If your kids are 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 this is a quick list of toddler activities and pre-school family fun that may be just right for your young family.
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.
Twin Cities Toddler and Preschool Events This Week
While toddlers and preschoolers are not developmentally the same, appropriate activities tend to overlap. Many of the activities below will be perfect for toddlers, but still work for 4 and 5 year olds.
Things to Do With Toddlers in the Twin Cities
Here is a list of ideas for fun things to do with toddlers in the Twin Cities. From the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the Children’s Theater Company to Como Zoo, there are adventures for every toddler and his or her parents, caregivers or grandparents.
1. Get a Toy Library Membership
If you haven’t done this already, now is a great time to take advantage of the Minneapolis Toy Library. You’ll have several years to rotate through toys, puzzles and games that are developmentally appropriate and fresh for your child.
2. Free First Saturdays at the Walker and/or Family Days at Mia
On Free First Saturdays at Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, fun activities are geared toward families. Likewise, Family Day is offered on the third Sunday of every month at Minneapolis Institute of Art. Toddlers may be a little on the young side for some of the activities, but when our children were tots, they had a favorite path with favorite pieces of artwork. We visited the same exhibits every time, made a little art and played — either in the Family Room at Mia or out in the Sculpture Garden at Walker.
3. Theatre for Toddlers
Both Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis and Stages Theatre Company in Hopkins offer some sort of theatre experience for toddlers each year. Also look for outdoor puppet shows in the summer. These events are often held at parks so kids can toddle off to play if they lose interest.
4. Como Zoo Lil’ Explorers
Complete with sensory bins, games, art projects, and interactive story times, these free Thursday mornings are geared toward kids under 4. After the program, you can take your tot to explore the zoo attractions without all the big kids. Learn more about Lil’ Explorer Thursdays here.
5. Make weekly a Library Day
Pick your nearest library or one of the great Play and Learn Library spaces. Plan around weekly storytime or daily naptime, but making the library a habit in the tot years is one of the best ways to raise life-long readers. As tots grow in to preschoolers, library story times will help introduce literacy activities, and help parents find ways to teach letter sounds, letter recognition and more.
6. Dedicated Tot Times at Gyms and Pools
Come fall, there are so may places that offer dedicated Tot Times, Open Play, Gym & Swim Spots for Tots in the Twin Cities. Tot Time at a park gym is great for developing gross motor skills, while the toddler times at local pools, offer the little ones a chance to splash without worry of being splashed by bigger kids. Find one that works around your schedule for a near guarantee of an afternoon nap for tot and a short break for mom or dad.
6. Kid-Friendly Coffee Shops.
Anne gathered a list of Cozy, Kid-Friendly Coffee Shops that offer a little perk up for parents and easy activities, a play space, or at least crayons, books or small toys to keep the little ones occupied. Get yourself a latte, grab a space on a couch and let the kids play, while you read or chat. Most of these cafes offer treats, like cookies and milk, that would satisfy the little ones. Some, like the MiniSota Play Café in Maple Grove are geared toward kids.
7. The Minnesota Children’s Museum
While individual tickets can be pricey, this is a great time to consider a membership to the Minnesota Children’s Museum. Most of the museum is geared toward toddlers and preschoolers. Tots and preschoolers will find sensory bin science activities, water and bubbles play, and activities that encourage both fine and gross motor skill development. The museum opens at 9am, six days a week, so you could make it your indoor play space.
8. LEGO Imagination Center at the MOA
We love a quiet week day for visiting the LEGO Imagination Center, at the Mall of America. While your little one is playing with Duplos, they are also developing hand-eye coordination. You could even introduce some preschool math activities while you play with LEGOs.
Twin Cities Activities for Preschoolers
Not all learning happens in a preschool classroom. These fun preschool activities are just the thing to do with young kids who are getting ready for kindergarten in a year or two.
1. Crafting at Heartfelt
Preschool Festivals at Heartfelt in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis are parent-child workshops geared toward the littlest artists. Held on Wednesday mornings during the school year, each session offers seasonal craft activities that is age-appropriate and sparks creativity. Your child also receives a wholesome snack. Pre-registration is required for these monthly events and space is limited. Supplies and snacks are included in the registration fee.
2. Visit a Bowling Alley on a Weekday
Many of our favorite Family-friendly bowling alleys are open during the day during the week. Get a lane with bumpers and let your preschooler get some hands-on practice.
3. Crayola Experience
Purchase an annual pass, and Crayola Experience becomes a budget-friendly place to visit all year that includes an indoor playground, arts and crafts, not to mention giant Lite Brites and an indoor sidewalk chalk area. They have a toddler area, which your preschooler will still enjoy, plus more activities that are perfect for pre-K development. P.S., because it is at the Mall of America, parking is FREE.
4. Wild Rumpus and Red Balloon Bookshops.
Our two reigning children’s bookstores are hard to beat for cozy, kid-friendly book shopping and story times. The Red Balloon is on Grand Avenue in St. Paul and Wild Rumpus is in Linden Hills neighborhood in Minneapolis. We like to stop for a taste of ice cream after a visit to either. Frequent either or both for weekly story hours or at a quieter time just to quietly browse.
5. Take A Hike
Grab a water bottle, dress for the weather and get out on the (short) trails. We have gathered a list of great places to hike with little ones that offer trails under 1 mile.
5. The Science Museum of Minnesota
This is another museum worth considering for a family membership. Take your preschooler for a quieter visit on a weekday, when they can try science experiments and other learning activities at their own pace. Definitely plan to spend some time playing with dinosaurs and maybe plan for a snack.
6. Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store
Under new ownership and in its new St. Louis Park location, Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store offers pay to play times that will keep both preschoolers and toddlers busy and spark imaginative play.
7. The Works Museum
Best for ages 4+, the Works Museum in Bloomington encourages cognitive development and problem-solving skills with hands on STEM activities. Visit the Experience Gallery on a Thursday or Friday while the big kids are at school. Memberships are available.