In preparation for summer, I’ve been compiling a summer bucket-list so we’ll be ready with an activity when we are hankering to get out and DO something. The list contains places and activities in and around the Twin Cities (MN), appropriate for families with little ones.
I have been pleasantly surprised by the variety of activities we could do this summer. While I don’t think we’ll make it through this list in just one summer, we will have a lot of options.
Of this I am certain – this much fun is meant to be shared!
Below is the current bucket-list, or if you prefer, you can find the summer bucket list (and me) on Pinterest (oh yes, I recognize the blatant self-Pinterest-promotion – I’m not ashamed). I plan to keep adding new ideas to the Pinterest board throughout the summer and have just started fall and winter lists.
Without further ado…
The thisgratefulmama 2015 Twin Cities Summer Bucket-List
Family Friendly Events
A selection of the best family friendly summer events the Twin Cities has to offer.
- June 5 – June 7 – Edina Art Fair
- June 6 (and Saturdays this summer at 10 am)- Free Family Sensory Flicks – Free, first-come-first-serve until the theater reaches capacity with special arrangements for those affected by autism or other sensory disorders, with lower sound, additional staff and other accommodations
- June 7, 2015, 1 pm – Parade of Boats, Centennial Lakes Park, Edina. The Edina Model Yacht Club members sail their radio-controlled boats – free
- July 7 – August 25, 2015 – Summer Tuesdays in Stillwater are a family event with a movie in the park at dusk
- June 6, 2015 – Explore Your Parks Day in Washington County Parks – Free admission. No Vehicle Permit required
- Jun 18 – July 4, 2015 – Manitou Days in White Bear Lake has over 70 events on their schedule, starting with a parade on June 19 (at 6:30 pm) and ending with 4th of July Fireworks (at 10 pm)
- July 4, 2015 – Afton’s Parade and 4th of July Celebration. Small town feel, great fun!
- July 17-19, 2015 – Stillwater Log Jam Parade at 1pm on Sunday the 19th
- July 22 – 25, 2015 – Minneapolis Aquintennial. So much to choose from with a few main events listed below.
- July 22, 5:30 – Family Fun Night in Loring Park
- July 22, 8:30 pm – Torchlight Parade
- July 23, 6 & 8 pm – Twin Cities River Rats water show
- July 25, 10 pm – Fireworks
- July 29 – August 2, 2015 – Washington County Fair
- August 28-30, 2015 – Woodbury Days festival – Kids 5 and under are free
- August 27 – September 7, 2015 – MN State Fair. No words needed – Kids under 5 are free
The Great Outdoors
Soak up the sun and fresh air with these outdoor parks and activities.
- Centennial Lakes Park in Edina – check out the summer schedule, packed with everything from outdoor movies, concerts and family friendly activities
- Outdoor Movie Schedule for the Twin Cities
- The Teddy Bear Park in Stillwater, open 8 am – 8 pm
- Splash Pads
- My favorites are Miller Park and Round Lake Park in Eden Prairie (both free and have toddler and big kid play structures as well as splash pads). Finish out a fun morning with a treat from YoYo’s Donuts – extra special because this is a nut-free bakery.
- The brand new splash pad at Bielenberg Sports Center in Woodbury is scheduled to open June 6.
- Check out this list for several more.
- Maplewood Nature Center has a Visitors Center, trails and an outdoor ‘Nature Play Yard‘ for kids. Free to visit (no bathrooms if visitor center is closed)
- Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center – miles and miles of trails in MN and WI along the St. Croix. Free to visit.
- Harriet Alexander Nature Center – 52 acres of marsh with brand new boardwalk sections, prairie and forest habitats
- Minnehaha Falls Regional Park – beautiful! Be prepared to pay for parking
- Como Zoo and Conservatory – free (donation appreciated)
- Washington County Parks Free Tuesdays– Free admission and parking, the first (non-holiday) Tuesday of every month
- Dodge Nature Center in West St. Paul. There is a fee for programs, but the trails are free and open to the public. Also has a free summer concert series
- Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park – trails and playground are free to the public, and has family programs for a fee
- Richardson Nature Center in Bloomington – in the Hyland Park Reserve. Has Nature Exploration Area advertised for kids to ‘explore, climb, dig and build a fort while adults play along or observe nearby’. Sounds like a winner to me
- Three Rivers Park District Play areas – parking fee applies
- Minneapolis Sculpture Garden – At the Walker Art Center. The garden is free to wander, pay to park. On a side note, the Walker is free on Thursday nights
- Woodbury Performances in the Park – includes puppet wagon, concerts and story time
- Lake Elmo swimming pond – chlorinated, sand bottom pool. Need I say more? There is a charge per head/vehicle for this one.
