Brilliant, lovely October in the Twin Cities – our final hurrah before the last of the leaves under our feet become drifts of snow. If you’re not the biggest fan of recreation in the temp extremes, this is your month, Minnesota! We extoll here all the ways you can get outdoors with your kids from those tiny ones getting around with strollers and slings to those big ones getting away from you with their new driver’s license. Yes, we have sorted October’s best activities by age! Read on for autumn inspiration.
In October, skip to activities:
Halloween for Everyone! Valleyfair's Tricks and Treats is a gotta-be-there Halloween event packed with fun
and family-friendly eeriness.
From little goblins to grown-up ghouls, everyone will find ghastly great things to do for Halloween. Plus, we’ve got skeleTONS of delicious seasonal treats, drinks and, of course, candy! If that’s not fang-tastic enough, our most popular rides are open during the Halloween event to deliver the amazing thrills and chills found only at Valleyfair. The event runs on Saturdays and Sundays, September 23 - October 29.
Save on tickets at Valleyfair.com.
THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR BABY IN THE TWIN CITIES – OCTOBER
Take a fall colors hike (or drive)
Either way you choose, it’s gonna be a win: you can strap baby on and get some fresh air and exercise yourself or hope a leisurely drive lulls baby to sleep in the car while you enjoy the leaf displays. And unlike querulous toddlers (or even tweens, honestly) babies won’t throw themselves down in the middle of your hike and insist they just CAN’T. WALK. ANOTHER. STEP. So, where will you be off to? Suggestions, yes we have them:
- CAPONI ART PARK, Eagan: Trails wind and roll through the changing woods. Be on the lookout for sculpture art along the way. 1220 Diffley Rd, Eagan, MN 5512K3. Open Tues-Sun, FREE admission.
- LAKE MARIA STATE PARK, Monticello: Perfect for a slow drive on the weekend or a walk among the colorful maples. This is one of 9 MINNESOTA STATE PARKS within an hour’s drive of MSP Metro. $7/vehicle permit. 11411 Clementa Avenue NW, Monticello, MN 55362.
- MINNESOTA LANDSCAPE ARBORETUM, Chaska: One of the most beautiful places in the Twin Cities to view fall colors – gardens, woods, and prairies with miles of trails you can walk or drive. Autumn touches include pumpkin & scarecrow displays, Minnesota apples for sale. $15/adult. 3675 Arboretum Dr, Chaska, MN 55318.
- SPRING LAKE PARK RESERVE, Hastings: Head for the Schaar’s Bluff trail for beautiful fall colors and views high over the Mississippi. 8395 127th Street East, Hastings, MN 55033.
Take your baby to a pumpkin patch or apple orchard
Yes, really! Our FFTC team member Joy lays out all the benefits (adorable photos, health benefits and outdoors time, how’s that for a spoiler?) in her article 5 REASONS TO TAKE YOUR BABY TO THE PUMPKIN FARM. Of course, you can stock up on your needs for a Halloween jack-o-lantern and, in October, there are still ripe apples clinging to the trees.
IF YOU HAVE OLDER KIDS, they will absolutely love all the activities that many farms pack into their patches. Allow us to take you on a little tour around the corners of the MSP Metro:
WEST METRO: LuceLine Orchard
2755 Rose Ave, Watertown, MN 55388
Apples are now pick-your-own while supplies last. There are lots of other activities onsite for kids to stay busy, including some that are open on weekdays – a hay mountain, petting zoo, corn boxes and swings. The orchard offers free admission; some fees for additional activities or purchase a $20 wristband to include unlimited access to diversions like the corn maze, hay rides and jumping pillow.
EAST METRO: Aamodt’s Apple Farm
6428 Manning Avenue North, Stillwater, MN 55082
There are a couple free activities (such as meeting the resident goats) and much to do that requires a small fee (sweet little wagon and train rides pictured below, weekends only, $5/pp). Adults who’d like something to sip on may enjoy the onsite winery or hard cider, also brewed right on the farm.
NORTH METRO: Sunrise River Farm
7602 Wyoming Trail, Wyoming, MN 55092
Pick your own apples in a quiet, charming atmosphere with a few free family activities. Take some time to groom the farm pets and play on the swings. There are also train and wagon rides for a small fee.
SOUTH METRO: Afton Apple Orchard
14421 South 90th Street, Hastings, MN 55033
Lots to do here that is included with the admission fee such as the playground, huge tire mountain and petting farm. We’ve easily made a full day of it just with those diversions and riding the hay wagon into the orchard. Daily through October 31st, 10am-6pm
Admission is $7/pp ages 5+, $5/pp under 5.
