Summer Fun

Here is our idea archive for Twin Cities Summer fun with kids!

Getting Started.....

St. Paul Parks Summer Activities:

Wet Venues: 

         Free! and well-maintained.  The long list of locations is found at the link above.
         Our favorite so far is Wabun-Minnehaha, but we are always exploring new ones!

Apple Valley Family Outdoor Aquatic Center:
14421 Johnny Cake Ridge Road (between 140th St & County Road 42)

BattleCreek Waterworks Family Aquatic Center:
2401 Upper Afton Road, Maplewood, 651-501-6340
Bunker Beach Water Park and Wave Pool:

Parkway Road A Bunker Hills Regional Park
Cascade Bay Outdoor Water Park:

1360 Civic Center Drive Eagan, MN  55122
Edina Outdoor AquaticCenter at Rosland Park:

4300 W. 66th St. Edina
Jim Lupient Water Park:

1520 Johnson Street N.E. Minneapolis
North Commons Water Park:

1701 Golden Valley Road, Minneapolis 

Oak Hill Park Splash Pad:
3400 Rhode Island Avenue, St. Louis Park

3700 Monterey Dr.,  St. Louis Park   
Tropics Indoor Water Park:
4600 Victoria Street N., Shoreview   
Water Park of America:
Bloomington, 494 near Mall of America
Wild Mountain Outdoor Water Park:

Taylors Falls, MN
Whitewater Country Outdoor Water Park at Valley Fair:

Great Outdoors 

Chutes and Ladders Outdoor Playground
Hyland Lake Park Preserve
10145 Bush Lake Road , Bloomington, MN 55438  952-941-4362
If you have kids who love to climb and explore playground equipment, you have to check this Bloomington park out! Adjacent to "Chutes," is a play area for kids 5 and under. Both provide lots of climbing and sliding fun. Swings are available at the smaller children's play area. Parking is free every day for family vehicles.

Como Park Conservatory/Como Zoo
1250 Kaufman Drive N., St. Paul
24-hr. info line 651-487-8200 / Customer Svc. 651-487-8201 - free
Free but Donation of $2.00 per adult suggested
An excellent family field trip when it is cold or rainy outside.  The conservatory has been expanded and they even have a half decent restaurant in the adjacent visitor center if you want to make a longer day of it.  No food/beverage are allowed in the conservatory…not even a bottle or a Cheerio, so eat first!  Finn loves the sparkly sticker displays in the gift shop.  If baby is in a good mood continue on to the Como Zoo and the Cafestjan’s Carousel ($1.50).

Dodge Nature Center
365 West Marie Avenue, West Saint Paul             651.455.4531
This beautiful nature preserve offers myriad outdoor activities for families and kids.  Monthly hikes are offered by naturalists each Saturday from 10:00-11:30.  Activities are designed for kids ages 3-7, but all are welcome.  Under 3 and grandparents are admitted free.  Check out the site for maple syruping times and other fun activities!

Lake Elmo Preserve
This is an excellent park to go to for the day or for your first family camping trip.  The site is very clean and very kid friendly.  A man-made, chlorinated lake with sandy beaches is a great place for your tot to wade (depth of lake is only 6 feet).  There are ample picnic tables, a playground, heated showers and new restroom facilities.  Canoes and equestrian trails are present.  No animals allowed.  Caribou and Subway are only a short drive away if your well intentioned plans go awry.

Lake Harriet Rose Garden
4125 E. Lake Harriet Parkway, Minneapolis  612-370-4900 
Best time to visit is between mid June – late September

Lake Minnetonka Regional Park
Lake Minnetonka Regional Park is the perfect place for families to enjoy a long afternoon. The 292-acre park has everything a kid could want on a hot summer day, including a 20,000-square-foot nautical-themed creative play area and crystal-clear swimming pond which is chlorinated and complete with sandy beach.  There are ample trails and picnic tables as well.  Dogs are allowed on a leash.

Minnehaha Falls
4801 Minnehaha Avenue S., Minneapolis 612 230-6400
A perfect picnic destination.  Remember Wabun playground and the splashpool are also in the vicinity.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
726 Vineland Place, Minneapolis 612-370-3996

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Free Thursdays after 4:00 pm / 952-443-1400
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is located about 4 miles west of Chanhassen on State Hwy. 5, just one quarter-mile west of the intersection of State Hwy. 5 and State Hwy. 41.
Peapods Preschool is held every Wednesday (thru April 19th) from 9:30-11am.  Geared for kids ages 2-5 accompanied by an adult.  Enjoy crafts, a snack, stories and hands-on planting activities.  Call for fees.