- Minnesota Sinfonia – non-profit chamber orchestra offering free-admission concerts and educational programs in and around the Twin Cities
- MN Cars and Coffee – free to wander amongst fancy-schmancy cars while sipping coffee and eating a donut from one of the sponsors. Donuts = Winning
- Minneapolis Parks Music & Movies schedule
- The Landing in Shakopee – Park access is free when The Landing is open. Can walk the river trail and grounds. Must pay to participate in programs
- Starring Lake Playground, Eden Prairie – complete with two amazing 2-story slides. Our kids love this place!
- Canterbury Park – Live horse racing. Take kids to see the horses before they race, play at the playground, and go down by the track as they thunder past the finish. Family Day on Sundays. Get BOGO Admission
- Afton Apple – Strawberry Picking starts in June and Apples in the fall
- Enjoy some outdoor baseball by watching the St. Paul Saints or MN Twins
- Nicollet Commons Park – Free admission, free parking. Water features including shallow pools and waterfalls made for kids to play in
- Vali-Hi Drive-In, Lake Elmo – A fun experience, and 3 movies for the price of one (but not all family friendly – if showing something G-rated, it will be the first movie of the night)
- Gale Woods Farm – A working farm with some great, inexpensive programs for kids. You can visit together as a family and do/see chores on the farm Saturday mornings, toddler and me programs during the week with a preschool component and camps during the summer.
- MN Landscape Arboretum, Chanhassen – Maze garden, large green play space featuring tree pieces to climb on, sand and water to play in, and houses to pretend in. Lots of open room to run and a learning center for kids. Classes are good for little kids. $12 per adult, kids under 13 are free
- Hyland Play Area (formerly Chutes and Ladders) and Lake
Escape the heat or rain and fend off boredom with some indoor fun.
- Pinstripes Bowling and Bocce – TOTS play time during the week from 10-noon. $3/child/game, $4 shoes. Parents bowl free. Deal!
- MN Institute of Art – free admission every day and big enough to explore again and again. Can pay to take an art class with little ones like Messy Creations
- LEGO(R) Land at Mall of America – need I say more? Register for a monthly Mini-Build and take home a free LEGO set
- Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum – $6 per adult, kids under 7 are free
- Sovereign Grounds Coffee Shop and Playroom – coffee and indoor play…sounds lovely
- Edinborough Park, Edina – a very large, indoor park for a rainy day ($7 per child – parents are free with child)
- Sea Life MN Aquarium, Bloomington – in Mall of America. Use this coupon
- Wooddale Fun Zone, Woodbury – roller skating anyone?
- The Works Museum, Bloomington – this place looks amazing! Use this $2 off coupon for admission
- Home Depot Saturday Kids Workshops – weekly, with an adult
- Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store, St. Paul – a train store kids will love to explore, near Izzy’s Ice Cream
- Superior Play Systems Indoor Showroom, Edina – play in the showroom! $5/Child, $10 Max Per Family
- Explore Afton – visit some unique shops, grab a treat at Selma’s Ice Cream Parlor and wander down by the St. Croix to see the boats, or play at the park across the street
You don’t have to travel far to enjoy a fantastic day-trip.
- Franconia Sculpture Park in Schafer, MN – 1 hour north of the cities
- Red Barn Pizza Farm in Northfield, MN – 1 hour south of the cities
- Explore Hudson Wisconsin – just over the river. Walk the river, stop by Seasons Gallery and nearby studios to see artists create with ceramics and glass. If I were you, I’d eat at San Pedro Cafe, down the street. YUM.
- Lake Superior Zoo, Duluth – $10 adults, $5 kids
- Coder DoJo – so cool! This is a free coding experience for kids 8 and up. Check the link for sign up, the last even sold out in seconds
- Storytime on the Stillwater Trolly – neato! $5 per person. Finish up a fun day with a treat at Nelsons Ice Cream
- Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo, Rochester – free admission to the park with large outdoor playscape and zoo which houses 30 species of wild animals native to Minnesota
- Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester, Rochester – $5.50 per person
- Interstate State Park, Taylors Falls – much to see and do