to beat the heat. We have organized more than 40 spray parks by region of the Minneapolis-St Paul for easy locating. Most of these splash pads will operate in the parks through Labor Day.
We tend to tout the free Minneapolis wading pools on our website because they are so prolific – nearly 60 spread across the city’s neighborhoods. They are an idea place for toddlers and preschoolers who have not yet learned to swim but love to make a good splash. Many of them are no-frills with a standard depth of about 18″ but gradually, the older pools are being updated with fun spray features and zero-depth entry. All are located adjacent to a playground, rest rooms and space to spread out with a picnic. PICTURED: one of our favorite splash pad-wading pool hybrids at WABUN PICNIC AREA within MINNEHAHA REGIONAL PARK.
Got a little one who’d prefer to become accustomed to the pool without those periodic (and unintentional) slaps of water in the face from sharing space with the big kids? Many local pools offer dedicated tot time open swim hours and several of them offer discounted rates for these short sessions. Get an hour of swim time for half the price of a full day’s admission. You’ll want to check the individual pool websites for the last operating day of the season as typically it is in August.
Sunflower selfies, barnyard buddies & pick-your-own produce
Waldoch Farm Garden Center, 8174 Lake Dr, Lino Lakes, MN 55014
For all of the above, consider a visit to the Joyer Adventure Farm at WALDOCH FARM GARDEN CENTER. Your ticket includes a chance to meet all the barnyard animals (sheep, chickens and donkeys to name a few), plus have the run of the play areas, low ropes course and mazes. You’re also good to take pictures in the sunflower field and are permitted to pick-your-own produce (if desired, for an extra fee). Tickets are sold online, $15/pp.
Afton Apple Orchard, 14421 90th St S, Hastings, MN 55033
A second option for bright blooms and farm fun is AFTON APPLE ORCHARD. General admission to the orchard includes access to the petting farm and playground (including a super cool tire mountain). If you’re interested in picking fruit or wandering in the sunflower field, additional fees are requested. 2023 Flower Festival dates: August 20-21, 27-28. $5-$7/pp general admission plus $5/pp for the flower fields.
Still time for preschool jams & more in the park
Hear that, August? It’s the sound of summer tunes starting to wind down for the season. Let’s make the most of what remains before the chill moves in, right? Some suggestions for the final kid-friendliest concerts in the park this summer to entertain your little ones:
BLOOMINGTON: Monday Morning Kids Series – Two parks participate: Moir Park and Valley View Park. Final dates: August 7 & 14, 2023, 10:30am. FREE.
BROOKLYN PARK: Family Concert at Eidem Farm – Kid-friendly, free live music in a down-home farm setting. Make sure to wander around and say hello to the animals. Final dates of summer, August 3 & 17, 2023, 6-7pm. FREE. 4345 101st Ave North, Brooklyn Park, MN 55443.
BURNSVILLE: Thursday Rockin’ Lunch Hour – Arrive early for story times. Whatever you do, don’t forget swimsuits for the gorgeous landscaped water feature. Thursdays, August 3, 10 & 17, 2023, noon. FREE.
CHASKA: Kids Yoga in the Park – The final activities scheduled just for the youngsters. August 1, 2023, 10:30am. FREE. Firemen’s Park, 3210 Chaska Blvd, Chaska, MN 55318.
EDINA: Centennial Lakes Summer Kids Concerts – Tuesday & Thursday Kids Concerts at Maezold Amphitheater. August 1-31, 2023, 11am. Centennial Lakes Park, 7499 France Avenue South, Edina, MN 55435.
ELK RIVER: Entertainment in the Park – Kid-friendly entertainment such as a superhero party rounds out the summer. August 3 & 10, 2023, 10:30-11:15am. Woodland Trails Regional Park, 20135 Elk Lake Rd NW, Elk River, MN 55330.
OTSEGO: Splash & Play Tuesday – Cool off in the park’s splash pad and enjoy kids entertainment. Last show of the summer is a visit from the Raptor Center. August 1, 2023, 10am. FREE.
RICHFIELD: Entertainment in The Park – The final Children’s Series of the summer includes a performance by the Teddy Bear Band and Bob the Beachcomber. August 1 & 8, 2023, 11am. Richfield Band Shell, 636 E 66th Street, Richfield, MN 55423.
ST LOUIS PARK: Kids Summer Concert Series – Includes an end-of-season concert by the Jolly Pops. Wednesdays, August 2, 9 & 16, 2023, 10-11am. Wolfe Park Veteran’s Memorial Amphitheater, 3700 Monterey Drive, St Louis Park, MN 55416.