Minnesota State Park System
The Minnesota State Park System is a great place to teach children about the great outdoors.  A season pass for the entire family is only $25.00!  The parks offer many programs and events for families and kids, many of which are free.  Our favorite activity was a candlelight snowshoe and cross country skiing event at Fort Snelling Park around Valentine’s Day (you could also just hike in your boots or pull kids on a sled).  The event was free and they offered complimentary cider and cookies for all in the lodge.  Click on Kid’s Programs and Events when you get to the site.

Minnesota Zoo
12101 Johnny Cake Ridge Rd., Apple Valley
Customer Service - 952-431-9200 / 24-Hr. Info. 952-431-9500
This is a great outing for all types of weather.  A household membership is $75.00, so this might make sense if you are a “frequent flyer” or have lots of kiddos.

Raptor Center
1920 Fitch Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108
612-624-4745 (main number)
Located on the St. Paul Campus of the U of M, this is a great museum/zoo of sorts for kids.  You can see raptors that are being nursed back to health in an effort to release them back into the wild. Many of these events are free.   The site also offers special story times for kids.  The session costs $5.00 per child and includes a raptor appearance and craft project.  Reservations are required.  Call for more details.

Teddy Bear Park
Stillwater, Minnesota
Located at South 2nd Street and Nelson Street near downtown Stillwater, MN, this amazing park, designed for children younger than 8 years of age, opened in June of 2006 and families love it. It has giant teddy bears children can climb on, a tree house, a river boat and a train in the play equipment area. The park also offers wonderful, FREE programming at the amphitheater. In the summer there are children’s activities nearly every day. The park was built by private funds and the word around town is that it cost around 4 million to develop. Then, the donors gave it as a gift to the city. The park is open to the public from 8am to 8pm.

Three Rivers Park District (formerly Hennepin Parks)
I’ve featured the Three Rivers Park District before, but if you have not checked out their programs, do so!  I’m amazed at all of the fun, family programs they offer…maple syruping, sheep shearing, basket weaving, nature hikes, etc.  I love their programs, as they are one shot classes and are usually held on weekends.  The fees are minimal.  Activities are best suited for families with kids 3 and older.  The website is a bit hard to navigate, but it’s worth the effort (I found that I had to search individual classes to see ag
recommendations).  Check it out!

Westwood Nature Center
8300 W. Franklin Avenue, St. Louis Park

Farm Fun!
Brooklyn Park Historical Farm
4345 101st Ave. N Brooklyn Park            763.493.4604
This is a ten-acre living record of farm life in Minnesota during the years of 1890 to 1910. The farm recreates the physical surroundings in which the Eidem family lived their daily lives.  Interpreters at the homestead carry out the tasks of farming and related household activities using the tools and techniques of the late 1800's.  The farm consists of a number of buildings (farmhouse, barn, outhouse, outbuildings, chicken coop and windmill, period farm equipment and crop land).  The barn and barnyard have horses, cows, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, geese and cats.   The purpose of this restored farmstead is to preserve and portray 19th century farm life through guided tours, displays, pioneer craft demonstrations and hands-on activities.  Every visit encourages a hands-on approach whether it be woodcutting, cracking corn or sampling baked goods.  Adults: $3 Children 16 and under are $2.50.  Call for special events.

Farm Animal/Insect Tours at the University of Minnesota           
Farm Animals: 612.624.3435  Insects: 612.624.1254
College of Agriculture and Department of Animal Science
305 Haecker Hall 1364 Eckles Ave. St. Paul
Groups of 10 or more can arrange for a tour guided by a U of M staffer or undergrad student.  The tours last about 30 minutes in length and include a view of the animal barns to learn about sheep, beef cattle, dairy cows and calves.  The insect museum is also interesting!  If you’re “lucky” you’ll get to hold a scorpion or a New Guinea cockroach.

Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakotah Life
2097 West Larpenteur Ave. Saint Paul             6 5 1. 6 4 6 . 8 6 2 9  
Regular tour fees:  Adults $6.59 Children $3.75 2 and under are FREE
Tour a 19th century farm house, sod house, Dakotah tipi, bark lodge, barn, one room school house and more!  The site also has a medicinal garden.  The museum offers many special family events including harvest festivals, as well as ice cream socials and bonfires.  Kids ages second grade and older can attend an all day one-room school house experience.  Reservations for this experience are required ($30).  Special tours which include corn husk doll making, ice cream making or candle dipping can be arranged.  Check the web for family events.