THINGS TO DO WITH TODDLERS & PRESCHOOLERS IN THE TWIN CITIES – OCTOBER
Caregivers with kids between the ages of 1 and 5, these events and activities are geared toward your family. You know your child best, so we encourage you to peruse our full Family Fun Calendar and try any of the all-ages events there, but we publish here a quick list of toddler activities and pre-school family fun ideas.
Twin Cities Toddler and Preschool Events This Week
Pick a pumpkin, any pumpkin
Do you prefer your patches plain or fancy? Are you simply in search of that perfect jack-o-lantern or hankering for a full-on fall festival with all the trimmings? There is a pumpkin patch to suit all tastes here in the Twin Cities. Choose from more than 20 and get all the details in our TWIN CITIES 2023 GUIDE TO PUMPKIN PATCHES. Some of our best picks for toddlers & preschoolers include:
28186 Kettle River Blvd., Wyoming, MN 55092
Included in admission to Pinehaven Farm are a bundle of fun fall activities that your preschooler will adore: playground equipment, mazes, all-terrain trikes, a jumping pillow, adorable farm animals, the works. Take a trolley ride to the pumpkin patch and pick-your-own. The setting is especially beautiful when the fall colors are at peak. Read about our visit to Pinehaven Farm with kids here. Open weekends & MEA 10am – 7pm thru October 29, 2023. Admission $11-$21 (save by pre-purchasing online): fee covers the majority of attractions. Season passes available.
8174 Lake Dr, Lino Lakes, MN 55014
Joyer Adventure Farm is a hoot for toddlers and preschoolers! Lots of animals to feed, junior mazes, a big corn pit, all-terrain trikes, play equipment and kid friendly food served on weekends. Wednesday-Monday 10am-6pm (Closed Tuesdays). Ages 3+ $14.99/weekdays and $17.99/weekends. Online ticket purchase for Joyer Adventure Farm required.
Harvest up some fall festivals just right for your preschooler
Fall, in our opinion, has the heartiest, most feel-good festivals of any time of the year. Here are a couple of our suggested favorites for little ones, sweet with lots of simple but engaging activities. For dozens more, consult our TWIN CITIES FALL FAMILY FESTIVAL CALENDAR.
This little treasure of a place is tucked up in Brooklyn Park, not far from the lovely Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park. The fall fun centers on activities little ones can do such as decorating pumpkins, tasting cider fresh from the press, taking a hayride, exploring the nature play area and taking a fall-themed storywalk around the working farm. October 7, 2023, 9:30am-4:30pm. $50/family.
WARGO NATURE CENTER, in Lino Lakes, is once again hosting their annual fall festival. Perfect activities for little ones include playing pioneer games, pressing apples for cider and taking a walk through the new outdoor sound garden. The nature center also maintains a sweet little nature playground to enjoy if weather permits. October 21, 2023, 1-4pm, FREE.
1220 Diffley Rd, Eagan, MN 55123
Enjoy the changing colors of the forest and all the fun that comes with it. What little doesn’t love plunging into a giant leaf pile? Plus arts and crafts activities, make-your-own treats, and more. October 14, 2023, 12-4pm. FREE!
THINGS TO DO WITH SCHOOL-AGED KIDS IN THE TWIN CITIES – OCTOBER
Twin Cities Kids Events This Week
Have a howlin’ good time on & around Halloween
Little ghouls and goblins, here is surely some sweet news for you: there is no end to the ways to celebrate Halloween in the Twin Cities. Trust us, we’ve been swamped for the past month trying to get a handle on all that is offered: Halloween parties in the parks, pumpkin festivals, trick-or-treat events, costume contests and loads of other ways to have not-so-spooky fun with kids. We’ve tried our best to tame the beast in our seasonal guide HERE or check our Halloween quick links:
- FREE HALLOWEEN EVENTS IN THE TWIN CITIES
- PLAN-AHEAD $ HALLOWEEN EVENTS IN THE TWIN CITIES
- TWIN CITIES TRUNK-OR-TREAT EVENTS
What will we do over MEA Break?
We like to think of this long weekend as a blessing – though we understand often it may not feel as such when school’s on break and structure may be out the window. We recommend a little advance planning to make the most of the time. Our MEA FAMILY GUIDE lists special MEA hours for museums, pumpkin patches and apple orchards as well as early Halloween events taking place October 19-22, 2023. Here’s a sneak peek, filled with ways to entertain your school-aged kids:
Get up close to big rigs during Fire Prevention Month
Whose got big kids that stop in their tracks at the sight of one of those monster vehicles? October is National Fire Prevention Month. There are more chances this month to see the big rigs than any other – check our Twin Cities Touch-a-Truck Calendar to plan ahead! Activities at the individual open houses run the gamut from fire truck rides and touring fire stations to taking in live fire prevention demonstrations and enjoying free refreshments. Keep these communities in mind as you plan your October weekends – click the city link to get all the details:
All aboard the Pumpkin Express!