THINGS TO DO WITH SCHOOL-AGED KIDS IN THE TWIN CITIES – AUGUST
Visit the Minnesota State Fair
We firmly believe that you can have a blast with kids of any age at the Minnesota State Fair – yes, even with your baby and yes, definitely with your teens (though wow, do they get expensive!) But I think the sweet spot for bringing kids to the fair is right around school-aged. When they’re out of the stroller and have some stamina, yet still young enough to be charmed by a simple pronto pup and a turn around the animal barns. Then, speaking of saving money, we get into that big time in our annual FAMILY GUIDE TO THE MINNESOTA STATE FAIR. Included are ideas for all ages:
- 20 IDEAS FOR FREE FAMILY FUN AT THE MINNESOTA STATE FAIR
- 50 THINGS TO DO AT THE MINNESOTA STATE FAIR FOR FAMILIES (majority of them are FREE)
- BEST BETS FOR ENTERTAINMENT AT THE MINNESOTA STATE FAIR
Outdoor movies in the parks
Nights are getting a bit shorter and there’s a cooler hint in the evening air. August is prime for outdoor movies in the park! Skip the streaming at home, throw a few camp chairs or a blanket in the trunk and try an outdoor movie-going experience with kids who are old enough to stay up until dusk. That’s the hour when free flicks are screened across Twin Cities-area parks in August. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT forget to pack the popcorn and snacks. Or you’ll hear about it from opening to end credits.
COMMUNITIES OFFERING FREE MOVIES IN THE PARK IN AUGUST: Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Burnsville, Champlin, Edina, Hastings, Maple Grove, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, New Hope, Osseo, Rosemount, Roseville, Shakopee, Stillwater, St Paul & Woodbury. Please hit the link for movie titles and times – far too many to list here!
Summer living history with kids
200 Tower Ave, St Paul, MN 55111
Explore the fort in the most kid-pleasing manner: school-aged visitors will appreciate the historic games, old-time school and music lessons, and hands-on cooking and building demonstrations. Educational YES, boring NO! August 12, 10am-4pm. $8-$12/pp.
Carver Park Reserve, 7025 Victoria Drive, Victoria, MN 55386
Step back in time with interpreters and learn the hands-on way with a new topic each month this summer. In August, discover what it took to preserve food of the harvest on a 19th century farm. August 12, 2023, 1:30-4pm. FREE.
THINGS TO DO WITH TWEENS & TEENS IN THE TWIN CITIES – AUGUST
Whimsical mini-golf courses
Miniature golf is just about the only activity I can get a unanimous “YES!” vote from my kids of a varied age range. They all enjoy it for different reasons – the competitive angle, the creative holes and a chance to whack a ball around – but we all agree it’s a must on our summer bucket list. We roundly recommend BIG STONE MINI GOLF as our favorite course in the Twin Cities area. Yours, too, will love the artist-designed holes and all the lawn games included in admission price of $14-$12/pp.
MORE MINI GOLF: My kids love miniature golf no matter the season, indoors or out. Find our big list of the BEST TWIN CITIES MINI GOLF COURSES for more options (younger putters, tweens & teens, date night…).
August Universe in the Park
In our household, Dad really enjoys engaging the tweens and teens in activities related to space exploration (in fact, he retains a family membership at the Bell Museum – see more below). If you have like-minded individuals in your home, we urge you to check out the University of Minnesota’s UNIVERSE IN THE PARK program. It starts with a 20-30 minute slide show presentation at and, weather permitting, an opportunity to to get a closer look the solar system through 8-inch reflecting telescopes. Participants can learn how to use a star map and go home with a free one. Upcoming dates include:
- August 4: Dodge Nature Center, Shepard Farm, Cottage Grove, 8946 70th Street S, Cottage Grove, MN 55016
- August 5: Afton State Park, 6959 Peller Avenue South, Hastings, MN 55033
- August 11: William O’Brien State Park, 16821 O’Brien Trail North, Marine on St. Croix, MN 55047
- August 12: Lowry Nature Center, 7025 Nature Center Dr, Victoria, MN 55386
- August 25: Eastman Nature Center, 13351 Elm Creek Rd, Maple Grove, MN 55369
Or try the August Bell Museum Star Party for a FREE glimpse through the telescopes and a planetarium show. August 11, 2023, 9:30pm.
Row, row (or paddle) your boat
I included this super summer activity on our July By Age article and am bringing it back for August because it was such a hit with my tween and teen this year. Last month we gave the shout out to WHEEL FUN RENTALS, THREE RIVERS PARK DISTRICT & MISSISSIPPI RIVER PADDLE SHARE as option to rent watercraft from. In August we’re sharing more new finds:
Ages 4 & up can pick up a paddle and learn from a pro for FREE at the following Minneapolis lakes:
- POWDERHORN LAKE – Tuesdays, August 1-29, 2023, 5-7pm. 3400 15th Ave. S.
- LORING POND – Wednesdays, August 2-30, 2023, 5-7pm. 1382 Willow St.
- WIRTH LAKE – Thursdays, August 4-25, 2023, 5-7pm. 3200 Glenwood Ave.
307 Milltown Rd, Taylors Falls, MN 55084
Your tweens and teens will be proud to have the stamina it takes to paddle the 7-mile one way trip from Taylors Falls to Osceola, Wisconsin. The rental company makes it super easy to book online and jump right into your watercraft at Interstate State Park. Paddle complete, the shuttle will return you right back to your car. The paddle takes about 2-3 hours depending on how often you pull over on a sandbar to swim or just rest in the very gentle current and soak up the scenery of the river valley. Our family loved this summer outing! $30-$48/craft.
ROAD TRIP! The photo shown was taken this summer at Itasca State Park and shows off some of the fun kayaks and stand-up paddleboards available through Itasca Sports rentals. Highly recommended, say these teens!