Hugo Animal Farm
9441 180th St N Hugo, MN 55038            (651) 433-4455
Spring tours are offered Monday through Saturday April  through  June 23. Fall tours are also available.  All tours are guided by people who are familiar with farm operations and farm animals to provide a safe, enjoyable, and educational experience for all visitors. All tours include touching or holding animals, and a hayride.  Price per person is about $6.25.

Oliver H. Kelley Farm
15788 Kelley Farm Rd. Elk River, MN 55330            763-441-6896
“Step onto a working 1860s farm. Pick heirloom vegetables from the garden, visit the farmhands and animals at the barn, or churn butter and see what's cooking in the farmhouse. Costumed guides work the fields with oxen and horses. At different times throughout the season, you'll see plowing with oxen, horse-powered threshing, haymaking and other harvest activities. The gardens and fields are filled with many of the same plants the Kelley farm grew over 130 years ago. Animals similar to those raised by pioneer families fill the barn and outbuildings. In the house, try your hand at domestic crafts like making straw hats and soap.” Adults are $7,Children 6-17 are $4 and children under 6 are FREE!  The farm has MANY special events like baby animal days, barn dances, festivals, etc…Check out their site!

Poplar Hills Goat Farm
 Scandia, MN            651-442-2506
Take a tour of a family run goat farm business, see baby goats and pet them, too!  You can also observe staff milking the goats, and you can sample and purchase their products afterward.  They sell goat milk and chevre cheese as well as some other products.  They charge about $50 per tour group.

Orchards: Apple, Berry and Pumpkin Patches

Aamodt’s Apple Farm, Inc.  – Apples
Stillwater, MN. Phone: 651-439-3127. 
If you like Disneyland, you’ll love Aamodt’s Orchard.  Seasonal hours, Aug - Dec. Throughout the season Aamodt’s takes on a festive (I think somewhat obnoxious) atmosphere. They have pony rides and a petting farm with an occasional fiddler strolling the grounds. Hay ride and hot air balloon ride are available. Pick your own apples or buy pre-picked. Visit their website for info & coupons.

Afton Apple Orchards  Afton Raspberry Company -Raspberries, Strawberries and Apple in Season
Afton, MN. Phone: 651-436-763.  Open daily 8am - dark. End of August to first part of Oct. Pick-your-own raspberries end of Aug ‘til frost (first part of Oct).
This is our favorite orchard.  It’s gotten a bit more commercial over the years but you still feel you are in the country.  It’s a great orchard to enjoy a picnic lunch.  Hayrides and a petting zoo are available in the fall.  They also have a great playground and hay bales that the kids can climb on.  They charge a nominal admission fee on weekends.  We love that we can bring our dog with us!  They also have a corn maze in the fall (pricey admission charged) and a pumpkin patch.  Great photo opportunities.

The Berry Patch - Strawberries, raspberries & blueberries
2408 Ronald Avenue, White Bear Lake, MN, 55110. Phone: 651-433-3448.  Pick-your-own & pre-picked strawberries in June and pick-your-own & pre-picked raspberries & blueberries in July.  Orders for tree-ripened Michigan peaches and sweet cherries also taken. Five miles east of Forest Lake on Hwy 97. Turn south on Cty Rd 15 (Manning Trail) for 1 3/4 miles, then turn right onto Cty Rd 50. Supervised children welcome. Containers provided.  Open daily, June - Sept., weather & crop permitting. 

Pine Tree Apple Orchard – Strawberries
651-429-7202.  450 Apple Orchard Road, White Bear Lake, MN 55110. 
Strawberry Season - Mid-June through Mid-July, PYO Berry Line, 651-429-8026. Pre-picked and Strawberry Bakery 651-429-7202. Apple Season. August through February, Weekends in March, Seasonal Hours. See the website for Tours or Schedule of Events or Maps and Directions.

Withrow Berry Farm - Strawberries
Withrow, MN. Phone: 651-439-4481.
Open 7am until picked out. Mid-June through Mid-July. They’re located between White Bear Lake & Stillwater on Keller Avenue North. From St. Paul: East on Hwy 36 to Washington County 15 (Manning Ave). North on 15 to Washington County 7 (122nd St N). Follow signs to farm. Call for daily information.

Farmers Markets

Here you can find your local Minnesota farmers market.  There are markets everyday of the week, and they are a great place to introduce yourself and your kids to veggies and farm-fresh items of all kinds.  Our favorite markets are the University of Minnesota market (Wednesdays 11-3 July-Oct), the Minneapolis Farmers Market (everyday, but especially weekends 6am-1pm May-Dec), and the Mill City Farmers Market (Saturdays 8-1pm, May-Oct).  Many more to be explored!