Osceola & St Croix Valley Railway bids you all to hop aboard its special Pumpkin Express Train to the pumpkin patch. Admire the blazing colors on the bluffs as you chug out to the Dresser Depot for games, live music, hayrides and, of course, that perfect pumpkin (ages 15 & under receive a FREE pumpkin with admission ticket). Tickets sell out quickly for the event; check the calendar here to see what’s still in stock. October 20-22, 2023. $29-$35/pp (under age 5 FREE).
MORE FALL FUN FOR ALL AGES: If you can’t swing those dates or don’t need pumpkins, try one of the railway’s weekend fall color train rides.
THINGS TO DO WITH TEENS & TWEENS IN THE TWIN CITIES – OCTOBER
Twin Cities Teen & Tween Events This Week
Be active outdoors as a family with your older kids
For those who loathe the cold, October is the month in Minnesota we try to squeeze in the last of our outdoor outings. Here are a few on our radar where you can try some “adventure” activities that might appeal to your tweens and teens:
All ages can appreciate the beauty of the Twin Cities dressed in its fall best. Try taking in the colors along the route to the top of the lift hill at the Hyland ski area. Live musical acts will perform and food will be available for purchase. These sell out quick; grab your advance tickets right now. October 7-8, 2023, $8/pp plus tax.
Shop as a family at a fall farmers market – then cook up a cozy dinner together
Get your tweens and teens inspired to help in the kitchen with a trip to a family-friendly fall market such as MILL CITY FARMERS MARKET & MIDTOWN FARMERS MARKET (both in Mpls) and RICHFIELD FARMERS MARKET (Veterans Park). The stacks of brightly-colored autumn produce are just begging to be turned into cozy family dinners. What we do at home: Have your teen scroll their social media channel of choice and come up with a recipe they want to try with ingredients you can shop for together. Hurry over for the harvest; last call for many of the markets is nearing the end of October.
GOT LITTLES, TOO? We pair each fall farmers market in our guide with family-friendly outings nearby: museums, bookstores, playgrounds and parks.
Sorta-spooky Halloween events?
Parents of tweens and teens, we know that Halloween can be a tricky time to navigate. Our own kids are on the verge of – or even well past – the trick-or-treat years. They crave something a bit thrilling and long to assert some independence while we grapple with keeping them safe. You know your child best. The ideas on our TWIN CITIES HALLOWEEN FOR TEENS & TWEENS list include outings ideal for the kid who still likes to stick with the family AND some designed for teens who are comfortable with independent outings. A couple we highly recommend for mild spook factor:
Valleyfair Amusement Park, 1 Valley Fair Dr., Shakopee, MN 55379
While an all ages Tricks And Treats replaces Valleyscare Halloween Haunt in 2022, there is still something for teens and tweens. Visitors can choose between a scarier “Tricks” path or a friendlier “Treats” path. September 23-October 29, 2023. Friday 5pm-9pm; Saturdays Noon-9pm; Sundays, Noon to 8pm. Included with daily admission or season pass. Learn more and find tickets here.
Midtown Greenway, 2828 11th Avenue S, Mpls, MN 55407,
The annual Halloween puppet extravaganza is back to its traditional glory. Dress warm and bring your own seating. October 27, 28, 29, and 31, 2023. 7pm-8pm. $20/pp. Pre-purchased and walk-up tickets available.
Find their way out of a corn maze
Personally, I always vote for less stress and haphazard running around in my life. But my kids of this age all enjoy solving a good puzzle – and a corn maze kind of falls into this category in addition to getting them outdoors. Find our guide to the BEST CORN MAZES IN THE TWIN CITIES – and/or skip down for a few recommendations:
CHALLENGE YOUR TEENS & TWEENS: Pick one of the giants in the Twin Cities, say SEVER’S CORN MAZE & FALL FESTIVAL (Minnesota’s original, located in Shakopee) or the 20-acre monster TWIN CITIES HARVEST FESTIVAL CORN MAZE (up north in Brooklyn Park). These mazes will run you in the range of $13-$22/pp if you book online in advance but remember they also include a boatload of other fall activities like hay and train rides, petting farms, jumping pillows and the like. There are also special puzzles to solve within each of these labyrinths that older kids might find entertaining.
FOR YOUNGER KIDS: We recommend a mid-level corn maze such as the one found at PINE TREE APPLE ORCHARD (White Bear Lake area). Or, for the very youngest, try the newer hedge maze at APPLEWOOD ORCHARD in Lakeville. Littles will love the pedal tractors, too. These mazes are decidedly more budget-friendly at less than $10/pp.